Da Nang Museum of Cham Sculpture is a highlight of the Han river waterfront. It’s established by French archaeologists to preserve intricate works of art of Champa kingdom, which ruled the land from 2nd to 14th centuries. Now, it has become the city’s largest museum and a leading one in the country. Off the vibrancy in the outside, visitors enjoy so far ancient artifacts and listen to their history and cultural messages they express. Many of them were praised to be “national treasures” by the Prime Minister. And, many others were moved from My Son holy land, the Hindu sanctuary of the whole kingdom for 1,300 years. If don’t have much time to discover that Unesco world heritage site, a visit here is the best choice to deepen the understanding. All Da Nang city tours include this featured attraction. Therefore, today we outline a complete guide to the Cham Sculpture Museum to provide what you need to know about, prior to getting a ticket and seeing.
About Da Nang Museum of Cham Sculpture
In the heart of Da Nang, Museum of Cham Sculpture is the largest of its kind in Vietnam (known as Co Vien Cham to locals). It owns a collection of nearly 2,500 artifacts sculpted by Champa kingdom’s artists, 400 of which are on display. Much of them are taken from My Son Sanctuary, a Unesco world heritage in the region. Visitors love to come here to look at masterpieces and understand more about ancient and disappeared culture.
History of Da Nang Museum of Cham Sculpture
By the left bank of Han river, the Museum of Cham Sculpture was officially constructed in 1915, but Champa ancient artifacts were already in its location from the previous 20 years. In 1919, this Da Nang’s first museum was inaugurated. Because of a huge number of Champa sites found in the region, more and more sculptures were brought here to preserve. No doubt to understand that all spaces were full quickly. So, there are two other times the museum was enlarged. From 1930 to 1936, two structures were added on either side of the main hall, creating a U-shaped plan. New findings from the 1920s and 1930s were placed there. The second enlargement leads to the formation of a two-storied building in the back of the main hall. It has served for both exhibition and storage up to date.
Why was Da Nang Museum of Cham Sculpture Built?
Since the beginning of colonial time, French archaeologists carried out many researches and excavations, leading to a great quantity of sculptures discovered. Due to poor preservation and security conditions, Da Nang (Tourane at the time) was picked to be their second home. After arriving, the French placed them in a park by Han river to introduce to the public. But again because of too many works of art, leading archaeologists like Henri Parmentier and Louis Pinot requested to build a museum. The experts realized that Da Nang was the best place, mainly thanks to its location. Particularly, not too far from Champa remains (including the gem My Son temples). Without a museum in it, transportation to Hanoi or Saigon national museums would be very expensive.
Architecture of Cham Sculpture Museum Da Nang
Current Da Nang Museum of Cham Sculpture comprises a U-shaped hall overlooking the Han river and a recently-added building in the back. The main hall was designed by two French architects, with a basis of their hometown architecture and inspiration from Champa culture. Elements to adapt to local climate were also not ignored. Like other colonial constructions, yellow is the main color. In the surroundings, there are champa flower trees which are popularly planted in Vietnamese and Cham temples. Thanks to over 100-years of history and featured architecture, the museum now is seen as a cultural heritage, under protection of laws.
How Much Time I Need to Visit?
Locals recommend spending at least 30 minutes to visit Da Nang Museum of Cham Sculpture. If would like to check out all details, the visit may be longer.
If the visitor has large luggages and hand luggages heavier than 3 kilograms, he or she needs to be put in the lockers before visit. For valuable belongings, the museum managers advised to be with him or her, for better security. During the tour, shouldn’t touch on historic artifacts and remember to take photos without a flashlight. There are no regulations for dress code, so just wear clothings that makes you comfortable and proper to go out. Pets are allowed to walk in.
Tour and Audio Guides
To know more details and information no-shown in the museum, visitors can choose to book an on-site guide or use an audio guide. Tour guides are well-trained, knowledgeable and available in three languages: Vietnamese, English and French. Group of 5 people minimum is the priority. A booking should be made before 10 a.m and 4 p.m, to ensure that visitors have enough time to enjoy the sharings. Audio guide is much more flexible, suitable for small groups, family and solo travelers. It’s free, so just make full use of it to know better. Firstly, connect wireless wifi in the museum (or personal one), browse chamaudio.com and choose your prefering language. In each sculpture, it’s possible to scan the QR code and explore secrets behind.
