Everything you need to know about My Son Sanctuary

Reading Time: 19 minutes

Last Updated on 3 years by Tam Le Van

India-like architectural buildings you see on Instagram hagstag #Vietnam, it is My Son sanctuary (meaning ‘beautiful mountains’). In 1999, this richly-historied land and princely Hoi An ancient town were recognized by UNESCO as World heritage sites. After that turning point, both places quickly became must-see tourist attractions all over the country.

Due to its great appeal, My Son sanctuary is definitely on the bucket list of all visitors traveling to Vietnam. Some questions about is it worth it to visit, how to get there, tours from Hoi An or what to expect? they commonly address. In this article, we points out everything you need to know about My Son before leave the hotel and kickoff the trip.

My Son Sanctuary general information

What is My Son Sanctuary?

Fourty-five kilometers away from Hoi An center, this prominent archaeological site is a complex of over 60 elaborate Hinduism temples and numerous ruins dating back from 4th to 13rd centuries. It boasts the most important relic of Champa ancient kingdom that existed along Central Vietnam’s seacoast thousand years ago. See further information about the kingdom in international Wikipedia through https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Champa. Beside a lengthy history, these architectural buildings are also all set in a scenic river valley surrounded by wealthy forested mountains. Today, exploring My Son sanctuary stands as one of the best things to do in Hoi An.

To visit, travellers are able to book guided tours boarding daily from Hoi An and Da Nang with an affordable price. It’s easily accessible if you drive either the motorcycle or bicycle. If need a local mine of information who explains the whole ball of wax about My Son, you should join in tours or go for private on-site guide service.

Best time to visit My Son Sanctuary

On a same basis to Hoi An’s weather, there are two distinct wet and dry seasons. Wet season (also called as rainy season) yearly occurs in between September and next January coupled with big tropical storms coming from Bien Dong (the East sea). It rains cats and dogs during the period of mid-October to December, so make numerous areas flooded including My Son valley. The site occasionally closes to keep safety for tourists.  However, its average temperature is lower than hot months in dry season. Check the weather forecast carefully once design your trip.

On the other hand, the dry season stretches from February to late August. Together with sandy beaches, we can expect for lovely days to discover glamorous My Son temples throughout these times. Be aware that it will be oven-like quite frequently in the middle of May and July, sometimes up to nearly 40 Celsius degree. Therefore, you should prepare the sunscreen, hat/umbrella and fresh water enough (stores cost 1 USD for a bottle in My Son). If have no time to avoid burning dates, come in the early morning or late afternoon. The sanctuary opens from 6:00 until 17:00 daily.     

My Son Sanctuary on-site guide and ticket prices

You will pay 150.000 VND (6.5 USD) to visit, including entering My Son museum, round-trip transfer on the buggy from the museum bridge to temple zones and Champa folk performances at the public stage. In case of your kids/childrens 6-10 years old, 50% charge and under 6, free of charge. Bring their passport copies as evidence to stay away from a full charge for. By the way, Vietnamese identification card holders have a discount from the governmance and pay 100.000 VND (4.3 USD) correspondingly.

My Son ticket counters just locate to the left-hand side of main entrance. They’re near parking lots, a restaurant and rest rooms as well. Keep in mind to prepare cash in VND before.

Morever, when need a My Son tour guide to broaden your knowledge, tell ticket sellers in the counter to make a booking. This service costs 100.000 VND excluding tipping (not have-to but people often give for tons of information). Because he/she is a well-trained attraction guide, therefore absolutely as the master in all aspects about the holy land.   

Dress regulations when visit My Son Sanctuary

My Son Sanctuary management board official proposes the dress code to visitor. Firstly, covering knees and shoulders because it’s a hugely sacred site established by Champa kings to pay homage to gods. Although this role stopped after many centuries abandonned, the managers still advise to wear enough long for purpose of keeping its original-religious meaningfulness. In Hoi An Life lastest experience, there is no strictly checking when come into the site.   

