“Nha vuon Hue” or garden-house is a typical kind of ornamental garden which is a combination of housing architecture with surrounding garden. Garden-houses are the homes of feudal mandarins in the past or houses of rich traders. Houses there are traditional-styled houses (often nha ruong Hue) and they are surrounded by gardens.
Hue garden-houses were opened for tourists since the Hue Festival 2000. Since then they have become favorite destinations. The most famous garden-houses include An Hien, Lac Tinh Vien, Ngoc Son Princess, etc. However, these garden-houses are now almost closed.
Le Khanh Tuan, the owner of a garden-house, explained: “I have to wear ao dai (traditional gown for men) khan dong (ready-to-wear turban for men) and stand at the gate to welcome tourists, make tea for them and sometimes I have to leave my meal to introduce the garden-house to tourists but I earn nothing.”
Nguyen Thi Tuy, who also owns a garden-house, said that her garden-house has been opened for free for nearly ten years. “We want to introduce our garden-houses as Hue’s specialty to tourists but we cannot do this task for free forever.”
Tuy said that owners of garden-houses have asked local authorities for assistance but they did not receive any feedback.
Mr. Hoang Xuan Bac, 80, who owns Phu Mong garden-house, said he had to get up early to clean the home, to buy flowers to decorate it, but he could not do this for free anymore. Bac said that he was busy the whole day to welcome tourists but earn nothing from this job, while taxes on garden-house has increased ten times since they become tourist destinations.
To save himself, Mr. Bac offered food and drink services. Though his house is no longer quiet but his family earns some money to preserve the house.
“Some families open their garden-houses for free and when the houses are downgraded, they do not have money to repair them,” Bac added.
For this reason, many tourists are amazed when they are not welcomed at any garden-house.
Nguyen Thi Thu Ha, an official from the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Thua Thien – Hue province, said that the province does not have regulations on selling tickets at garden-houses while the provincial budget is very limited to assist garden-houses.
Vice Chair of Thua Thien-Hue province, Le Truong Luu, said that the local government would reduce taxes on garden-houses and assist owners to preserve their houses. But Luu admitted that this policy has just been implemented so it has not benefited many people.
“We are seeking measures to preserve garden-houses. We have made a list of 157 typical garden-houses for assistance,” Luu added.