The afternoon spent at My Son was one of the highlights of the entire trip to Vietnam. Not just the type spent at My Son, but also the time spent on the journey to and from there.
The My Son ruins (or Cham Ruins) are a cluster of ruined and abandoned Hindu temples, built between the 4th and the 14th century AD by the kings of Champa. Think of them as Vietnam’s own Angkor Wat. One of the eight UNESCO World Heritage sites in Vietnam. And I felt like Lara Croft and Indiana Jones walking around them.
Getting to (and from) My Son was half of the fun of My Son. We rented a little scooter for the afternoon and with a downloaded Google Map in hand, took to the roads of Vietnam from our homestay in Hoi An. There could have been a few wrong turns. Roads and locations aren’t that well signposted and Google Maps can be a little hard to navigate with while sitting on the back of the bike. Though, turns out, wrong turns take you through tiny villages and roads flanked with paddy fields, as far as you can see. Wrong turns are the best turns. This was the Vietnam I was hoping to see. Unfortunately, no photos of this as I was focussing on keeping my balance and yelling out directions from a tightly clutched phone.
Entrance tickets to My Son cost 150,000VND and you can buy them at the entrance. We chose to go in the afternoon, to arrive at around 2pm. After most of the morning tourist buses have left so we could enjoy it without the crowds. Also, to avoid the midday heat. The plan paid off and just as we arrived there was only 1 small bus tour of Chinese tourists.
There’s a short golf buggy ride to the ruins (which you can walk but our time was limited) and then you’re left to wander as you please. There is the option of hiring a tour guide to walk you through the ruins, and you probably get more out of it that way, but we were happy to read and wander in our own time.
Walking to the ruins you don’t see anything. Just jungle. Then you spot one, and another. And you’re wondering how you missed them all before. They are incredibly impressive.
We got caught up in part of the Chinese tourist group. Though there was a bonus – getting to see traditional dancers and musicians perform for the group.
While I spent a lot of my time snapping away, there were moments where I put the camera down to just take in the vibe of My Son. It’s incredibly quiet and peaceful. Very peaceful. And astounding. To see these ruins still standing after hundreds of years. And not forgetting the wars. It made me wonder as to whether anything from this century will be around in a few hundred years time for people to marvel at.
To get home before dark, we skipped a few of the ruins. Before dark so we didn’t end up more lost than we did on the way! And the ride back was just as enjoyable as the ride there. With one or two fewer wrong turns. With more expansive paddy fields seen.
If you’re visiting central Vietnam you must visit My Son. If you can, go there by yourself, not on a tour. And if you can, rent a bike to get there. Forget the tours that make you wake up at stupid o’clock just to get on a bus that goes to countless other hotels before you’re on your way. Take your time. And get lost along the way. Just a little bit.