The Tomb of Tu Doc, a 19th century Vietnamese emperor, is pretty indicative of his “living the good life” lifestyle. His tomb, outside of the city of Hue, is elaborate – with expansive hunting grounds, a fishing pond and even a spot for his concubines to relax over the lake. That’s right- according to history, Emperor Tu Doc had nearly 100 wives and concubines. Tu Doc was certainly living the “good life”.
Interestingly enough, the tomb of Tu Doc doesn’t actually hold his remains – instead it is used as a temple to worship the Emperor. At one time it was probably filled with art and treasure, now lost. Like all good royals, the Emperor left a mystery- the location of the Emperor’s remains are unknown because the servants involved in his burial and death ceremonies were beheaded to keep his final resting place a secret. Likely, he’s somewhere on the tomb’s grounds… maybe near the concubine’s hang out.
This is actually a picture of the Stele pavilion at entrance to the tomb. A stele is used to tell a story. Tu Doc’s stele is enormous and chronicles his reign. Perhaps most unusual about the stele is that it documents his illnesses and mistakes. A shockingly honest ruler for a man that beheaded his servants.
Behind the stele are the remains of scaled down horses, elephants and soldiers to remain with him in the afterlife.
IF YOU GO: Vietnam makes a great choice for tailor made holidays as there’s a lot to see and unless you have unlimited time, not enough hours in the day to get it all in. Until 1945, Hue was the imperial capital of the Nguyen dynasty. Outside of Hue there are several royal tombs that are often combined into one day. We went to the tomb of Tu Doc, Minh Mang, Kali Dinh and the Thien Mu Pagoda, but there are plenty of smaller tombs and sites along the river if you feel the need to explore. The tombs are a decent distance from the city, so unless you’re up for a long day of biking, skip the DIY bike rental. If you’re looking for inexpensive souvenirs, there’s a small tourist market near the Thien Mu Pagoda that is worth a look if you’re up for bargaining.