This post was last updated on February 20th, 2020 at 08:41 pm
The My Son Temple complex in Central Vietnam is one of those sights in the area of Hoi An that is often skipped. However, if you have the time, a visit to these ruins is very worthwhile. We say ruins because the temple complex suffered a lot of bombings during the Vietnam War.
Nowadays, My Son Sanctuary is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. A visit to the temple complex during your trip through Vietnam gives you valuable information about the ancient Champa civilization, an important kingdom in Asia.
The temples are also very photogenic and with its location in a beautiful rural setting, a day trip from Hoi An or Da Nang city is an absolute must.
History of My Son
My Son was the capital of the Champa kingdom between the 4th and 13th century. The culture was based on Hinduism. The temples are, therefore, built for the Hindu gods. In particular, Shiva, who was known as the protector of the kings of Champa.
Between the 4th and 13th centuries, the kings built at least 70 temples in My Son. Over the centuries, the Cham have successfully repelled several Chinese attacks. In 1832, however, My Son was conquered by Minh Mang, the then emperor of Vietnam.
In the following years the place was forgotten and the jungle grew around the temple complex. Only in 1898 was the complex rediscovered by French archaeologists. They documented the complex extensively and took a huge number of photos. These photos and information are now very useful for the restoration.
During the Vietnam War, the Viet Cong used the temples as a hiding place, with the result that the Americans carried out various bombings. As a result of these bombings, only 18 of the 70 buildings remain.
Tips For Visiting My Son Sanctuary
My Son is located about an hour’s drive from Hoi An. There are organized tours on a daily basis but you can also visit My Son on your own by renting a scooter or taking a taxi. Agree on a price with the taxi driver beforehand, and he will take you there and wait for you to finish.
The My Son temple complex is small and receives a large number of visitors as part of an organized tour. Most tours visit the temples at sunrise (very nice of course) and in the morning. This makes it very busy and if you, like us, don’t want to have a hundred other tourists in your photos, then you better avoid this time of day.
TIP – In our opinion the afternoon is the best time to visit My Son Sanctuary. The tour groups are long gone and a handful of other people are still walking there. Ideal for quietly viewing the buildings and taking beautiful photos.
The complex is open every day from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and the entrance fee is 150,000 Dong (around US$6.45 per person). You can also hire a local guide locally for a short tour. The cost for a guide is around 100,000 Dong (US$4.30).
Best Sights of My Son
Before you visit the temples it is advisable to first walk into the museum. The museum can be found next to ticket sales. In the museum you learn about the life of the Cham in Vietnam, the meaning of different temples, and there are well-preserved objects that have been saved from the ruins.
The temples of My Son are divided into different groups. The groups were made up by Henri Palmentier, the man who started the research in 1899. There were a total of 14 groups that were assigned a letter. Individual temples were given a number so that temples could be designated as A1 or E7 for example. There is a map at the temple complex where you can find every single temple.
The most important temples can be found in group B. With, among other things, temples built for Shiva and Bhadravarman, the Cham King.
Is a Visit to My Son Worthwhile?
Hell yes! But we prefer going to places by ourselves instead of a big tour group. We love having the freeom of coming and going whenever we want on our trip through Vietnam. However, if you are in Hoi An or in the nearby city of Da Nang, you can plan a visit on your own. If you go in the afternoon you will be rewarded with a beautiful and peaceful place of interest.