Some Quick Facts
Of the many things you should do when you are in Hoi An, a visit to the ancient temples of My Son is a must. In ancient times, the kingdom of Champa existed in this region, settled by the Cham people. My Son was established around 400-500 AD, but the oldest relics to be seen now date from the 8th century. My Son is a wonderful scenic place and it is really worthwhile to go there. My Son is the oldest hinduistic temple complex in the whole of Southeast Asia and the longest used one. It was used from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Cham abandoned it after the fall of the Northern Cham kingdom in 1471. Today the site is a mess – the ruins date not from medieval times, but are relics of the war. Untill 1968 most of the towers had survived the life in the jungle, but French and American bombardments during the war destroyed nearly the whole complex.
My Son lies in Duy Xuyen District of Quang Nam Province, around 48 kilometres out of Hoi An. You can go there by several ways: Either by a bus tour, by a car with driver, by motorcycle (either with driver or by yourself). Since 2010 there is also a direct local bus from Da Nang to My Son. It takes you around one and a half hour to get there. I worked there two years and I can say, My Son is always hotter and more humid than Hoi An. So I really recommend you to go in the morning.The advantage is, that the place is not crowded and quite peaceful. If you go later, a bunch of people will be in your pictures and the sun will mercilessly shine on your head. Don’t forget to bring hats!
Experience My Son
If you can afford a private car or you’re able to go by a motorcycle, I really recommend this. The bus tours are cheap but not flexible. You go into the bus, you go to My Son, you have one hour to visit and then you go. Sometimes I stayed eight hours or longer in the ruins for my research, and there is really much to discover, even if you’re not really into ruins. Going by private car/motorcycle has also the advantage that you can stop on your tour to My Son. You go one hour through the countryside and you will discover a totally different Vietnam than in Da Nang or Hoi An. I see most visitors only go straight to My Son, but you should really get the opportunity and stay some time in a local coffee shop or restaurant, maybe in Kiem Lam or in Tra Kieu (both towns lie on the street to Hoi An).
My Son is a lovely place, especially if you like to take photos. If you do, going in the morning is the best. You will access My Son at the ticket centre and get some information in a small exhibition. It is not much information and I am not sure, if you do not know about the Cham, that you get there well-informed. So you should read a little bit before (or after) your trip. After this, you access the My Son site and will get to groups of temples. Enjoy the view! Inside the temples you cannot buy anything, but there are some small shops and restaurants nearby, so you can get some water there. Take your time and visit all the groups, take pictures and discover the detailed features of this site.
If you come by motorcycle, you must park somewhere. There is an official parking lot, but it is not used in the moment. Some of the restaurants’ owners offer you parking for free. It is really free, there is no scam. However, if you use this service, you certainly should drink a coffee or water at that place since these people look for your bike.
Coming back from My Son, you should also not miss the new Museum of Sa Huynh and Cham Culture in the city of Tra Kieu. Tra Kieu was once the capital of the Cham kingdom but only a few hints have survived untill today. Going to My Son will give you not only a view on the old Cham but also on the recent everyday life of Vietnamese in the countryside.