“My Son Tour” signs are scattered all over Hoi An, but what are they actually advertising? Thankfully, it isn’t a sightseeing trip around Hoi An with the travel agent’s son. Instead it’s an incredibly cheap tour to My Son (pronounced Me Sun), a collection of ancient Cham ruins 40 km from downtown Hoi An. Should you take the bait of the too-good-to-be-true $5 tour or organise your own transport? Luckily, I’ve experienced both options, so I can help you out with this most important of decisions. First though, let’s have a look at the ruins themselves.
This post contains affiliate links — if you click one and buy something I’ll get a small cut but it won’t cost you any extra. Think of it as helping out your favourite (or maybe 10th favourite) travel blogger!
The My Son Ruins
This old set of temples and towers has earned the “ruins” tag through hundreds of years of natural decay along with some bombing action during the Vietnam / American war. The result is an atmospheric little complex of ruins partially reclaimed by nature. The central group is by far the most impressive and has stood the test of time better than the others. This collection of orange brick structures, including temples, towers and alters is incredibly peaceful and atmospheric, but only if you don’t have to share it with hundreds of other people (more on that later though).
READ MORE: Things to Do in Hoi An, Vietnam: The Ultimate, Best, Most Awesome Guide
The other groups are worth checking out but the scale and number of buildings diminishes once you venture away from the main group. The big bright orange temple set on top of a small hill (seen below) is another highlight, but many of the other structures have been almost bombed out of existence. The whole My Son site is full of lush greenery and is surrounded by mountains — again it’s very peaceful when you don’t have to share it with anyone else (you can see where this is going…).
A lot of the finer details are missing (or stolen) from the My Son ruins, but you can walk inside one of the structures at the central group to see some carvings and statues.
Should you take a tour or do it yourself?
Way back in 2011 I visited My Son on a cheap tour from Hoi An and enjoyed it. The tour included a bus to My Son (via a few typical shopping stops) and a boat back to Hoi An. That tour set me back $5 (it would have been $4 to return by bus instead of boat) and it’s still around the same price. The stops were kind of annoying and the ruins were packed full of people, but it was still a good half-day trip and you can’t beat that price. The tours don’t include the entry ticket, which costs 150,000 VND ($7).
Where to Stay in Hoi An: Allegro Hoi An | Hoi An Historic Hotel | Thanh Van 1
Other Ways of Getting to the My Son Ruins
- Rent a motorbike: If you want to visit the My Son Ruins but don’t want to be stuck on a tour, you have a few options. You could rent a motorbike and drive yourself, which is the cheapest independent option. If you’re not confident on the roads you can hire a guy who will take you on the back of his motorbike — the return trip costs around $10 apparently.
- Hire a car and driver: This is what Gia and I did; it cost 550,000 (just under $25) — not bad for a couple of hours of driving and an hour and a half of waiting around. This option was perfect for us because we beat the tour crowds and ended up sharing the entire set of ruins with just three other people, and we only saw them for the first 15 minutes. Exploring the My Son ruins without the crowds is a completely different experience to taking a tour and is worth the extra money (unless you’re a begpacker of course)
- Ride a bicycle: This would probably take Lance Armstrong levels of endurance and steroid abuse, but I’m sure it’s doable.
So, should you take a tour to My Son or organise your own transport? It depends on your budget, but exploring the My Son ruins without the distracting crowds (and annoying shopping stops on the way there) was a memorable experience and easily worth the extra $16 or $17 that it cost us.
Have you been to the My Son ruins? Do you make an effort to get to popular tourist sites early to avoid the crowds? Let me know in the comments below!
Latest posts by Jon Algie (see all)
- Rarotonga Travel Guide and Itinerary: Everything You Need to Know to Plan Your Trip - May 10, 2023
- What’s a Trip to Singapore Really Like? - April 9, 2023
- 12 of the Best Things to Do in Rarotonga, Cook Islands - March 22, 2023
Saturday 2nd of October 2021
Hi Jon, The $25 were per person or the whole ride? As I found the private tours for $51 for two people online.
Tuesday 5th of October 2021
Hey Niyati, pretty sure it was for the whole car, it was a few years ago though and I'm guessing not nearly as many people are offering these kinds of tours, so it wouldn't be surprising if the price went up. Let me know how it goes / the situation on the ground in Hoi An if you can -- thanks!
Tuesday 24th of December 2019
Hello Jon, thanks a lot for the very informative article. Do you still have the contact details for the hire car driver that you could share, please?
Monday 6th of January 2020
Hi Vishnu, I don't sorry. Just try a travel agent in town, make sure to bargain!
Asha Anna John
Saturday 31st of March 2018
This was a really helpful article. Can you tell me how you booked the trip? I couldn't find any link to it
Monday 9th of April 2018
Hi Asha, I just went to a travel agent in Hoi An. There are heaps of them -- find one that you like and if you book multiple trips through them you'll get some great deals. You can probably book it online too but you'll end up paying more and there's no real need to book ahead. Thanks!
Wednesday 31st of January 2018
Where can you hire I driver? I’d like to hop on a bike with someone and do my son and marble mountain in one day! Any advice?
Thursday 1st of February 2018
Hey Karl, there are heaps of travel agents in Hoi An. Some will overcharge you though so shop around a bit. I found a good one -- just past the broken rice restaurant on Hai Bai Trung (can't remember the name, there are heaps of bicycles outside and a couple of dogs -- that's a common scene in Hoi An though!). It usually helps if you book a couple of things (buses, bicycles etc) with the same travel agent.
Tuesday 26th of December 2017
Nice story about My Son, mate. I was just doing some research to update my post about the ruins and came across your site. It's a good tip about getting a driver so you can go at a different time to all the bus groups. Although I didn't mind my tour, I think private or smaller groups is the way to go. Cheers!
Monday 29th of January 2018
Cheers Michael, yeah I didn't mind the tour either (can't complain about something that cheap) but the early morning visit is the way to go.