ATTRACTIONS - Other Attractions

River viewOn the Perfume River’s northern banks, 500m east of the imperial city (and just outside the Citadel walls), DONG BA MARKET is a real-deal, gritty river market. A walk around will leave no doubts on whether any parts of a pig go unsold in Hue. Also, you’re likely – if you go past the main building to the butchers areas by the river – to get a rowboat-ride offer or two for US$2 or US$3 per hour. If you take one, opt to go early, perhaps 5am or 6am, to get a break from the heat and see the river life in full-swing. There’s also a nearby ferry to get across the river if you like.

Back on the south side of the river, riverfront LE LOI ST was the main crux of French-colonial life, and walking or driving on it goes past many wonderful century-old buildings and riverfront cafes that make nice vantage points. At Hung Vuong St and Le Loi St, is the former GRAND HOTEL DU HUE (now the Saigon Morin; 30 Le Loi St).

Farther west is the red-and-white QUOC HOC HIGH SCHOOL, where (famously) Ho Chi Minh and (less famously) South Vietnamese president Ngo Dinh Diem studied. It’s closed to visitors, but you can peek into the leafy grounds towards the Ho Chi Minh statue. A block farther west is the HO CHI MINH MUSEUM (7 Le Loi St; admission free; open 7.30-11am & 2-4.30pm Tue-Sun), a predictable collection of Ho memorabilia, particularly focusing on his life in Hue.

Finally a word about the PERFUME RIVER. Many Vietnamese cities shun their all-important rivers. Hanoi’s back is pressed against the Red, Saigon’s against the Saigon. But Hue’s unique in that the city is split by its river and much attention is placed daily on the river backed by mountains to the west. As sunset approaches, locals hit riverfront cafes, or hit the two popular bridges: the PHU XUAN BRIDGE (at Hung Vuong & Le Loi Sts), which has a little light show in the evenings, and TRAN TIEN BRIDGE (at Hanoi & Le Loi Sts). By all means join in.

music cruiseBoat-wise, the Perfume has its options too. The highly touted MUSIC CRUISES (US$3-4) go twice in evenings, but the hour-long concert of Hue’s distinctive chau van folk music on a stuffed-full boat is less atmospheric than it sounds. Meanwhile, that self-arranged ROWBOAT RIDE near Dong Ba Market (see above) is an interesting way to get on the Perfume.

You can also get on the river by taking boat tours to the tombs; see Around Hue.