Tam Quan Gate

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August 9, 2022

Khai Dinh Royal Tomb – Hue Travel Guide 2022

Khai Dinh Royal Tomb is one of the greatest cultural legacies that the Nguyen Dynasty – the last monarchical dynasty in the history of Vietnam left. According to the Eastern concept of “eternal life after death”, life on earth is temporary.

Therefore, most of the Emperors decided to build their tombs when they were still on the throne. They considered them as a palace for an eternal paradise later. Of all the seven existing tombs, Khai Dinh Royal Tomb has unique features you are going to discover.

Khai Dinh Royal Tomb never fails to thrill visitors with its outstanding architecture and decoration. There are also many things to discover in this tomb.

Introduction About King Khai Dinh

Before learning about the impressive tomb, I would like to introduce some main information about its owner – Emperor Khai Dinh. There were thirteen Emperors of the Nguyen Dynasty, and he was the 12th

His real name is Nguyen Phuc Buu Dao, and his official name is Nguyen Phuc Tuan. He was born on October 8th, 1885 solar calendar. Though he was the first son of Emperor Dong Khanh, he wasn’t chosen for the throne when his father passed away as he was only 4.

Until 1916, after Emperor Duy Tan’s banishment to Reunion, Hue Court and the French crowned Buu Dao with the title Khai Dinh. After the 10-year reign (1916-1925), Emperor Khai Dinh got a serious illness and passed away on November 6th, 1925 at the age of 41.

His tablet was worshiped in The Mieu Temple in Hue Imperial City . Emperor Khai Dinh had only one son, Prince Vinh Thuy (Emperor Bao Dai later). 

Under Emperor Khai Dinh’s reign, the country wasn’t peaceful because of the domination of the French occupiers. Despite being an Emperor, Khai Dinh had no power. He, in reality, was the puppet of the French. 

People said that instead of taking care of his citizens, Emperor Khai Dinh was addicted to gambling, and wearing fashionable clothes. Some said he even wore rings on almost every finger and used lipstick.

However, no matter how he was in the past, he left the nation with a lot of architectural structures such as Khai Dinh Tomb, An Dinh Palace (especially Cuu Tu Dai Theater), Kien Trung Pavilion (in the Forbidden Purple City), and Hien Nhon Gate.

Introduction About King Khai Dinh
Khai Dinh Royal Tomb – King Khai Dinh

Khai Dinh Tomb Overview

The most wonderful architecture that Emperor Khai Dinh left is Khai Dinh Tomb. Keep scrolling to find out about its history and the travel guide.

A Brief History About Khai Dinh Tomb

The construction of the Khai Dinh Tomb (officially named Ung Lang) was conducted from 1920 to 1931. Of all the seven royal tombs, Khai Dinh Tomb is the smallest, yet more laborious and elaborate. 

While Gia Long Tomb and Minh Mang Tomb took respectively 6 years and 3 years to build, Khai Dinh Tomb took 11 years. To build the costly structures, the Court had to increase the land tax by up to 30%.

In 1920, after the geomancers had chosen a good site for the construction of the tomb, the Court mobilized a great number of prisoners and soldiers in Hue and sent them there for hard labor. 

They had to open roads, excavate mountains, make “toại đạo” (a path to take a deceased emperor’s coffin to his grave) and create the foundation for the tomb on the western side of a mountain in the area of Chau Chu. 

Emperor Khai Dinh passed away before his tomb was completed, so his only son – Emperor Bao Dai continued building this construction.

Khai Dinh Tomb Overview
Khai Dinh Royal Tomb Overview

What To Know When Visiting Khai Dinh Tomb

Address: Thuy Bang commune, Huong Thuy district, Thua Thien Hue province. 

