Royal Tombs of Khai Dinh

Offering a peek inside old Vietnam, The Royal Tombs of Khai Dinh will definitely be worth the climb.

Set on the steep hills of Chau Chu mountain in Hue, and the Royal Tombs of Khai Dinh are playing hard to get. Indeed, according to local guides, the tomb’s challenging access was intentional when designers set out to build it in the early 20th century. Back in the day, visitors paying their respects had to climb 127 steps to reach the emperor’s final resting place. Thanks to rapidly developing tourism in the region, getting to the tomb is no longer a struggle. Once you reach its lofty grounds, the staggering architectural blend of the structure will make you forget about the road.

Reflecting the unusual taste of Khai Dinh, the tomb is an amalgam of flamboyant Oriental and European architectural styles. The emperor was a loyal advocate of the French regime in the region, which is potentially the motivation behind the tomb’s European influences. Matching its intimidating location, the monument has a dark grey hue and intense Gothic curves on the outside. It will get you in the mood immediately once you start climbing the stairs leading to the forecourt. There, statues of honor guards offer a unique spectacle among other tombs in Vietnam. Art manifests itself most vigorously in Thien Dinh, the main building. From flashy dragons to porcelain and glass ornaments, its interior is the exact opposite of its exterior.

Finally, you will reach the Emperor’s Crypt, which requires no introductory signs. Washed in gold on every inch, the burial room is the definition of imperial glory. The emperor lies under a spectacular statue of his enthroned figure. But, the highlight of the room is arguably the massive laced canopy hanging over the tomb. Savor every bit of this unusual monument, representing both sides of the history of Vietnam.

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