Complimentarily, each traveller also is suggested strongly that should not give any touching/painting/climbing on all precious relics and sites, keep silence inside the temples or not throw away trashes when stay in My Son sanctuary. On-site employees can ask whoever to leave if in non-compliance with regulations given.

History of My Son Sanctuary

Champa Kingdom

Flourished from 2nd to 15th centuries in between Viet populations to the North and Funanian power to the South, Champa Kingdom territory covered almost all current coastline areas of Central Vietnam. Its first capital was constructed in Simhapura (meaning ‘lion city’). During this time, My Son played the role as the most important religious center of entire kingdom where kings bore honor to Shiva-Hindu god of destroy. On another side, some historians think that the site was designated as a refuge for royal family during wars. Century after century, persistent conflicts with neighbours made in turn into a state of weakness progressively and no longer existed in 1800s under the control of Vietnam kingdom.

Cham people are masters of stone carvings. Visit Da Nang Museum of Champa Sculpture to see their intricate works of art what is a part of the largest collection in the country. Browse here more information here.

In general, Cham people followed Hinduism (focusedly Shiva god)&worshiped the Mother Goddess-Po Inu Nagar (the holiest site in Nha Trang), used Sankrit as the main language and adapted Indian architectural&art styles. The kingdom also ever had participated actively in the international maritime trading network. Champapura (Hoi An today) was among main ports and its charming archipelago offshore served as a immigration check-point. For that reason, Vietnamese later called Cham islands for Hoi An’s offshore isles.       

Why is My Son sanctuary in Vietnamese territory now?

Before 14th century, My Son holy land fully belonged to one of five states of Champa kingdom namely Amaravati. This ownership did not change until Che Man king gave its greater region (now Hue, Da Nang and Hoi An) as a wedding present to get married with beautiful princess of Vietnamese kingdom in 1306. It marked the first time Viet populations reaching further over their Southern-end. Nowadays, Hue city selected the historic landmark as its offcial establishment day.

Its abandon and rediscovery

A short time after historical marriage, Champa kings moved the national capital to another place southwards resulting the abandonment of My Son temples. It was still hidden to the world in advance of being rediscoveried by French solders in 1885. First researching works were started by Henri Parmentier (founder of Da Nang Cham sculpture museum) and his colleagues over 12 months from 1903 to 1904. To make recording plus documentary activities easier, the archaeologists classified and numbered temple groups from A to N.

Because of centuried jungle covering and harsh climate, almost buildings in My Son were in ruins at that time. Then partly restored under tireless efforts from Polish conservationists between 1980 and 1994. Especially, must mention architect Kazimier Kwiatkowski who honored by locals as ‘My Son hero’. After his death, Hoian people’s committee erected a statue to pay his tribute in the heart of ancient town.      

How to get from Da Nang and Hoi An to My Son Sanctuary

#1 Tour bus-the most popular choice

Most Hoi An’s travel operators provides the day tour by bus/minivan which often encompasses pick up&drop off from the hotel, My Son entrance ticket, English-speaking guide who introduces you history of Champa and a bottle of water. You will have delicious set lunch when arrive Hoi An, however some agencies do not offer it as an inclusion. Check this information carefully to avoid unexected disappointings.

Depending on which style (private/join a group) or package you get, the price may have differences. But generally it is sensible. For all above reasons, we can understand why the day tour itself becomes one of the most selected choices to visit My Son sanctuary from Hoi An.    

Note: Ask for your customized drop-off point in town instead of the hotel when book a day tour to My Son sanctuary. Awesome restaurant for lunch and fun shopping around after morning trip or beautiful sences of lanterns by night following afternoon journey is awaiting for your arrangements.   

#2 Motorbike-the best option for freestyle travelers

Rent motorbike in Hoi An

Travelling on the motorbike is really flexible, especially for who not want to miss out everything. In other words, you can be free from permission of tour organizers to hop on and hop off anywhere en route to My Son sanctuary.

