My Son sanctuary – The Ancient Hindu Temples – A complete travel guide to My Son
” Written by Khanh who is an experienced guide and also the owner of Mate Hoi An Tours. Khanh has been working as a guide for 10 years”
When travelling to Vietnam, especially Hoi An and Da Nang area, finding good places is very important for any travelers. If you are looking for a beautiful and historical spot, My Son sanctuary is the place for you. Located 50km from Hoi An and 60km from Da Nang, My Son is not too far to visit. It takes approximately 50 minutes to get there by cars or 75 minutes by motorbikes and can easily be done in a half day.
History of My Son
In the 4th century, Cham People lived in the south of Vietnam today. They built a country named Champa Kingdom. Where Cham people came from is still unknown, but according to some research, they might come from Indonesia, or India,… Like those countries, Cham people were Hinduist.
In the 4th century, The Cham King (Bhadravarman I) built the first temple from wood, and it was burnt accidentally. In the 6th century (200 years later), A Cham King ( Sambhuvarman) built the first brick temple and later other kings built their own temples. Rumor has it each prince when they took over the throne had to built a temple ( There are about 70 discovered temples, there could be 70 kings ruling the Kingdom from the 4th to the 13th century).
All the temples in My Son sanctuary were built mainly to dedicate to Shiva ( the destruction in Hindu). Other than Shiva, they also worshiped other gods such as Vishnu (the protection), Brahma( The creation).
In the 14th century, Champa Kingdom was invaded by the Vietnamese from the North. Gradually the Vietnamese took over the Kingdom in the 19th century.
My Son was abandoned for almost a hundred years in the primary forest of My Son valley. In 1885, the French discovered it. 10 years later, they started studying inscriptions and architecture.
In 1969, My Son sanctuary was bombed by the US Airforce. 90% of the old sanctuary was destructed. In 1997, the Vietnamese government with the support of Poland, India, Italy started restoring the temples. During the restorations, the archeologists met a lot of difficulties due to lacks of documents which were destroyed in the wars.
What to see in My Son
My Son was divided into 14 groups and named after the letters A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, K by Henri Parmentier- A French archeologist. Today the board of My Son management keeps the same names, so you can follow those names to visit temples and monuments.
After arriving at My Son, we will have to buy the tickets at the ticket counters. It is very easy and quick to buy, since they have 2 separate counters for guests to buy.
Guiding map at My Son sanctuary
There are 2 ways to get to the sanctuary: Walking or taking the buggies. Buggy fee is included in the tickets you buy. The distance from the ticket counters to My Son is about 3km, and it is quite hot in the Summer, and the area is quite large to walk later, so we recommend you to take the buggies to save your energy. Moreover, taking the buggies to My Son is a breathtaking journey, because it is very cool with the nice breeze. If you take a walk, it will be very hot and consume your engergy quickly. We
” Tip: Go to the toilet at the first ticket counters. This toilet is cleaner”
After getting off the buggies, the first groups we will see are B,C,D. These groups are said to be the oldest and the only ones to remain intact. Some of the temples were built from the 6th century and remain intact after several bombardments. As you can see in the picture above, the bricks still look new after more than 1000 years ( This temple was built in the 7th century). There is not even moss or fungus on those bricks, even though they have been under the rain, sun for 1000 years ( the new bricks put for restoration is broken and mossy). One of the mysteries is in between the bricks there’s not even a layer of mortar. How Cham People glued bricks together is still mysterious. In the 90s, to rebuild the temples, the experts used cement to stick bricks together and it couldn’t last long).
According to the most recent research, the ancient Cham people used a kind of tree sap as a glue to stick all the bricks together, but it is still another theory. Since 2010, Italian experts and Indian experts have been trying several methods to rebuild the temples, but only time can tell if these methods work.
The architecture was strongly influenced by India where Hindu came from. If we look at the roof, we will see they resembles 2 hands put together to pray. This is the meaning of this sanctuary. The whole place is a pray area. Inside each temple, there was a Linga and Yoni. What is it? please look at the photo below, I will explain more.
Linga is a phallic symbol, Yoni is the female part. In a word, this is a combination of male and female, or this is the meaning of creation or fertility. To worship, the Cham people took the water from the stream nearby, then poured on to the Linga, water ran from the Linga to the Yoni. The Hindu monks and priests took that water for the people in the Kingdom to drink and wash to have blessings from the Hindu Gods. At that time, My Son only allowed the upper-class people of the Kingdom such as the Hindu monks, priests, royal families,…
In each temple, there was one Yoni and Linga. There are legends saying that it was also the King’s tomb after they passed away. There could be treasures underneath, then they were stolen by tomb raiders.
