The My Son Sanctuary near Hoi An is one of the hidden highlights in central Vietnam. This Sanctuary has both, a very high historical as well as cultural value for the locals and Vietnam in general. It’s one of coolest sights I have seen in Vietnam for a couple reasons. It fascinated me a lot, even though it is quite a small sight in comparison to other ones. The good thing is, that it’s not completely overloaded, because it’s still relatively unknown, which is a good argument to get there as quick as possible.
Before I start getting deeper into the subject of the My Son Sanctuary near Hoi An, I quickly want to tell you the story of how I got there and I want to give you some more general information, so that you are correctly prepared for this matchless trip.
I got really lucky while I was travelling through the whole country with my motorbike, because I met a tour guide during my trip through the centre of Vietnam. He had two private clients with him when I met him. I drove around some mountain areas by that time and it was unbelievably misty for a couple hours. I could barely see my hands on the handlebar of the motorbike. So I had to stop at a huge waterfall along the way to have a break, because the driving conditions were quite dangerous.
This was where I met the guide. He was so kind to take me to a good and cheap local hotel nearby. Additionally he took me to the My Son Sanctuary near Hoi An on the next day. Without him I would have never seen this great place. He also showed us a couple very small villages and introduced us to an old Vietnamese lady, who had some cool stories to tell. But that’s another story… 😉
Short tip: So, if you don’t go with a tour group, always ask some local people, if you can connect with them or if they can show you around
My Son Sanctuary near Hoi An – General information
The My Son Sanctuary near Hoi An are basically some remains of old temples, based on Indian Hinduism. For most of its existence these ruins have been the political capital of the Champa Kingdom. Today they represent a cultural and religious site, which looks like a quite dramatic movie set. All the impressively constructed tower-temples are lying in the middle of a deeply vegetated mountain area.
The property is surrounded by a couple majestic hills. It belongs to the Duy Xuyen District of the Quang Nam Province and it’s very close to the source of the Thu Bon River, which flows all the way until the ancient city of Hoi An on the eastern coastline of Vietnam.
During the 4th century the rise of the construction of the My Son Sanctuary near Hoi An started to begin. Because of the Indian influence, all temples, which have been built over a period of more than thousand years, are dedicated to Shiva. Every building belongs to the legitimate homeland of the Dua Clan. Back in the days they unified with the Cham clans and established the kingdom of Champapura.
The whole region is strategionally very valuable, because it’s hard to attact for invaders. Most towers and temples are a symbol and homage to the Hindu gods. All of them are made out of fired brick stones in red or brown colour. Visitors don’t even have to look closely to get an impression of the greatly innovative construction skills from the Cham people. Inside of the temples tourists can see some abstract paintings as well as engravings, which are a proof of the Cham’s cultural and political opinions.
Vietnam War & Present
During the Vietnam War a lot of the remains have been damaged by massive bombings. Luckily a lot of the temples are still in quite good condition. Nevertheless the results are still very visible to remind people of the lethal actions.
The My Son Sanctuary near Hoi An is without a doubt one of the most impressive remains from a diverse culture, which developed over a period of about ten centuries. It’s a symbol of the rich Vietnamese history and therefore became a UNESCO World Heritage sight. You won’t find anything simular in the whole Southeast Asian region.
Obviously there is way more to tell about the history of the My Son Sanctuary near Hoi An, but this sums it up quite effectively.
If you want to know more, read here 😉
Weather conditions at the My Son Sanctuary near Hoi An are very tropical. There is a wet season from September to the end of March and a dry season from April till the end of August. The annual average rainfall is about 2.000mm. Temperature sets between 18°C – 34°C all year long.
In terms of a great experience, it really depends on the season you are going to visit the My Son Sanctuary near Hoi An. In wet season it will be quite dramatic, where as it will be pretty peaceful during dry season. Both options are good, just make sure to dress properly. Read here what I always pack for my trips.
The best time to go is usually from February to May.
How to get there
Getting to the My Son Sanctuary near Hoi An is not that hard. It’s about a 40 km drive towards the west, starting from Hoi An. It will take you about 1h and 15 minutes to get there with a motorized vehicle.
These are your options:
- Tour bus
- Car rental
- Scooter/ Motorcycle (rental or purchase)
In my opinion the best option is to take a motorbike or a scooter, because you are way more independant and you can easily just switch your plan to check out something else in the area like some cute villages, bigger rice & coffee fields as well as some pristine lakes or the Thu Bon River.
Along the way you will see some really pretty landscapes, so make sure to bring your camera 😉
Google Maps Route: here
This really depends on what you are into. Most people get some accommodation in the centre of Hoi An and book a tour or start their trip from there. If you would rather like to experience something more unique, then I would suggest you to get something close to the My Son Sanctuary. Even though the My Son Sanctuary near Hoi An is still quite an unknown place for many travellers, it still has a couple nice homestays and hotels nearby.