Opening Hours and Entrance Fee of Museum of Cham Sculpture
News: According to the latest decision from the city’s people committee, visitors don’t have to pay for entrance fees in the Cham Museum, in this year 2022. Fine Arts museum, the Da Nang museum and the Marble Mountains also open without an admission.
Cham Sculpture Museum in Da Nang opens from 7:30 to 11 a.m and 1 to 5 p.m daily and on public holidays. Its entrance fee is 60,000 VND for adults and teenagers above 16 years old. For smaller ages, it’s free. Need to reserve the ticket in advance? Our thought is “not necessary” because in fact, there is no limit of tickets sold in the day, even in high seasons. Just come to the official counters in 2 thang 9 St and buy.
Note: From 1st July 2022, the opening hours are from 7:30 to 11 am, and from 1 to 5 pm from Tuesday to Sunday. The museum closes on Monday.
Exhibitions in Da Nang Museum of Cham Sculpture
Map and Visit Route
Museum of Cham Sculpture now owns 10 permanent exhibitions and several themed ones. Each major exhibition showcases different works of art but all discovered in the same place or features the same art style. From the counters, visitors are recommended to walk from the “welcome room” where a big map hung up. The nexts are Tra Kieu, a themed gallery and then, return to Tra Kieu to see My Son and Dong Duong. In the back hall, should walk upstairs first. Gallery for Cham culture today and potteries their ancestors made. In the lower floor, sculptures from different parts of the former Champa kingdom are politely placed. The exit is next to the gallery for inscriptions.
Gallery of Tra Kieu
The first gallery is for Tra Kieu, the capital of the entire Champa kingdom from its formation in 2nd to early 14th century. It’s called by Cham people as Simhapura or “City of lion”. Today, remains of its walls and central temples are found 50 km south of Da Nang. The majority of what visitors see are dated back from 10th to 11st century, from excavations of French archaeologists from 1927 and 1928. Besides the largest, most important Tra Kieu Pedestal, Nandin holy cow, Vishnu god sculpture, “Tra Kieu fairy dancers” and the Linga-Yoni.
Gallery of My Son Sanctuary
30 km west of Tra Kieu citadel, My Son is Hindu sanctuary of Champa kingdom from 4th to 13th centuries. It’s a complex of over 70 towers but because of time, abandonment, wars and climate, only 20 of which are still standing. In 1999, this Cham ruins was recognized by Unesco as a world heritage site. After being rediscovered by the French, their first excavations were in 1903 and 1904. In the gallery, the Pedestal in My Son E1 temple is the star (see details in below section for national treasures). To its left, the story of Brahma god given birth from Vishnu’s navel is depicted. Nearby, a statue of Shiva god with characteristics of the king expresses how unique the sanctuary unique. Nowhere else, the god statue and his symbol object were worshipped in the same place. To know more about My Son sanctuary, read our article via centralvietnamguide.com/my-son-holy-land.
Gallery of Dong Duong
Dong Duong is a Buddhist sanctuary built in 9th century and during its lifetime, boasts of the grandest architecture in whole South-east Asia. Conflicts between Viet and Cham kingdoms cause its destruction, and now only a tower is standing. In Autumn 1902, two leading French archaeologists and workers excavated this important complex, and plenty of artifacts unearthed. The highlights are still the central pedestal where a large Buddha sits atop and the Tara goddess statue (see details in below section for national treasure). Sculptures of temple guardians (sitting on the cow) are among the biggest of the kind ever known.
Gallery of Thap Mam
Thap Mam is a runied temple excavated by French in 1934 and its age is about between 12nd and 13rd centuries. Many buildings and walls were seen, and the weight of sculptures found was up to 58 tonnes. Thanks to being unique and outstanding, an own style in Cham art was named the same to it, Thap Mam style. National treasure “Gajasimha” stands here (see more details in next section). This site is located within Vijaya citadel where Champa emperors placed their seat of power after 14th century.
