VietnamCentral Vietnam TravelWhat to Know about the Royal Tombs of Hue

What to Know about the Royal Tombs of Hue

Hue has long been known as one of Vietnam’s most ancient cities, the home of many ancient yet impressive monuments like the Imperial City. Among all, the royal tombs of Hue stir up the most awe and curiosity from visitors. Let’s read on to see what these interesting structures have in store!

What Are the Royal Tombs of Hue?

You’re probably wondering: what’s so great with visiting some strangers’ tombs? But let us tell you, there’s a reason that this is one of the 8 best things to do in Hue.

These tombs aren’t ordinary. They’re the final resting places of the Nguyen Emperors – Vietnam’s last royal family. Therefore, all the tombs were built with great effort to make them as impressive and majestic as possible. They also hold valuable artifacts that’ll teach you much about Vietnamese history. For all these reasons, Hue’s royal tombs are now part of UNESCO World Heritages in Vietnam.

Interesting facts:

  • Though there were 13 emperors during the Nguyen dynasty, due to many political – economic circumstances, only 7 were built.
  • Some tombs were built while the emperors were still alive and acted as a kind of “resort”.
  • The most popular tombs are of emperors: Minh Mang, Khai Dinh, and Tu Duc.

General Information of the Royal Tombs of Hue

Opening hours:

  • Summer: 6.30 AM – 5.30 PM
  • Winter: 7 AM – 5 PM
Entrance Fee (March/2020)Adult 

Children (from 7 – 12 years old
or under 1.3 meters) 

 Single Ticket     
 Minh Mang Tomb/Tu Duc Tomb/Khai Dinh Tomb VND 150,000 VND 30,000
 Gia Long Tomb/Thieu Tri Tomb/Dong Khanh Tomb VND 50,000 Free
 Combo Ticket  
 Imperial City – Minh Mang Tomb – Khai Dinh Tomb VND 420,000 VND 80,000
 Imperial City – Minh Mang Tomb – Khai Dinh Tomb – Tu Duc Tomb VND 530,000 VND 100,000
 All Monuments VND 580,000 VND 110,000

*Children under 7 years old: Free

Tickets can be bought at the booth in front of the Imperial City.

Tips on Visiting the Royal Tombs of Hue

  • The sightseeing time for each tomb is around 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  • The best way to travel is by motorbike since some tombs are located in remote areas. The renting fee is VND 150,000 – VND 250,000/day/motorbike (excluding gas). The parking fee is VND 5,000 – VND 10,000/motorbike.
  • Because most of the tombs are designed with lots of yard space, visiting them when the sun is strong can cause you sunburn and dehydration. It’s best to visit from 3 PM – 5 PM or bring along a hat and sunglasses, and wear long-sleeved tops and bottoms.
  • Prepare sufficient water and snacks. Some tombs are far from the city, so no shops are around.
  • Dress code for sacred places: Never wear revealing clothing (always wear knee-length bottoms, no sleeveless/no-neck/backless tops, no ripped clothes, etc).
  • Taking pictures may be prohibited in some parts of the tombs, so remember to check the signs first.

An Overview on the Royal Tombs of Hue

Gia Long Tomb (1814 – 1820)

Gia Long Tomb lies beside the Perfume River, between the lush pine forest on Dai Thien Tho Mountain. This location is ideal for viewing the sunset silently but makes the tomb somewhat inaccessible. Because of this, despite being the final resting place of the Nguyen dynasty’s first emperor, Gia Long Tomb suffered the most damage over time and isn’t visited much.

Minh Mang Tomb (1841 – 1843)

Bi Dinh inside Minh Mang Tomb has a stone stele carved with Thieu Tri emperor’s poem on his father’s (Minh Mang’s) life and merits

Minh Mang Tomb shows the emperor’s love for traditionalism through its classic Chinese-influenced design. The tomb has a balanced architectural layout, symmetrical structures, and one central path (called the “God Path”) connecting all important monuments: the main gate, the courtyard, the stele pavilion… and the emperor’s tomb. Surrounding the buildings are endless rows of pine trees and a lotus pond. Though quite far from the city center (12 kilometers), visitors often admire Minh Mang Tomb for its expansive ground and representative design.

Thieu Tri Tomb (1848)

Encapsulating all the captivating features of both Gia Long and Minh Mang Tombs, Thieu Tri Tomb has a humble appearance. The tomb lies peacefully between fruit gardens and paddy fields, without any walls, so visitors will feel like they’ve traveled back to rural Vietnam.

Tu Duc Tomb (1864 – 1867)

Another name for Tu Duc Tomb is Khiem Tomb, as over 50 buildings inside have “Khiem” in their names

Tu Duc Tomb can be crowned as the most beautiful royal tomb in Hue, thanks to the harmony of its fine structure and the surrounding nature. Greenery can be found everywhere, and there’s even a big pond to give the place a serene atmosphere. Maybe because Emperor Tu Duc was a ruler with an artist’s soul, the layout of the tomb’s ground is so romantic.

Interestingly, Tu Duc was childless, so he had to write his own story. He even built the tomb into a mini Forbidden City to live, work, and relax. Nowadays, you can find Minh Khiem Theatre – one of Vietnam’s oldest theatres still standing there.

Duc Duc, Thanh Thai, and Duy Tan Tombs (1883)

Originally, this was Emperor Duc Duc’s Tomb. He had only been reigning for three days when he was dethroned and passed away. Emperor Thanh Thai built this tomb for his father when he came into power. However, both Thanh Thai and his son – Duy Tan, had fallen under the French colonial authorities and were exiled. Later on, they were buried in Long An Temple on Duc Duc Tomb’s ground. You can see three altars for the three emperors inside the temple.

Dong Khanh Tomb (1889)

Dong Khanh first built this as a temple for his father. However, when he suddenly passed away, his successor Thanh Thai couldn’t, due to economic reasons, build a proper royal tomb for him. Instead, Thanh Thai repurposed the temple into Dong Khanh Tomb. The tomb was a mix of Western and Eastern designs. The overall layout was based on traditional oriental ideals, yet stained glass windows still decorate the place.

Khai Dinh Tomb (1920 – 1931)

Rows of stone statues in the courtyard in front of the tomb
Finest arts from broken glasses and porcelains make the tomb a true art piece

Khai Dinh Tomb has a clear French influence on its design. To complete this 10-year masterpiece, various materials had to be delivered overseas: iron, concrete, Ardoise tiles from France, porcelains, and stained glasses from China and Japan…

The tomb has three main parts: an exhibition room for displaying gifts (now valuable artifacts) to Emperor Khai Dinh, a room for the altar, and a room for the coffin. Walking through these rooms, you’ll understand why even though the Khai Dinh Tomb is smaller, it constantly tops lists of must-visit royal tombs of Hue.

Check out more fun things to do in Hue:

Klook.com

Final Thoughts on the Royal Tombs of Hue

The seven royal tombs of Hue are timeless monuments that are picturesque and utterly significant to remind posterity of Vietnam’s past, specifically the Nguyen dynasty. If you have time on hand, be sure to check them out!

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