The Champa Ruins of My Son in Vietnam

Many centuries ago, the country of Vietnam was largely divided, and Central Vietnam was ruled by the Champa Kingdom, whose religion was actually Hindu. In a hidden valley surrounded by mountains, they built their most holy site – a large temple complex known as My Son.

The architecturally brilliant temples were built to worship their god, Shiva and around 70 different religious buildings were built here between the 4th and 14th centuries. The cultural and religious heart of the Champa Kingdom, My Son is also the burial site of the Champa Kings. After this, the kingdom fell and the Cham people were pushed south to where they can still be found around the Mekong Delta, but My Son and their Hindu heritage was lost. It wasn’t until the very late 19th century that My Son was rediscovered by the French and was put back on the map.

Unfortunately, during the Vietnam War the Viet Cong used My Son as a base, and the resulting carpet bombing by the US all but destroyed this important historical site. Of the 70 buildings, only a few remain in decent condition, but they are definitely worth checking out.

My Son is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so the remaining temples are being carefully preserved, and some of those that were destroyed are being restored as well. We visited the ruins of My Son as a day trip from Hoi An.

Temple ruins in My Son, Vietnam

The ruins of My Son

A temple in My Son, Vietnam

One of the temples still standing at My Son

A fallen pillar at My Son in Vietnam

A fallen pillar

Temple at My Son in Vietnam

Ancient temple walls


A Carving at My Son in Vietnam

Detail on one of the temple walls

A dog at My Son in Vietnam

This dog jumped out of the building behind it to say hello

Beautiful carving at My Son in Vietnam

A beautiful carving on the wall of a temple

A linga in the ruins of My Son, Vietnam

A “linga” next to the ruins of a building

Ancient scripture at My Son in Vietnam

Ancient scripture. I’m not sure if this is Sanskrit or Cham

A destroyed temple at My Son in Vietnam

Little remains of this temple after the bombing

An alter at My Son in Vietnam

A huge alter

Bomb crater at My Son in Vietnam

One of the bomb craters in My Son

A temple being restored at My Son in Vietnam

A temple in the process of restoration

If you love history and visiting ancient ruins when you travel, My Son is definitely worth a visit, especially if you are heading to Hoi An on your way through Vietnam.

How to visit My Son

We took a tour from Hoi An that cost $8 per person and included a bus to the ruins, an English speaking guide, lunch and a boat back to Hoi An with a stop on an island where they build boats and make local handicrafts/wood carvings. Entrance to the ruins of My Son costs an extra 100,000 Dong ($5).

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6 comments… add one
  • Dan Jul 11, 2013

    Looks amazing. Its a shame that so much of it was destroyed in the war
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    • Dean Wickham Jul 16, 2013

      Hey Dan, it is a real shame. It must have been an amazing site before it was destroyed.

  • Kristy Jul 16, 2013

    Aww, too bad that majority of the ruins was destroyed.

    • Dean Wickham Jul 27, 2013

      Hi Kristy. It is a real shame, but the past can’t be changed I’m afraid. At least what is left is now protected.

  • Bama Aug 17, 2016

    I’m thinking of going to Central Vietnam next year and found this post as I was looking for information on My Son. It’s really heartbreaking to think that war, any war, not only claims lives, but also damages ancient heritage which have stood for centuries.
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    • Dean Wickham Sep 21, 2016

      Yes it is sad when this happens, but they are currently restoring the site and it is still nice to visit.

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