Gallery of Quang Tri, Quang Binh and Hue
These localities are northernmost of Champa kingdom formerly, near borders with Viet people-led kingdom. Many vestiges of fortress, trading port, temple, walls and especially some standing towers are seen all over. What visitors see is dated back from 9th and 10th centuries, including a statue of half-naked Bodhisattva holding two penises on her hands (representing the growth).
Gallery of Da Nang
This gallery has a focus on sculptures found before and after 1975 when the Vietnam war ended, collected from different parts of the city. The ones were unearthed from two Hindu temples from 2012 to 2014, bearing witness to the long history of Da Nang.
Gallery of Quang Nam
Quang Nam (province) is home of many important Champa remains, from My Son sanctuary, Tra Kieu capital to Dong Duong Buddhist monastery. All have their own galleries to showcase, and this space aims to introduce sculptures from less famous sites. Tower of Chien Dan, Khuong My or Bang An for example. Read our guide to Hoi An Cham Temples to know further details about them.
Quang Ngai (province) is between two concentrations of Cham remains, Quang Nam and Binh Dinh. Many artifacts and sculptures were found around it, but still can’t see any temples. In 1904, a 11th-century temple was discovered by the French. In a nearby area (Thien But mount), Vietnamese archaeologists recently unearth the largest Linga-Yoni ever existed in the country.
Binh Dinh and Kon Tum
Other nice sculptures found in Thap Mam site or of the same style are exhibited here, in Binh Dinh gallery. It’s the capital of the Champa kingdom from 11st to 15th century. They date back from 12th century onwards. In the same space, Kon Tum’s collection was crafted later, between 14th and 15th centuries.
Cham people used Sanskrit inscriptions to write and carve on rocks or steles in the temples, for memorial. From 10th century onwards, they changed to use the ancient Cham inscription. Because of wars, too many books and other documents on paper were burned or lost, so the carved words became priceless sources of information. Some steles in this room were brought from the holy My Son sanctuary.
Sa Huynh and Champa Potteries
Here, visitors can have a look at pottery made by Sa Huynh inhabitants before 2nd century and their successor Cham people. The most special artifacts are burial jars where early people kept the ashes of their family members, typical to Sa Huynh culture.
Cham Culture in Ninh Thuan
12% of Ninh Thuan province’s population is Cham people and it’s 40% for the entire Vietnam. As rich as their ancestors Champa kingdom, current Cham culture now is featured, both tangible and intangible. Their traditional costumes, houses, crafts, festivals, music instruments and more are on display in this gallery.
National Treasures – The Best in Museum of Cham Sculpture
Tra Kieu Pedestal
Heart of Tra Kieu gallery is “Tra Kieu Pedestal”, sculpted between the 12nd and 13rd centuries. Moved to the museum in 1981, this sandstone work was registered as a Vietnamese national treasure in 2012. It consists of one squared base with intricate carvings on each side and sacred Linga-Yoni above. Meaning of the carvings dare historians for decades and now a part of it may be unlocked. According to their thought, that is the marriage of Sita and Rama in the Indian Ramayana epic. On the side looking outside the yard, Apsara dancers are performing to congratulate. To the left, Rama breaks the bow which was never broken by any men previously, to have an opportunity to get married with Shita and the next (closewise), he gives his wedding presents to the father of the girl. The last scene depicts an exciting wedding procession.
My Son E1 Pedestal
Dating from 7th to 8th centuries, “My Son E1 Pedestal” stands in the centre of the My Son gallery. It originally included 16 sandstone blocks but now only 14 remains. According to historians, this national treasure is only of its kind featuring decorations with patterns and motifs exclusive to a temple. On its squared base, visitors can see Hidu monks in the forest, besides animals, lotus and fern leaf. In the front side, 6 female dancers perform and give a strip of silk to the god. Placed above, there are two Ganesha elephant-headed gods and one Skanda “the god of war”. The first ones represent wisdom and prosperity, and expressed in both standing and sitting styles. The larger one was founded in 1903 in E5 Temple of My Son sanctuary and borrowed to exhibit in France’s Guimet museum and USA’s Metropolitan museum.
