My Son ruins near Hoi An
The remains of the Champa kingdom
The My Son ruins are the leftovers of the Champa kingdom which
ruled for almost 1500 years (from 200AD to 1700 AD). The Champa build My Son
influenced by Hinduism in between the 4th and 13th century. The temple
complex was build in honor their gods and bury their kings.
The temples were build of bricks but without using mortar. Sculptures of
gods, animals, scenes of battle and devotion are adorned to the walls.
The temples are build in the jungle and when the Champa kingdom finally fell,
the jungle took back what was hers.
By the time Vietnam fought its independence
war, first with the French and later with the Americans, much of the complex had
been reclaimed by the jungle.
In the 1960's the Vietcong used My Son as a base,
maybe secretly hoping they would be safer in this neighborhood of the temples.
The Americans however, didn't care much and bombed the area heavily which
destroyed much of what was left. In the years after the Vietnam war the area was
cleaned up from landmines and explosives and became a major tourist attraction.
The UNESCO added My Son on their list as World Heritage Site in 1999.
Archeologists have been collecting many artifacts from the My Son area. Many
of the statues, once on the walls and inside the temples are now to be seen in
the Danang Cham Museum and anyone who is interested in the culture of the Champa
Kingdom should visit the museum
Some make the comparison with kingdoms in south east Asia from the same time
and compare My Son with Angkor in Cambodia, Bagan in Myanmar (Burma) and the
Borobudur in Java Indonesia.
Although the comparison is easy to understand, the size of the temples of
My Son (and other Cham temples in south and central Vietnam) is much
smaller. The artwork, especially the sculpturing is of very high quality.
Although My Son ruins, the remains of the Champa are not Angkor,
Bagan or Borobudur, it is certainly worth the trip, not in the last place
because of the way the complex is build in the hills. The surround jungle
is close by and it feels as if the jungle is ready to take again back their
territory. The My Son complex is quite small, with walking
paths and benches along the way.
Nearby is the My Son lake where you can go water skiing and kayaking. There's
a souvenir shop at the entrance of the complex. Bring water when you walk into
the complex. For food, you can try the typical Vietnamese road stalls along the
way from Hoi An to My Son.
Getting there and away
Hoi An is your starting point to explore the ruins. You can book an
organized day tour but its more fun to go on your own. The road directions
are easy to follow. If you use your own bicycle, it will be about 2 hours
though you may want to use a motorbike which should around US $5 rent a day
You are able to stay not too far from the My Son ruins, at about
2km there's a hotel although, like I said before, most travelers prefer to
stay in Hoi An or even Danang.