My Son is the holy royal city of the ancient Champa Kingdom, which ruled the east coast of Central and Southern Vietnam from the 2nd to 15th century.
My Son Sanctuary is the religious architecture complex built between 4th to 13th centuries. The sanctuary was home to over 70 Hindu tower temples dedicated to the worship of the God Shiva (also known as God Bhadresvara in local language).
My Son Sanctuary was inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. If you love visiting UNESCO sites, you can visit both My Son Sanctuary and Hoi An Ancient Town in the same trip, because they’re close to each other!
In this guide, I’ll share my experience visiting My Son Sanctuary as well as important travel information you need to know before visiting.
Getting to My Son Sanctuary
My Son Sanctuary is located about 40km (1 hour drive) from Hoi An. Here are the ways to get to My Son Sanctuary from Hoi An:
- By tour: Personally, I feel that this is the best option because it’s quite affordable and you get to learn history from the guide. I took this tour which also include a boat ride and I highly recommend it.
- By motorbike: You can rent a motorbike from Hoi An and follow the route suggested by Google Maps. It’s great for people who want flexibility.
- By private car rental: You can rent a car with driver from Hoi An or Da Nang. It’s a great option for families with young kids or elderly.
- By shuttle bus: You can take this shuttle bus that leaves Hoi An or Da Nang in the morning; the bus will bring you back to Hoi An or Da Nang at 12 noon.
My Son Sanctuary Opening Hours
My Son Sanctuary is open from 6am to 5pm daily.
My Son Sanctuary Entrance Fee
The entrance fee for My Son Sanctuary is VND 150.000 per person. This fee includes admission ticket, museum admission, shuttle bus, traditional performance, and admission to the ruins. This fee exclude tour guide fee. Tour guide fee is VND 100.000/group, and can be booked at Guide Office near shuttle bus.
If you’re joining a tour, the entrance fee and tour guide fee are usually included.
My Son Sanctuary Dress Code
According to the below etiquette board, tourists are expected to wear proper and polite outfit, which is not too short or indecent.
My Son Sanctuary History
Champa Kingdom was formed in AD 192. The first king was King Bhadravarman, who reigned from 380 to 413 AD. He built the first temple-tower complex towards the end of 4th century. The main sanctuary was devoted to God Bhadresvara (Shiva).
More tower temples were constructed over the next ten centuries (from 4th to 13th centuries). There are over 70 Hindu tower temples in My Son Sanctuary.
Although Mahayan Buddhist penetrated the Cham culture, and became strongly established in the north of the kingdom, Shivite Hinduism remained the established state religion.
In the 15th century, Champa Kingdom was defeated in the Cham-Dai Vet War launched by Le Dynasty. As a result, Champa was reduced to small principalities. In 1832, Emperor Minh Mang of the Nguyen Dynasty eventually annexed the last Champa principality.
Due the Vietnam war in 1969, many of the temple towers were damaged. Now, there are only around 20 temples left at My Son.
My Son Sanctuary Map
Below is the map of My Son Sanctuary. Do note that the orientation is upside down (i.e. the north direction is downwards), so it’s a little different than what you see on Google Maps.
From the entrance, it’s quite a distance to get to the ruins. Hence, there is a shuttle cart that transport people from the entrance to the ruins, and the shuttle is free for everyone with a ticket.
What to Do and See at My Son Sanctuary
After passing through the ticket gate, you will soon see My Son Museum on your right. The admission fee is already included in your ticket.
Inside the museum, you can learn about the history of My Son Sanctuary, see the miniature of the sanctuary and see some of the relics on display.
If you’re visiting My Son Sanctuary without a guide, you can consider visiting the museum first before going to the ruins. Otherwise, you can also visit the museum last after you’ve visited the ruins, it’s your choice.
Ride shuttle cart
The distance between the entrance to the ruins is about 2km. To get to the ruins, there is a shuttle bus (or rather, shuttle cart) that is free for all visitors. To get to the shuttle bus stop, you need to walk about 5 mins from the entrance.
The frequency of the shuttle is quite high, and the journey took just a couple of minutes. It’s okay if you are not seated together in the same cart as your group, because all shuttle will stop at the same drop-off location.
Visit the ruins
The ruins at My Son Sanctuary are categorized into groups using alphabet letters from A to N. The most popular groups are A, B, C and D because they’re more intact compared to the rest.
There are bomb craters caused by the bombs that were dropped during the Vietnam War.
Despite the inside being concealed, the air circulation is very good. You don’t feel stuffy inside at all.
Some of the statues no longer have heads. Some said that when other Kingdom had conflict with Champa, they wanted to destroy the Champa Kingdom and headless statues signify defeat. Others believed that the heads were cut off by French colonist.
Most of the ruins are empty inside, but some have displays of ancient relics.
One of the group has recently completed a major restoration from 2020-2022 by India-Vietnam Corporation Project. This group has distinguishable red bricks feature.
Watch the folk art performance
When visiting My Son Sanctuary, don’t miss out the traditional performance at the Public Stage. The duration of each show is 20 minutes. Here is the schedule:
- 1st show: 9.15am
- 2nd show: 10.45am
- 3rd show: 2pm
- 4th show: 3.30pm
In addition to public stage, there is also a performance at Group G (10am and 2.45pm) but these shows are dependent on weather.
The folk art show features traditional dance performances and traditional music performance.
Is My Son Sanctuary Worth Visiting?
Absolutely! My Son Sanctuary gives you a glimpse of Champa Kingdom and what the central/southern Vietnam looked like in the past.
It is worth noting, though, that if you join a tour, you might not have the time to visit every single group of the ruins. If you really want to explore each and every corner of My Son Sanctuary, it’s better that you rent a scooter/private car so that you have the utmost flexibility.
Disclosure: Our My Son Sanctuary Tour was gifted by Klook. All opinions are our own.
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