In the spirit of the world’s great wonders, the Minh Mang tomb complex is one of immense beauty and symmetrical genius. Be willing to take your time exploring this site; there are 40 constructs (palaces, temples, pagodas and pavilions) that lead up to the surrounding wall of the sepulchre.
Minh Mang was renowned for his antipathy to European penetration of Vietnam. French missionaries, diplomats and even an envoy from US President Andrew Jackson were spurned by the emperor. However, in 1845, faced with an invasion from Siam and the Opium War in China, Minh Mang became so alarmed that he began to curry favour with European Powers. The French king, Louis Philippe, however shunned Minh Mang’s delegation in much the same as the emperor had previously rejected the missions from France.
For something different on your way to the emperors’ tombs, stop off at Duc Son Pagoda. The pagoda, in Cu Chanh village, 7 km south of Hue, is home to around 200 lively orphaned and unwanted children, cared for by a team of dedicated, Buddhist nuns and volunteers. The orphanage is considered one of the best run orphanages in Central Vietnam. Visitors are always welcome and the kids are a joy to be with. For a special lunch try the delicious vegetarian food at the Tinh Tam vegetarian restaurant, run by the Duc Son pagoda nuns to support the orphanage. The restaurant is a 5 minute walk from the pagoda.