The Tomb of Khai Dinh, Vietnam’s last emperor but one, occupies a hill in Chau Chu village, south of Hue. It took 11 years to build—longer than Khai Dinh himself reigned. An elaborate, Gothic structure, with blackened concrete exteriors and flamboyantly gaudy interiors, it fuses French, Vietnamese, and Chinese architectural styles.
Gain entry to the Tomb of Khai Dinh for a noticeable sum, with heavy discounts for children. Most travelers visit from Hue, capital of the Nguyen dynasty from 1802, as part of a tour of imperial sites including the citadel and other royal tombs. Many tours include a Perfume River cruise.
While you don’t need a guide to appreciate the spectacular colors of Khai Dinh’s tomb, many visitors will get more out of Hue with a guide who can explain Vietnam’s imperial history. It’s also possible to explore Hue as a day trip from Hoi An, 78 miles (125 kilometers) to the south.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Tomb of Khai Dinh is a must for photographers, Instagrammers, history buffs, and lovers of kitsch.
- As at other imperial Hue sites, a dress code applies. Singlets and short shorts are not acceptable: Cover shoulders, thighs, and upper arms.
- There are a lot of steps at the tomb, so wear comfortable shoes.
- The Tomb of Khai Dinh is not wheelchair-accessible.
How to Get There
The Tomb of Khai Dinh occupies a hill in the village of Chau Chu, around 6 miles (9 kilometers) south of Hue. There’s no public transport and it’s not accessible by boat. Rather than cycle or drive, many travelers prefer to join a tour or arrange a private driver-guide.
When to Get There
The Tomb of Khai Dinh is open from morning to early evening seven days a week and is at its busiest on weekends and over the Tet (lunar new year) holiday celebrations. It can get pretty sticky climbing the steps in the heat of the day, so aim to visit early for a more mellow experience.
Who Was Khai Dinh?
The 12th Nguyen emperor, Khai Dinh ruled Vietnam from 1916 to 1925, when he died aged just 40. He believed in working with France, the colonial occupier, and visited Marseilles and Paris to learn more about European culture. Although he produced one son, Vietnam’s last emperor, Bao Dai, experts generally believe Khai Dinh was gay.