The My Son Temples located approximately 45 minutes outside of Hoi An city are an absolute must see for any backpacker or tourist in Vietnam. With their rich ancient history, alluring tales of ransacking by the French, and survival of the Vietnam War, this site of eight temples and over 71 monuments is a wonderful and budget friendly half day trip.
Getting There: jumping on a motorbike is the simplest way, but you can also organize a tour which tends to cost $5-7 not including admission.
Costs: entrance fee – 150,000 VND ($6.50), motorbike parking is 10,000 VND.
Suggested Time: Tours tend to run in the morning, so it’s quieter in the afternoon, spend the better part of a morning or afternoon exploring. 1.5 – 2 hours round trip drive time. 2 – 3 hours exploring the site.
Additional Information: it gets very hot walking around the temples bring plenty of water with you.
Built between the 4th and 13th century by the Champa people the My Son Temple ruins are of great historical and cultural significance. Initial construction was started in the 4th Century by King Bhadravarman in honour of the Hindu God Shiva and continued for another 900 years. A trip to My Son is a must while in Hoi An, it is to Vietnam what Angkor Wat is to Cambodia or Ayutthaya to Thailand. In my opnion it’s not as impressive as either of those sites but it is well worth a visit to learn more about the history of the Champa people.
Having purchased your tickets at the main entrance there will be a large museum on the right which gives detailed information about the Champa people and the history of the site. Enjoy the museum for half an hour to get some background into the temple ruins, you can then either walk the 2 km to the start of the ruins or jump on the back of an electric buggy which takes you down there. My recommendation is that you opt for the buggy as the walk didn’t lead to any additional exploring, the real adventure starts with the temples.
My Son is made up of 8 groups of temples, including the remains of 71 ancient monuments. Unfortunately during the Vietnamese war the VC used the My Son Temple complex as a hiding place, resulting in the entire area being bombed by United States troops. A fair number of the monuments were hit with bombs and have since needed restoring and you’ll easily be able to spot bomb craters throughout the entire site. Luckily the original monuments are all built with red bricks, using no mortar (which is a structural mystery in itself) meaning restoration has been a simpler task than at other sites.
Each of the temple groups are of a different state of repair, some have been fully restored or weren’t affected by the bombing, others have been reduced to rubble. Of the original 71 monuments only about 20 remain standing, you’ll also notice a lot of headless monuments, largely because when the French discovered the sites many took the heads of statues home to France as souvenirs.
Admittedly My Son is not as impressive as Ayutthaya or Angkor Wat, it is however remarkable in its own right. The history of the Cham people is incredible and the temples are far older than those mentioned in Thailand and Cambodia. You can easily spend 3 or 4 hours exploring all of the temples around the compex and taking some pretty incredible photos of nature reclaiming the brick monuments.