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My Son Sanctuary, My Son

Vietnam, Asia: Champa Kingdom centered on My Son Sanctuary for almost 1,000 years, the longest continuous occupation
My Son
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This UNESCO collection of ancient Cham tower-temples is a more mellow alternative to tourist favorites like Hue and Hoi An. Set in a valley a scenic 30-mile drive west of Hoi An, My Son was the hub of the Champa Kingdom for almost 1,000 years—the longest continuous occupation of any major monument in Southeast Asia. However, the Viet Cong hid out in the ruins during the Vietnam War, leading to American air strikes that badly damaged many of the brick and sandstone structures. Restoration is under way, albeit slowly, and it's a pleasant one-mile walk from the parking lot through second-growth forest to the crumbling temples beneath Hon Quap (Cat's Tooth Mountain). An excellent visitors center explains the history of the seafaring Cham people, whose culture was influenced by trade networks that extended as far as India and Java. While every hotel or travel agency in Hoi An offers a My Son coach tour, it's better to indulge in a private car and driver (about $20 to $25 from Hoi An) to beat the mobs. Go early, and you'll have the archeological park practically to yourself, just as sunrise burnishes the brickworks and the jungle comes alive with birdsong. Private English-speaking guides at the site can be hired for 70,000 Vietnamese dong (about $4.50).

Open daily 6:30 am to 5 pm.

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