The Nguyen Emperor's Royal Tombs - Hue in Vietnam.

A short trip out to visit the Nguyen Royal Tombs which are just outside of Hue City in Vietnam.

A good way to visit these locations is by using an organised coach and dragon boat trip which should be available from most hotels. The cost was USD 10 each however entrance fees are extra. A typical trip should cover visiting three tombs, a short stop at an Incense Stick Marking Village plus a very good buffet lunch. In the afternoon the trip switches to a Dragon Boat which takes you along the Perfume River with a stop to visit a garden house at Phu Mong and following that a tour round Thien Mu Pagoda. At the end of it all you are then taken back by dragon boat to Hue. A different option could be to miss out the garden house and part of the river trip and instead visit the Citadel. In truth The Citadel needs lots of time and maybe just an hour typically allocated by these trip's organisers really is insufficient.
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Entrance gate to a Hue Garden House, Vietnam. Phu Mong (Hue) Garden House, Vietnam.

Visiting Phu Mong Garden House at Hue City beside the Perfume River.

Located on the north bank of the Perfume River is the village of Kim Long - a peaceful area of lanes and canals. During the late 19th century it was here that the Mandarins and Imperial officials of the Royal Court built their houses which were set in lush gardens. Some of these "Garden Houses" such as Phy Mong have been preserved/restored and are open to the public. Entrance is free but you are expected to make a donation which should be around 20,000 Dong. When you go into the garden take note of the ornately decorated entrance gate. The garden had a small pool and lots of different plants and fruit trees - with everything being fully explained by the guide - a quite interesting diversion from "normal" sightseeing.
Hue Garden House - Bananas Hue Garden House - Jackfruit Hue Garden House - Papaya Hue Garden House - Pineapple

The Royal Tombs are situated just outside the city in beautiful countryside amongst hills, lakes and pine forests are the Tombs of several of the Nguyen Emperors. Although there were 13 such rulers between 1802 and 1945 only 7 of them were honoured with their own mausoleums (the other 6 Emperors died in exile or in disgrace). The Royal Tombs are open daily between 0700 and 1700 - entrance tickets are quite expensive at 55000 Dong per person per Tomb.. All the tombs consist of three elements - a temple dedicated to the worship of the Emperor and his Queen, a large stone stele which recorded details of his life and reign and the Royal Tomb which is located at the highest point in the complex. The organised tour do usually give a reasonable amount of time at each of the tombs however particularly with Minh Mang and Tu Duc's tombs even more time would have been nice for more wandering around.

Visiting Minh Mang Tomb whic is near Hue City in Vietnam.

The first thing to consider when visiting this tomb is that it's a little way away from the car/coach parking area and therefore involves a 5 or 6 minute walk along a very dusty track to the entrance - in hot weather remember to take some water with you!. The parking area does have a number of stalls and there are toilets available. Minh Mang was the second Nugyen Emperor and had a great interest in architecture - he designed his mausoleum in traditional Chinese style - therefore the complex is beautifully situated within gardens and surrounded by lakes.
Minh Mang Hien Duc, Vietnam. Minh Mang's Stele House, Hue Royal Tombs, Vietnam. Minh Mang Stele, Hue Royal Tombs, Vietnam. Trung Minh Lake - Hue's Royal Tombs
Minh Mang Hien Duc Gate, Hue Royal Tombs, Vietnam. Minh Mang's Tomb area gate, Hue Royal Tombs, Vietnam. Minh Mang Ta Tung Temple, Hue Royal Tombs, Vietnam. Tomb Mound Entrace - Minh Mangs Tomb, Vietnam.
The Salutation Courtyard is followed by the Stele House and then Sung An Temple where Minh Mang and his Queen, who died aged 17, were worshipped. (The Emperor had 33 wives, 107 concubines and 142 children). A causeway leads to Minh Lau Pavilion (The Pavilion of Light) which is a beautifully designed Nguyen style wooden two storey building built in 1841 - the pavilion symbolises Minh Mang's initial step before arriving at his final resting place. Behind this are two garden areas which are designed in the Chinese style and a pathway between these leads to Buu Thanh and Huyen Cung - the circular burial mound.
Sung An Temple at Minh Mang, Vietnam. Sung-an Temple, Hue Royal Tombs, Vietnam. Minh Mang gate, Hue Royal Tombs, Vietnam. Minh Mang Lau pavillion, Hue Royal Tombs, Vietnam.
Hue - Minh Mang Gardens, Hue Royal Tombs, Vietnam. Minh Mang Gardens, Hue Royal Tombs, Vietnam. Buu Thanh is the round wall which protects the Emperor's Tomb and is 3 metres high and 285 metres long - the gate into the burial area was opened once a year on the anniversary of the Emperor's death. Huyen Cung is the underground "palace" where his corpse was placed - when he died his coffin was taken there via an underground tunnel which was then sealed up. The whole area is lovely to wander around and generally the tours do not give you enough time to enjoy it all.
Other temples which can be seen on the site are Ta Tung Temple which honours civil mandarins and was built in 1843 as was Huu Tung Temple which honours military Mandarins.