There are three options to rent a motorbike in Hoi An: at your accommodation, roadside and reputable stores. If hire in the hotel, it will be very convenient and the quality received as acceptable as the roadside store on high streets. General pricing at both places is around 115.000 VND (5 USD) for a day without fuel and professional road service. Lastly, reputable rental shops are able to provide the highest standards in quality, frequent maintenance and twenty-four hours assistance. In case of price, most costy but worth it.

See our article through http://hoianlife.net/the-best-hoi-ans-motorbike-rental-shops/ to know all Vietnam’s requirements for renter as well as find out your best Hoi An’s motorbike rental shop.

How to get My Son sanctuary from Hoi An by motorbike?

From Hoi An, there are two popular routes leading to My Son as DT608 plus DT 610 crossing Thu Bon river by Cau Giao Thuy (Giao Thuy bridge) and Cau Cau Lau (Cau Lau bridge) respectively. The shortest distance route is via DT608 giving you a nearly 40 kilometers experience through rice paddies, rural villages and small towns.  Another common choice is DT610 (43 kilometers) formerly functioned as only road reaching My Son Sanctuary. It has a number of noticeable places along this route such as Museum of Sa Huynh and Champa Culture, Marian Shrine of the Lady of Tra Kieu or good-cooked local specialty restaurants. Interestingly, at both sides of its some parts where scientists planted Dau rai trees (resin tree) used for preservation works in My Son.

Motorbike parking areas situate at easily-found positions (right behind of the traffic circle). Like anywhere else in Vietnam, someone will give a number tag to make sure you are right owner of the motorbike. Be aware that My Son sanctuary entrance does not cover parking fee. Usually you pay an amount of 5-10.000 VND (0.2-0.4 USD).

#3 Bike-recommended for adventurers

Cycling experiences to My Son get a slight difference to motorbike and bus trips. Not only pleasant plus freedom vibes received, you also have the chance to explore hidden gems off-the-beaten-track where meet new people and know new things. Especially, the program of Hoi An cycling tours usually are designed unduplicatedly with whichever expedition on motorbike/bus in the city.    

Most recommended type of bike is the moutainbike which highly suitable for a distant journey like from Hoi An to My Son Sanctuary. Reputable cyling tour operators are able to provide you both of long-term and short-term rental services in a competitive price. In case want to go with a local guide, you should refer to these points first to guarantee the bike quality.

#4 Boatride

Geographically, My Son Sanctuary is near sparkling and green river Thu Bon (meaning ‘large estuary’ in Champa language) which you will cruise on to return Hoi An. The trip regularly begins by bus to see striking My Son temples and then get a river dock for boating downstream. Additionally, some operators offer an open-air delicious set lunch during appreciating authentic rural landscapes. Lastly, enjoy wandering around beautiful lantern-lit streets when the tour ends at Bach Dang pier in the ancient town.

Boat tour on Thu Bon river is enjoyable but not only one, as a matter of fact there are lots of boat trips in Hoi An delivering the similar values. See our article here to know others for diversifying your travel ideas.  

#Travel My Son Sanctuary from Da Nang

Due to being close to the international airport and seaport, Da Nang city functions as the central point for coming to four UNESCO sites: Phong Nha-Ke Bang national park (containing Son Doong-world’s largest natural passage), Hue ancient capital, Hoi An ancient town and of course, My Son sanctuary. For this reason, some million tourists stay over in the city yearly. They all wonder which is the best way to travel My Son from Da Nang?

Guided trip

Booking at your hotel together with online preservation are the most convenient methods  to step into the world of gods and legends in My Son. As same as neighbour city-Hoi An, the daily guided-trips to My Son are still best sellers alike.

Pros: It takes you around 1.5 hours to get My Son (50 kilometers from Da Nang center accordingly), therefore a full-packaged trip will make you more comfortable than driving under the sun. Most operators provide a journey with air-conditioned bus and at least one bottle of water included. Additionally, day and half-day tours departuring from Da Nang are highly available, rarely overbooked. If take this option, you also travel with a knowledgeable guide who throws light on secrets of age-old temples.

