To Hue people, the Huong River is an inseparable soul-mate; she is the heart and blood. To Hue people who are a long way from home, her gentleness and calmness sing them to sleep every night. Once you travel to this city, the best thing you could experience is to take the best view of the river and feel her in your heartbeat.
A brief story of Huong River:
Huong River came from the East of Truong Son Mountain Rage; she travels the distance (approx) 70 km to meet the city of Hue. The river is famous for its beautiful emerald water and the graceful and calm flow across the city. Due to the gentle slope and multiple turns of the river bed, the river has a favorable flow rate through the civilized area, which is why this land can calm the rushing visitors.
So here are the best spots for a peaceful Huong River grazing:
Linh Mu Pagoda ( Thien Mu)
Being a tourist attraction, it's usually busy. However, Linh Mu pagoda is one of the best spots for watching the sunset on the Huong River. Thien Mu is located on the top of the hill, overlooking the spectacular river turn with the mountain backdrop. Once set down, the sun lands on top of the mountain behind the river's bend.
The effect of the twilight moment gets multiplied by the water reflection and is balanced nicely by the dark green shade of hills and mountains. Once in a while, there are dragon boats or local small fishing boats floating across the gentle water. Sometimes, you can even hear the singing of people on boats. While watching the sunset, it's pleasant to enjoy a warm bowl of Douhua (bean curd) from the vendors within the area.
Vong Canh Hill
The name "Vong Canh" means "sight-see," which reviews the local look on the functionality of this site. Located about 7 km from the city center, Vong Canh Hill is opposite Hon Chen Temple, which is another notable place to graze the river. This pine hill is right above a river's turn and overlooking another turn, which makes it a spectacular immense view of the Huong River.
Because Vong Canh is in a suburb, the river flows through the zone that has a little impact from urbanization with stretching green banks of the river, land, and mountains. Except on holidays and weekends, this hill is often a quiet and peaceful spot for Huong River grazing.
Other recommended activities on Vong Canh Hill are picnicking, coffee break, or camping. Preparing your food, drinks, and equipment for those activities is best because there are no stores, cafes, or built facilities on the hill. Please note that during the dry season, beware of liting fire; pine hills catch fire rapidly.
Note that even though this place is opposite Hon Chen temple, you cannot easily access the temple from here due to the lack of water transportation and bridges. The nearest route might be up to 15 km.
Hon Chen Temple
The ancient temple is located on the hill by the bank of the Huong river. Usually, this spot is quiet and not popular among locals and tourists, as getting to the temple requires extra effort. Unlike on Vong Canh Hill, on which you can have a high view of the river, from this temple, it's best to go down the stone stairs and get close to the water. Sitting on the rock, watching the waves on the water and the flow of time is all you need to do. The up-close distance to the river offers an immersing feeling of being a part of it.
There are two ways to get there; the first one is to travel on land through Bui Thi Xuan street, make a turn to Huyen Tran Cong Chua, arrive at Ben Than Port, and cross the river by boat, which leads you directly to the main gate of the temple. The second route is via a small road, Long Ho, across the pomelo village, traveling beside the river to the other entrance of Hon Chen. for the second route, it's best to travel by motorbike (the road is a bit small for cars, but it's still possible).
Along the river-walk
In brief, unlike other listed locations, this one offers you a look into the vivid life of locals and be a part of it.
Hue city just finished building a five-kilometer length river walk for locals and tourists to cycle and stroll beside the Huong river. This route is located on the North bank of the river (on which are the Imperial and Linh Mu Pagoda), starts from Trang Tien Bridge, and ends at Thien Mu Pagoda.
Another good news is the city now provides public bicycles for tourists/ locals to rent and return to the designated spots across the city center. You can walk or cycle along the bank to see the part of the Huong River flowing through the city. That would help in understanding how the river transforms and calms the land and comprehending the gentle and loving way of locals to the river.
The best time to take a jog is in the early morning or late afternoon, the most active time for locals in the area. Prepare yourself with swim clothes; you might want to take a dip in the river.
From a Dragon Boat
If you want a different experience of viewing the river, let's try hopping on a boat and floating with the river's flow. Huong has a distinct calm flow rate; thus, floating on it will be a different experience than others. The best time to be on the river is in the late afternoon or the evening when the weather gets chilled, and the river wears her best dress, the poetic purple. During the sunset, the local life besides the banks gets the most vivid through leisure and sports activities. Night time on the river is perfect for watching the city blooming with thousands of colorful lights while enjoying the quiet and mystic atmosphere of the river.
Furthermore, while sitting on the dragon boat, you will have the opportunity to attend an essential cultural practice, Ca Hue (Hue traditional singing). This genre has been created and developed for more than three centuries and was initially for entertaining royalty. The Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism has recognized this as a national intangible cultural heritage.
As Hue is not a vast land, you can try all five spots to find your favorite view of the Huong River.