Dong Duong Pedestal
In the left corner of Dong Duong gallery, “Dong Duong Pedestal” was made sometime between 9th and 10th centuries. In 2018, proudly it’s praised to be a national treasure by the Vietnamese government. Compounded by 24 sandstone blocks, there are about 30 carvings varying in content in its base. The scene of Maya queen (Buddha’s mother) in Lumbini garden, Buddha shaving his hair and changing clothes with a hunter, Buddha’s henchman and horse going back home after practicing his religion in the forest are depicted, for example.
The largest Buddha in Champa’s history ever was placed on the highest location (because Dong Duong was a Buddhist monastery). It was discovered in 1902 in the innermost enclosure where the Central temple standed, but in different pieces. Meanwhile, archaeologists found two heads, and it seems that both were not really a part of the statue formerly. The head picked was just the better one. Some historians say this Buddha was brought from another country to Champa because of its “strange” style.
Statue of Bodhisattva Laskminda-Lokeshvara (shortly Tara Statue)
Crafted in 9th century, this 130-centimet bronze goddess statue stands in Dong Duong gallery. It is a half-naked Bodhisattva who wears a long sarong, holds the lotus by right hand and the conch by left hand. For historians, the bronze statue is rarely made throughout the history of Champa kingdom and it may be the best. For that reason, the Prime minister recognised it as a national treasure in 2012. What the visitors see today is a copy, not original.
The story behind the Tara statue is interesting. In 1978, it was discovered by accident in Dong Duong monastery. Then, locals kept it very carefully and saw it as a village’s treasure. Leader of the village was responsible to preserve and protect it from hands from anybody on the outside. Many collectors came and asked to buy this unique bronze work, but all failed. Because of that, the government knew of its presence and quickly after requested to place it in the Cham museum. Villagers disagreed for some decades, and one day, they changed their mind and gave it to Da Nang police. However, the lotus on the right hand was broken previously. Recently, luckily it was returned to the statue.
Gajasimha is the highlight of Thap Mam gallery. Carved in 12nd century, this 2,5-meters-tall sculpture is an intricate half-elephant-half-lion shape. After being unearthed by archaeologists from the French school of the Far East, it arrived at the museum in 1935. In Hindu thoughts, its head (of the elephant) symbolizes power of the gods and its body (of the lion) is for the victory of emperors. In Cham temples, this statue often stands in the main entrance, to express solemnity and importance of the building. In 2020, Vietnam’s Prime minister added “Gajasimha” in the national treasure list, thanks to its most intactness and largest among all sculptures found in Thap Mam.
How to Get to Da Nang Museum of Cham Sculpture
Location of Da Nang Museum of Cham Sculpture
Da Nang Museum of Cham Sculpture is near the intersection of 5 roads and close to Dragon Bridge spanning the river. Therefore, travelers have no difficulty in finding a ride to get to it, from wherever in the city. Although standing next to the riverside, usually people don’t reach this featured attraction by water. Distance from the airport is also quite short, only 2,5 kilometers (10 mins by taxi). So, the museum luckily becomes the first place to sightsee for travelers by air. During the transit, a visit is feasible.
In Da Nang
The museum is in the heart of the city and by major roads. So, any road vehicles are convenient to get to and get from any areas in the city. Guests of riverfront hotels nearby can take a short walk to this attraction. If staying over in further places, like My Khe beach hotels, An Thuong “western quarter” or somewhere else around the downtown, a taxi ride is popularly selected. Convenience and moderate price are advantages. For visitors who plan a half-day or full-day experience, private car and motorbike rentals are their choice, due to lower cost. If expecting an itinerary with a knowledgeable guide and things only known by locals, an organized tour becomes most suitable. Buses are feasible, including public bus and hop-on hop-off bus.
Da Nang Hop On Hop Off Bus
Touring the city and hop on or hop off famous tourist attractions with Da Nang hop on hop off bus, absolutely is one of the nicest options. It departs from the airport from 7 to 8 a.m and then runs until 10 p.m. There are two routes available now: “Da Nang city tour” and “Cocobay beach tour” and both provide a stop at Cham museum. Price of a seat is 250,000 VND for adults and valid for 24hours from when visitors get on the buses. Besides air-conditioned seating, it’s possible to grab open-air ones on the upper floor to feel the cool breeze and view the city’s life better.