Cons: In comparion to travel by yourself, the packaged trip costs more significantly because of its covering from A to Z. As a solotraveler, you perhaps will think of a bigger budget to pay for. Meaning that sometimes must select which one is better resulting missing out several things on the plan. The last disadvantage comes to the program that you have to stick with the pickup time, destinations and activities.

Self-guided trip

Pros: Conducting a self-guided trip towards the flexibility in departuring/arrival times, stopovers or entertainments always is the target of free-style travellers. In other words, you will have the chance to combine everything you like into one journey. For instance, between My Son exploration and hidden gems what tour operators never touch before. Thus, it offers great personalized experience above all.

Additionally, time-saving in searching process and expense reduction are other advantages of a self-governed trip from Da Nang to My Son sanctuary.

Cons: Occasionally you feel a little down due to some picked attractions and activities may be less interesting than you anticipated previously. Over-ratings sourced from social media channels may lead to this. Moreover, understanding My Son is still not fully-covered so if travel without a guide, you will have to read books or on-place introduction boards written in the academic language. It causes difficulties to realize storries/meanings hiding within each monument. To resolve, going with local guide is the most suitable solution.

Things to do in My Son Sanctuary

Visit My Son Sanctuary’s museums

After walk through the ticket checking point, My Son museum locates immediately to your right hand side. Built in 2004 and completed in 2005 from Japanese ODA fund, it proudly composes two main exhibitions which inform you very comprehensively.

Not just richly informative documents and relics, ‘right’ gallery also offers a video showing special brick-making technique used for creating intricate-built towers within My Son god valley. Notably, there is an one-of-the-kind masterpiece namely Mukhalinga (specific type of linga holy symbol) is preserving at center of the ‘right’ gallery. This 7th century sandsome sculpture was found  by mistake after a heavy rain in E temples zone and is only Vietnamese national treasure kept here up to the present.

During visit around the core area (B-C-D groups), it has a pair of temple-galleries containing mainly Hindu statues and sculptures on display too. These are nice to take a look, learn history, photograph  as well as be cool down following time in the heat.

If you like to deepen your understanding about Champa culture and its magnificent creations, do not miss out Cham sculpture museum in Da Nang.

Learn about a new culture with thousand-year-old temples

My Son sanctuary opens a window to know more about Champa ancient culture and its inhabitants in particular. At here, Temples itself are priceless works of art where former artisans put all their efforts and creativities on. Every single building totally looks not the same in form, architectural style and decoration that tell us different stories. Specially, relating to Linga-Yoni sacred symbols, undiscovered brick-making technique, how Champa people transported sandsone material to current location or appearance of Roman-styled columns. In addition to, it will be very interesting to participate a Hinduism lesson  religious and non-religious functions or meaning of patterns too.

Major groups of temple in My Son Sanctuary

#Central group B-C-D (aka ‘Thap Cho’ group)

#A group (aka ‘Thap Chua’ group)

#Group G (aka ‘Thap Ban Co’ group)

#E-F group (aka ‘Thap Ho Khe’ group)

Cham folk performances


Except within the period of important events taking place (noticed a week in advance on the official website of My Son Sanctuary), Cham folk performances will be daily arranged four times at 9:15, 10:45, 14:00 and 15:30 in the public stage. Depending on each season, this schedule may be changed to be little later or earlier. Check official information on the bulletin board placed at the theatre to tailor your plan well-fitted.

Brief content and notes

In the course of fifthteen minutes, there are 3 fastinating sections sequentially carried out: performances of Cham festival musical instruments&dances, of a traditional trumpet-blowing artist and of extremely flexible Apsara dances from talented ladies. Every actor/actress wears Champa’s customary dresses.

As one of the most saught-after things to see, the performings are thoroughly recommended by tour guides. Resonating with dozens of tourists make the seatings often over-filled. Hoi An Life advise to be there 15 minutes prior to above fixed times. You also have time for sitting down and getting cooler under the electric fans after sightsee around or a long journey from Hoi An. 

