Dong Khanh Tomb: The Lovely Imperial Tomb of Hue City

Dong Khanh emperor tomb is one of the last imperial mausoleums in Vietnam. It’s the burial place for the nineth king of the Nguyen dynasty in Hue and other members of the family (this point is similar to Gia Long tomb). Although owning sophisticated structures, there are not so many people coming here to visit. One of the reasons is its location that is just 1 minute away from Tu Duc tomb – the biggest royal tomb of the city and a must see aftraction. Within a ‘hidden’ corner, day trippers ignore it. However, Dong Khanh tomb is pretty and transquil. We highly recommend it for those who are interested in history, art and architecture (the tomb blends east and west traditions). 

In this article, all of what travelers want to know about Dong Khanh tomb is outlined. 

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About Dong Khanh Emperor

Family of Dong Khanh King

Dong Khanh (meaning ‘collective celebration’ in Vietnamese language) is the 9th emperor of the Nguyen dynasty. He was borned in 1864 at Hue with full name ‘Nguyen Phuc Ung Ky’. His father – Nguyen Phuc Hong Cai is the 26th son of Thieu Tri king, and also is one of younger brothers of Tu Duc king – the 4th emperor. When he is 2, Tu Duc adopts him (with two others, Nguyen Phuc Ung Chan – later Duc Duc king and Nguyen Phuc Ung Dang – later Kien Phuc king) because of no children to take over the throne. Dong Khanh is the oldest boy in the three. 

The Coronation and Reign

Nguyen Phuc Ung Ky was raised and educated by Tu Duc king and his wifes. In 1883, his adopted father passed away and Nguyen Phuc Ung Chan was chosen to be the succesor (at age of 31). However, this emperor was jailed and died there a few days later because of his unaccepted mistakes in his father’s funeral ceremony. Nguyen Phuc Hong Dat, the youngest brother of Tu Duc king replaced the position quickly then and became Hiep Hoa king. Once again, after a short time (same year 1883), he was dethroned and Nguyen Phuc Ung Dang was crowned to become ‘Kien Phuc king’. Following a sudden death without reasons at age of 15, this emperor was replaced by Hiep Hoa. It’s interesting that Hiep Hoa’s family had 3 kings although the father isn’t. 

Hiep Hoa emperor sat on the throne for more than 4 months a bit. He died in 1883 when he’s 36 yeards old. According to history, because four of his siblings were crowned already, so he was impatient. That’s why he came to the temple for the Golddess of Thien Y Ana to pray and the goddess said that he would be a king but just for a couple of months. After his coronation, he honoured this god as ‘his sister’ and since then, her temple has been always busy by prayers. The temple today exactly is Hon Chen temple by the Perfume river, close to Dong Khanh tomb. 

In the reign of Dong Khanh king, French people started their colonization in the country. They built the railway across Vietnam, harbours, constructed Truong Tien bridge to span the Perfume river, or Dong Khanh school for female students. 

Tomb of Dong Khanh Emperor

Dong Khanh tomb (or Tu Lang) is a group of temples and tombs for Dong Khanh emperor himself, his family members and other personalities. To complete it, different Nguyen kings .

The first building in Dong Khanh tomb complex is the tomb of his father – Nguyen Phuc Hong Cai or Kien Thai Vuong who passed away in 1876. When he’s crowned in 1888, he requested to build a temple (name: Truy Tu palace) to worship the dead father. While this temple wasn’t finished yet, Dong Khanh died due to an unknown desease. For that reason, it’s used for worshipping him mainly, and its new name is Nguyen Hy palace. Thanh Thai king – the succesor continued the construction until completed. The tomb of Dong Khanh emperor is 100 away from the temple, up the hill today. Due to no designs and no time to prepare, it looks modesty comparing to other imperial mausoleums in Hue.

The next ‘touch’ is in Khai Dinh king’s reign. Khai Dinh is the 12nd king of Nguyen dynasty, and is the oldest son of Dong Khanh. He was crowned in 1916, and immediately renovated his father’s mausoleum. From 1916 to 1923, the tomb had new additions, such as a memorial stele on which the son praised his dad, statues, and decorative details. Like Khai Dinh tomb, French influences were blended into traditional and royal architectures here. Colorful panels of glass, flowered tiles, or designs were used, making the tomb very interested.  

From 2018 to 2022, the largest conservation project was done, giving Dong Khanh tomb . 

In the same ground, visitors also see the tomb of Dong Khanh king’s wife (mother of Khai Dinh king), tomb of Canh prince (the first son of Gia Long king – the dynasty founder) and tomb of grandmother of Gia Long king. All of them are near the burial place of the king.

Dong Khanh Tomb Opening Hours and Ticket Price

Dong Khanh tomb opens from 7 am to 5:30 pm everyday. And, Dong Khanh ticket price is 100,000 VND for adult and children above than 12 years old. It’s free of charge for visitors under 12 years old. The combo of Tu Duc tomb and Dong Khanh tomb costs 200,000 VND for adult (saving 50,000 VND), and 30,000 VND for children from 7 to 12 years old. 

To see ticket price of other historical sites, browse

How to Get to Dong Khanh Tomb

Location of Dong Khanh Tomb

Dong Khanh tomb is in Cu Sy village, Thuy Xuan ward, 7 km southwest of Hue city centre. From the Imperial city, the distance is 6,5 km and it’s 8 km from Thien Mu pagoda.  

Car and Taxi

Cars can go to Dong Khanh tomb by Doan Nhu Hai road (same direction to Tu Duc tomb). From Hue city centre, it takes travelers 15 minutes (distance is 7 km). Usually, nobody misses Tu Duc tomb, so if taking a taxi, you can walk to Dong Khanh tomb (and back) and tell the driver to wait.  

Bicycle and Motorcycle 

If don’t book tours, travelers often get to the tombs by motorcycle or bicycle. The motorcycle is the preference because the tombs are in the mountains.

The quickest way to go from Hue city centre to Dong Khanh tomb by motorcycle and bicycle is by Le Ngo Cat street. From everywhere in the city, travelers need to reach the Nam Giao esplanade first and then go on Le Ngo Cat road (from the traffic light). Usually, locals turn left at 69 Le Ngo Cat (Gooogle maps: 16°26’07.2″N 107°34’27.2″E) and follow the laneway until its end. At there, if turn left, that is Dong Khanh tomb and Tu Duc tomb is to the right. Parking is free at the moment in Dong Khanh musoleum.  

Dong Khanh Tomb on Google Maps

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