The UNESCO World Heritage Site of My Son Sanctuary is a cluster of partially ruined and abandoned ancient Hindu temples and located in the south of Vietnam. The temples were originally constructed between the 4th-14th centuries AD and contains striking stone towers, temples and sculptures, while set among a thick jungle landscape.
The My Son sanctuary first started to become known to the wider world in 1885 when the French historian, archaeologist and architect Henri Parmentier began working and excavating the site. In the process of excavating the site, a total of 72 monuments were discovered within a region that spans across a 2 km wide valley. Even though the tourists on the Vietnam holiday packages may see the temples randomly scattered through the tropical forest, they were built in line with precise holy rituals.
It is located in a small valley in the Duy Tan Commune, which is approx 40 km from Hoi An and 70 km southwest of Danang.
A My Son sanctuary tour with an English-speaking guide or even a visit to the nearby museum before starting the discovery trip is well worth the effort. A visit to the on-site museum helps to understand and identify the different Hindu mythology and symbolism that is a common feature of the architectural motifs and designs.
My Son is very economical to visit with a day tour the most practical option. Day tours are easily booked in town and cost in the region of $5 to $7 (excluding admission). A typical trip starts 8:00 am and gives enough time to spend up to two hours exploring the site. But, for the hot summer months it may be more practical to consider a sunrise departure. This has the early departure time of 5:00 am, which makes it possible to explore the My Son Sanctuary before the temperature gets unbearably hot (normally by 9:00 am).
Travelling independently is also an option. Most tours take place early in the day, but for those travelling on the Vietnam tour that wishes to get a break from the crowds; it may benefit to go in the afternoon. My Son sanctuary is open daily from 6:00 am to 5:00 pm.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site has one of the most expensive admission fees to be encountered on the Vietnam travels. The entrance ticket is $6.50 and includes not only exploring the ancient temples, but also the entrance to the informative museum and use of the modern toilets by the entrance. Other costs include parking the motorbike which is less than a dollar.
The site is approx 2 km from the entrance and this is best travelled using one of the buggies that shuttle tourists to the temples. Also, there is an office close to the entrance that makes it possible to hire a tour guide for the most interesting and knowledgeable experience. The cost to hire a guide is in the region of $4.50.
An ideal time-frame to walk the groups of buildings is in the region of 1 hour, but staying a little longer gives the more relaxed visit. Most of the monuments have serious bomb damage and bomb craters are visible. My Son is well worth the visit on the Vietnam family tour, especially when able to combine with the sunrise or a boat ride visit.