Food is the most important thing to us whenever we travel. But we can’t eat for the whole day, can we? (´・ᴗ・ ` ) So, to fill in the gaps, we decided to look for places of interest to visit from Hoi An. And My Son Sanctuary is one of the attractions that kept popping up in the search results. Hubs and I aren’t history buffs. And looking at ruins is probably the last thing we want to do in a country. But considering there aren’t many attractions, we booked a tour to see what My Son Sanctuary offers beyond the ruins. So, let me share our experience to My Son Sanctuary, and you can decide if it is worth visiting~! (@´ー`)ノ゙

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Essential Stops Before Takeoff

Don’t miss these must-read posts before you go!

Lion King Hotel: A Charming Stay in the Heart of Hoi An
Salt Coffee: The Unexpected Vietnamese Delight You Need to Try in Hoi An
Hoi An Coffee Adventures: 12 Cafes to Find Your Perfect Cup of Coffee
Hoi An Sightseeing on a Budget: Free Walking Tour & Must-See Stops

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Why We Chose A Private Tour to My Son Sanctuary

A quick search on Google will show you many online platforms offering tours to My Son Sanctuary. Not knowing how much we would appreciate the ruins, hubs and I decided to go for a private tour from TripAdvisor to have more flexibility with our schedule.

The tour that we chose is supposed to start at 7.30 AM. If we had opted for a group tour, the transport pickup would have been from 5.30 AM onwards, which means we got to wake up even earlier than that to prepare to go out! Since we had a private tour, we had the luxury of waking up late since they only needed to pick us up. Yay to that! (ᵔ◡ᵔ)

But all good things come with a price. For all the flexibility and luxuries, it will always be more expensive than joining a group tour. You just have to find a way to justify it. Hubs and I chose to splurge on this tour and cut down our spending on other areas to make it work. As the saying goes, pick your battles wisely!

A Tiny Incident Before the Start of Our Tour

Our guide, Jasmine, was already waiting for us in the hotel lobby when we came down from our room. As we were so used to a guide being the driver, we were surprised to see that the driver was another person! So, it was nice that Jasmine could focus on us while the driver focused on driving us safely to My Son Sanctuary. (´• ω •`)

The Start of the Motion Sickness

And suddenly, out of nowhere, I had a minor episode in the car. I am prone to getting motion sickness. Even though I hardly have any episodes these days in a car, sometimes, when put in a slightly wrong position, the motion sickness kicks in faster than I can react. And that was exactly what happened on our journey to My Son Sanctuary.

The story goes like that. The headrest in the car was in a really odd position, so it was protruding way too much. As such, I had to lean my head forward. And because I also wanted to talk to Jasmine, constantly turning my head and leaning forward gave me problems. And just like that, the motion sickness kicked in. By the time I changed to the middle seat, it was already too late, as I was holding back the urge to puke. ٩(× ×)۶

Luckily, as part of our itinerary, we were supposed to pick up coffee before heading to My Son Sanctuary. So once we got there, I got out of the car to catch a breather. The fresh air outside immediately helped to offset the motion sickness, though the urge to puke was still there. (´-ω-`) Fortunately, we had a private tour, so we could take as long as we wanted for me to feel better before we continued our journey. Phew.

About My Son Sanctuary

We arrived at My Son Sanctuary around 8.45 AM, and it felt relatively peaceful in the parking lot. Jasmine then told us that the big tour groups usually arrive at My Son Sanctuary from 10 AM onwards. So, it was good that we were there earlier to enjoy some peace inside My Son Sanctuary before the crowd arrived. ( ´ ω ` )

Entrance and ticket for My Son Sanctuary

As per all my blog posts, I won’t go in-depth with historical information since I don’t want to give the wrong information. Whatever I share here is based on what I remembered and have noted down. If you want to learn about the history of My Son Sanctuary, I highly recommend having a guide when you are visiting My Son Sanctuary. Now, back to my post! (>ᴗ•)

Brief History of My Son Sanctuary and Champa People

My Son Sanctuary was a major religious site for the Champa Kingdom, dedicated primarily to the Hindu god, Shiva, and others such as Brahma and Vishnu. With the kingdom’s decline due to conflicts and wars, My Son Sanctuary was eventually abandoned.

Then, in the late 19th century, the French discovered the site. Since then, it has been undergoing restoration. In 1999, My Son Sanctuary was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its cultural and historical significance. Even though the Champa Kingdom was dissolved, its people and culture still exist today. They became a minority group in Vietnam, mainly residing in the southern side, with some also living in Cambodia.

Entrance Fee and Dress Code for My Son Sanctuary

Now that the dry part is over let’s move on to our tour of the My Son Sanctuary! (´• ω •`)ノ Our driver dropped us off at the entrance, and it was time for us to begin our tour. Jasmine helped us buy our tickets, which cost us an additional 150,000 VND (~8 SGD) per person since our tour package does not include entrance tickets.

