Central Vietnam,  Vietnam

My Son Sunrise Tour from Hoi An

Mỹ Sơn Sanctuary is a former temple city of the Cham people. These ancient ruins are UNESCO World Heritage Site, located about 40km from Hoi An in the province Quang Nam. Both Indian and Hindu aspects are found in their architecture, religious statues and frescoes. Visiting this site is a popular half-day tour to take from Hoi An.

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Mỹ Sơn Sanctuary

Built from the 4th century to the 13th century CE the temples and monuments of My Son were an integral part of the Cham-Culture and the most important buildings in the kingdom of Champapura (Sanskrit for City of the Cham people).

The constructions are made from fired brick in light brown, which have aged over the years. Now the temple ruins range from terracotta to almost black in colour and are overgrown in some places by local flora. The temples have many stone pillars and collums and are decorated in reliefs and figures which depict scenes, gods and goddesses from Hinduism and Hindu mythology such as Krishna, Vishnu and Shiva.

In total there are 71 mouments left in the 142 ha area of My Son. Not all of the temples and monuments can be visited (since a lot of the area is still covered in mines and other remains from the Vietnam war against the French and then later against the USA), but you can learn more about the entirety of the site in the museum located on the premises. There you can also see an overview of the archeological digging sites nearby.

These infos comes from the museum on site as well as the UNESCO Website, so they should be accurate.

My Son Sunrise Tour

For the start of the sunrise tour* we got picked up at 5:30 AM from our hotel or homestay in a mini van. Next to me there was another solo traveller from Singapore and a couple from Australia, as well as our guide and the driver.

On the way to My Son Sanctuary we stopped to get a coffee or tea for the road. Once at the parking lot our guide handed us a ticket and we boarded the shuttle bus that took us the last stretch of the road, past the museum towards the ruins. By the time we got to the ruins (7 AM) the sun had already risen, but the temperature was still bearable and the ruins were empty except for us.

We walked between the ruins while our guide shared facts and stories about the history and the cultural significance of these ruins. He explained how the area was chosen: The spring that expands into the Thu Bon river was found here. The river runs from My Son to Hoi An, where it connects to the sea.

We also got more information about the history of the site I briefly explained above and about the archeology and conservation efforts since it has been recognized as a National Site in 1979.

We spent about two hours exploring the ruins, before we got back on the van. A short drive away from the temple city, at around 9:30 AM, we stopped for a delicious local breakfast of Mì Quảng!

Should you take a tour or visit My Son by yourself?

That is a good question and there is no definitive answer. Here are the pros for both options:

These are the reasons for taking a tour:

  • A knowledgable tour guide can tell you more about the history and the cultural significance of these ruins while you are exploring them
  • The stories of locals who live(d) around the area is only known to other locals
  • You will meet other travellers
  • You can just follow the group and don’t have to do any planning

These are my reasons for going by yourself:

  • If you already rented a scooter you can drive here by yourself
  • You can take the shuttle bus from Hoi An* and visit the ruins and museum by yourself
  • A lot of the informations you get from a guide are covered in the museum
  • You can go at your own pace and stay as long as you like

My recommendation

My recommendation to visit My Son Sanctuary is taking a tour, preferably at sunrise or in the early morning like this one*. Around sunset the area is packed and mid day is almost unbearable in the sun, but at sunrise you get the most beautiful view almost to yourself.

Some tours include a boat tour on the Thu Bon river as well on the way back to Hoi An, so if you want to include that I can recommend this tour* that also starts early. This tour* also includes a boat ride. Both of these tours include lunch.

The ticket to the site is one of the more expensive ones in Vietnam, with 150.000 VND per person. Included in the ticket is a shuttle from the parking space to the ruins, the entrance ticket to the site itself and to the museum. In most tours this ticket is not included and needs to be paid on site in cash.

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