Tu Duc Tomb at Hue in Vietnam.

This mausoleum to Emperor Tu Doc (1848-1883) was designed by the King himself and is beautifully set in pine forests and partly surrounded with lotus lily filled lakes. Luu Khiem Lake has two pavilions - the boating pavilion and xung khiem pavilion (which was regularly used by Tu Doc). The mausoleum was built during Tu Doc's lifetime and he spent many years there with his wives and concubines - it is said that he spent most of his time hidden away here writing poetry as he had smallpox which left him scarred. Of course he was also quite busy with his 104 wives and many concubines which perhaps left him little time for much else - although he did not have any children.
Tu Duc - Luu Khiem Lake, Hue Royal Tombs, Vietnam. Luu Khiem Lake, Hue Royal Tombs, Vietnam. Khiem Chung Gate, Hue Royal Tombs, Vietnam. Tu Duc, Hue Royal Tombs, Vietnam.
Tu Doc Luong Khiem Temple, Hue Royal Tombs, Vietnam. Tu Doc Luong Khiem Temple, Hue Royal Tombs, Vietnam. Ruins at Tu Duc, Hue Royal Tombs, Vietnam. Tu Duc statues, Hue Royal Tombs, Vietnam.
This was probably because of his childhood smallpox which may have made him sterile). Tu Duc was also very much a tyrant and anyone who rebelled against him was usually savagely dealt with. Everyone involved in his burial were subsequently executed in order to keep his final resting place safe from desecration and robbery i.e. the mausoleum is not where he is actually buried - this remains a mystery. The Ticket Office is at the South Gate (Vu Khiem) and opposite the lake steps lead through Khiem Cung gate and into the main temple enclosure - Hoa Khiem. Beyond this is the second temple Luong Khiem which was used as the Royal Residence. To the side of the Royal Residence is the tomb complex which contains a Salutation Court, Stele House and the Stele.
Tu Duc - Stele House, Hue Royal Tombs, Vietnam. Tu Duc Stele, Hue Royal Tombs, Vietnam. Tu Duc - Tomb Entrance, Hue Royal Tombs, Vietnam. Tu Duc - Hue, Vietnam
The 20 ton Stele is unusual because Tu Doc wrote his own self-critical eulogy, normally this would have been written by his heir of course. His mausoleum is situated behind the Stele located in a walled area.

Khai Dinh Tomb which is located near Hue in Vietnam.

Emperor Khai Dinh, who reigned between 1916 and 1925, was the last Nguyen emperor to be buried at Hue. The tomb complex is completely different to the other tombs as it's built high up on a hill with a very impressive style which is a mixture of Sino-Vietnamese and Cham Temple architecture. The mausoleum does not have any landscaped gardens, pools or living quarters and comprises of just one main structure - The Principle Temple. There are 130 steps leading to the inside sanctuary (which remains in it's original condition).
Stairway guards at Khai Dinh, Hue Royal Tombs, Vietnam. Mandarins at Khai Dinh Tomb, Vietnam. The stele at Khai Dinh, Hue Royal Tombs, Vietnam. Stele house at Khai Dinh, Hue Royal Tombs, Vietnam.
Mandarin Guards at Khai Dinh - Hue Fierce dragon seen wandering around at Khai Dinh, Hue, Vietnam. Stele and Stele House at Khai Dinh, Vietnam.  Khai Dinh dragons - Hue,, Vietnam.
 Emperor statue at Khai Dinh, Hue, Vietnam.  The Principle Temple at Khai Dinh, Vietnam Hue A series of stairways lined with beautifully carved stone dragons leads to courtyards where mandarins together with horses and elephants form a guard of honour. From the Stele house further steps and terraces take you to the main temple. The temple is built of re-enforced concrete and has slate roofing which was imported from France - as you climb up to it the temple does look really impressive. The inside of the temple is a complete contrast to the dull grey and black exterior as it is brightly coloured and decorated with glass and porcelain mosaics. There is also a life-sized gilded bronze statue of the King who is sitting under a canopy and holding the royal sceptre.
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