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My Son Sanctuary – All you need to know

Where is My Son Sanctuary?

My Son Sanctuary is a complex consisting of many ancient Cham Pa temples located in the heart of a 2 square km valley, surrounded by hills and mountains. The sanctuary is always considered as one of the most culturally, historically significant temple centers in Vietnam in particular and in Southeast Asia in general. In 1999, My Son Sanctuary was recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and listed as one of the 23 national monuments of special conservation for its long-lasting values. It is considered to be one of the best examples of Hindu architecture in Southeast Asia.

Where is My Son Sanctuary?

My Son Sanctuary is a relic located in Duy Phu commune, Duy Xuyen district, Quang Nam province. It is about 70 km southwest of Danang city center, 20 km from Tra Kieu and 45 km west of Hoi An ancient town.

Why is My Son Sanctuary worth visiting?- Things you need to know 

My Son used to be a place of worshiping ceremonies of the ancient Champa dynasty residents as well as the tomb area of the emperors and the royal families. The relic dates back to around the 4th century. At that time, King Bhadresvara decided to build a temple for worshiping King Bhadravarman – the first king of the Amaravati region back then. He as a king, belonging to royalty, was assimilated to God Siva, then started the tradition of worshiping ever since. Whenever a king ascended to the throne, he would come here to My Son for practicing worshiping rituals. It is one of the major Hindu temple complexes was recognized by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage in 1999.

General information about My Son sanctuary- Things you need to know 

  • Ticket price: 150,000 VND /one international tourist and 100,000 VND /one domestic tourist (Entrance fee includes buggy rides to the monument from the gate and Apsara dance performance watching)
  • Opening time: From 6:30 AM to 5:00 PM (every day, even on public holidays)
  • Performance time: 9:15, 10:45, 14:00, 15:30
  • Outdoor performance in temple areas: morning: at 10:00 and afternoon: at 14h45.

Facts about My Son sanctuary- Things you need to know 

All symbols on reliefs, tiles depicted on temple walls or any ornamental things in the sanctuary are Linga, Yoni or human form of Shiva god that Cham people respected and showed their absolute devotion to according to Hinduism.

The first wooden temple in My Son was built in the 4th century. Due to a tragically terrible flame that swallowed all the great wooden architecture, the later Champa kings decided to build the complex using red bricks – a firmer, more long-lasting material that is impossible to be burned down on any purpose.

In general, My Son temples are very simply-designed with thicker roofs and thinner foundation at the bottom. As there are no windows inside the worship space, the interior looks quite dark if people do not burn any incense or candles. Actually it is a purposeful design with since that darkness does create a sacred mysterious ambiance for shamans to be able to communicate with the deities inside the temples.

How the red bricks that built up all those temples could stick together so firmly for centuries without any mortar in between them as the least connection is still a mystery that most of us find so curious about. And now, moss-covered all over that special structure that creates such an enchanting nostalgic ambiance.

Another point that amazes us the most is that you can hardly tell the difference between the new red bricks from the renovation and the centuries-old ones. The fact that despite their age, the old bricks remain the same color as their original state while those new ones already began to change their color is a true proof of Cham potters’ brilliant brick burning skills.

Due to many historical and geographical reasons, the temple complex could not remain its original condition. Bombing during the wartime had destroyed almost 80 percent of the area, leading to the existence of only 17 structures out of the original 71 though the place has been constantly going under professional conservation work by groups of Vietnamese and international experts since 1975. Plus, intense heat, high humidity, annual floods from the nearby river together with some other severe weather patterns of Central Viet Nam make it more difficult for preservation activities at the site.

Only on-site visit can give you the most real experience of this sanctuary – one of the best example of Hindu architecture in Southeast Asia, to witness how brilliantly such a worshiping complex was built using the most mysterious yet cleverest techniques of a glorious kingdom in the past.

 

Travel Tips to explore My Son Sanctuary- Things you need to know

My Son Sanctuary

Best examples of Hindu architecture in Southeast Asia.

In 1999, My Son Sanctuary was recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and listed as one of the 23 national monuments of special conservation for its long-lasting values. It is considered to be one of the best examples of Hindu architecture in Southeast Asia.

Travel Tips to My Son Sanctuary- Things you need to know

  • Best time to visit: It can be a better idea to visit the site in the afternoon (around 2 PM) as almost all earlier tours would have left. You also can visit My Son in early morning, right after they open the gate (at 6:30 AM), but anyway, not long after that, the sunrise guided tours from Hoi An would come and bring so many more tourists to the site with them.
  • Visit Cham museum in Da Nang before the trip to My son Sanctuary:  It would be a better idea if you can plan for a visit to Champa museum in Da Nang for more basic, general knowledge about Hindu temples before heading to My Son.
  • Check out a museum near entrance gate in My Son Sanctuary: you should enter the closest museum from that booth in order to get all the necessary information relating to the site all written on English boards inside (as you cannot find any further English explanation at the temple area).
  • Electric Buggy is included:  There is an electric buggy station available behind a bridge (after you exit the museum) to take people to the site (for around 10 minutes) through the main sites. Walking the trail sounds tricky and tiring as it is really hot and humid here for that idea, you still can use that energy later at the complex for a longer discovery.
  • Hire a local tour guide in My Son Sanctuary: It is always more recommended to have for yourself at least a professional on-site tour guide for more correct information and clearer insight into the site’s history through a Vietnamese’s lens. It costs 100,000 VND (4.4 USD) for one guided tour around My Son.
  • Restrooms can be found at the entrance or close to the ending area of the site. Though you can buy some cold drinks and ice cream at a small convenience store there but there would be no other resting booths inside
  • What to bring: you would better bring sunglasses, a hat, water, and sun cream.
  • Audio guide: You can get for yourself an audio guide with a deposit.
  • Drinks: There is a nearby café named Simhapura, located at Tra Kieu market that serves good coffee (different styles) if you want a short break after your visit.
  • Avoid crowd: To save your time better for the visit and avoid possibly noisy and annoying tourist groups, visit time should be early morning  6.30 AM, hot noontime 2.00 PM or pretty late during the last operating hours of the site in the afternoon.

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