The Tomb of Minh Mang

The tomb of Minh Mang is the grandest of the three. It's also the only one on the "left" bank of the Perfume river. A short drive from the tomb of Khai Dinh will bring you to a landing where you can hire a boat to take you across for a few dollars. However, if you've got the time, consider combining a boat trip to Thien Mu pagoda with travel on to the tomb of Minh Mang. By boat, getting to both places and back to central Hue will take the better part of a day.

The Minh Lau Pavilion The Minh Lau Pavilion

The entrance to the tomb is a short walk from the boat landing. You enter by a gate which is off to one side of the central axis. There is a much grander entrance that was closed at the time of our visit. Just inside the main gate is a large courtyard with a hall on the other side. You'll recognize the design and style by now. This one has just been restored, in fact.

What makes this tomb so grand is the way it's spaced out. Going around the hall (you can't go through because they haven't finished the restorations) you get to another big courtyard. There are two flanking halls for mandarins, and a pavilion (the Minh Lau pavilion) atop a small hill.

Detail of the roof of the halls Detail of the roof of the halls

As the buildings in this tomb are all newly restored, it's a good place to have a close look at the detailing typical of the imperial and religious buildings of this period. The roof tiles are always green or red, with the ends capped by a round seal. The corners will have dragons of either painted cast cement, or sometimes are decorated with bits of glazed pottery.

View of the maze with bridge to the tomb behind View of the maze with bridge to the tomb behind

Behind the Minh Lau Pavilion, you descend through a small maze garden to a bridge which crosses the lake and leads to the massive enclosure surrounding the emperor's burial place. Inside the circular wall is actually just a mound of earth covered by now mature trees, and it was closed off on the day we were there.

However, even if you can't get into the sepulcher, it's still worth making the trip all the way to the padlocked bronze doors of the tomb, even in a light rain, just to get a look back down the avenue of bridges and buildings. It's yet another "tomb with a view."

As mentioned above, the tomb of Minh Mang is on the opposite side of the river from the other tombs. You can get a boat across the river at a village just a short drive from the tomb of Kai Dinh, or you can get a boat all the way from the center of town, and stop at the Thien Mu pagoda as well on your way. Entrance to the tomb if 55,000 Dong (-55,000.00 USD).