Photo: A section of My Son.

My Son

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Quang Nam's efforts to market My Son sanctuary as the "Angkor of Vietnam" are a little misguided, but that's not to say it isn't well worth seeing. Those who make the trip expecting to see a vast well-preserved city on par with the incomparable Angkor Wat will be disappointed. However, as the religious and political capital of the Champa Kingdom, it is one of the most significant Cham sites in Vietnam.

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Drawing spiritually from Hinduism, the Cham built temples to honour Hindu divinities with fired brick, stone pillars and sandstone bas-reliefs. My Son was initially constructed in the late 4th century, built by King Bhadravarman for the god Shiva (the creator, destroyer and preserver). From then on the temples were continuously developed until the 13th century.

It can be beautiful ... Photo taken in or around My Son, Hoi An, Vietnam by Cindy Fan.

It can be beautiful ... Photo: Cindy Fan

My Son sanctuary became known to the western world in 1885, when French architect, archaeologist and art historian Henri Parmentier (1870-1949) and his colleagues began excavating and documenting the site. They found 72 monuments within a semi-circular, two-kilometre wide valley. Though what you see today are groups of towers simply dotted throughout the forest, the construction of a temple was based on precise holy ritual and imbued with meaning.

... without the crowds, perhaps. Photo taken in or around My Son, Hoi An, Vietnam by Cindy Fan.

... without the crowds, perhaps. Photo: Cindy Fan

A good guide or a visit to the on-site museum is highly recommended before you scamper about the ruins. The museum will help you identify and understand the Hindu symbolism and mythology shown in the architectural designs and motifs. One of the most important representations that you will see in Champa culture is the god Shiva, visible in both anthropomorphic (human) form and symbolically as a linga, a cylindrical block (male, phallus), usually paired with yoni, representing the goddess Shakti (female, womb). Together they symbolise the axis of the universe ... Travelfish members only (Around 500 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

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How to get there
My Son sanctuary is located west-southwest of Hoi An. Head out of town west on Hung Vuong and where the road splits, fork left which says to Da Nang. Continue on this road for five kilometres to the town of Vinh Dien where you'll find Highway 1A. Go left/south for six kilometres to a major junction in the town of Duy Xuyen, there should be a sign pointing in the direction of My Son. Take a right at this junction. It's straightforward from this point: 19 kilometres to a big sign close to a petrol station; turn left and it is nine kilometres to the entrance.

If for any crazy reason you get stuck for the night in My Son, a small guesthouse lies about five kilometres from the entrance.

Location map for My Son

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