Perfume River spans approximately 80 kilometres in length, flowing from Truong Son Mountain through Hue City Centre and Bang Lang Fork. The river was given its name over 100 years ago, due to the scent of flowers that dropped in the water from upriver orchards. As the strong floral scent was carried through the river during autumnal months, it resulted in locals naming it as Perfume River. Today, it may not smell as fragrant due to modernisation and the increasing number of riverboats but it’s still one of the most popular landmarks in Hue. The waterfront gets very lively in the evening. Local youths often flock to the park to enjoy breathtaking sunset views of Perfume River. The Trang Tien Bridge (Cau Truong Tien) also becomes illuminated with colourful LED lights, resulting in an impressive sight.
As most of Hue’s iconic attractions, temples, and local villages are set along Perfume River, there are numerous tour operators offering cruises and paddleboat rentals at various price points. A popular option is Perfume River dinner cruise, where you depart from Huong Pier on a traditional dragon boat. After several minutes, the boat stops in front of Hue Imperial City, where you get to explore iconic Hue landmarks such as Thien Mu Pagoda, Hon Chen Temple, and the tomb of Emperor Minh Mang. The cruise continues with an authentic Vietnamese dinner, which include dishes such as bun bo hue (hue beef noodle soup), banh khoai (Vietnamese crepe), and banh it ram (fried sticky rice dumplings). You also get to enjoy live folk music and songs before the boat returns to the pier.