What is the history of My Son Sanctuary?
My Son is known as an ensemble of Hinduism, as well as the political and economic capital of the ancient Champa culture. That is one of the relics of the Champa civilization of Vietnam and Southeast Asia. The temples were built from the 4th century to the 14th century AD by King Bhadravarman. The works in this relic complex were constructed of terracotta with sandstone relief statues combined with typical stone pillars. The purpose when building My Son Sanctuary is to worship the Hindu god Shiva.
During the occupation, My Son Sanctuary was used as a place of worship and performing religious rituals of the Champa court. Besides, this is also used as a burial place for generals with meritorious services to the country or royal princes.
Until 1885, French architect, archaeologist and historian Henry Parmentier and his associates began to study, research and work on this site. In the early stages of excavation and documentation of the complex, they discovered and found more than 72 monuments in a valley nearly 2km wide. However, during the war between the US and Vietnam, after the US military bombs here, a large part of My Son relics was destroyed.
As one of the largest Champa cultural populations in Vietnam, the My Son Sanctuary is surrounded by majestic mountains and lush greenery. You can imagine this is a giant valley and a beautiful fortress – a place for kings and high priests and performing rituals of communication with the gods. Not as majestic and overwhelming as Ayutthaya of Thailand or Angkor Wat in Cambodia, My Son Sanctuary has a distinctive architecture that brings deep feelings to visitors and was voted one the world heritage site of Vietnam.
My Son architecture – a fantastic structure that stands for many centuries
Not only attracting tourists by its historical significance, architectural style and religious features, My Son Sanctuary also impresses and amazes visitors by the combination of beauty in Hinduism and Champa style, thereby creating a unique and attractive complex. Besides, each temple in the My Son holy complex was built in a different period, reflecting the development and change of architecture and construction style overtime of the Champa civilization.
My Son Sanctuary is located in Duy Xuyen district, Quang Nam province. The people of Champa kept their texts in both Sanskrit and ancient Cham. They painted materials in life, but only the materials left to paint and engrave on durable stone materials. For those who are knowledgeable about history, you can easily see the similarities and interference in Indian and Hindu culture in Champa culture through the temples and artefacts, architecture, monuments and remnants at My Son. Champa inscriptions are engraved on stone walls, on rocks or in temples artefacts.
How can you get to My Son Sanctuary?
My Son Sanctuary is about 1-hour drive from the centre of Hoi An ancient town. Located in Duy Phu village, the complex stretches for two kilometres with surrounding mountains and is located in the middle of a rich valley.
The relative distance between My Son Sanctuary and DaNang or Hoi An is 40 km. To be able to explore the entire site, you should stay in DaNang or Hoi An one day before. There are three options for transportation from Hoi An to My Son Sanctuary, including a taxi, motorbike, or using a guided service tour.
Viet Nam traditional taxi/ Grab taxi/ Grab motorbikes
You can catch a traditional taxi with reputable local taxi companies, or you can also book a car through the online application on your mobile device. That is the fastest and most convenient means of getting to My Son Sanctuary from Hoi An. However, it is also the most expensive.
Busy costs to pay fall around $ 35 per person and double for a two-way trip. Suppose you are not interested in riding a car or motorbike. In that case, you can choose a motorbike taxi or Grab a bike instead of a taxi, the price is lower, and you also have an even more enjoyable day tour experience.
You can negotiate a price in advance with your driver to ensure that your budget meets this travel schedule. If travelling with a small group or family, this is the most suitable and excellent choice.
Public bus transport
A public bus is a cheap and convenient way to travel from DaNang to My Son Sanctuary. Bus line 6 operates daily from about 5:30 am to 5:00 pm and every 30 minutes. The price for this popular vehicle is around $ 1.
Buses can save you money, but the drawback is that it takes a lot of time and you have to wait between buses. If you love convenience and freedom, a bus is not the right choice.
For those travellers who love adventure and enjoy exciting experiences by admiring the surrounding landscape, self-drive from Hoi An or DaNang to My Son Sanctuary is a great way. A distance of less than 50 km will not be too overwhelming for you. You can rent a motorbike for around $ 7 per day at the same hotel you stay or at the motorbike rental shops in town or downtown Danang.
Also, you need to prepare an electronic device with enough battery and Internet capacity not to get lost, to the right place. Depending on the ability and speed of motorbike driving, it can take from 1 to 1.5 hours to travel to day tour My Son Sanctuary.
Make sure you have the skills and confidence to drive. That is a popular means of transportation in Vietnam, but it does not mean you can move it quickly because the traffic here is not like other countries in the world. You might have trouble with elephant nests, potholes, large trucks, or problematic driving techniques.
