If you've spent some time in Vietnam before arriving in the Danang and Hoi An area, you might be thinking that Vietnam was always under the influence of China, up until the French moved in. A visit to My Son shows that there was a lot of Indian influence long ago. The kingdom of Champa flourished from the second to the fifteenth century. What remains of this kingdom can mainly by found at My Son, which is a day trip from Danang or Hoi An.
A Cham Tower just outside Danang
The tower at right is one of a few scattered around the countryside, standing apparently alone and isolated in the middle of rice fields. Its just off the road between Danang and My Son.
About an hour's drive from Danang or Hoi An will bring you to the foothills in which My Son is nestled. Your car is parked on the banks of a river, where you must buy your ticket (50,000 Dong - -50,000.00 USD) and cross a footbridge to catch a jeep up the hill.
The jeep will take you up a dirt track further into the hills, and drop you off at a point about 200 meters, and one short hill, away from the main ruins. There's a small hut near the foot of the hill where your ticket is punched. It provides a relatively good spot to get an overview of the whole site.
The whole site is in a significant state of disrepair. You can see that the buildings were in a similar style to Angkor Wat, but its worth noting that the buildings here pre-date Angkor by several centuries. Their state of neglect and decay wasn't helped by being bombed during the war. Only recently has some attempt been made to restore some of the buildings.
If you have been to Angkor Wat, you might be a little disappointed in My Son. It is nothing so grand as you will find in Cambodia, or even Thailand. Still, if you want to see everything that has contributed to Vietnam's history, My Son is an important part.
Who knows? Maybe you will solve the "riddle of the Chams." Look closely at any one of the temples. You'll note there's no mortar between the bricks. What did they use to stick them together?