My Son Sanctuary: A Majestic Cham Complex in Quang Nam

My Son Sanctuary

My Son Sanctuary

Overview of My Son Sanctuary

My Son Sanctuary is one of the most stunning and majestic Cham complexes in Vietnam. Every temple here has a distinctive structural design that depicts the various Champa kingdoms’ historical eras. Only about 20 of these temple towers still stand in My Son because of natural disasters and war-related damage.

In December 1999, My Son Sanctuary Vietnam was recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and it has become a popular destination that attracts tourists from all over the world. Therefore, it will definitely be an ideal place for you to explore the special highlight of the Cham culture. Take your time with Vietnam Shore Excursions to study more information about My Son Sanctuary and its highlights!

My Son Sanctuary - a beatiful destination for photos
My Son Sanctuary – a beatiful destination for photos

Where is My Son Sanctuary located?

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 Commune, Duy Xuyen District, Quang Nam Province
  • Opening hours: 6:30 am – 5:30 pm
  • 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.
My Son Sanctuary - A Majestic Cham Complex in Vietnam
My Son Sanctuary – A Majestic Cham Complex in Vietnam

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History of My Son Sanctuary in 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 Vietnam 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 has proven My Son to be the most important Holy Land of the Cham people during those centuries which reflects their style and history.

Sunrise in My Son Sanctuary
Sunrise in My Son Sanctuary

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.

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.
Travelers enjoy their time in My Son Santuary
Travelers enjoy their time in My Son Santuary

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.

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.

Sculptures in My Son Sanctuary Museum
Sculptures in My Son Sanctuary Museum

Keep in mind that you should go to the museum first because they close half an hour earlier than the site.

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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.

The traditional Apsara dance in My Son Sanctuary
The traditional Apsara dance in My Son Sanctuary

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.

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 traditional Kate festival of the Cham people
The traditional Kate festival of the Cham people

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.

Must-try food near My Son Sanctuary

While visiting My Son Sanctuary, 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.

Phu Chiem noodle - a must-try dish in Quang Nam
Phu Chiem noodle – a must-try dish in Quang Nam

Phu Chiem noodle – One of the must-try dishes when coming to Quang Nam (Source: Collected)

You should try the following famous foods:

  • Quang noodle (mi Quang)
  • Cau Mong smoked calf (Be thui Cau Mong)
  • Phu Chiem noodle (mi Phu Chiem)
  • Vietnamese pancake (Banh xeo)
  • Rice cracker (Banh trang dap)

My Son Sanctuary Map

How to get to My Son Sanctuary?

My Son is about 69 kilometers away from Da Nang and 45 kilometers away from Hoi An. So, you can reach My Son, Vietnam from both cities.

From Hoi An

If you depart from Hoi An to My Son Sanctuary, 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 Taxi: Another way to get to My Son Sanctuary is by taxi. It will cost you a lot money. But it is better than bike or bikes on hot days.
My Son Sanctuary - A must visit spot from Hoi An
My Son Sanctuary – A must visit spot from Hoi An

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 8,000 VND to 30,000 VND. Although it is less expensive, the bus takes longer than other modes of transportation.
My Son Sanctuary Tour
My Son Sanctuary Tour from Hoi An

For travelers who want to visit My Son Sanctuary with private transport, you can book My Son Sanctuary Tour from Vietnam Shore Excursions. Professional and knowledgeable tour guides will share profoundly many interesting stories about the Cham People and Hinduism in Vietnam, as well as the local life of local people during the tour.

In conclusion, 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.

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David Nguyen - Vietnam Travel Expert

Mr. David Nguyen is a travel expert and as a seasoned traveler he has the inside track on the most memorable adventures which will help you to have unforgettable memories and wonderful experiences to better your Vietnam Holiday!

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