After a stay in Ho Chi Minh City visitors to Vietnam might want to swap the city streets for a bit of beach time. Many head east to busy Nha Trang and the South China Sea but it’s worth heading further south to Mui Ne. The small fishing town with its long sandy beach is the kite-surfing hub of SE Asia. There’s plenty to do from fishing boats and fairy streams to quad bikes and sand dunes. Here are the best things to do in Mui Ne…
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Things to do in Mui Ne, Vietnam
Most of the taxi-cabs in the town display signs offering various Mui Ne tours of local attractions. We didn’t want to rent a scooter as the roads didn’t feel that safe and a bit of air-con is never a bad thing so we booked up a four-hour tour for $30. We were picked up from our hotel in Mui Ne and set off to check out some of the area’s highlights. Tuan, our driver, was great and although he spoke no English and we spoke no Vietnamese we got on fine. He even gave us Vietnamese sweeties on the journey!
White Sand Dunes, Mui Ne
The most popular Mui Ne attractiion is about 25 kilometres north-east of the town. The Mui Ne sand dunes – who knew there were sand dunes in Vietnam! The white sand dunes aren’t strictly snow white but they are whiter than your average sand dune. The appeal is that they dip right down to a lotus lake surrounded by greenery which is a beautiful contrast.
The White Dunes
Quad Biking the White Dunes
There’s no charge to visit the white dunes and you can walk through them although, if you’ve ever tried walking up a sand dune, you’ll know it’s pretty hard work. But, there’s a small snack bar by the entrance where you can rent quad bikes. For around $25 an hour you can dip up and dive down the dunes spraying white sand as you go. It’s a lot of fun. It gets a bit blowy on the dunes and I nearly didn’t get my DSLR out but the cloud formations were amazing that day so I took a chance…
Quad biking on the dunes
Red Sand Dunes, Mui Ne
The red sand dunes are about 20 minutes drive from the town. As soon as we reached the top a bunch of kids ran over to ply us with plastic surf mats but I was more than happy to stay upright that day. The sand was a lot coarser than the white dunes and squeaked as we trudged our way to the top. Although the red dunes aren’t as impressive as the white dunes there are some wonderful views out to the ocean. I’m guessing the sunsets here are spectacular. There’s no charge to visit the Red Dunes.
The red dunes
Mui Ne Fishing Village
Our third stop was at Mui Ne fishing village. We pulled up by the busy main road and Tuan even stopped the traffic for us to cross! There’s a steep concrete slope with steps set into it which lead down to the sea and a small beach filled with piles of empty scallop shells. The night’s catch is landed early each morning and sorted right there on the beach.
Views of the brightly coloured boats stretch out across the water and you can see locals sitting in them mending their nets and gear. There were lots of small round basket boats that you see all over Vietnam including some of the original boats woven from bamboo. Nowadays the majority are made from coloured fibre-glass. Fishing is one of the main industries here and the seafood in Mui Ne is impressive.
The Fairy Stream Mui Ne
At the far end of Mui Ne beach was our last stop of the day; the fairy spring in Mui Ne. I was a little dubious about this and thought it would consist of a few metres of muddy stream and be a bit of a tourist trap. I was happily surprised. It was actually a really pretty area with over 500m of rippling stream which had carved its way through rust coloured dunes, limestone rock formations and lush bamboo groves.
The Fairy Stream
We slipped off our sandals and started wading through the cooling water as our toes sank into soft red sand. Almost immediately a local teenager attached himself to us and although our unofficial guide was mute he made sure we understood him perfectly and pointed us to all the best areas. He also led us up some pretty steep banks; getting up them was okay but coming down was trickier. I think he overestimated my abilities! You really don’t need a guide at the fairy spring but we didn’t have the heart to turn him away. There was no admission charge to get into the fairy stream and despite looking hard we didn’t see any fairies.
