If you are looking for a picturesque and historical outing, then My Son Sanctuary is the place for you. It is a cluster of ancient Hindu temple remains in the middle of a lush valley surrounded by Jungle Mountains. Sounds interesting, right? This unique site was once the center of the ruling Champa civilization but today it is a perfect day trip location from Hoi An and Da Nang. History buffs come here from all parts of the world to discover more about this fallen kingdom and its culture. Come let’s walk back to another time with our ultimate guide to My Son Sanctuary.

History Of My Son Sanctuary

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Ruins of old hindu temple at My Son, Vietnam. This sanctuary is a UNESCO World Heritage site in Vietnam.

My Son was built by the Champas between the 4th and 13th centuries CE. During this time the Champas had full control over central Vietnam. They built a lot of temples during this time with a style influenced by Hinduism. Red bricks without cement were used to build the temples and when the construction was complete, it was set on fire to make the stones hard and seal them in place. The complex consists of more than 70 buildings which had sculptures of gods, goddesses, animals and priests. As all the buildings in this place were commissioned by the kings, all of them looked majestic and glorious. This sacred place of worship was also the place where powerful religious and military leaders met.

However, this magnificent place was abandoned by its owners in the early 14th century and since then taken over by the Vietnamese people. Unfortunately, most of the temples were destroyed in the Vietnam War. Many years later the French discovered My Son temples by accident and since then restoration of the temple was undertaken. Finally in 1999 the 1600-year-old ruins of the Champa Kingdom was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Where Is My Son Sanctuary Located

The word “My Son” means “beautiful mountain”. As the ruins are located in a green jungle surrounded by two mountain ranges, it’s no surprise how it got its name. It is located in Duy Tan Commune, Duy Xuyen district, Quang Nam province in central Vietnam. It’s about 40 km west of Hoi An and 68 km southwest of Da Nang.

How To Get To My Son Sanctuary

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The temples are dedicated to the worship of the god Shiva, known under various local names, the most important of which is Bhadreshvara.

There are three ways to reach from Hoi An to My Son sanctuary:

  • Tour from Hoi An or Da Nang
  • Taking a Cab
  • Rent a Motor or scooter

Tour – Experiencing My Son Sanctuary through a tour is a great option but it’s very important that you check out in advance to see what the tour offers. There are cheap tours with large groups and there are the small group tours which are combined with a visit to the countryside. These tours are a great option as there is no planning required from your end as the tour operator will take care of all the arrangements. If you are ready to shell out a little more, opt for the private tour for a more leisurely and comfortable experience. 

Cab – If you wish to see My Son privately, simply hire a car that will pick you up from your accommodation in Hoi An and drop you back after the visit. Here you have the freedom to explore My Son at your own pace, as drivers will wait for you until you are done. The cost of the ride including waiting time is around 30 to 50 USD. 

Scooter or Motorbike – Seeing My Son by motorbike or scooter will be your cheapest option. Renting a scooter in Da Nang or Hoi An will cost you only around $ 5. Here you have the freedom to explore on your own, however riding in Vietnam can be dangerous, especially on a rainy day as the roads to My Son are curvy and filled with potholes. 

Important Information To Note Before Visiting My Son Sanctuary

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Abandoned and partially ruined Hindu temples constructed between the 4th and the 14th century AD by the kings of Champa.
  • It is open on all days between 6 am to 5 pm. The entry fee is around 150 000 VND, that is equivalent to $7 USD. My son sanctuary entry fee is inclusive of the shuttle bus and traditional performance.
  • Best time to visit My Son Vietnam is either in the early morning or in the afternoon (if you can handle the heat), when all the tourists are gone. 
  • The weather is very hot and humid here, so if you want to avoid the heat a visit during the wintertime is ideal. However be prepared for some showers during this time of the year. 
  • If exploring on your own, don’t forget to take the free electric shuttle that will take you to lush jungles and then drop you off close to the ruins. These convenient shuttle services leave every 15-25 minutes and take about 10-minutes to reach. 
  • As there are no English boards around the temples, it’s advisable to enter from the museum first. The wall posters here will help to explore the site without a guide. 
  • Since it’s not a very large space, the entire my son sanctuary tour can be covered in 2-3 hours. 
  • There is no dress code for visiting My Son, however keeping the importance of this religious site in mind, visitors should dress conservatively. Avoid short and revealing clothes. 
  • Walk only on the marked paths along with your group and don’t detour into the lush forest all by yourself as it can get very dangerous.
  • Check for weather updates before booking a tour to my son sanctuary. Depending on the weather conditions, carry necessary items such as a hat, umbrella, raincoat.

Things To Do In My Son Sanctuary Vietnam

Wondering where to start from? Here’s our list of some of the best things to do while at My Son for a wholesome experience. 

Visit The Museum And Exhibitions To Learn About Champa Kingdom

hoi an to my son sanctuary
Cham ruins at My Son Sanctuary. A world cultural heritage in Vietnam.

My Son museum is the best place to start your tour as it describes how the complex used to look like hundreds of years ago. It’s here that you can gain in-depth knowledge about the history and culture of the Champa kingdom. More information on the temple structure and techniques are told here. The various wall posters and pictures explaining the history will be of great help if you are exploring the place without my son sanctuary guide. The top attraction here is the copy of Mukhalinga in a glass box which is a national treasure. It depicts a Linga with the king’s head topped with a gold cover. Before personally seeing the temple complex, sit back and enjoy a video to understand the techniques used in building the temple towers.