All the temples look very big, but it’s very narrow inside. There is an explanation for it. It was a holy place, so temples had to be dark, and it was small enough to limit the number of people, because it was not the place for everyone.
Aside from temples, history, My son is also a great place for a walk. You will be closer to nature and wild life.
” Tip: You can stop by the museum near the entrance to see the history of My Son through photos first”
There are also some Cham music shows in My Son, the schedules are listed as below:
Morning show at 10.00 and 10.45
Afternoon show at 14.00 and 15.30
How to get to My Son sanctuary from Hoi An or Da Nang
From Hoi An and Da Nang, it is not difficult to get to My Son. You can easily go there by your self.
By private car with a driver: You can book a car to get there, the cost is around 600,000 vnd to 1 millions vnd. The driver will pick you up from your hotels, transfer you to My Son, wait for you for 2 hours and bring you back. Taking taxi or grab car can cost more, because they will run by meters.
Motorbike taxi: Motorbike taxi will cost much, because My Son is quite far from Hoi An and Da Nang ( 60 km). Grab bike ( You can download the app online) is available at the cost of 200.000 vnd, but you have to make sure that driver will wait for you in My Son, because grab bike offers no service there, you will find it difficult to go back. Booking with grab bike is sometimes limited, because due to the long distance, the drivers can deny your booking.
Scooter rental: You can also rent a scooter and drive there yourself, which requires you to have good driving skills. The cost of a scooter rental for one day is from 180,000 vnd to 250,000 vnd. It will be fun if you can drive safely. You will not only see more things on the way but also interact more with people. Of course this is not recommended if you are not used to the traffic in Vietnam.
A Private tour: A private tour can have all the advantages above and eliminate the advantages. Mate Hoi An tours provides you with private tours which include tickets, tour guide, water, transportations. Right now, we are having a big promotion. You can book a private tour to My Son with just 800.000 vnd. Let us save you from the headache of choosing the ways to get to My Son with a very reasonable price. Click here to see our my son tours: My Son Sanctuary tour from Hoi An/Danang, My Son Sanctuary by bus and boat from Hoi An/ Da Nang, My Son Sanctuary and Marble Mountain full day tour from Danang/ Hoi An, Hoi An city tour and My Son Sanctuary from Hoi An/Danang
You can buy the tickets at the counters. it costs 150.000 vnd/pax. It includes the buggy transfer to the sanctuary. It’s free for children ( it still costs 35.000 vnd for buggy transfer).
What’s the best time to visit My Son
My Son is situated in a valley and surrouded by sand stone mountains. It will be very hot in the Summer when the heat is trapped inside. Best time of the year to visit My Son is from February to April. In the rainy season ( From October to December), the road to My Son can be flooded.
There are 3 times during the day when you can visit the My Son: Early morning, morning, and the afternoon. It depends on your plans, available time, you can choose your most suitable times.
My Son sunrise: You will start at 5.00 am. You will reach My Son at 6.00. The benefit of getting early is you will have the place to yourself, avoid the heat in the summer, take a lot of good photos, see the beautiful sunrise.
My Son morning: you will start at 7.30 or 8.00. Note: the weather can be hot from 10.00 in the Summer
My Son afternoon tour: You will start at 13.00 or 13.30. If you finish late at My Son, you may see the sunset.
How Much time should be spent in My Son
The answer depends on you, but maximum is 3 hours. In the Summer, we should spend 1,5 hours there due to the strong heat. But if you choose to go early ( 5.00 am), 2 hours should be fine.
If you go in the afternoon, make sure to get out before 17.00, the place would be overwhelmed with mosquitos and could get dark quickly.
Parking if you go by your personal vehicles
Parking is free if you go there by your scooters. Before the ticket counters, turn left, you will see the parking lot for bikes. Make sure you take important things with you.
What to bring and to wear to My Son sanctuary
As My Son is a holy land in Hindu and Cham culture, it is very important to wear appropriate clothes. You should cover your shoulders and your knees before going to the temples.
My Son is also located in the valley, so the temperature can be very hot, bring some sun cream to protect your skin and some hats.
Mosquito repellant is a must since there can be mosquitos in the forest.
You also should bring fully- charged camera/ phone to take photos.
Personal advice from Khanh – An experienced tour guide:
My Son is a Unesco site, so in my point of view, it is a must. If you want to see something special, My Son should be on your list. If you are on a small budget, you can book a group tour, which costs from 300,000 vnd to 500,000 vnd. A group tour can be cheaper than going on your own. If you want the flexibility, you should book a private tour, which can cost a little bit more, but it will definitely give you more privacy and freedom.
Being a guide, I think in the Summer, you should go to My Son in the early morning ( 5.00 am), but in the Winter, Day tour ( 8.00 am) would be better.
If you have any questions or need any further assistance, please feel free to comment below
Share this article on your social media