Vietnam // The central coast //

Boat trips on the Perfume River

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A sizeable number of people still live in boats on the Perfume River and the waterways of Hué, such as the Dong Ba and Phu Cam canals, despite government efforts to settle them elsewhere. It’s possible to join them, if only temporarily, by taking a boat trip, puttering about in front of the citadel on a misty Hué morning, watching the slow bustle of river life. A day’s boating on the Perfume River is a good way to soak up some of the atmosphere of Hué and do a little gentle sightseeing off the roads. The standard boat trip takes you to Thien Mu Pagoda, Hon Chen Temple and the most rewarding mausoleums, usually those of Tu Duc, Khai Dinh and Minh Mang. However, if you want to visit some of the others or spend more time exploring, it’s usually possible to take a bicycle on the boat and cycle back to Hué, though double-check this when you book the trip. Most tour agents and hotels offer river tours starting at $2 per person, including a very meagre lunch but no guide. However, all entrance fees are extra, which can work out costly at 55,000đ per mausoleum. If you’d rather do it independently, the same agents can arrange charter boats from $30 for the day, or hone your bargaining skills at the boat wharf beside the Trang Tien Bridge.

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