Watch sunrise and sunset

Sunrise-good way to avoid the heat and tourist crowds

Early morning and late afternoon are two nicest times to admire mysterious temples in My Son sanctuary. Hanging on each season and day, Hoi An tour operators will recommend when your sunrise experience departures. However, it’s early enough anyway for nearly 1.5 hours on bus as well as buggy transfering/walking into the main group of building. You should do necessary preparations in the night before to ensure everything all ready.

The highest value from the tour is the opportunity to witness first lights in the day gradually appearing just behind gorgeous towers. The scene can be compared to dawn-watching at Angkor Wat of Cambodia or Borobudur wonders in Indonesia. And more than that, you are one of the earliest comers exploring My Son’s secrets. Avoiding strong heat in the noon-time plus escaping from tourist crowds are other outstanding features into the bargain.    

Sunset in My Son Sanctuary

Late afternoon is one of two best times to visit My Son sanctuary. It will be cooler, less crowdy in the company with the opportunity to see wonderful reddy sun down. In this case, you have an addition in your bag of experiences in comparison to other regular daily expidition. Nevertheless, My Son sunset tour from Hoi An composes of two different programs: watching in temples zone and on the river cruise. Local tour operators will recommend a proper depature to suit your needs in both options.

Note: If like to witness sunset by yourself within My Son, being aware that it closes for entering after 17:00. Well-planned your timetable to visit temples as well as spend time at favourite spots. Additionally, keep the drive safe and sound when turn back to Hoi An.    

Skip buggy transfers and do-it-yourself trekking

Two-ways buggy transfer is an inclusion in the entrance fee. Particularly, the ticket holders will be carried over two kilometers on a picteresque road running along the stream. Both sides of this concrete route are embraced of green colors from mountain forests. The distance gets not too lengthy mingling with natural landscapes completely convince who like trekking/doing exercise. There is a good way to recharge more fresh air and feel greatly serene atmosphere of My Son Sanctuary. In a way, you also follow the past road Champa inhabitants reached their holy land for grand ceremonies.

What to see, eat and photograph from Hoi An to My Son Sanctuary

Sightseeing places

Vinahouse Craft Village

Khu du lich Vinahouse (Vinahouse craft village) is the first stopover we recommend when travel My Son sanctuary from Hoi An. As the largest architecture museum nationwide, it accommodates 18 traditional and 15 restored houses, nearly 12.000 different exhibits dating back from at least eighteenth century. In other words, every visitor will expand the horizons about Vietnamese ancient housing spaces from commoner to royal families in this destination. Besides, Vinahouse also shows on-site Mi Quang (white thick noodles) making process to introduce the pride of Phu Chiem village where it locates.  

Museum of Sa Huynh and Champa Culture

Established in 2003 to preserve one of the most valuable Sa Huynh and Champa relic collections, it gets well-deserved to be a highlight on the way to My Son sanctuary. Notably, famous for its antiquated burial jars belonging to inhabitants of Sa Huynh culture who paved the way for Champa kingdom formation later. Hoi An Life highly recommends this stunning place for history/archaeology likers. 

Marian Shrine of the Lady of Tra Kieu

In the heart of Champa’s Simhapura former capital, this 200-years church was built in 1865 on top of a hills close by DT610 road. Vietnamese Catholics go on a pilgrimage on 31st May annually because they believe that the Our Lady appeared here. It takes  around 30 minutes to pay your visit in Nha tho Tra Kieu.   

Eating places for lunch

High-temperature in the end of the morning, crowds of tourist and sometimes folk performances timetable make visitors start the trip to My Son early. If not on all-inclusive tours, it has a number of choices for your lunch following spend time around temple zones.

Restaurants in My Son Sanctuary

You can come and check at several lunch places within My Son sanctuary. In particular, Ganesha café&restaurant, Nha hang My Son, Snack bars and My Son valley restaurant. Keep in mind that their menu has a limited list of foods and beverages. But satisfy enough your basic eating needs.  