Limestone formations at the fairy spring
Find the Source of Fish Sauce
Near to the fairy stream entrance is a place where fish sauce is made. Not one of the top things to do in Mui Ne but if you fancy filling your face with the smell of anchovies fermented in brine for eight months then dip your nose in. Mui Ne is fish sauce central and where most of Vietnam’s fish sauce is fermented and produced. You’ll smell it before you see it but despite its pong it does have the most delicious flavour and gives Vietnamese food its authentic taste.
If you want to learn more about Vietnamese food, Mui Ne has its own street food festival three times a year usually taking place in January, April and July on the main street.
Learn to Kite Surf in Mui Ne
Kite-surfing is a big Mui Ne attraction. The area has good a breeze which is perfect for kitesurfing plus there are plenty of kite surfing schools along the beach.
Mui Ne Kite Surfing
Read more: Mui Ne – Kitesurfing Central
Check out the Mui Ne Sunsets
Some of the best sunsets I’ve seen were on the beach at Mui Ne. We’d take a walk each evening and have a Tiger Beer at a small bar about a kilometre away and watch the sun go down as the die-hard kite-surfers made the most of the waves before dusk.
Kite Surfing at sunset
Play Golf in Mui Ne
Mui Ne Sea Links championship golf course is just a few minutes from the town and it’s a fabulous course with some gorgeous views. We played 18 holes while we were there. Club hire is available as are golf carts which is advisable in the heat. We had a lot of fun with our two caddies and a really enjoyable afternoon on the course.
Sea Links Golf Course, Mui Ne
Than Phiet and Mui Ne Attractions Further Afield
There are other sights to visit nearby including The Reclining Budha and the Cable Car which are around 40km away.
Want to read more about Vietnam? Check out these Vietnam based books for some inspiring holiday reading.
Where to eat in Mui Ne
The main drag is lined with cafes and restaurants, many of which back onto the beach. We loved Joe’s Cafe with its laid-back vibe and live music. We ate there a couple of times and usually ended up there for a drink before heading back to our hotel.
El Latino is a fab little place serving good Mexican food. Jibe’s Beach Club and Sandals were both good. We also ate at some small local places which served delicious authentic food. These were near to our hotel which was at the opposite end of Mui Ne beach to the fishing village. Mui Ne is a big draw for Russian tourists so many of the restaurants serve Russian cuisine.
Where to stay in Mui Ne
We stayed at the quieter end of Mui Ne beach which was perfect for us and we liked the short stroll to the main strip each evening. Our hotel, The Allezboo Beach Resort and Spa, Mui Ne adjoined the beach. The breakfasts were excellent with fabulous views from the restaurant. Evening dining was good too. The rooms were spacious and light set in beautiful gardens. The pool area was right next to the beach with hotel sun-beds and parasols on the beach itself. I’d stay there again.
Check rates and availability at Allezboo Beach Resort and Spa, Mui Ne
How to get to Mui Ne from Ho Chi Minh City
To get to Mui Ne, or nearby Phan Thiet, from Ho Chi Minh City is straightforward. We booked a car transfer from HCMC to our Mui Ne hotel. There was a rest stop half way and the trip took around 5 hours in total. Not everyone would want to do this but it was right for us and there are other options:
The Train from HCMC to Mui Ne
The train departs Saigon at 06:40 a.m. and arrives at Binh Thuan station around 3.5 hours later which is around 40km from Mui Ne so you’ll need to take a taxi for the final leg. More details here.
Ho Chi Minh to Mui Ne Bus
In the main tourist area of District 1 in HCMC there are dozens of travel agencies where you can buy a bus ticket to Mui Ne. The journey will take around 6 hours with one food/comfort stop. To book your bus ticket on-line, in advance, go to Vietnam Bus Tickets – they offer online bus ticket bookings on most routes around Vietnam too.
Buses leave HCMC at the following times: 7am, 7:30am, 8am, 1:30pm, 2:30pm, 3pm, 6pm and 7pm.
Mui Ne to Ho Chi Minh Bus
Buses leave Mui Ne at the following times: 1am, 7:30am, 8:30am, 9:30am, 11:00am, 2:30pm, 3pm and 3:30pm
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