It would help if you also referred to the experiences of local friends or people who have had a previous occasion when moving a motorbike to My Son Holy Land instead of relying on personal feelings. Safety for the trip should come first.
You can also rent a self-drive car to travel from DaNang or Hoi An to My Son sanctuary, of course, the budget for this vehicle is not cheap, and you also need an international driver’s license or identification necessary as a passport. More importantly, self-driving car travel will make a group or family travel experience more enjoyable and memorable.
Book a private day tour with a tour guide along with
For tourists wishing to fully experience the monuments and landscapes at My Son complex accompanied by historical and cultural stories of the Champa civilization in the past, you can consider choosing a private tour with a tour guide.
You do not need to worry about the schedule, costs or places to visit, the dishes to experience, the professional tour service of the day here will prepare all the necessary logistics.
Full-day trips from Da Nang or Hoi An to My Son tour Sanctuary are easy to find in the town or the city centre. A little note: you should look for a package that includes transfers at Hoi An or Da Nang for your convenience. Ideally, you can also experience guided tours that come with entrance fees, foodservice and all-in-one drop-off.
Tours from Hoi An or Da Nang to My Son will pick you up early in the morning at the hotel lobby or homestay you rent. After that, you will get some snacks in the morning, maybe bread and jam. The car moves to the My Son Sanctuary at quite dark and arrives at sunrise.
Everything you should remember when you visit My Son
Entrance ticket fee
When you visit the My Son Sanctuary in Hoi An Quang Nam province, you need to spend about 8 to 10 dollars to admire the monuments or outstanding exhibition areas fully. For a world heritage site, this fee is not that expensive. Because I guarantee the experience you get will exceed your expectations and the money you have to spend.
Opening/ Closing time
The opening hours of the ruins are 6:30 am and close at 5:00 pm. Keep this in mind to plan your travel and sightseeing schedules. However, the advice for you is to come here in the morning or before noon to have plenty of time to visit and explore the exciting things of the site as many small monuments surround them which is engaging historical experiences in a relatively large area.
Dress-code in My Son
Most historic sites in Eastern countries have specific dress codes. However, when coming to My Son Sanctuary, you do not need to pay too much attention to the clothes you wear. Instead, you need to pay attention to the most relaxed and most comfortable clothes because the weather is usually sunny and hot, which will make you upset.
In spring or summer, consider a t-shirt, tank top, or jeans. My Son is located in the central part of Vietnam with a relatively high average heat temperature in the daytime, and you should bring sunscreen or a long-sleeved shirt with a cold, thin material to avoid sunburn and skin damage.
In autumn and winter, the temperature can be lower, but not too short as in temperate countries. You can wear long-sleeved or short-sleeved clothing as you like.
Da Nang and Hoi An have a rainy season that lasts from July to November each year. At this time, the weather is relatively bad and unsuitable for travel and sightseeing due to prolonged storms and heavy rainstorms. You should limit travel, and the relic will also be less attractive in the rainy season.
How about things to do at My Son Sanctuary?
If you are a tourist visiting My Son (in Vietnamese called “thánh địa Mỹ Sơn”) for the first time, you will probably wonder where you should go, what to do, where to play. In this article, we will also suggest exciting places that you should not miss when you visit this place.
Visit the museum to research about Champa cultures
When going through the ticket gates, don’t miss the museum. The museum displays many artefacts from which you will have exciting and in-depth knowledge of culture, history and compelling stories about the glorious past of the Champa civilization. You can learn more about the artefacts, thanks to the posters and posters displayed in the museum. The relevant information is detailed in English and Vietnamese so that visitors can correctly understand.
You don’t need a professional guide to understand everything in the museum because every story is entirely told here. All you need to do is read these descriptions and memorize them.
After leaving the museum, you can get around the site by tram for free (this fee is included in the admission ticket). You can find these cars on a bridge when you go outside the museum. This tram travel saves you energy and time while travelling through the dense forests surrounding the ruins.
It takes about 10 minutes for trams to get you out of the woods and every 15 minutes a tram ride will take you.
Discovery the majestic architecture of ancient ruins in My Son
The outstanding architecture of My Son is the Cham Temples.
What remains in the holy relic of My Son, Vietnam, is almost primitive and complete. A large number of temples and monuments are still preserved and exist. If it’s fast, it could take half a day to explore all the monuments. But if possible, spend an entire day exploring the site to understand the history and Cham people in the past fully.
You will walk along the road, and you will encounter some dogs on your route. The relic will remind you of the temples and pagodas in Myanmar or Laos and Cambodia – of course not as big and majestic. My Son sanctuary is not surrounded by desert but instead is dense forest and mountains.
