On these occasions the emperor sat on the raised dais, wearing a golden tunic and a crown decorated with nine dragons, under a spectacular gilded canopy. He faced south across the Esplanade of Great Salutations, a stone-paved courtyard where the mandarins stood, civil mandarins to the left and military on the right, lined up in their appointed places beside eighteen stelae denoting the nine subdivided ranks. A French traveller in the 1920s witnessed the colourful spectacle, with “perfume-bearers in royal-blue, fan-bearers in sky-blue waving enormous yellow feather fans, musicians and guardsmen and ranks of mandarins in their curious hats and gorgeous, purple-embroidered dragons, kow-towing down, down on their noses amidst clouds of incense – and all in a setting of blood-red lacquer scrawled with gold.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Vietnam features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park: Vietnam's last paradise?

Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park: Vietnam's last paradise?

Planning a trip to Vietnam and keen to explore some of its most spectacular scenery? A little north of the 17th parallel – the demarcation where Vietnam was o…

18 Apr 2017 • Rachel Mills insert_drive_file Article
7 places to get off the tourist trail in Vietnam

7 places to get off the tourist trail in Vietnam

The verdant limestone stacks of Ha Long Bay and the bustling streets of Hanoi are well established (and essential) stops along Vietnam’s tourist trail. But th…

04 Apr 2017 • Rachel Mills insert_drive_file Article
The 10 most beautiful places in Vietnam – as voted by you

The 10 most beautiful places in Vietnam – as voted by you

Here at Rough Guides we’ve always known that Vietnam is magical. The gleaming skyscrapers of the country's booming cities have a singular kind of beauty that …

27 Jan 2017 • Rachel Mills camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month