My Son Cham ruins, - review by Rusty Compass
Hoi An | see and do guide

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My Son Cham ruins,

| 24 Mar 2016
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My Son Cham ruins,
50kms - 60 mins drive from Hoi An
Till 5pm

Our rating
24 Mar 2016

The Cham ruins at My Son are another of central Vietnam’s World Heritage listed sites and make for an enjoyable half day excursion from Hoi An 40kms away.

Note: The information provided in this review was correct at time of publishing but may change. For final clarification please check with the relevant service

My Son is Vietnam’s most important ancient ruin. It served as a centre of Hinduism for the once mighty Cham kingdom that dominated central and southern Vietnam for centuries. Time and American bombs have taken a terrible toll on the site but it remains an excellent excursion from Hoi An - especially for those also interested in the temples of the rival Khmer kingdom at Angkor in Cambodia.

The first thing to note is that while there is an important historical connection between the Cham kingdom of central Vietnam and the Khmer kingdom of Angkor, you should avoid comparing the surviving monuments. Angkor is without peer. My Son and most monuments anywhere are dwarfed by the Angkorian temples.



The fact that My Son also suffered the recent destruction of US bombs has further diminished the power of remaining ruins. A huge B52 bomb crater sits right near the entrace to the main cluster of temples.

The temples at My Son date back to the 4th century AD. The surviving structures on the site were erected between the seventh and thirteenth centuries. Successive Cham rulers built monuments here over a thousand years.

The temples remained undiscovered by Westerners until French archeologists stumbled across them in the late 1890s - decades after the discovery of Angkor Wat.

The forested setting for the ruins, with Cat’s Tooth Mountain in the distance is part of the site’s mystical appeal. It’s worth trying to be there very early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the tourist numbers are low and light is soft.

Meaningful information on the complex is virtually non-existent on site.

Tra Kieu, between Hoi An and My Son, can be an interesting brief stop. Tra Kieu was the first capital of the Cham Kingdom. There are no visible remains open to visitors.

Vietnamese catholics believe that a local farmer saw a vision of Mary here in the late 19th century. Climb the steps to the mountain-top church for great late afternoon views across the surrounding countryside.

Travel tips
Try and visit in the early morning or late afternoon for better light and cooler conditions. My Son has started to get busy during peak months and Vietnamese holidays. And it’s not very pleasant when it’s crowded. Daily tours operate out of Hoi An. You may prefer to rent a private car which will provide some additional flexibility. My Son is very hot  at the peak of summer.

Be prepared for some walking. The track from the carpark is about 300 metres and the temple complex involves another kilometre or so of walking.

There’s a lot to be said for hiring a private car - which provides more flexibility. On my last visit in September 2015, a late model car and driver could be hired for 650,000VND.

Mark Bowyer
Mark Bowyer is the founder and publisher of Rusty Compass.
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