Posted by: travelrat | June 2, 2020

Cruising the Perfume River

Hué: 18th November 2019

At Hué, like many another Vietnamese city, ‘a river runs through it’. So, we went for yet another river cruise, this time on the Perfume River on a ‘dragon boat’, The Perfume River gets its name from the pleasing aroma of tree resin and blossoms drifting down from further upstream; alas, we visited at the wrong time of year for this,

The ‘Dragon Boat’ was a catamaran, sporting not one, but two dragon heads. Dragons were traditionally thought to be the rulers of the water, so dragon figureheads on boats seem to be a common feature in South East Asia.

Our destination was the Thien Mu pagoda, an imposing seven storey high octagonal tower overlooking the river. Built in 1601, it’s one of Hue’s best-known sites, and has been adopted as a symbol of the city. Thien Mu (or ‘celestial lady) is said to be based on a legend about an old lady who the provincial Governor met, who prophesied that a ‘great lord’ would build a pagoda on the site, to pray for the country’s prosperity … then promptly vanished!

However, the Governor, one Nguyen Hoang, did order the temple to be built, where it stands in beautiful gardens, wandering around which is well worth an hour or so of your time.


  1. That dragon looks pretty fierce. I bet it kept the waves under control.

    • I often wonder if there’s any connection with the dragon figurehead on some of the boats that used to come to our shores, intent on a bit of pillage and plunder??

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