The beach town of Mui Ne has been one of my most unexpected finds of Vietnam. After all, it is nothing like the rest of the country – be it the frenzied rush of Ho Chi Minh City, the insane parties of Da Nang, or the historical beauty of Hanoi.
Mui Ne has its own charm – with surreal landscapes, world class water sports, fresh seafood and a lot of Russians (no kidding, most signboards and cafe menus are in English, Vietnamese and Russian).
And while most tourists head to the quaint yet commercial town of Hoi An, Mui Ne provides an experience like no other.
Here’s what you can do in this town within 48 hours!
Sand Sledding and/or Quad Biking in the Dunes
Yes, you read that right! The sleepy town of Mui Ne has sand dunes, reminiscent of the Thar Desert, or even Wadi Rum – but without the camels. There are two types of dunes in Mui Ne: the White Sand Dunes (Đồi Cát Trắng) and the Red Sand Dunes (Đồi Hồng).
The White Dunes are made up of almost unending mounds of soft, powdery white sand, located at the edge of a lake and a lotus pond. Here, you can rent makeshift mats and slide down the dunes, or even rent a quad bike and zoom around. Be careful not to slide into the lake though!
The Red Dunes, as the name suggests, are made up of reddish sand. Although these dunes are smaller than the White Dunes, they are equally incredible! Here too, you can go sand sledding. And enjoy a majestic sunset simultaneously.
Do note that once you slide down, you have to climb back up, and walking uphill on sand is seriously tougher than it looks 😐 Also, do carry sunglasses to prevent the sand from flying into your eyes (people wearing contact lenses especially need to be careful!)
Wade through the Fairy Spring
The Fairy Spring is a unique creek that is reddish in colour and gets water from the underground streams of the Mui Ne sand dunes. The water snakes through massive red and white rock formations, so take off your shoes and walk along the stretch, exploring the extraordinary structures created by sand and limestone, until you reach a small waterfall at the end.
Ride an Ostrich
Ostrich breeding is common in Mui Ne, and you can also take a ride on one (for as low as 3 or 4 SGD). If you’re interested in trying out this activity, then just ask any of the locals at the Fairy Spring or either of the Sand Dunes – there are many people offering ostrich rides.
Do ensure that the ostrich you sit on is well treated and calm – mine was particularly angry and she would’ve thrown me onto the ground if I hadn’t held onto the saddle for dear life.
Visit a dragonfruit farm
Vietnam is one of the world’s largest producers of dragon fruit, and the Mui Ne region has a perfect landscape to cultivate the cactus plant that produces this fruit. You will come across several dragon fruit farms on your way to the White Sand Dunes, and most plantation owners are happy to show you around.
If you take a hot air balloon ride near the dunes, you can get a birds eye view of acres of dragon fruit farms as well.
Due to its incredible waves, Mui Ne is a popular kitesurfing destination in Asia and there are several schools offering kitesurfing lessons. The most popular one is Mui Ne Kitesurf School, which offers lessons ranging from an introductory class for a few hours to an advanced course for almost a week. If you’re not interested in kitesurfing though, you can also learn how to surf or stand up paddle.
Click here to know more about the classes offered by Mui Ne Kitesurf School.
Visit a fishing village
Mui Ne is a major trading hub for fresh seafood and if you visit the Mui Ne fishing village early in the morning, you might be lucky enough to see the fishermen bring back their catch from the previous night and sort out the fresh seafood by the beach. This catch is then sold to local restaurants, traders and exported as well.
Eat local Vietnamese delicacies
I’ve always felt that smaller towns have the most authentic local food, and Mui Ne is no different. Be it small cafes hidden in the alleys, or shacks by the beach, the local food in this town is fresh and delicious.
How to get there?
Mui Ne is about 5 hours away from Ho Chih Minh City (HCMC) and is easily accessible by bus, train or taxi.
Bus: Hanh Cafe and Sinh Tourist are the 2 bus companies that offer daytime as well as night buses between HCMC and Mui Ne. They have two kinds of air conditioned buses – one with regular seats (approx cost SGD 8) and one with more comfortable recliner seats (approx cost SGD 10). They also make a pitstop halfway through, in case you want to get some snacks or use the toilet.
Train: Trains ply on a daily basis from HCMC to Phan Thiet, the city closest to Mui Ne (you would need to take a bus or taxi to reach Mui Ne, which is about 20 km away). Tickets are priced anywhere between SGD 13 to 20, depending on the type of seat selected. Irrespective of the seat chosen, the trains in Vietnam are generally clean and punctual.
Taxi: A private car can also be arranged easily if you don’t want to take the bus or train. The approximate damage would be around SGD 150, but that can be split among multiple passengers.
I took the bus to Mui Ne, and absolutely loved the journey. However, if you’re above average in size, I wouldn’t recommend taking the bus, as the seats are sized according to an average Vietnamese.
You could also ask your hotel/hostel to HCMC to arrange transportation for you.