My Son Vietnam – A Half Day Trip From Hoi An
My Son Vietnam dated from the 4th to 13th centuries AD, is the former capital of the Champa Kingdom and believed to be the longest inhabited archaeological site in Indochina.
In 2000 the ruins were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Set in stunning green, mountain surrounds in the Quang Nam Province 40 km outside of Hoi, the site makes a perfect half day trip from the city.
The French, who discovered that place, did a great job in reconstructing the temple complex. These reconstructions were however destroyed by the bombings of the Americans in 1969.
Within a few days a big part of what was conserved got destroyed by these bombings. If you look close, you will see the bullet holes and bomb craters the Americans left behind.
The main temple complex is still in a good condition, while the remainder of the complex is not much more as piles of stones and grass growing over it.
My Son is in no way close to the scale of the ruins of Angkor Wat (Cambodia) or Bagan (Myanmar) – you will be disappointed if that’s what you are expecting from your visit!
However, they are still impressive and should not be skipped from your Vietnam itinerary.
Tour Or Do It Yourself?
So, should you take a tour to My Son Vietnam or go independently? It depends on your budget and preference. You have basically 3 options.
Book a tour via one of the many tour opertors scattered all over Hoi An.
The price is only about USD 5, which includes the transportation and stops at some souvenir places. VND 150,000 (USD 6.60) entrance fee is not included.
Tour operators sell “Sunrise Tours” which arrive at 6:30 am and “Regular Tours” which begin just after 8:30 am. Be aware though, the sun rises before 6:30 am 8except for a few days in December9, so it is more like a marketing strategy.
Rent a motobike for about VND 115,000 (USD 5) per day and drive yourself. The roads are in good condition, so if you feel confident navigating through Vietnam’s crazy traffic, this is probably the best (and cheapest) option.
Car + Driver
Rent a car and driver from your accommodation. It is significantly more expensive (VND 680,000 / USD 30), however the most convenient way of getting there. Since I didn’t feel confident driving a motobike myself, this is the option I went for.
The driver will wait for you on the site (the duration is negotiable) and drop you off at the accommodation after.
I read a couple of articles saying that you can also go there by bicycle. I really don’t think this is doable!
80 km on a bike in Vietnam’s hot weather really requires some superman power.
Getting Around At My Son
The area of My Son is quite compact and absolutely walkable.
From the ticket counter and entrnace, it’s a short walk to a complimentary shuttle bus which will take you in a few minutes to the paths leading through lush jungle to the temples.
The well marked path is laid out in a circle. I recommend walking clockwise, so you will see the not so well preserved sites first and keep the highlight for the end.
It’s recommended to stay on the path all the time as there is a potential presence of landmines outside of this area.
Tips For Visiting My Son VietnamVisit My Son either very early in the morning or in the afternoon. The park is open from 6.30 am to 5 pm.
Most tour groups arrive around 8.30-9 am and due to the small site of the area, the park is easily overwhelmed by large volume of visitors. You also want to avoid the strong sun during midday.
I arrived at 3.30 pm and it was just perfect, because all tour groups had already left. I had some of the temples all to myself – a beautiful experience. Next to the entrance is a museum (admission is included in the ticket.). It’s best to visit the museum before heading to the ruins, because it will help you identify and understand the Hindu symbolism and mythology shown in the architectural designs and motifs. The museum closes at 4 pm. If you’d like to have some more information, in addition to what is shown in the museum, you can get a guide for just VND 100,000 (USD 4.50). The office where you can get a guide is located next to the shuttle bus stop. Take water with you. It can get very hot out there and there are no shops inside the sanctuary. Bottled water can also be bought near the ticket office.
It might also be a good idea to take some snacks. There are three small restaurants, one inside the park and one at the shutttle bus drop off point and another one at the entrance.
They serve some basic rice, noodle and soup dishes. Prices are ok, but the places did not look very inviting. How much time should you spend on the site? I spent 3 hours walking around and looking at all the ruins and the museum. For me it was just the perfect amount of time. There are dance and music performances daily at 9.15am, 10.45 am, 2 pm and 3.30 pm. They show local costumes and play songs with traditional instrumental.
These performances take place at the main information building or at one of the temple groups.
At the same place, visitors can rent traditional Cham costumes for VND 40,000 (USD 1.80) per hour. Great for some souvenir photos.
If you’d like to take photos together with the dancers, you’ll have to pay additional VND 10,000 (USD 1).