Central Vietnam] Thánh địa Mỹ Sơn My Son Sanctuary Free Travel Tips | Vietnam Little Angkor Wat Half Day Tour

Maysan Sanctuary | Introduction

Miyama SanctuaryLocated in the center of Vietnam, known as the Little Angkor Wat, it is a series of Hindu temple complexes built during the reign of the Champa Kingdom in the 4th to 14th centuries AD. The area around My Son was originally a sacred religious site for the Kingdom of Champa. Apart from being dedicated to Brahmin deities such as Lord Shiva, 40 to 50 kings of the Kingdom of Champa were also buried there in the past. There is archaeological evidence to show that religious buildings were built with wood from the 4th century A.D. to the 7th century A.D., when brick buildings were first used, so archaeologists believe that this area was the center of religion and culture in present-day south-central Vietnam for about 14 centuries.

The Kingdom of Champa and later Vietnam were under different governments in ancient times, and the country was wiped out around the 14th century, after which My Son was hidden in the mountains until 1898, when it was discovered by French scholars. At that time, the discovered site originally included more than 70 temples, but unfortunately, after being bombed by the American army during the Vietnam War, only about 20 temples remain, which is about three-quarters of the total number of temples lost. Nevertheless, My Son Sanctuary is still on the World Heritage List, and the remaining buildings are well worth seeing.

Miyama Sanctuary | Tickets & Transportation

Misen SanctuaryDa NangIt is about 50 kilometers away from Hoi An and 40 kilometers away from the city, and it only takes about two hours to travel between the two places. A simpler way of transportation is to join a local one-day tour or charter a car for the return trip. Grabbing a taxi is also an option, but it may be inconvenient on the return trip, and the price is not much different from that of a chartered car. Because this is the most important monument in Vietnam, the English explanations on the guide boards are quite informative, so if you are confident in English, you don't need a Chinese guide, and if you take a chartered bus, you can buy the tickets on the spot for 150K VND per person.

Miyama Sanctuary Day Trip Itinerary

Misen Sanctuary Charters

Miyama Sanctuary Tickets

Miyama Sanctuary | Visiting Route

The tour route is actually very simple. After buying the ticket, you will first pass a museum, then an electric car will connect you to the museum, which saves you a lot of walking distance, and then you will follow the planned stone road route to make a clockwise circle, and on the way, you will pass by various temple clusters. The temples are named with letters, and different areas are of different styles and ages. The bigger ones are the EF and BCD areas, which is more than enough for a two-hour walk. The nearby mountains are actually quite beautiful, but you should be careful to stay on the trails because there are rumors that there are mines left over from the war in this area, so the officials also recommend that you don't run into the bushes.

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Attractions | My Son Museum

After entering the entrance, on the right hand side, you will first see the Mesan Museum, if you want to know a little bit about the history of Brahminism and Mesan, the information in the museum is actually quite valuable, but if you don't like to read words, you may find it a little bit boring, because the collection here seems to be rather fragmented at first glance, most of the statues of the gods and the Mesan artifacts that are relatively complete, either were shipped to France during colonial times, or are now in Da NangChampa Carving MuseumThe collection is in the catalog.

Around the 7th century, with the maritime trade routes from India, Indian religion and culture also spread eastward, and the kingdom of Champa at that time was deeply influenced by Brahminism, mainly believing in the god Shiva and other Brahmin deities. The Meishan Sanctuary is considered to be the longest surviving archaeological site in Indochina, predating Angkor Wat in Cambodia. The Brahmin artifacts found at the site include many valuable Sanskrit and Champa inscriptions, which has led to Vietnam's cooperation with the Indian government in related archaeological research.

Scenic Spot | Temple Cluster K

After getting off the tram, the first stop is the temple group K. It is called a temple group but in fact it is a smaller temple with a simpler design. Except for the entrance and the foundation, most of the ruins seem to be gone and the ruins date back to about the 12th century. Note that the ground is slippery and mossy, so be careful. Look closely at the four faces of the goddess Brahmi carved on the wall.