Champa Restaurant at My Son Heritage Resort and Spa

Location: DT610, Duy Chau, Duy Xuyen
Distance from My Son: 2 km
Opening time: 6:30 a.m to 10:30 p.m
Telephone number:  (+84) 2356506699
Email: info@mysonheritageresort.com

Five minutes drive from My Son, Champa Restaurant is a good selection for travellers looking for a standard eating space. At here, it serves an international menu consisting of local specialties as well as seatings overlooking the pool and gardens. For reservation, you should have the contact with My Son Heritage Resort and Spa at least 24 hours once come. Furthermore, Duy Son Coffee next to it also caters coffee, beer, soft drinks and cakes from 11:00 until 23:00 daily.   

Mi Quang Tieng Quy

Location: DT610, Duy Chau, Duy Xuyen
Distance from My Son: 11 km
Opening time: 5:00-22:00

Mi Quang Tieng Quy is a small local eatery locating to  your left hand side. It wholly focuses on local specialty-Mi quang (white thick rice noodles served with flavourful marinating meats/seafoods, tasty soup, fresh herbs, rice crackers, roasting peanuts, slices of lime and chilli). Its menu is simple with two dishes as snakehead fish and chicken (best seller) noodles but completely delicious. Interestingly, this restaurant has run by three generations continously since French colonial period.  

Quan My Son (Dac san my ga My Son)

Location: DT610, Duy Chau, Duy Xuyen
Distance from My Son: 12 km
Opening time: 6:00 a.m to 9:30 p.m

Quan My Son (Dac san my ga My Son) gets famous for its appetizing chicken noodles or Mi quang ga. Generally, it is long-established, spacious, fairy clean and decorated by typical Champa art motifs that make its front more eye-catching than other similar eateries. The name of restaurant originates from sense of pride about My Son.

Be Thui Cau Mong Muoi

Location: Cau Lau Bridge, Dien Phuong, Dien Ban
Distance from My Son: 30 km
Opening time: 5 0

This best-known-of-its-kind restaurant is recommended for explorers who are willing to try the most authentic local foods. Be Thui Cau Mong Muoi majorly deals in Be thui or rare beef slices cut from a smoked young cow. To savour, people will roll by rice papper with green vegetables and dipped in home-made anchovy sauce). The restaurant uses name of Cau Mong (Cau Lau Bridge) nearby to help guests find it easier. Over time, the phrase ‘Be thui Cau Mong’ habitually becomes title  for the finest quality type to Hoianese. Besides, the restaurant also sells hot Xao bo (thinly-sliced beef soup).  

Photography points between Hoi An and My Son Sanctuary

Villages in Go Noi island

Unlike Hoi An’s islands, Go Noi boasts its long-lasting state of intactness that nearly free from holiday businesses. That is reason why photography lovers is very fond of and consider it as a muse. You are able to expect for the most realistic ways of life in the countryside. Alongside transquil settlements in Dien Phong, Dien Trung or Dien Quang communes, the island is renowned for cow raising. Farmers here supply the highest quality beef for Hoi An restaurants (notably in preparing be thui).   

Ky Lam railway bridge-sunset catching point

My Son visiting usually takes a half of day. So watching sunset on Thu Bon river is the awesome activity after having lunch and driving around calm rural villages. Hoi An Life recommends Ky Lam railway bridge as your stopping point. It offers a considerably wide vision which allows to fabricate the most impressive pictures. If lucky, you will see the North-South train running on it as well. There are some riverfront cafeterias appropriate to chill out and enjoy this special moment of the day.

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Tam Le Van

Tam is a tour leader and passionate traveler who has beautiful memories over 50 provinces of Vietnam. During the time Corona virus spreads out globally, he decides to become a blogger to share his experiences.
Contacts for work: Levantam0906@gmail.com or (+84) 968009827

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