My Son Sanctuary is not 100% intact compared to its history, that is, of course. Too many monuments were destroyed due to the factors of time and war. The Vietnamese government has also restored a lot of temples in ruins, but you can easily see the difference because the bricks used are entirely different. Hopefully, over time, they will become in harmony with the general monument area.
Most of the temples of My Son Sanctuary are built with red brick, with only one temple using stone material. Even writing and illustrations of life and patterns are engraved directly on the brick instead of the alum sandstone slabs that could be found in Cambodia in the 9th century.
Here, you will have the opportunity to admire many artefacts, sculptures and ancient tombs in the glorious Champa civilization. You will be overwhelmed by the intricate architecture and structure of the monuments. You will be amazed at the things that civilization and the kingdom of Champa once owned and built. Those who love art, architecture, and history will be trapped here.
King Champa built the relic from the 3rd century to the 14th century. Throughout the centuries, the site is continuously improved and renewed to meet the needs of culture and worship. It would help if you did not ignore the uniqueness of the layout of the towers. They are grouped in groups of about two interwoven towers and connected by beautiful roads and courtyards. Each building also has unique functions that are defined in Cham culture.
In addition to exploring the structure of the monument, you should not ignore the beautiful natural landscape around. There are two majestic mountains at the upstream of the Thu Bon River so that My Son Sanctuary was selected as the administrative and worship centre of the ancient Champa kingdom thanks to its favourable geographical location and surrounded by mountain ranges and dense forests.
The experience when visiting the My Son Sanctuary is awe-inspiring and incredible. Still, it will be quite difficult for you to save pictures due to a large number of visitors quickly.
Watch the Champa traditional performance
In My Son Sanctuary, in addition to the architecture built over centuries, impressive natural mountains, performing arts are also a great attraction for tourists.
Before departing and leaving My Son, you should not miss enjoying the Shiva traditional dances in the Champa culture that are still handed down and preserved today. In the past, the dance originated in Hinduism and was performed only during religious, political, and important religious events. The beautiful dancers inside the traditional Cham costumes and the skilful and graceful buying moves appeal to all tourists.
Cham music is a unique factor that makes music performances at My Son holy places more attractive and memorable. It is a testament to one of the earliest civilizations in humanity, which flourished and developed over the centuries, though gone and no longer present.
The Champa dances replace the praise of subjects and people for the supreme god Shiva in Hinduism – besides the protector Visnu, the creator Brahma in his journey to protect and destroy the world’s dark evil force, saving humanity. The rhythmic movement, together with the unique music, has created the mysterious and strange crystallization, attracting tourists to stop and enjoy Champa’s dances and performances.
Visit the ancient town of Hoi An site
If you are planning to visit the My Son Sanctuary from Da Nang city, then don’t miss the old town of Hoi An in your itinerary. Only about 1-hour drive from My Son, Hoi An is a beautiful ancient town with diverse architecture mixed between the East and the West in harmony. It is not difficult to find the colours of Japan, China and the French style in houses and architecture in Hoi An. Previously in the 15th century, Hoi An was a prosperous trading port with many merchants from all over the world visiting and staying.
In 1998, Hoi An was recognized by UNESCO as a world cultural heritage. As can be seen, Quang Nam owns two physical world heritages of Vietnam.
Visiting Hoi An, you cannot miss Cau Pagoda with outstanding Japanese style and colourful temples with Chinese style. Through the ups and downs of history, Hoi An still retains its beauty and antiquity.
Hoi An is also known for its hospitality and tranquillity. You can enjoy delicious local dishes like My Quang, Hoi An chicken rice or various bread and sweet soup. At night, there is a busy night market in Hoi An and fun activities along the banks of the Thu Bon River.
There are many local restaurants along the two sides of the road with low prices. You can also choose European or Chinese or Indian dishes as you like, and even a variety of vegetarian dishes. It is not difficult to find delicious eateries in Hoi An. You can rent a bike and cycle around the old town in the evening: the colourful lanterns and the overcrowded souvenir shops you can buy gifts for friends and family.
In my opinion, is My Son Sanctuary worth visiting?
As shared in the article, the My Son Sanctuary is one of the two world cultural heritages of Quang Nam province Vietnam. It would be a mistake to miss this place in your travel schedule. My Son Sanctuary will bring you interesting insights and impressive historical stories.
Spend at least half a day or a full day visiting the relic, and you will be stunned with the remains of Champa civilization and Hinduism in the beautiful country of Vietnam. In existence since the 4th century, My Son Sanctuary is an impressive historical proof of the ancient kingdom of Champa. My Son Sanctuary tour in half or a day tour is ideal.
The history of My Son is a long and attractive story until now. Temples and towers, beautiful dance and music, and impressive costumes are what will mark your journey. Cham temples attract tourists by their unique architecture and mysterious history.