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“Garden Houses of Hue a Treasure”

Hue's Garden Houses
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Full-Day Bike Tour of Hue's Aristocratic Garden Houses
Ranked #47 of 101 things to do in Hue
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41 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 56 helpful votes
“Garden Houses of Hue a Treasure”
Reviewed October 4, 2013

A morning visit to three garden houses in Hue was one of the top five experiences of our trip to Vietnam. We had read of the private "garden houses" in Hue and were determined to visit several. The only tour company we found who conducted tours to the houses was in Hanoi, and we had not made arrangements through them in advance. Our hotel offered a full-day garden houses tour, but we only wanted a half day and the hotel would not compromise. We asked our guide to the Imperial City if she could arrange something for us. As luck would have it, she worked for the Hue Monument Conservation Center and had great contacts--she put together our garden houses visits overnight! First stop was Ngoc Son. This was by far our favorite house, largely because of the refined, charismatic owner, Mr. Phan Thuan An. Mr. An is a direct descendant of the Imperial Court and a history scholar, professor, author of the seminal book on history and culture of Hue, and was instrumental in the restoration of many historic buildings. He began our tour in the garden, where he described the principles of feng shui [phong thuy--wind and water--in Vietnamese.] We walked through the garden and he explained how various features and the placement of plants, etc. meet the feng shui ideal. Mr. An then escorted us into his home and spoke of his ancestors and showed us numerous artifacts collected over many years that document and preserve his family history. He spoke of some of his trips abroad, and shared with us several mementos (the snow globe with Golden Gate bridge was my favorite.) Phan Thuan An's home is rich in history and culture. He himself is a true gem--we were so fortunate to have him as our personal guide! The other two homes we visited were Tha Om and An Hien. I would recommend Tha Om, which is owned by an architect--whom we judged to be a bit eccentric (in a fun way.) The home is rich in architectural features and the garden is quite lovely. We were surprised with a small snack of fresh fruit and pastries during our visit. Perfect chance to relax and enjoy the garden. The third home was An Hien. We found it to be less interesting than the others. It was staffed by a caretaker which made for a less satisfactory experience than the first two homes. All in all we would recommend visiting a few garden homes in Hue. Stepping into them was like stepping into another world. No other tourists; we had the homes and owners to ourselves. We considered this an "off the beaten path" experience! Our guide who arranged the tour and driver and accompanied us, answering many questions, was Do Tham Thi (pronounced "Thai".) Her English was excellent and she was very professional. Her email is dotamthi@gmail.com or she may be reached by phone 0914.425 254.

Visited December 2012
11 Thank NatureandLuxury
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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257 reviews
173 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 300 helpful votes
“Beautiful older garden home”
Reviewed October 3, 2013

We stopped at this home on our boat tour and the house was on the other side of the road that went along the river. It was a private residence that was opened for visitors, although this one is not being lived in. As a result the gardens were not as spectacular or well cultivated as I'm sure they once were.

It was interesting to hear the design significance. The screen was to keep evil spirits away, as they can only travel in straight lines so when confronted with a screen ( really a cement wall ) they could not navigate around it to get to the house. Should they have done this somehow, the next thing they would have encountered was the man made reflecting pond directly in front of the house. They would become apparent as they do not have a reflection so this was the second line of protection for the house from evil spirits.

The house itself had beautiful woodwork, and a family altar as it's centerpiece. Another interesting fact learned here was that women were relegated to the small rear rooms and were not allowed into the house proper, back in the "olden days".

It was a short 30 minute stop, and entrance was one USD. Worth it for sure, would have been better to see one currently functioning as a house where the gardens would be better tended, but interesting nonetheless to see a typical garden style home.

Visited September 2013
1 Thank 1dancing_fool
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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