The Minh Mang Tomb is a medium sized structure, which gives it a unique appeal that is different than the massive tombs of many of the other former leaders. Of course, it is slightly larger and more impressive than that of Khai Dinh’s tomb, but that is to be expected because of the type of leader Minh Mang was.
You will find the Minh Mang Tomb not too far from the city of Hue, which means you can easily see it in half a day or less. Plus, this destination will give you a place to go outside of the hustle and bustle of the city streets.
The construction of the Minh Mang Tomb began when the Emperor himself began ruling the area. However, it was still not completed when he died, so his son and his successor, Thieu Tri, needed to take the necessary steps to have it completed for him.
There are approximately forty monuments within this royal tomb and that are all scattered amongst the oval section of the forty-four acres of land. You cannot see any of these monuments from the surrounding area though, because a wall was built high up around them all. In between the monuments and other sacred areas, you will find reflective ponds, which are perfect for meditating, and multiple pine trees.
When you go to enter the Minh Mang Tomb, you will need to walk from the parking lot to the Dai Hong Mon Gate. There are three openings within that gate, and you must enter through one of the side openings. The opening in the center of the gate has only been opened one time and that was when the Emperor was taken in to be buried after his death.
After you walk through the gated area, you will quickly come upon the Honor Courtyard. It is there that you will see the double row of elephants, horses, and mandarins. There are three staircases to walk down, so after choosing one, you will find yourself descending towards the Stele Pavilion. There used to be a sacrificial altar in this area, and it was used to kill livestock, out of respect for the Emperor’s soul.
Over at the Thanh Due Than Cong stele, you can read the inscription of the biography of Minh Mang, which was written by his successor, Thieu Tri. Once you are finished reading about the Emperor, you can walk through the Hien Duc Gate to see the Sung An Temple. This temple is where you can worship the Emperor, as well as his Empress, Ta Thien Han. The courtyards of this temple are surrounded by Right and Left Temples, as well as Right and Left Rooms.
Once you leave this temple, you will see three bridges that cross over the Lake of Impeccable Clarity. Walk over one of them to reach the Bright Pavilion, which has eight roofs. The pavilion is located on top of three terraces, which represent Heaven, Water, and Earth. There is another bridge just past this pavilion and that one crosses over the Lake of the New Moon. The large staircase at the end of the bridge goes to the sepulcher, which is closed in by a circular wall.
It is impossible to get through the locked bronze door to the burial site, but that doesn’t mean that you cannot pay your respects at any point during your visit.
It is easy to travel the seven miles to the Minh Mang Tomb, and while you can ride a cyclo there, it may be better to take one of the tours that are always being offered. The tour will ensure that you do not miss out on any of the fantastic features at this tomb.
It is best to visit this area when it is sunny and warm, which means planning your visit for the months of April through September. However, if you do happen to go at another time of the year, it is not a huge deal. The months of October through March are considered to be part of the rainy season though, so make sure you take an umbrella or a raincoat with you for your visit.
We also recommend wearing comfortable shoes when you wander around Minh Mang Tomb and any of the other tombs near the city of Hue. Each one of the tombs is in an area that is massive, so lots of walking is necessary to see the sights that should be seen.
Since there are so many different tombs in and around Hue, Vietnam, you may need to prioritize the ones that you see. This will especially be true if you are not staying in the area for too long and you are crunched for time. We will say that Minh Mang Tomb should be closer to the top of your list though, so keep that in mind as you are planning your itinerary.