You may have heard of Hanoi being the seat of power for Vietnamese Emperors for over a thousand years, but did you know Hue was the Imperial City of the final feudal dynasty, the Nguyen? The wars have taken their toll on the royal complex; of the original 160 buildings, only less than 10 percent remain. However, ongoing restoration efforts have ensured its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Once you pass the Ngo Mon Gate, you’ll immediately see Thai Hoa Palace. The building and its courtyard were used for important ceremonies. The red-and-gold-accented To Mieu Temples were places of worship for deceased Nguyen royalty. Fortunately, most of the Forbidden City – where Emperors and their families lived and worked – was leveled. The emperor’s mother and grandmother dwelled in Dien Tho Palace. For downtime, Emperors retreated to the royal reading room in Thai Binh Lau. The Royal Treasury was rebuilt in the early 1900s with a distinctively French style thanks to colonization. Artists once entertained Emperors, royalty, and courtiers in Vietnam’s oldest theater, Duyet Thi Duong. Today, the place holds many important cultural events organized by the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism. It is also an attractive place to tourists who are curious about Nha Nhac (court music), another UNESCO-recognized intangible cultural heritage.

The emperors’ final resting places are scattered along the Huong River. It takes two full days to see all the tombs, so here’s a quick rundown. Gia Long Tomb is best for adventurers, as it’s remote, rarely visited, and enormous. History and culture lovers should go to the stately and colorful Minh Mang Tomb, or the colorful and artistic Tu Duc Tomb. Khai Dinh Tomb is an eclectic blend of Chinese, Vietnamese, French, and Cambodian architecture, set on a pine-covered hill. Duc Tomb is within the city, a small and humble resting place for a three-day Emperor.

Reviewed by

Diep Van

Phone: +84901166884


Diep Van

Founder & Photography Guide

Specialties: Culture, landscape, portrait, hiking, active and adventurous tour

Besides my unlimited passion for traveling, a professional tour guide for over a decade, I have been taking photographs since sitting at Hanoi of the University of Culture in the early 2000s. Photography started as a hobby but it was seriously taken due to my work relations and my significant passion for the beauty of our world, especially in Southeast Asian parts such as Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar.

Within a few years of taking photographs, my works began to be recognized by many reliable international publications such as AFAR Travel, The Times, and The Daily Telegraph newspaper. In addition, I continuously add to my growing profile by winning numerous major awards: 3rd Position of The Independent Photographer 2018, 1st Position of Amateur Photographer of the year 2018, Grand Prize Winner of the AFAR Travel Photography 2019, and a Gold Award of San Francisco Bay International Photography 2020.

I photograph a wide variety of subjects, from travel to landscapes to street scenes. I enjoy documenting the East’s rich cultural heritage and its land soaked in glorious sunrise or sunset light in remote and secluded spots. And, I am very happy to share my knowledge and experience with you. You can visit Luminousvietnamtour to explore tour!

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