A spectacular evening at the Hoi An Lantern Festival was swiftly followed by a 5am wake up call as we set off for the UNESCO World Heritage Site of My Son. Having visited the amazing temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the historic city of Ayutthaya in Thailand and the stunning temple plain of Bagan in Myanmar we couldn’t resist discovering what the My Son Sanctuary in Vietnam had to offer. With temple ruins dating back as far as the 4th Century we set out on the 50km journey from Hoi An to check them out!
Where to Stay for My Son
Most visitors to My Son stay in Hoi An and combine a visit to the ruins with a few days exploring the Old Town of Hoi An and the surrounding area. Our recommendations for Hoi An hotels are:
- River Suites Hoi An: excellent hotel just two minutes walk from the Old Town. Location is convenient, rooms are clean, breakfast is great and the small pool is a bonus after a long hot day in Hoi An. The River Suites are a Hoi An fave – check latest prices here!
- Royal Riverside: we stayed in a junior suite at the Royal Riverside Hoi An hotel. The hotel, a 10 minute walk along the river, was excellent and we loved the pool, the fab breakfast and our river view room – check latest prices here
- Essence Hoi An Hotel: luxury at a reasonable price with superb rooms, great facilities and a shuttle bus service to both the beach and the old town – check latest prices here!
Click here for the best Hoi An hotel prices
Hoi An hotel tip: most of the boutique hotels can arrange reasonably priced cars and drivers to do airport trips, travel the Hai Van Pass to Hue and visit the ruins of My Son.
My Son is a cluster of Hindu temple ruins constructed between the 4th and the 14th century AD by the kings of Champa and served as a site for their religious ceremonies. The site fell into disrepair following the fall of the Champa and was rediscovered in 1898. Restoration began in 1937 but the site was further destroyed by bombing during the Vietnam war. The overgrown ruins remain today as the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the My Son Sanctuary.
Visiting My Son
Our visit to My Son started early as we were determined to beat the crowds and arrive before the tour buses! The drive to the site took us through the beautiful Vietnam countryside and it was lovely to witness local village life. The dawn wake up call was entirely worth it when we arrived at a relatively quiet My Son and set to work exploring the almost empty ruins!
The My Son ruins
The My Son Sanctuary is set in a lush valley under the backdrop of the Cat Tooth Mountain and the sacred Thu Bon River flows through the site. Our early morning visit saw the ruins shrouded in mist and made for a very atmospheric start to our visit.
We spent a few hours wandering through the ruins, learning about the history of the site and enjoying the Vietnam sunshine. And snapping pics of course!
Cham figures among the brickwork:
A well preserved My Son temple: Some of the larger scale ruins:
The detail is incredible:Headless statues:
We loved our visit to My Son and were happy we made the short journey from Hoi An. The journey to My Son from the ancient town provided a glimpse into Vietnamese life and it felt like we were entering a different world when we emerged into the lush jungle setting of My Son. The history of the site is fascinating and the overgrown ruins were sufficiently preserved and restored so that sufficient detail remained to allow us to appreciate how My Son once looked. As an added bonus, our UNESCO obsessed selves were delighted to check out another of the UNESCO listed sites!
My Son is in no way close to the scale of the ruins of Angkor Wat or Bagan so, be warned, you will be disappointed if that’s what you are expecting from a visit! However, having seen these legendary sites, we still loved our visit to My Son.
Visiting My Son
Getting to My Son
We booked a private car from our hotel to My Son and got picked up at 7am. It takes around 1 hour to get from Hoi An to My Son and we wanted to be there for the site opening at 8am. Our car and driver cost US $35 for the half day trip.
Other options are a group bus tour or renting a motorcycle in Hoi An.
Getting around My Son
The ruins are grouped into the rather unimaginatively named A’, A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H and L categories. There is a well marked route from beginning to end at the My Son Sanctuary and with good reason: it’s important to stay on the marked paths as the signs indicate the potential presence of landmines outside of this area.
Admission cost: 100,000 VND (around US $5)
Tips for a visit to My Son
- Bring water and sunscreen as it gets seriously hot in the My Son sanctuary! There is a little shop on site selling gifts, ice creams and drinks and is perfect for a short stop.
- Stay on the marked paths as the warning signs indicate the potential presence of landmines outside of this area.
- Get there early or wait until post lunch to visit. My Son is amazing when it’s not too busy but the small site gets extremely crowded when the tours start to arrive.
1 thought on “My Son Sanctuary, Vietnam: a half day trip from Hoi An to the UNESCO ruins!”
All good advice. Much better to arrange the trip yourself. I do not recommend a tour, which I took in June 2018. We went from hotel to hotel to pick up a busload of people, over 50, and then went to the My Son site where we had to wait for the tour operator to get the tickets and then for everyone to go in together. He would not let us leave the tour group and gave us a set time to see each site. It was extremely hot and crowded with other tourists, and I did not feel like spending 30 minutes at the first site, although it was memorable, as it was too crowded. Tours usually end with a short boat trip back to town-but it is a 10 -15 minute boat trip and we waited 30 minutes for the boat to come. The whole experience was about 7 hours and we felt like there was a lot of wasted time.