Opening time: 7:00 AM – 6:00 PM every day.
Entrance fee:

Venue / Tourist Route Adults Children(aged: 7-12)
Khai Dinh Tomb 150 000 VND (6.41 USD) 30 000 VND (1.28 USD)
Combo of 3 venues:
  • Hue Imperial City
  • Emperor Minh Mang Tomb
  • Emperor Khai Dinh Tomb
420 000 VND (18.12 USD) 80.000 VND (3.45 USD)
Combo of 4 venues:
  • Hue Imperial City
  • Emperor Minh Mang Tomb
  • Emperor Khai Dinh Tomb
  • Emperor Tu Duc Tomb
530.000 VND (22.87 USD) 100.000 (4.31 USD)

Notice: 

  • The combos of 3 and 4 venues have 2-day validity.
  • During Tet Holiday (Vietnamese New Year Holiday): Free entry

Travel Tips

There are 127 steps in Khai Dinh Royal Tomb. Besides, it normally takes 1 to 2 hours to discover all about Khai Dinh Tomb. Therefore, I highly recommend you to wear suitable shoes or sneakers for easy moving.  Khai Dinh Tomb is an ideal place to capture the beauty of Hue. The view from the tomb is also incredible. Thus, save room on your phones or cameras for beautiful photos if you want

Khai Dinh Royal Tomb Architecture

From far away, Khai Dinh Tomb looks like a European castle because it was built in a new style to suit the Emperor’s taste. In addition, this construction is a combination of many kinds of architecture

They built the pillars in the gate in Indian architecture style. The obelisks with the minarets shaped are like southern Asian “Stupas”. The fence of the tomb looks like some catholic crosses, while the Stele house was built with octagonal pillars. And the domes are in Roman style. 

Tam Quan Gate

After climbing up 37 steps, we reach Tam Quan Gate. On this first floor, there are 2 constructions called Left and Right Mandarins Hall. The traditional function of buildings of this type at other tombs was to honor the meritorious civil mandarins (left) and military mandarin (right).

Tam Quan Gate
Khai Dinh Royal Tomb – Tam Quan Gate

The Honor Courtyard And Stele Pavilion Area

All the construction in this area served as memorials to the Emperor. The stone sculptures of mandarins, soldiers, elephants, and horses in the courtyard are one of the most distinctive collections of sculptures in Hue.

The obelisks on both sides of the courtyard, symbolize dynastic stability and majesty. The large stele in the pavilion bears Emperor Khai Dinh’s biography written by his son – Emperor Bao Dai.

Thien Dinh Palace

The most important building in this complex is Thien Dinh Palace. It is located in the highest place and also the main structure of this tomb. 

When walking into the Thien Dinh Palace, you will be thrilled by the exquisite mosaic art. The artisans broke the porcelain imported from China and Japan into small pieces and inlaid them on the walls. The images look so lively and pleasing to the eye.

Besides, the picture “Nine dragons hiding under clouds” drawn on the ceiling by the artist Phan Van Tanh is one of the masterpieces in the art of Vietnam. The most special detail in this picture is that he drew it by his feet.

Thien Dinh Palace

Khai Thanh Temple

It is located inside Thien Dinh Palace with the gilt bronze statue of Emperor Khai Dinh sitting on the throne. While the graves of other Emperors of the Nguyen Dynasty are not identified in an exact place, this one is different. It is believed that Khai Dinh’s grave is under his statue.

Another impressive thing is the one-ton drapery above the Emperor’s throne. They made it so exquisitely with delicate patterns. Behind the Emperor’s throne, there is a pattern of the sun setting. Emperor is the son of God, so when the Emperor passed away, it was just like the sunset.

Khai Thanh Temple
Khai Dinh Royal Tomb – Khai Thanh Temple

How To Travel To Khai Dinh Royal Tomb

Khai Dinh Royal Tomb is about 10km from the city center. It actually lies quite far in the mountain, so it is not effortless to find the way by yourself.

The first option to get there is to book a taxi. This is the fastest and most comfortable way, yet the most costly one.

The second way is to take the number-5-route bus. The departure is either Hue Southern bus station (97 An Duong Vuong Str, Hue City), or Tuan (Huong Tho commune, Huong Tra town, Hue. One of its bus stops is Khai Dinh Tomb.

If you want to experience more about royal tombs in Hue, you can consider to book Hue City Tour Full Day

A Brief History About Khai Dinh Tomb
Khai Dinh Royal Tomb with VM Travel

The third way is to book Hue City Tour by motorbike with private female guides . They will ride you on the motorbikes so that you can enjoy the scenery. Besides Khai Dinh Tomb, the tour also includes other fantastic attractions. They will introduce Hue to you like a friend talking about their beloved hometown, so I am sure you will satisfy with the tour.

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