Tu Duc Tomb – The Royal Tomb Of A Poet’s Soul

Tu Duc Tomb - Vietnam Vacation Travel


Hue, the ancient capital of Vietnam under the Nguyen Dynasty (1802- 1945) is famous for a valuable complex of Hue monuments. It is one of the must-visit destinations for all kinds of tourists. With a collection of 7 royal tombs, each of them processes its own unique feature and reflects the character of the owner- the emperor. This article, Vietnam Vacation Travel will lead you to explore and learn more about the tomb of the 4th emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty, the Tu Duc Tomb.

Information About The Tomb Of Tu Duc

Location And Transportation

Located about 8km from the city centre, Emperor Tu Duc built his mausoleum in a narrow valley in Thuong Ba Village, Thuy Xuan Commune, Hue City. 

To get there, you can take Huyen Tran Cong Chua Street, pass Thuy Xuan Incense Village, and then turn left onto Doan Nhu Hai Street. Keep driving for a bit, and you will start feeling the crowded atmosphere as you approach the tourist destination. Just follow the crowd to reach the tomb.

This place is most convenient to travel by motorbike or car or have a quick trip by Hue tour bus, or you can use our private car to enjoy the comfortable and best experience with an English-speaking driver who can explain everything you need to know about Hue. Hue Private Car and our Hue Tours are willing to serve visitors who want to discover Hue.

Or you can take a trip to other highlight destinations with:

Ideal Time To Visit, Opening Hours, Entrance Fee

The perfect time to visit this place is from January to February when the weather is either at the end of the rainy season or pleasantly mild. Immerse yourself in the Tet atmosphere, which you can feel all the way from the city centre to Tu Duc Tomb.

Tu Duc Tomb - Vietnam Vacation Travel
Visitors take photos in Tu Duc Tomb.

Tu Duc royal tomb is open daily, from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Ticket prices:

  • 150.000 VND for foreign visitors
  • 100.000 VND for Vietnamese
  • 20.000 VND for children

One more special thing in Vietnam, in 3 first days of Tet or on some special holidays like The Independence Day of Vietnam (02/09), and Hue Liberation Day (26/03), all of the tourist destinations are open for free for visitors.

History Of Tu Duc Tomb And Its Owner

Tu Duc Emperor

Emperor Tu Duc (1847 -1883) had the real name Nguyen Phuc Hong Nham, later changed to Nguyen Phuc Thi after accession. He was the fourth Emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty. His reign lasted for about 36 years from 1847 to 1883, making it the longest in the Nguyen Dynasty.

Tu Duc Tomb - Vietnam Vacation Travel
Emperor Tu Duc

Despite his expertise in philosophy, oriental history, and literature, he failed to govern the country effectively. Additionally, this reign was during the time when Vietnam was facing the challenges of Western developing capitalism and French colonization. The Emperor and the Nguyen Dynasty from now on became mere puppets of the French.

Tu Duc Tomb Hue

He has to think of building his tomb very soon because he needs a place of refuge from the hectic nature of court duties and provides a much-needed respite after a long day of ruling a country. Also, he does not have good physical health and he does not have children, so he has to make his tomb for himself.

Tu Duc Tomb - Vietnam Vacation Travel
The lake in the tomb is full of lotus in summer.

In 1864, he started to build this place. At first, this place was expected to be finished in 6 years and named “Van Nien Co” (meaning a palace can stay thousands of years). But the pressure from the French colonialists, he had to push the progress to 3 years. Thousands of workers, civilians and soldiers had to work hard in harsh conditions, which caused a rebellion from the workers, “Loan Chay Voi” (1866).

Although the rebellion failed, the people of Hue were angry at their Emperor and wrote a folk about it:

“Vạn Niên là Vạn Niên nào,

Thành xây xương lính, hào đào máu dân”

After this occasion, the Emperor had to write a eulogy and rename it to Khiêm Palace. When he gave up his last breath and was buried here, its name changed to Khiêm Mausoleum.

The Architecture Of Tu Duc Tomb

Special Of Tu Duc Royal Tomb

Tu Duc Emperor was an Emperor who was very keen on Confucianism, so all of the constructions in this place have “khiêm” in their name meaning “modesty”, an important virtue of a person due to Confucianism.

Fengshui is the most important thing for each of the tombs of an Emperor. Khiem Mausoleum is located in a narrow valley and surrounded by a pine forest, with Giang Khiem Mountain as the guarding screen, Duong Xuan Mountain as the “base” and Luu Khiem Lake as the “Minh đường tụ thủy” (water converge). All of these fengshui elements mean richness, peace and happiness.

Tu Duc Tomb - Vietnam Vacation Travel

Structure Of Khiem Mausoleum

Tu Duc Tomb covers an area of approximately 12 hectares, which is ten times larger than Gia Long Tomb, the resting place of the first Emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty.

Unlike other tombs in Hue, this royal tomb is divided into two areas that are positioned parallel to each other: The Shrine Area and the Tomb Area. The land of this tomb is also scattered with nearly 50 buildings that are located in clusters.

Tu Duc Tomb - Vietnam Vacation Travel

The buildings are arranged in a harmonious way that is not too dense, creating a comfortable and pleasant space. The overall atmosphere is reminiscent of the romantic and poetic aura of an Emperor, yet it still retains the grandeur of an imperial palace.

