The My Son ruins in Vietnam are possibly the oldest archeological site in mainland South East Asia. The earliest buildings here were created 700 years before the temples of Angkor Wat. Still, you’ve probably never heard of them- why?
Despite being a UNESCO World Heritage Site My Son receives none of the attention of the bigger archeological sites like Angkor Wat, Ayutthaya and Sukhothai. On the day of our visit there was barely anyone there- just a handful of motorbikes from nearby Hoi An. It’s kind of a pain to get to and it’s not on most tourists itineraries.
This is a shame because it’s actually a pretty fascinating place. The temples were built by the now defunct Kingdom of Champa, which ruled Southern Vietnam for most of the past two centuries. They were primarily Hindu, and their art and architecture was highly influenced by that of Ancient India. This brick templed complex was the religious center of their empire.
Most of the existing temples were built during the tenth century. They were made of fired brick and decorated with beautiful sandstone reliefs and statues
My Son is often compared to Angkor Wat, although truthfully it can not compare in scope or beauty. The years haven’t been kind to the complex. Neglect has taken it’s toll, and a viciously tenacious jungle seems intent on reclaiming the land. Shamefully, the area was heavily bombed by the United States during the Vietnam War. The Viet Cong used the ruins as a base, and even now you can see gigantic bomb craters.
International efforts are now being made to restore My Son and to preserve it’s history. This is a really great development because even now it’s well worth a day trip from Hoi An. In a country that has been through such radical changes, it’s good to see some historical constants remain.