Get to Cham Museum from Hoi An
Da Nang Museum of Cham Sculpture is just 30km northwest of lovely Hoi An. Personal and private vehicles are the best to get to each other. For a half-day or full-day experience around Da Nang city, travelers often book a car rental or ride a motorcycle by themselves. The better one depends on your budget, travel plan and style. Thanks to being on the way to Da Nang airport, lots of people make full use of the transfer to stop and see before check in time. It’s smart, money-saving and convenient.
Public Hoi An Da Nang bus (No 1 bus) provides the ride from Hoi An bus station, from 5:30 a.m. It takes around 45 minutes to arrive at “Cham museum station” and on the way, visitors can leave the bus to sightsee the Marble mountains. The museum closes at 5 p.m, so should get earlier than 3 to feel relaxed to get to and visit. Ticket price is 20,000 VND. This bus also is helpful to get from Da Nang central bus station to the museum, after 40 minutes.
Parking Lots and Fee
Parking lots are many to leave bikes near the counters (2 Thang 9 St), with a price of 5,000 VND. If planning to see Dragon Bridge or go somewhere else for refreshment or eating, just return to the museum before it closes.
Get to Cham Museum from Hue
The most convenient way to get directly the Museum of Cham Sculpture from Hue, is by motorcycle. Travelers can choose to ride by themselves with or without a tour guide and get a pillion ride behind an experienced driver. Tour itinerary often departs in the morning and stops at Hai Van Pass before arriving at Da Nang. If the final stop is in Hoi An, the striking Marble Mountains may be included. For other attractions (like the museum), needing to deal with the operator in advance. It takes around 3 hours to get to and if skipping the mountain pass and picking the tunnel, it’s shorter around 40 mins. A jeep ride is available to book too. Read our articles for How to Get to Da Nang and to Hoi An from Hue, for further details.
Things to See and Do near Da Nang Museum of Cham Sculpture
This most unique bridge crossing over Han river, is just next to the Museum of Cham Sculpture. Walk across the wide boulevard and you will see it immediately. The head of the dragon is on the opposite bank and while reaching there, the view over other bridges and waterfronts are really pretty. During the sunset, it’s more stunning. See everything about Dragon bridge in our article centralvietnamguide.com/dragon-bridge-danang.
Da Nang Night Market aka Son Tra Night Market
After the visit to the Cham museum is completed, visitors can stroll on the Dragon bridge to come to the Night market, on the opposite bank. Amongst 150 stalls, local foods, barbecues, seafoods, souvenirs, clothes and more can be seen. See details in centralvietnamguide.com/da-nang-market.
An Long Pagoda
Next to the Museum of Cham sculpture, this small pagoda was formerly called An Thu temple. The most precious thing it has kept is a stone stele carved in 1658. Its content includes names of donors (to build the pagoda), reasons to build and explanation of the name. Historians say it’s the oldest stele known all over the city, and for that reason, has been submitted to be a national treasure.
Da Nang Fresco Village
A few walks from the museum, visitors will see many mural paintings in this free attraction, in the alley of 75 Nguyen Van Linh St. The creative works depict life of citizens and famous places.
Bach Dang Riverfront
Bach Dang waterfront is prettier than any stretches of Han river banks. Between two famous bridges, the Dragon and the Han River, this promenade features spacious paved walkways, lots of trees and flowers. Both day and night, pedestrians enjoy cool breeze, scenic views over the waters and top of Son Tra mountain. At night, there are some top bars, pubs and rooftop bars opening to the left of it.
Where to Eat near Museum of Cham Sculpture?
Banh Mi Ba Lan
A short walk from Museum of Cham sculpture, this locally-run eatery serves the best banh mi in the city. Its signature sandwich is banh mi que, the stick bread stuffed with meats, pate, sauce and veggies. Options are limited, with a price ranging from 10,000 to 25,000 VND. Everyday, it opens from 3:30 p.m until everything is sold out.
