My Son Sanctuary, Quang Nam Province

The My Son Sanctuary is a temple complex constructed between the 4th and 14th Centuries which has been granted UNESCO World Heritage site status. By car the My Son Sanctuary is about an hour from both Da Nang and Hoi An. The My Son Sanctuary temple complex is open daily from 05:00 and 17:00 and admission costs 150,000 VND.

About the My Son Sanctuary

Getting to the My Son Sanctuary by public transport is difficult. You can get to within 10 km of the entrance by bus, and from there you need to take a taxi. The bus from Da Nang takes around 2 hours, adding at least 2 hours to the return journey compared to travelling in a private car or on a bus tour. For this reason most visitors take a private tour or hire a vehicle or a taxi to visit. Once you reach the entrance gates your journey hasn’t finished either. Its 2 km from the entrance to the ruins, however, there is a free tram service which will take you the final stretch of the way. Be prepared for some walking when you do enter the site, which covers an area of 1,420,000 square metres or 1.42 square kilometres.

The ruins are in 14 clusters, the 10 best preserved of which are identified by letters, with the individual structures within each cluster identified by letters, for example E1, F2 and so on. The original survey of the area at the end of the 19th Century, which introduced the lettering and numbering classification, identified 71 structures although there were originally many more than this.

Attempts to preserve the buildings at the My Son Sanctuary have made at various times over the last 100 years but with limited success. The mortar between the blocks out of which the buildings are constructed has failed leaving the buildings very fragile. The dilemma for those charged with preserving the site is that keeping the structures in place over the longer term means changing fundamentally them which is of course exactly the opposite of what a proper preservation project aims to achieve.

My Son Sanctuary in Quang Nam Province
My Son Sanctuary in Quang Nam Province

The My Son Sanctuary is a Hindu temple complex with the majority of the temples dedicated to the Lord Shiva. This temple complex was built by the Cham civilisation. The origins of the Cham civilisation aren’t known for certain. The prevailing theory is that they originated from Taiwan and spread across South East Asia inhabiting various island groups on the way until they reached Vietnam in the 1st or 2nd Century. This group was successful in taking control of much of the Southern part of what is now Vietnam, as well as much of Cambodia, until being gradually displaced by the Viet people and the newly ascendant Khmer Empire from the 12th century onward.

In modern times only small groups of Cham people remain in South East Asia although their mark on Vietnam remains prominent in the present day with many of their temples, most famous of which is Po Nagar in Nha Trang, remaining remarkably well intact to the present day.

The buildings at the My Son Sanctuary are less well preserved than many other Cham sites in Vietnam. The big attraction of the My Son Sanctuary is its scale. It’s in the same league as Bagan in Myanmar and the Angkor Archaeological Park in Cambodia in terms of historical importance as an major ancient urban centre. The temples are part of something larger and bearing this mind when you visit will help you better appreciate what the few remaining structures on the site signify.

Location of the My Son Sanctuary

The My Son Sanctuary is located 45.2 km by road from Da Nang Railway Station.

Google Map of the My Son Sanctuary

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