If you choose the 2nd option, then you’ll experience the typical Vietnamese village lifestyle. Healthy street food, generally no more than average standards (compared to the western world) and a lot of happy people. People close to the My Son Sanctuary near Hoi An live a simple life. Look around Duy Tan, Nhuan Son, Trung Son, Chanh Son and Ban Son. You’ll find some accommodation there, if you just ask around.
Other than that, these are some good places directly in Hoi An:
Visiting the My Son Sanctuary near Hoi An is very cheap. Foreigners pay 150.000 VND (7,5$) for the entrence and service fee. The transport costs are also pretty reasonable. If you rent a scooter, you’ll pay about 5$ per day. Fuel will be about 3$ – 5$ there and back. Food cost about 4$ – 15$ per day in Vietnam, depending on what you eat. Accommodation costs vary.
If you stay close to the My Son Sanctuary you will pay about 8$ – 15$, where as in Hoi An the range goes from 5$ – 50$. Sometimes even higher. This is completely up to you again.
Travel/ tour companies offer shared trips with small tour busses for about 11$ (return ticket) + food costs. Calculate with about 20$ for a trip.
Trust me, you won’t broke at the end of the day 😉
My Son Sanctuary near Hoi An – Highlights
The My Son Sanctuary near Hoi An is a big highlight as a whole. But in my opinion you have to split the sight into different parts.
Everything you will see around the My Son Sanctuary near Hoi An is of outstanding beauty. Because of its location in the mountain region, this sight pours on a very special charme. You feel a little lost in between all the prestine mountain ranges. Nature is so strong and fullfills ones soul with a lot of energy. It’s not a big surprise that the Champa people built the holy My Son temples in this spectecular area.
It almost reminded me a little bit of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. The surrounding area of the My Son Sanctuary near Hoi An has the same kind of spirit to it, just that it’s more untouched.
All the different temples of the My Son Sanctuary near Hoi An are the second big highlight. Each and everyone of them means something different and was built for a certain purpose. Some of them were used as storage temples, others as a homage to Shiva, the god of Hinduism.
In total the My Son Sanctuary near Hoi An contains more than 70 temples. It’s fascinating to see the details of the ruines, which actually show all the various architectural styles from past epochs.
The My Son temples have been restored several times, because of past wars. Especially the Vietnam war in the 1970s destroyed quite a bit of the holy area. Here and there it’s still pretty dangerous to explore the larger surrounding area, because of undiscovered land mines from the US as well as Vietnamese military.
Most of the temples from this UNESCO World Heritage sight are free to have a look at from the inside. You’ll see some big bombs from the Vietnam war as well as handmade indentations on the walls and huge sculptures, from which some of them date back until the 10th century.
In my opinion the bomb craters and the visible destruction are also an interesting part of the My Son Sanctuary near Hoi An, because it’s an important part of the history, even though it’s a relatively short one.
Some of the bomb craters you’ll see are massive. They have a diameter of about 4-5 meters, which shows the power of the arms. During the Vietnam War, the My Son Sanctuary near Hoi An has also been used as a spot to hide for the Vietnamese.
The Champa Museum is another cool part of the My Son Sanctuary near Hoi An. It includes many artifacts and describes the rich history of the site. Another very close museum from the site has some very well-preserved sculptures from destroyed ruins.
Both of them are very interesting and show the importance of the longest inhabited archaeological site of Indochina.
All the buildings, including the museums are places of worship. They should definitely be treated with a lot of respect by visitors.
My Son Sanctuary near Hoi An – What I have learned
During my trip to the My Son Sanctuary near Hoi An I have learned a couple things again. This time I want to focus on two specific things, that are worth adressing in my opinion.
Culture & history are one of humanity’s most important values
When I was walking around the temples of My Son, I could really feel the power and the spirit that this place radiates. The people, who have built this place, took pride in their construction work. Everything is so detailed and made with a lot of passion and heart.
These attributes are important for every culture, tribe, folk or nation ever since. Humanity developes over time and tries to built monuments that last for a long time. Generally every populance wants to leave a legacy behind. Something of huge historical value.
This is why it is so important to honor, restore and take care of these great sights, because they have such a high value for us and future generations.
Be open minded and talk to people
It’s pretty simple. If I wouldn’t have talked to the Vietnamese tour guide, then I wouldn’t have seen the hidden My Son Sanctuary near Hoi An. I would have missed out a great adventure.
But luckily I did talk to them near the huge waterfall during my Vietnam motorbike tour. Only because I was open minded and not afraid to talk to him, he took me with his group and I had an amazing time.
Sometimes you just have to get out of your comfort zone in order to experience something great. Because if you do so, most of the time you will witness special things, which you can remember your whole life and even tell your grand children about one day… 😉
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