And if you are here for the dress code for My Son Sanctuary, I have the answer for you, too! We had a hard time finding an answer to this question before our trip, so to be safe, we decided to wear a T-shirt and long pants. I asked Jasmine if there was a dress code, and she told us there wasn’t. So there you have it! You can safely wear anything that you want to visit My Son Sanctuary. I advise wearing something light as it can get hot here without shelter. It was cloudy when we visited, and we were already sweating buckets, so I cannot imagine what it would be like on a clear sunny day. (x_x)

The outfits that visitors wear when they visit My Son Sanctuary for a day tour

Most of the areas in My Son Sanctuary are exposed, but luckily, plenty of trees are around the area to provide shade in the hot weather. So, every time we walked to another zone, was when we could cool down before we got under the heat again. Haha! So, besides wearing something light, have your shades, hat and umbrella ready! Remember that sunscreen, too~!

Exploring My Son Sanctuary

There are nine groups of ruins at My Son Sanctuary. And from the entrance, we took a free shuttle that would get us to the first group of ruins. According to Jasmine, different groups represented the times the temples existed.

As mentioned, the Champa people worshipped the Hindu gods Shiva, Brahma, and Vishnu. Although we no longer see the god statues around the sites, Jasmine told us there is a way to find out what the people worshipped at a specific site based on the surrounding statues. She told us that the cow and guardian statue we saw at the first site meant we were at a temple for Shiva. Unfortunately, I don’t remember what the others were. Oops. Haha! So, I will leave it to you to learn from your guide! (´・ᴗ・ ` )

The cow and guardian statue that we spotted at the first site we visited at My Son Sanctuary during our private tour

Restoration and Old vs New Bricks

Unsurprisingly, many sites are still undergoing restoration. With every restoration, they will lay some new bricks on top of the old ones to complete the structure. While we were at one of the sites, Jasmine made us guess which were the old bricks and which were the new ones. And unexpectedly, we got it wrong! The bricks that looked old were new, while those that looked brand new were actually old bricks. I mean, who would have thought right? Or is it just us? Haha! (´• ω •`)

She then explained how to differentiate between the old and new bricks, not by their colour but by the gaps between them. New bricks were stuck together with polymer or a paste, creating a gap between them, while the old ones were stacked together, leaving no gaps between them.

A look at the old brick layout and a structure still undergoing restoration

Until today, it is still not known how the Champa people built the temples in the past, as it seemed like they didn’t use anything to stick the bricks together! It is similar to how we always wonder how the Egyptians built the pyramids in the past in Egypt. Fascinating magic in the past, isn’t it? (ᵔ◡ᵔ)

Noteworthy Observations on the Ruins and Architecture

While exploring the sites, we noticed many statues without their heads. Jasmine mentioned many theories regarding this, one of which was to bring down the unity of the Champa people. As the Champa people were known to have a firm religious belief in their gods, invaders believed that cutting off the heads of the statues was thought to affect their morale, increasing their chance of winning their invasion.

Also, at the first site, Jasmine showed us a storage room used by the Champa people in the past. Remember I mentioned that My Son Sanctuary is a major religious site for the Champa Kingdom, meaning people do not stay here. Champa people would travel from their homes to these sites to pray and bring all the items they would need for their prayers. And these items would usually be stored in storage rooms. Jasmine told us that if you spot rooms with windows, they are most like storage rooms, while main prayer halls are usually fully enclosed. (´• ω •`)

An entrance to a storage room and we had a view of the inside of the room during our My Son Sanctuary tour

Checking Out the Most Popular Site at My Son Sanctuary

Out of all the sites at My Son Sanctuary, Group B is probably the most popular, as we saw the most people there. Over here, Jasmine shared with us the positioning of this site’s meditation room, gate, and main hall. Interestingly, these three structures align in a straight line, from east to west, as the Champa people believed that life begins from the east and ends at the west. Also, the Champa people meditated and cleared their minds before the prayer started. I thought it was interesting that there was already a concept of meditation so long ago. (ᵔ◡ᵔ)

The visitors with their tour groups and the alignment of the gate, meditation room and main hall at Group B at My Son Sanctuary

We were also brought into this super small room, the main hall. Unlike the main halls we have seen in our Chinese temples, the main halls here at My Son Sanctuary are all relatively small, as only the priests can access them. Everyone else was supposed to stand outside during the praying session.

Enjoying a Performance to Get Away from the Heat

After checking out the site at Group B, we quickly get to the public stage to try to catch the daily performance. There are four daily shows: 10 AM, 10.45 AM, 2 PM, and 3.30 PM. If you are visiting My Son Sanctuary yourself, plan your time around the showtimes so you don’t miss them! Now, back to the performance.

