The Garden House Tour in Hue is one of the things you can do if you’re in the city. It provides a tour of privately owned houses set in formal garden surroundings. With architecture that closely intertwines with the natural environment and Vietnam’s cultural landscape, the garden houses are popular tourist destinations in Hue.
These garden houses were constructed over two hundred years ago, during the Nguyen dynasty when Hue was still the seat of power and the capital of the country. At a time when the royal family was living in the palace, relatives were residing in smaller palaces in villages like Nguyet Kieu, Vy Da and Kim Long. These small palaces are now more popularly known as garden houses.
The aristocracy eventually vanished from Vietnam. That is why these garden houses, although often still owned by those of aristocratic lineage, are currently listed as owned by private citizens of the country. Furthermore, the residents do not receive any financial favor from the local and national government for touring Hue’s visitors in their private properties. This is why when you’re in a garden house tour in Hue, you’re encouraged to make a minimal donation to the house owner, as a token of appreciation for their help.
Their efforts in maintaining these houses are still recognized by the government, however. The houses, after all, are representations of the glorious past of Hue and Vietnam’s ancient science used in the construction. Sadly, not all the garden houses are being maintained by their owners, and the local government fears that they may all one day vanish, along with the heritage of Vietnam. Indeed, from several thousand garden houses in 1995, it dwindled to 115 in 2001, and now there are only 50 garden houses left in the whole of Hue.
Understandably, the work involved in maintaining these garden houses is not only limited to the physical and aesthetic maintenance of the house. The toil comes from the passing of the property from one generation to the next which will ensure that traditions are followed and the culture of the country is still represented by the house. Some members of each family, as a result of the modern dictates of life, have moved out of the city, settled in other countries and are living a life several times removed from the royal traditions they have been born into. Consequently, the handing over became difficult for some.
Of course, it may all sound easy for an outsider, but for the families who were able to maintain the houses, it was their concentrated efforts that kept the houses open. While some don’t want to sell out as selling will automatically cut them off of their royal ancestries, the motivation of others is pure concern for the preservation of tradition and culture in Hue.
Thus, you can say that the garden houses of Hue are not only rich in history but also of rather complicated traditions that may sound really outdated in this day and time. When you come to visit, you will not only witness the beautiful surroundings but also the way of life of noble and aristocratic families in the past. Without a doubt, the Garden House Tour in Hue is one you shouldn’t miss.