Those who make the trip to My Son expecting to see a well preserved city on par with the one across the border will likely be disappointed to see only a few crumbling towers of stone.
My Son is, however, an interesting site worth a daytrip to see.
It's unique due both to its size and for its historic importance as a holy city for the Cham. Be warned that most of the My Son complex is either inaccessible, or so destroyed that there's little to look at. What remains are three areas of ruins — crumbling piles of bricks that are often propped up with supports to keep them from falling over completely. There are a few headless statues in situ, and one of the temples houses some of the decorative stonework pieces that used to adorn the exteriors — those that haven't been carted away to museums.
The fact is, there are Cham towers scattered all over southern Vietnam that are much more beautiful, much less touristy, and in much better shape. The best of the Cham stonework can be viewed in museums (one of the best in the country is the Cham Museum further up the coast in Da Nang), and might as well be. However, this doesn't mean that a daytrip here doesn't make sense; the setting is spectacular, especially when combined with a boat ride, or on a sunrise visit. But you'll have to muster up the enthusiasm of an amateur archaeologist to get more than that out of your visit.
How to get there
You can book a tour anywhere in town that costs US$4-5, departs at 08:00 and returns at 13:00. This price doesn't include entry which is a whopping 120,000 VND.
A bus-boat combo is also available for an extra US$1, or take a sunrise tour that starts at 05:00.
To get here on your own, head out of town on Hung Vuong and fork left towards Da Nang where the road splits. It's a total of 10 kilometres to the town of Vinh Dien, where you'll find Highway 1A — take a left. After 6 or 7 kilometres, there's a sign at the junction in the town of Duy Xuyen pointing to My Son, 30 kilometres away along Route 610 — take a right where the sign indicates.
As you approach My Son the signage is really clear. You can get up to two kilometres from the entrance, then you'll have to park your bike, unless you're with a Vietnamese tour guide/driver, who is allowed to take you the remaining distance on his motorbike.
If for any crazy reason you get stuck for the night in My Son, there is a small guesthouse about five kilometres from the entrance.
By Caroline Mills
Last updated on 12th December, 2014.