Huynh Thuc Khang Street
This street is home of many local food restaurants, standing next to each other. Visitors can expect delicious noodle dishes, rice cakes, Da Nang signature pork rolls with anchovy sauce or the specialty Nam O fish salad. Serving mainly for locals, so the price here is moderate.
Son Tra Night Market
This night market is among the nicest choices to taste local street foods after it’s dark. Fresh seafood cooked on open-air barbecues and Da Nang’s local foods are highlights, sold at a not expensive price. Visitors can choose to enjoy the shimmering Han riverfront with cool breezes.
Fatfish Restaurant & Lounge Bar
At 439 Tran Hung Dao St, this river-facing venue opens from 10 a.m to 10 p.m daily. Its menu provides yummy fusion dishes from Mediterranean and Asian cuisines, outstanding craft beers, chilly cocktails, carefully-selected wines and house bakery. Price of the mains ranges from 100,000 to 550,000 VND, and for drinks, it’s from 30,000 to 350,000 VND.
Olivia’s Prime Steakhouse
At 505 Tran Hung Dao St, this fully air-conditioned restaurant opens its doors from 4 p.m to midnight. It caters tasty meat plates cooked from high-quality ingredients, over wood-fired grills and in American vibes. Beside that, pastas, foie gras, salads, carpaccio and some homemade dishes, also available to dine out.
Red Sky Bar & Restaurant
A short walk from Museum of Cham Sculpture, this western-styled restaurant is known for valued steaks. Each plate is made from imported meats and prepared by the chef who has experience over 20 years in luxury venues. Beverage choice is some dozens, to select for enhancing the taste and includes 30 types of wine produced in different countries.
Pizza 4P’s Hoang Van Thu
At 8 Hoang Van Thu St, it takes a few minutes to walk in this Italian Japanese restaurant. Established in 2011, Pizza 4P’s serves pizzas cooked in a fire-wood oven, with homemade cheese freshly produced in Da Lat and carefully-picked ingredients. It’s featured in many TV shows, social media and several magazines. Seatings are available for solo travelers, couples or groups of friends, in an air-conditioned and cozy atmosphere.
Da Nang Museum of Cham Sculpture Tour
A half day tour to the Museum of Cham sculpture also includes another attraction in Da Nang, such as the Marble Mountains, Lady Buddha, bridges or beaches. If would like to have a focus on the historic center of the city only, a walking tour is recommended. In the afternoon, visitors also have a chance to taste different local dishes and later the Dragon Bridge fire show (on the weekend). To design your half-day experience easier with our advice and recommendations, contact us via whatsapp number (+84) 968009827 or email email@example.com.
One day itinerary can introduce the visitor to all highlights around Da Nang, including stunning attractions, history and culture. The most popular transportation is by car and lunch is included or optional, up to personal requirement. There are some recommendations you may be interested in:
Itinerary 1: West experience (Ba Na Hills, Golden bridge, Cham museum and Dragon bridge).
Itinerary 2: Da Nang city tour (Cham museum, the Marble Mountains, My Khe beach, Dragon bridge, Lady Buddha, Pink church, Han market).
Itinerary 3: Northwest experience (Hai Van pass and ancient gates, Lap An lagoon, oyster village, Lang Co fishing village, Cham museum, Dragon bridge, Pink church, Han market).
To know details or customize your day experience, contact us via whatsapp number (+84) 968009827 or email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
My Son Sanctuary and Cham Museum Tour
This tour specializes in Cham culture and Champa kingdom ruled the land from 2nd to 14th centuries. The focuses are indoor Museum of Cham sculpture and outdoor My Son sanctuary, a Unesco world heritage site. In the holy land, visitors can expect a complex of majestic Hindu temples and ruins located in an unspoiled environment. The knowledgeable guide will share all secrets behind towers, objects, gods, and more. The best time to visit is in the morning. His sharings continue in the museum where some of the most unique Cham sculptures have been preserved. If looking for a suitable itinerary with these places (as inclusions), contact us to know recommendations. Our whatsapp number is (+84) 968009827 and email is email@example.com.
If looking for a local guide who is fluently in English, friendly and knowledgeable, text us in whatsapp number +84968009827.
See also: My Son Sanctuary Tour
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