In December 1999, UNESCO designated My Son Sanctuary as a World Heritage Site. This Cham tower complex is one of Vietnam's most beautiful and impressive Cham temples. Each temple has a unique structural style that reflects the historical stages of the Champa kingdoms. Only about 20 of these temple towers still stand in My Son because of natural disasters and war-related damage. However, it is still a destination that attracts tourists from all over the world.
1. Where is My Son Sanctuary Vietnam?
1.1. Location, opening hours, and ticket prices of My Son Sanctuary
My Son Sanctuary comprises several ancient Cham temples spreading across a 2-kilometer-wide valley surrounded by hills and mountains. Although time and war severely damaged these relics, what remains in My Son plays an important role in world history and culture.
- Address: Duy Phu village, Duy Xuyen district, Quang Nam province
- Opening hours: 6:30 am – 5:30 pm (every day, including holidays and Tet)
- Entrance fee: 150,000 VND (including the fees to My Son Sanctuary and the Champa Museum). This price applies only to self-guided visits to My Son without any tour guide service. It includes a 2-kilometer-long electric car ride to My Son's center and art performing areas.
1.2. How to get to My Son Sanctuary?
My Son is about 69 kilometers away from Da Nang and 45 kilometers away from Hoi An Ancient Town. So, you can reach My Son Vietnam from both cities.
1.2.1. From Hoi An
If you depart from Hoi An to My Son, there are three ways to get there:
- By bike: It's easy to get to My Son on a scooter. From Hoi An, take Tran Hung Dao street to Hung Vuong street. After crossing Vinh Dien River, turn left onto Tran Quy Cap street and continue straight until you reach Quang Trung street. There will be signs directing you to My Son, and you will see other travelers driving along the way.
- By bus: Some public buses run between Hoi An and My Son Sanctuary, but they don't stop at the gates, so it's not the most efficient way to get there. Instead, you can reserve a seat on a shuttle bus from Hoi An to My Son Sanctuary in advance, which departs at 8:30 am and returns at 1:45 pm. It costs as little as $8, making it a low-cost option, though entrance tickets must still be purchased.
- By car: We would not recommend renting a car to visit My Son Sanctuary unless you are planning a multi-day trip through Central Vietnam. There are no car rental companies in Hoi An, so you must hire a car from Da Nang Airport. The car rental for a day costs around $100.
1.2.2. From Da Nang
There are two ways to depart from Da Nang to travel to My Son:
- By bike or car: Follow National Highway 1 south to Nam Phuoc town (for about 39 kilometers), then turn west on Route 537 for about 9 kilometers to Tra Kieu. When you reach the fork after going for 12 kilometers, turn left under the instruction sign board and continue for 9 kilometers to My Son. Continue on the mountain road for about 5 minutes after reaching My Son Sanctuary.
- By bus: You can take bus number 06 from Da Nang to My Son. The bus runs every 30 minutes beginning at 5:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. The bus fare ranges from 8,000VND to 30,000VND. Although it is less expensive, the bus takes longer than other modes of transportation.
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1.3. Map of My Son Sanctuary
2. History of My Son Sanctuary Quang Nam
My Son Sanctuary was built between the 4th and 13th centuries CE. During this time, Cham is a unique culture that developed on the coast of modern Viet Nam and has its spiritual origins traced back to Indian Hinduism.
This is shown by the ruins of a series of impressive tower temples in a dramatic site of My Son Holy Land, which served as the Champa Kingdom's political and religious capital for most of its existence. The stone stele of the Cham royal dynasties have proven My Son to be the most important Holy Land of the Cham people during those centuries which reflects their style and history.
3. Highlights of My Son Sanctuary
The conservation area covers 1158 hectares. Because the area is quite large, it will take you 2 to 3 hours to explore its highlights.
3.1. Ancient Cham architecture of My Son Sanctuary
Apart from religious features, the most captivating aspect of My Son Sanctuary is its unique Cham style of architecture, which was heavily influenced by the Indian style. The Cham towers were all built on quadrilateral foundations and each comprises three parts:
- A sturdy tower foundation: representing the mortal world;
- The enigmatic and sacred tower body: representing the spirit world;
- The tower top (shaped like a man offering flowers and fruits, or trees, birds, animals, and so on): representing things that are close to spirits and human beings.
Although there are not many relics left, those that still stand are the typical sculptural works of the Cham people's cultural value. They are clear proof that confirms the history of an ethnic group that lives within the Vietnamese community and has a rich cultural tradition.
3.2. My Son Sanctuary Museum
After passing through the ticket office, pay a visit to the museum. Here, you will get to know the general information about My Son relics and culture. Inside the museum, there are many posters and pictures explaining the history of My Son Sanctuary, which will be extremely useful if you plan to explore the site without the help of a professional guide.
Keep in mind that you should go to the museum first because they close half an hour earlier than the site.
3.3. Inspiring Apsara dance in My Son Sanctuary
Aside from breathtaking architectural art, you will also enjoy the graceful traditional Cham dances. Every day in the afternoon, the dances are performed.
Local dancers perform the dances which vary from Cham's iconic Shiva and Aspara dances that date back hundreds of years, to joyful fan dances and water dances. Each dance is unique, creating a gleaming and fanciful Champa cultural space. It is an awe-inspiring experience: to enjoy the local dancer's flexibility and attractiveness while listening to folk music in a sacred space.
3.4. Kate festival in My Son Sanctuary
The modern Cham people celebrate the Kate festival, or Mbang Kate, for three days in early October. It is the Cham people’s most important event for commemorating their heroes and late-lamented families. This festival also serves as the largest gathering of the locals for them to share their joy and to wish each other good fortune.
The vibrant colors of the traditional outfits worn by the locals will dazzle you. The symphonic traditional songs and passionate dances will captivate you. Attend the miraculous Kate festival to experience the surreal Cham atmosphere from thousands of years ago.
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4. Must-try food near My Son Sanctuary
While visiting My Son, don't forget to try these iconic central Vietnamese traditional delicacies, which will undoubtedly tickle your taste buds. There are a few restaurants at the entrance to My Son, as well as some eateries in the nearby towns.
You should try the following famous foods:
- Cau Mong smoked calf (Be thui Cau Mong)
- Phu Chiem noodle (mi Phu Chiem)
- Quang noodle (mi Quang)
- Vietnamese pancake (Banh xeo)
- Rice cracker (Banh trang dap)
5. Where to stay for your visit to My Son Sanctuary?
Accommodation services near My Son Sanctuary have not yet been developed. So, visitors should choose hotels or resorts near Hoi An ancient town. It allows you to have a perfect vacation and is convenient to visit other famous tourist attractions in Hoi An and Quang Nam.
- If you want to relax in the clear blue water or take a walk on the white sand, then Vinpearl Resort & Spa Hoi An is a great choice. This resort is in Cua Dai beach which is about a 10-minute drive away from Hoi An Ancient Town. From here, visitors can easily go to local must-see destinations in just a few minutes, such as Cua Dai beach, An Bang beach, Cam Nam island,...
- For travelers who want a perfect family vacation with unique cultural experiences, they should choose Vinpearl Resort & Golf Nam Hoi An because this resort is on Binh Minh beach which is about a 20-minute drive away from Hoi An. Staying here, you can also have fun at the amusement park - VinWonders Nam Hoi An.
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My Son Sanctuary is an important historical relic that represents the Cham kingdom's existence in Central Vietnam. You should spend at least one day exploring these ancient Cham ruins if you are visiting Hoi An or Da Nang. And book vouchers, combos, tours to Hoi An, Nam Hoi An when visiting My Son Vietnam.