The performance had already started when we reached the public stage area. And oh my, the whole area was packed! I guess everyone was trying to escape from the heat. Haha! (´・ᴗ・ ` ) Surprisingly or not, we got to watch the Champa dance we previously saw at the performance hall at Hoi An Ancient Town! It was my favourite performance there, and it is no surprise that it is still my favourite here at My Son Sanctuary. The same music, dance, and costumes were used in the dance. And even here, the dancers did it with so much grace and elegance. You have to watch it for yourself to know what I mean. It was beautiful. (´ ω `♡)

A random sign on our way out and the visitors at the public stage area watching the performance

Another performance that caught our attention was one performed using a trumpet. Jasmine told us that the performer is a Champa person, which makes it even more unique since this whole area used to belong to the Champa Kingdom.

Brunch Time with My Quang Noodles

I don’t know how much you enjoyed what I shared about our My Son Sanctuary tour, but it is time to move on~! We did not visit all the sites in My Son Sanctuary, as Jasmine only brought us to the more important sites. It got repetitive after a while, so we were okay with skipping past some of them and leaving My Son Sanctuary for our late breakfast/brunch. (๑˃ᴗ˂)ﻭ

Our driver came back to pick us up, and we were on our way to a place for our brunch! When we arrived, I thought we were having some home-cooked food as it looked like someone’s house instead of a restaurant. But it was a restaurant because they showed us a menu with their restaurant name on it! (´・ᴗ・ ` )

A residential building that we visited for our brunch after our tour to My Son Sanctuary

Anyway, our package includes banh mi or noodles. So, hubs and I ordered My Quang, which they translated into chicken noodles on the menu. When the noodles were served, we added some chilli powder to make it slightly spicy. And oh-la-la, it was absolutely delicious! The broth was full of umami, and the chicken was tender and tasty. I’m unsure if it was because we were hungry or if the noodles were delicious, but we finished slurping them up almost immediately. LOL.

After finishing our noodles, the restaurant owner brought us a plate of complimentary longans. It has been ages since we had longan, so seeing it as a complimentary fruit was a surprise. (ᵔ◡ᵔ) After having some of the sweet longans, it was time to head back to our hotel to end our My Son Sanctuary private tour! (´• ω •`)ノ

Our chicken My Quang and complimentary longans as our after-meal dessert

Overall Experience on the My Son Sanctuary Private Tour

Our Experience with Jasmine as Our Private Tour Guide

While exploring My Son Sanctuary, hubs and I had the chance to chat with Jasmine. She mentioned she used to work in Ho Chi Minh before moving back to Hoi An to be closer to her family. Since then, she has been in this line of work.

For the few hours we have been with Jasmine, hubs and I had an enjoyable time. Her willingness to share everything with us helped us understand life in Vietnam and what the country is like. The private tour to My Son Sanctuary was much more enjoyable with such a great and engaging guide like her.

Our tour guide, Jasmine, and a view of the hills through one of the gaps at My Son Sanctuary

I don’t know if she will ever find this post, but I hope she can fulfil her wish to work in Australia and become better at what she wishes to do. Thank you, Jasmine, for being so amazing during our few hours together! (´• ω •`) ♡

Is My Son Sanctuary Worth Visiting?

I now understand what people meant when they said everything started to become a blur after seeing too many ruins at Angkor Wat. We had the same feeling here at My Son Sanctuary during the tour. It was nice to know about the history of this place. But since everything looked to be the same, after a while, everything really became a blur as we couldn’t tell what was what anymore. (*/ω\)

Since few attractions are near Hoi An or Da Nang, I think My Son Sanctuary is worth visiting. But know that after a while, everything starts to look the same. Haha! And oh, definitely get a guide when you come here! I see QR codes at some statues, which I assumed you could scan for information. But I don’t know how in-depth they will tell you about the site. And if they don’t tell you much, I feel like you wouldn’t learn much visiting My Son Sanctuary. And if so, what’s the point of coming?! Even with a guide and my notes, I struggle to understand what photos I have taken. Haha!

The ruins at My Son Sanctuary that we saw during our tour

So yeah, save yourself the trouble and get a guide by joining a group or private tour if you plan to visit My Son Sanctuary. There is no point in coming here alone unless you do tons of homework to find out what each site means. As a reminder to end the post, wear light clothes and bring a hat, shades, an umbrella, and a bottle of water to fight the heat. If you have a choice, opt for the early morning or late evening slot to avoid too much sun! (@´ー`)ノ゙

Information About My Son Sanctuary

MY SON SANCTUARY

⏰ Opening Hours: 6 AM – 5 PM
☎️ Phone Number: +84 235 3731 309
💲 Entrance Fee: 150,000 VND (~ 8 SGD)

You can find out more about My Son Sanctuary here:
🔎 Website | Facebook

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Struggling to find a hotel for your Hoi An trip? We stayed at the Lion King Hotel right in the heart of Hoi An, and it was super cosy! If you gotta have your caffeine fix, check out my recommendations on the cafes to visit in Hoi An. For those who like their coffee a little different, don’t miss out on the amazing salt coffee here as well! Oh, and while you’re planning, check out these Hoi An posts I wrote! They’re packed with info to make your adventure epic. (๑˃ᴗ˂)ﻭ

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