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Travel Diary / Vietnam

HUE, an underrated city (part 2)

Around Hué: Royal Mausoleums and Tam Giang Lagoon

Royal tombs

The extravagant mausoleums of the Nguyen Dynasty (1802 – 1945) are spread out along the banks of the perfume river, in the south of Hué. I visited 3 of them and had never imagined Royal Tombs to be such immense, detailed and planned architectural and historical sites! 

As mentioned in the first part of this article, I bought a combination ticket for 3 tombs and the Imperial enclosure at a discounted price.

There are different transportation options to reach the tombs from Hué. You can easily do a DIY itinerary and cycle to the different locations as the terrain is relatively flat and the roads are traffic free outside the town. If you opt for a boat trip, take note that another transportation will still be required from the mooring to the Royal Tomb. The various traveler cafés in town offer different options and you can also join groups.

Tomb of Khai Dinh

I hired a taxi to visit 3 of the Royal tombs and it cost around VND 550,000 (approx. USD 25). 
Khai Dinh entrance

The Tomb of Khai Dinh, located in Chau Chu village (10km south of Hué) was my personal favorite. It took 11 years to construct this tomb.

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Its hillside location provides awesome views and its architecture being a mix of European and Vietnamese style, is different from the other tombs. The blackened concrete provides a Gothic air to the site and I was surprised to discover the colorful interiors at the main building, Thien Dinh, located at the top of three flight of stairs. Here, the bronze statue of Khai DInh is surrounded by unique mosaic designs and murals on the walls and ceilings. His remains are located 18m below his statue.

Khai Dinh Main Building
Mosaic inside

Tomb of Minh Mang

This tomb is located in An Bang village, about 12km from Hué, on the west bank of the Perfume River. Although planned by Minh Mang himself, this tomb was completed by his successor, Thieu Tri. 

Tomb of Ming Manh

It is renowned for its architecture and peaceful settings where all the elements (temples, bridges, lakes and pavilions) beautifully blend to the surrounding greenery and forests. 

Tomb of Tu Duc

Constructed between 1864 and 1867, this tomb was designed by Emperor Tu Duc and he even used it as a retreat before his death. It is located 5km south of Hué, on Van Nien Hill in Duong Xuan Village. Locals protested the enormous costs and the forced labor involved in its construction but were silenced by emperor’s forces.

Inside Tomb of Tu Duc

With its 40 structures, it is believed to be the most impressive of all the Royal tombs. As you enter the tomb you can see the lake area where the Emperor used to boat and hunt small game. He would sit with his concubines at the Pavilion in the middle of the lake, reciting or writing poetry. Emperor Tu Duc reigned the longest but had no offspring despite having more than 100 wives and concubines 

Tomb of Tu Duc

He even had to write his own steele as he had no son to do it for him after his death; where he admitted about his mistakes and called his tomb Khiem (modest). Surprisingly, he was not buried here but in a location kept secret.

Tam Giam Lagoon: a peaceful location of utmost natural beauty

My trip to Hué would have been incomplete without a sunset or sunrise trip at Tam Giang Lagoon! Tam Giang is one of the lagoons of the coastal plain of Thua Thien. Located between 15 – 22 km from Hué (depending on which village you are visiting), Tam Giang Lagoon is the location where 3 rivers (Perfume, Bo and O Lau) meet before flowing to the ocean. 

Tam Giang Lagoon…

Happiness is enjoying the little things in life…

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It has a length of 24 km and covers an area of around 52 square kilometers. It is considered the largest freshwater lagoon in South East Asia and belived to be the richest in flora and fauna, both on land and underwater. With its high biodiversity and abundance of aquatic ressources, the locals raise fish, and other seafood like shrimps, clams that are either sold in the local markets, to wholesalers or are sent in local villages to make fish sauce. 

Fishing time…

I sarted my trip from Hué at the back of a motorbike and reached Tam Giang lagoon via picturesque ridebeautiful sceneries across local villages rustic villages/ ladscapes serene atmosphere. I went on a boat with a local fisherman, where I learnt about sustanaible aquaculture and life in the little village and tried my hand at net fishing. It was extremely cloudy that day and sunset was not really visible and I was a tad bit disappointed. However,while I was sampling fresh seafood at one of the restaurants on stilts, the sky suddenly turned orange and purple (that famous purple sunset of Tan Giang) and I could not have been happier! 

Amazing colors at Sunset at Tam Giang Lagoon… I wish I could stay there!

This whole area is also extremely peaceful, serene and you don’t feel like leaving. It is a less explored part of Vietnam. I couldn’t help feeling blissful as I sat there eating with only locals and enjoying the amazing colors of Sunset on the lagoon…

Do I need to say I was extremely glad to have added Hué to my itinerary?

Tip: Visit Tam giang at sunrise or sunset for amazing colors
So much food…

Have you visited Hué ? How was your experience? Do not hesitate to leave your comments below or ask me questions about my trip – I will be happy to answer 😉 

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