Enjoy Majestic Architecture Of The Temple Ruins

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After a complete knowledge of the Champa Kingdom from the My Son museum, head straight to enjoy the majestic architecture of the temple ruins. The temple ruins are divided into nine “groups”, indicated by A-H and L. The most important temples are in group A, B, C, D, E and F. Ruins of G, H and L which are smaller than the rest are in three separate locations which are well connected with the others. It would take about half a day to explore this place. You can see the remains of ancient sculptures, tombs, relics and the unique design of the temple complex. As the construction happened from the 4th century to the 13th century, one can see the different construction styles used. History buffs and people who enjoy art are sure to have a blast here.

Enjoy The Cham Traditional Performances

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Beautiful dancers performing the traditional dance.

Catch the traditional dance show that happens between 9:30am and 10:30am every day. Artists perform to various musical instruments in the middle of a sacred site. The elegance and the flexibility with which the artists perform is a must watch during your visit to this historic place. The dance praises the power of Lord Shiva (the Destroyer), Visnu (God of protection) and Brahma (God of creation). The graceful body movements with the special Cham music is what makes the performance mesmerizing. 

Go Kayaking Around My Son Lake

is my son sanctuary worth it
Child with paddle on kayak surrounded by beautiful nature and water.

Kayaking on a three kilometer-long calm lake is the best way to end your day at My Son. This lake is relatively an unspoilt part as very few tourists come here. Few visitors are not because the place is not good, but because no one is aware of this peaceful place. Hence there is plenty of space to paddle over the calm water at your leisure. Right at the entrance of the lake there are plenty of places where you can rent a canoe or kayak. Choose yours and paddle around while appreciating the peaceful and calm water surrounding the lake.

Where To Stay While Touring My Son

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Beautifully lit town of Hoi-An

If you are planning to stay around Hoi-An, here are some great options for all budgets:

Ultra Luxury: Little Riverside in Hoi An is a beautiful luxury hotel & spa located on the river just down the street from the central market. The outdoor pool facing the banks of the Thu Bon River is the highlight of this hotel.

Boutique Hotel: Paddy Boutique House Hoian is just 1.7 km from Hoi An Historic Museum. This hotel stay comes with room service and 24-hour front desk and currency exchange for guests. The hotel also offers a paid airport shuttle service.

Apartment Stay: Quang Vinh Apartment and Hotel Hoi An are like home away from home. Bright big rooms and a wonderful rooftop pool are the highlights of this place.

Hostel Stay:  Cheerful Hoi An Hostel is a cute local hostel great for backpackers visiting the area. Hers your chance to meet fellow travelers over a buffet breakfast that’s included in the package.

Fun Vacation: Just outside of Hoi An Old Town is Hoi An Riverside Villas & Apartments overlooking the rice paddies. As it is located outside the old town, everything is just a bicycle ride away.

What To Eat In My Son Sanctuary

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After you are done with the temple tour, unwind your day by treating yourself with some must try dishes of My Son.

Quang Noodles – This is a reputational dish of Da Nang which is a must-try. Simple ingredients like shrimp, crab, eel, fish, egg, chicken, meat, peanut and crispy girdle cake goes into making this mouthwatering dish. There is no fixed recipe but the mixture of all ingredients creates special taste and flavors. 

Fish Ball Noodles – Fish ball noodle is considered the most special dish in the Central of Vietnam. Though it is made of fish, this dish does not have the smell of fish. The vegetables and sauce overpowers the smell of fish and brings about a slightly sweetish taste. It is best enjoyed with fresh herbs.

Pork Girdle Cake – Two simple ingredients like girdle cake and good pork is what makes this dish special. Thinly sliced pork is boiled with basil, onion, banana blossom, bean sprouts, and other green herbs to get the desired taste. It goes well with a fish sauce.

Cao Lau – This is an elaborately-prepared special dish in Hoi An. These are homemade noodles made of fragrant rice using methods that are thousands of years ago. Rice is soaked in ash water and then ground into powder. The rice is then wrapped in a cloth until dry. When dry, it is rolled, cut into strips and steamed to make noodles.

Banh Trang Dap – This is a dumpling girdle cake made of a thin layer of noodles, peanut oil and onion. The outside of the baked cake has to be broken to reveal the wet noodles inside. Then it needs to be dipped into the sauce to enjoy this crunchy and glutinous treat.

Also Read: Why Vietnam Should Be Part Of Your Travel Food Trail

My Son temples have survived years of neglect, have survived the effects of wars and many other challenges over the years. But what remains today is the mystical beauty of this unique architecture, culture and artistic values. This is what attracts domestic and foreign tourists from all over the world. Come visit My Son Sanctuary for there are many mysterious things waiting for your exploration.

FAQ’s On My Son Sanctuary

Is it better to see My Son with a tour guide or alone?

It is always not necessary to visit an unknown place with a tour guide, it can be explored on your own. However, for a place like My Son which has a lot of history to it, we suggest a guided tour for a rewarding and exhilarating experience.

What is included in a full day tour of My Son?

A full day tour of My Son includes hotel pickup, all entrance fees, lunch at a local restaurant, tour of Hoi An Ancient Town and finally drop-off at the hotel. 

Is my son sanctuary worth it?

If you are a person who appreciates history, then a visit to this UNESCO World Heritage Site is totally worth it. The temple ruins here are unlike any other temple you will see and are well worth the money.

How much time do you need at My Son Sanctuary?

The whole tour can take anything between 1 to 3 hours. As the site is not very large, its sculptures, temples, and towers in tropical jungle surroundings can all be explored within this time. 

Is the entry to My Son free for kids?

Children below the age of 15 can enter the sanctuary for free, however adults and children above 14 years need to purchase a ticket to enter. 

What are the best months to visit My Son Sanctuary?

February to April are the best months to visit as you can expect pleasant weather. August and December are also great months to plan a visit. 


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