Discover Emperor Tu Duc Tomb

Khiem Cung Gate

This is a beautiful gate area with two floors and a gazebo-like design, located across from Luu Khiem Lake. The gate has three entrances – one in the middle that was used exclusively by the Emperor (but is now closed since the Tu Duc Emperor has passed away), and two others on the left and right that were used by military and civil mandarins.

Tu Duc Tomb - Vietnam Vacation Travel
Khiem Cung Gate

Go through Khiem Cung Gate and you will see Hoa Khiem Palace, this is where the Emperor used to work, and now is the place worshipping Tu Duc Emperor and Empress Hoang Le Thien Anh. On the two sides are Phap Khiem Vu and Le Khiem Vu, places for his servants to rest.

Tu Duc Tomb - Vietnam Vacation Travel
The altar of Emperor Tu Duc.

Luong Khiem Temple

Behind Hoa Khiem Palace, there was a tea room where the Emperor would rest. Later, Emperor Tu Duc converted the place into a shrine to honour his mother, Empress Dowager Tu Du.

Tu Duc Tomb - Vietnam Vacation Travel
Luong Khiem Temple

Luu Khiem Lake And Tinh Khiem Islet

Luu Khiem Lake is a small stream that has been excavated to become a lake. During the summer, the lake is filled with lotus, creating a beautiful and romantic scenery.

Tu Duc Tomb - Vietnam Vacation Travel
Luu Khiem Lake and Tinh Khiem Islet

Tinh Khiem Islet is in the centre of a lake. During his reign, Emperor Tu Duc cultivated numerous beautiful flowers and rare species on the islet. Additionally, there are three bridges across the lake – Tuan Khiem Bridge, Dien Khiem Bridge, and Do Khiem Bridge – which lead to a pine hill offering breathtaking views.

Tu Duc Tomb - Vietnam Vacation Travel

Also, there are Du Khiem Ta and Xung Khiem Ta on the lake where he used to read books, compose poems, and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere.

Tu Duc Tomb - Vietnam Vacation Travel

Minh Khiem Ancient Theatre

Minh Khiem Ancient Theatre is on the left of Luong Khiem Temple. It was built by Emperor Tu Duc for his love of plays and music. The theatre was known for showcasing “Cải Lương” and “Nhã Nhạc Cung Đình” performances to entertain the Emperor. Minh Khiem Theatre is one of the oldest theatres in Vietnam.

Tu Duc Tomb - Vietnam Vacation Travel
Inside Minh Khiem Theatre

The burial area

The first tomb area, named Honour Courtyard, is situated behind the worshipping area and features two rows of statues of officials who served the Emperor in his afterlife.

Tu Duc Tomb - Vietnam Vacation Travel
Honour Courtyard

After that is the Stele Pavilion (Bi Dinh), which houses a 20-ton stone stele. This stele is adorned with the inscription “Khiem Cung Ky” which was personally written by Tu Duc Emperor. It is the biggest stone stele in Vietnam and contains 4,935 words narrating his life, career, achievements, and setbacks.

Tu Duc Tomb - Vietnam Vacation Travel
Stone Steele Pavilion

Behind the stele, there are two Biểu pillars which symbolize the authority and virtue of the Emperor. Tieu Khiem Tri Lake is shaped like a moon and is used to collect rainwater that is used to wash the soul of the Emperor before his transcendence. Buu Thanh, the three-floor citadel of bricks, is located above Tieu Khiem Tri Lake and is the Emperor’s grave. It has a maze inside to keep the resting place of the Emperor safe and quiet.

Tu Duc Tomb - Vietnam Vacation Travel
Biểu Pillar

There is a secret area in Khiem Mausoleum that only a few people know about. It is called Bối Mausoleum, and it is the resting place of Emperor Kien Phuc, who was the 7th Emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty. Since Tu Duc had no child, Kien Phuc was adopted at the age of 2, and he became the Emperor in 1883. However, after only eight months of reign, he suddenly passed away, and the cause of his death remains a mystery.

Tu Duc Tomb - Vietnam Vacation Travel
Inside the resting place of the Emperor

Travel Guide

Travel tips

  • This is a tomb of a passed-away Emperor, so we must respect the deceased person. You have to wear polite and comfortable clothes, not make noise, and not climb anywhere here.
  • Use sunscreen, wear sunglasses, and bring some water and snacks to enjoy this place for a long walk. Remember, do not litter.
  • Do not touch any objects or break branches of flowers in here.
  • You can buy some Mè Xửng (sesame candy), the Special Royal Tea of Hue, or some unique products for presents when you go home.
  • Last, but not least, prepare a full-battery camera or phone to take beautiful pictures.

Nearby attractions

Thuy Xuan Incense Village, a traditional craft village on the way to Emperor Tu Duc’s Royal Tomb. You can explore the villager’s life and their incense-making craft. You can also take beautiful photos in traditional Vietnamese costumes.

Vong Canh Hill is a stunning natural site overlooking Khiem Mausoleum. Here, you can revel in the idyllic, romantic scenery along the Perfume River.

Dong Khanh Tomb is a unique mausoleum that blends Asian and European architectural styles, surrounded by countryside vitae.


To sum up, the Tu Duc Tomb in Hue, Vietnam, is considered the most beautiful tomb in the complex of Hue Monuments. It is a destination that is not just worth a visit, but an experience that will leave you in awe. And if you’re eager to explore the other famous places in Hue, Vietnam Vacation Travel & Transport can offer you the best experience.