Mui Ne - Beachside paradise!
by Zach Klein, 10/31/2019
Hello from sunny and sandy Mui Ne!
If travelers are looking for a nice little Vietnamese beach town with a healthy mix of tourist attractions and comforts, along with traditional fishing town life, then this is the place! Here in Mui Ne we're famous for the idyllic sand dunes, kite boarding and surfing, amazing local seafood and great weather!
When first arriving in Mui Ne, you'll find 2 very different sides of town. The first being Mui Ne proper, a still very traditional Viet fishing town sat on a peninsula jutting out towards the ocean. Taking a walk or scooter ride through town gives a great glimpse of local life, seeing the fish mongers at the market and the fishermen getting ready for their nightly journey out to sea. (side note, when the sun sets in Mui Ne, it seems that a whole city comes to life out to sea on the horizon, a beautiful site when visiting here). As popular a destination as Mui Ne is, the town itself is usually devoid of tourists, if you want to spend a day exploring the town, it’s likely that you will be the only tourist you see!
The other side of Mui Ne (otherwise known as Ham Tien) is a 10km long beach strip where you'll find the majority of guesthouses, backpacker hostels and beachfront hotels. This is also the easiest place to find some good local seafood, western restaurants, bars, clubs and all the other usual fun you would expect from a beach town. With how stretched out things are, it is recommended to get a bicycle or taxi anywhere you need to go, walking can sometimes take a very long time!
Just about any time of year is wonderful in Mui Ne. You can expect 30 degree weather and blue skies year round! In late summer and early winter you can expect the odd tropical storm and a bit of rainy weather, but it usually passes quickly and not nearly as bad as most other places in Vietnam.
It is very easy to arrive in Mui Ne and let the relaxed atmosphere, warm weather and sea breeze wash over you, and to spend a few days relaxing beach or poolside with a cocktail in hand. However there are some quite notable sights, water sports and excursions you should definitely mark down during your time here!
Starting with the #1 most visited in Mui Ne, we have the famous sand dunes. Here you can get 2 different flavors - the Red Sand dunes close into town, and the White Sand Dunes a bit further out of town. The Red dunes are very easy to get to, and can offer a great view of the surrounding town as well as the sea, but it is the White Sand Dunes that really are the star of the show. It has become tradition to take some old russian army jeeps with a group to head out and explore these. The white sand dunes are quite the picturesque sight, massive rolling dunes of white sand that look like just like a part of the Sahara desert, even complete with a bit of an Oasis sitting at the foot of the dunes. Travelers here can pay a bit extra upon arrival and jump on a quad bike to zip around the dunes for a bit of white-knuckle fun (either riding on the back or driving yourself). If you don't want to spend the extra cash, you can role-play as a desert nomad and try to climb them yourselves. Anytime of the day is great to explore the dunes, but i have to say getting up early and catching Sunrise has to be the highlight. Cooler weather, less people and one of the better sunrises in Vietnam is hard to beat!
When taking the jeeps to the dunes, it is also recommended to have a stop at the picturesque Fairy Stream. Tucked away off the main road, it’s a lovely little walk in a small canyon in ankle deep water. If you make it all the way to the end you can find a nice waterfall and deeper spots to take a quick swim!
Aside of the dunes, Mui Ne is also the #1 destination in Vietnam for lovers of surf and in particular wind-surfing and kite-boarding. As of writing this in October, we are just now starting prime season for kite-boarding, as the winds are changing and providing fantastic conditions for experienced boarders, as well as novices. It may be a bit out-of-budget for most shoe-string backpackers, but i think you'll find the prices quite reasonable compared to most other places around SE Asia and the world.
You might also want to look into a day trip up to Phan Rang, one of the many hidden gems in Vietnam that might make it onto the official backpacker trail in the next few years. One of the best trips now on offer in Mui Ne is the Hidden Green tour, which is an all day adventure from Mui Ne, to Phan Rang and back, visiting local vineyards, ancient temples, mountain villages and even some fantastic snorkeling as well as cliff jumping at a great little mountain waterfall. Not very well known to tourists at the moment, but highly recommended!
The local Seafood is a must try as well in Mui Ne. As one of the best examples of traditional fishing towns, there is some incredible tasty and exotic food to find along the main strip and usually for quite cheap local prices! If you want to get more hands on try one of the local cooking schools as well!
One last little tip. The mountain road between Mui Ne and Dalat has been a favorite of the motorbike riders for years, and arguably the best ride in Southern Vietnam. The local easyrider tour guides have opened up options for travelers who want to skip the long bus ride and get out off the beaten path. For either experience riders, or those that just want a little taste of Vietnam on the back of a motorbike, this is a route well worth looking into.