Scenic Spot | Temple Group EF

The temples in E and F are quite close to each other, and most of the remaining temples are incomplete because they were also bombed by the U.S. military. There is even a sign on the temple complex that describes the holes made by the bombing, and the temples in the EF area range from E-1, which was built in the 8th century, to F-1, which was built in the 9th century, to E-4, which was built in the 12th century, and there is a wide range of architectural styles.

The Vietnamese government is still gradually restoring the damaged temples, and the only relatively intact building here is the result of five years of reconstruction. We can see that the reconstructed roof is still in its original state and the interior of the temple is open for viewing.

Outside this area there are also statues of gods and other artifacts. Most of the statues we see here have no heads, as they were cut off and taken away by the French back in the colonial period. Here you can also see a very complete Yoni, an above-ground pedestal with a hole in the center representing the female sex organ, which is usually paired with a Linga, a cylinder representing the male sex organ.

Scenic Spot | Temple Group G

The temple complex G dates from the end of the 12th century, which is the later of the existing temple complexes. This temple complex is located at a relatively high position because of the wars that took place during this period, so the temples were built at a higher position. Although the remaining buildings are incomplete, the basic structure of a temple in the Champa period can be clearly seen here, usually there is a Front house, Gate Tower, Main Santuary, and finally South Tower, and there is a low wall around the main temple. On the base of this temple, we can clearly see many carvings of animal faces. The main temple has three gates and 52 masks on the base, which are characteristic of this period of architecture.

Attractions | Temple Group A

Temple Complex A dates back to the 9th to 10th century, and we can see the main temple as soon as we enter. In fact, the original main temple was 28 meters high with two entrances, it was the golden age of Champa Kingdom, there were six small temples around it, each dedicated to different deities, but after the bombing of the Vietnam War in 1969, the main temple was destroyed, and now we can only see the left and right two small temples. However, the reconstruction of this temple complex, which started in 2020, is currently underway and we can see many new red bricks being stacked with the remaining bricks, tiles and pillars, so that these remaining precious relics can be returned to their original locations, and hopefully their original grandeur can be restored in the future.

Scenic Spot | Temple Cluster B, C, D

Along the tour route, we crossed a small bridge and then came to the most important temple group BCD area. This is the most complete group of temples in existence, with buildings dating from the 8th to 12th centuries, and a high concentration of architectural artifacts left behind. The first area I saw was D. I couldn't help but marvel at how well preserved the buildings are. Although the roofs are a bit damaged, the walls are generally well preserved. It is said that the Champa people were very good at laying bricks. At that time, there was no cement, and the way they did it has not been studied yet, but it is known that the bricks they laid were well preserved when they were not bombed, and even the new repair bricks and tiles are more fragile than the ones that were left behind a few hundred years ago.

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The two smaller buildings in Area D are the most important ones to visit, and both are well preserved. In ancient times, these two rooms were connected to the two main temples in the back of the area, B and C, and were used as places of prayer and worship for the general public. Nowadays, you can visit the house, which houses many artifacts and wall decorations.

There were originally two main temple buildings, both of which were shrines, in Areas B and C. The main temple in Area B no longer exists, while the Shiva shrine in Area C, built in the 10th or 11th century, is still standing, although the carvings of Shiva have been moved to the Champa Carving Museum. However, the smaller temples around both areas are still largely intact, with the exception of the one on a scaffolding that we saw, which dates from the early 10th century, and most of the others dating from the 11th to 13th centuries. This is a good place to take a closer look at the different roofs, each of which served a different purpose. The most complete tower, B-5, was originally a storage facility for the maintenance of the sacred fire, and we can also take a closer look at the interior of the tower.

Attractions | Temple Cluster H

Area H is the last temple complex and also the oldest, built in the 14th century. Because of its late date, it is probably the most magnificent in architectural form, with the original temple containing a statue of the dancing god Shiva. Unfortunately, this area was also destroyed during the war, and reconstruction has been slow. You may wonder, "Do you have to hurt a monument during a war? In fact, it is said that during the Vietnam War, the two sides also agreed not to bomb the monuments, but later because of the safety of the monuments, the Vietcong hiding in the sacred land of the U.S. mountains, the U.S. Army was really too eager to end the war, so they began bombing. So it's hard to avoid anything during a war.

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