The Khai Dinh Tom can be found close to the Chau Chau Village, which is nearby the city of Hue in Vietnam. The tomb, which is officially the Ung Mausoleum, was constructed specifically for Khai Dinh, who was the twelfth Emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty.
The construction of the Khai Dinh Tomb began in 1920 and it wasn’t completed until 1931. The architecture of the tomb is a mix between Eastern and Western architecture and the tomb itself is much smaller than many of the other tombs that were created for Khai Dinh’s predecessors.
When you reach the outside of this tomb, you will think morbid thoughts due to all the dark colors you are seeing. However, those thoughts will change once you walk inside and see the multitude of colors before your eyes.
While the entire tomb leans against the Chau Chau Mountain, the two sides have huge sculptures of dragons. There are also twelve stone statues that represent bodyguards. The Khai Thanh Palace can be found at the top floor and there are nine more dragons on the ceiling there.
You must see all those areas before you reach Khai Dinh’s grave, which is located within the rear room of the palace, inside a temple.
What to Expect During a Tour of the Khai Dinh Tomb
When you reach the Khai Dinh Tom, you will look up one hundred and twenty-seven stairs to see the gate that you must walk through. The gate is made from wrought iron and you will be thrilled when you finally reach it after the long climb.
When you reach the top, you will hope that you are done climbing, but you will quickly realize that you must tackle yet another thirty-seven stairs to reach the forecourt level, which is before the mausoleum. This is when you will pass by those two dragons, who are guarding the stairs and the mausoleum.
The forecourt is where the stone statue bodyguards can be found and in the middle is where you will find the octagonal stele pavilion. This pavilion commemorates all the accomplishments Khai Dinh had during his lifetime.
There is one more flight of stairs that you must climb up before you will finally be within the colorful tomb complex. You may only enter this area from the right side, because the front entrance is locked up tight. The walls of this area have intricate details that include glass and porcelain.
There is an exhibit of the personal belongings of Emperor Khai Dinh and a few of the items are a gold chair and photographs from throughout his life. The ceramic mosaics are the best part though, because the details are so incredible. Those mosaics were created by Vietnamese artisans. They used broken porcelain vases, as well as broken pieces of glass, to create the look you see today.
It is necessary to be very quiet when you are back by the altar, as this is a burial ground and respect must be given at all times. Not too far below the statue of Khai Dinh is his burial site. There is no way you can get closer to it, because the statue weighs more than a ton and cannot be moved.
The Khai Dinh Tomb is the last of the royal tombs that were put into place in Hue, because not too long after, the Nguyen Dynasty ended.
The Khai Dinh Tomb is a short six miles from Hue, so you can easily visit as part of a day trip, or just a quick getaway out of the city. You can take a cyclo out there, but sometimes the best experience is had when you take the time to go with a tour group.
The Khai Dinh Tomb is open every day of the week from eight o’clock in the morning until six o’clock in the evening. The entrance fee is 100,000 VND per person and that fee can be paid directly at the gate.
The best time to visit this tomb is during the sunny season, which is between the months of April and September. However, you can go the rest of the year, as long as you are prepared with rain gear, like a raincoat or an umbrella. It is also recommended that you wear comfortable and sturdy shoes, because those steps can take a toll on your feet if you are not prepared!
This is one of the best tombs in Hue, Vietnam, because it is showy without being too over the top. You will learn a lot about who Khai Dinh was and what he represented when you are visiting this tomb. There is one downside to the Khai Dinh Tomb though, and that is that it is not wheelchair, or mobility-challenged, friendly. Therefore, if you have issues walking, or climbing stairs, you probably will not get to see this masterpiece.