Tombs of the Emperors
The tombs of the rulers of the Nguyen dynasty (1802–1945) are extravagant mausoleums, spread out along the banks of the Perfume River between 2km and 16km south of Hue. Almost all were planned by the emperors during their lifetimes, and some were even used as residences while they were still alive.
Since most of the tombs were built during the Emperor’s lifetime, they are places not only for burial but for Kings to take a rest and entertain also. In all, there were 13 Kings; however, due to various reasons, only 7 had tombs including ones for Gia Long, Minh Mang, Tu Duc, Khai Dinh, Duc Duc, Dong Khanh and Thieu Tri, three of which are frequently visited by domestic and international tourists due to their glamorous architectural features.
Most of the mausoleums consist of five essential elements. The first is a stele pavilion dedicated to the accomplishments, exploits and virtues of the emperor. Next is a temple for the worship of the emperor and empress. The third is an enclosed sepulchre, and fourth an honour courtyard with stone elephants, horses, and civil and military mandarins. Finally, there’s a lotus pond surrounded by frangipani and pine trees.
While many of the tombs can be reached by boat, you’ll have more time to enjoy them by renting your own bicycle or motorbike. Alternatively hire a xe om (motorbike taxi) or car and driver for the day.