Hue is dotted with tombs, palace, and other historical sites in the rural area inaccessible to public transportation. We can either rent a motorbike, book a private tour, or join a group tour. Since neither of us can ride a motorbike, we decided to join a group tour to save money.
Below is our itinerary from the tour operator’s website:
Minh Mang Tomb -> Dinh tomb ->Tu Duc tomb -> Martial art of Kinh Van An->Conical Hat Making and Incense Making Village -> lunch -> Citadel -> Thien Mu Pagoda -> Perfume River Cruise
As you can see, we visited three tombs in total, all in different styles. We went on a drizzling day and it adds to the atmosphere of the tombs. Our tour guide was engaging and spoke great English. He told us about an emperor who has more than a hundred children (from several hundred concubines). The grounds of the tombs are beautiful, all with their backs facing a mountain and front overlooking the water. We were told that such setting is best for fengshui which ensures a great afterlife for the king and prosperity for his future generations.
Our first stop was Minh Mang Tomb. The construction of the tomb began before King Minh Mang’s death, as it was the custom of other royal tombs. It took four years for the Vienamese to complete this palace-like structure.
With 40 structures in the complex, there was ample space for us to meandering around, without our picture being blocked by other tourists. We only needed to walk a few steps away from our tour group to enjoy the serenity of the grounds.
Our next stop was Tomb of Khai Dinh. Our tour bus stopped at the entrance where we were immediately greeted by two freights of stairs. King Khai Dinh’s tomb is much smaller than that of Minh Mang, and apparently his other predecessors. By then it was already mid-morning and the site was overwhelmed by tourists.
After a short hike up to the main complex, we enjoyed the breathtaking view below. It would have been a tranquil area if not for the tour groups (ours being one of them).
The construction of tomb lasted a decade and took the entire 1920s, and the interior clearly shows international influence. The dragon in the below picture shows bits and pieces of Japanese ceramics, while the drapery above the statue of King Dinh in the picture further down shows significant European influence.
Tu Duc tomb was the last tomb we visited in Hue. It was again in a very serene setting. We learned that the king actually used the site as his living quarters prior to his death. There were chambers for the royal family. He also enjoyed reading and writing poetry at the pavilion by the lake.
Statues of elephant and horse were meticulously carved for the King’s enjoyment in his afterlife.
After a buffet lunch we were taken to Citadel in Hue City center. Sadly, much of the original palace was destroyed or left to decay during Vietnam war, and restoration was in process. Most of what we saw was replica built on the original site.
Our last stop of the day was Thien Mu Pagoda in Hue city center. The Pagoda has seven stories and is the tallest temple in Hue. We were not allowed to go up the pagoda but even from the ground, we get a very good view of Perfume River.
After an uneventful boat ride along the perfume river, our tour concluded in early evening. Tomorrow, we will head to Hoi An, a picturesque ancient town three hours south of Hue.
This is one of the posts from our two-week trip to Japan and Vietnam. Below is our itinerary. For other posts, please click on the links below:
Day 1 & Day 3 : Kyoto: Heart of Traditional Japan.
Day 2: Deers in Nara
Day 4 – Day 5: Hakone: Hot Spring Ryokan and the Non-sighting of Mt. Fuji
Day 5: City Lights in Tokyo
Day 6: Last Day in Tokyo: Meiji Shrine and Tsujiki Fish Market
Day 7-8: Ha Long Bay: A night at the Bay of Descending Dragon
Day 9: One Day Tour in Hanoi
Day 10: Historical Sites in Hue
Day 11 -12 Hoi An : Picturesque Ancient Town