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.
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).