Mui Ne, a costal town backed by expansive sand dunes.
A tiny coastal town, Mui Ne boasts a stretch of beaches that are backed by expansive sand dunes. Previously deserted, the tourism industry has flooded the town over the last 20 years and the main stretch of road is now lined with resorts and guesthouses. A popular destination for the Russian community, much of the area is Russian owned, with signage and menus all in Russian, Vietnamese and sometimes English.
As Mui Ne is quite exposed, the beach was extremely blustery making it the perfect destination for windsurfers and kite surfers. We spent two days here, the first a quiet day spent by the pool at our guesthouse and the second on a scooter exploring the town. Two days was too long, we could have easily seen the town in day but I was feeling a bit crook so we took the extra time. The major downside (and reason we would have left after a day) was everyone was blatantly trying to rip us off. Every meal at every different restaurant we went to they tried to charge us more than the listed amount on the menu. Some restaurants even had different menus, with the English menu more expensive than the Vietnamese and Russian version! While it wasn’t much, the obvious exploitation was really infuriating.
We arrived on the bus, slightly confused. We hadn’t realised the accommodation ran the length of the beach for several kilometres before Mui Ne. We ended up staying at Phuong Tay Guesthouse, which had a great pool area and was nice and close to Fairy Creek.
We found the food quite expensive, which is strange coming straight from Ho Chi Minh City. Yet again, we opted to largely stick with the Pho, finding this the most cost effective and enjoyable meal. We found a stall selling the spicy fried sweet corn we had tried in Can Tho and enjoyed the snack while watching the sunset over the fishing village.
ACTIVITIES & ATTRACTIONS
Mui Ne is famous for the Red and White sand dunes that line the edge of the town and resort area. Aside from this, there isn’t too much to do and see. It is so windy the beach is nearly unbearable, unless you are a windsurfer or kite surfer, in which case it would be perfect. One simple thing we found really enjoyed was watching the sunset over the thousands of fishing boats that shelter at the Mui Ne headlands.
Red Sand Dunes
These red sand dunes lie directly behind the township and provide a lookout point over the township of Mui Ne. The dunes weren’t quite as big and expansive as I was expecting but they were great to see.
White Sand Dunes
A whopping 30km out of town, we enjoyed a scooter ride along the coastline to the white sand dunes. Again, I was a bit disappointed, expecting them to be bigger and more spectacular than they were. The bright, white sand was impressive and a beautiful stark contrast to the brilliant blue skyline. Strangely, when we reached the dunes the road, which had previously been old and narrow, opened up to form a huge, brand new four-lane highway. It was completely deserted and it felt quite eerie to be the only people driving along.
This was actually my favourite attraction in Mui Ne. I stumbled across a blog on Mui Ne that mentioned the Fairy Creek, had I not read it we probably wouldn’t have gone. A small creek winds its way alongside red sand dunes. We explored a few of the dunes, enjoying the vantage point to look out to the ocean.
The fishing village at the Mui Ne waterfront was incredible! There were thousands of boats in the bay and the beachside was thriving with activity. It was incredible to see hundreds of traditional bamboo weaved ‘baskets’ locals used to get to and from their fishing boats stacked along the beach.
PEOPLE & CULTURE
There definitely seemed to be a culture of ripping off the tourists here. Its confusing, I would have thought the locals would want tourists leaving feeling like they had a good time and want to come back. Especially considering most of their livelihood comes from tourism. The poor culture in the area was enough to put us off returning.
WHAT WE LEARNT
We always have a rough idea of what our bill will be (it helps with budgeting), but here it was especially important to know what your meal is supposed to cost before you pay. By the time we add it all together, we saved a bit of money by correcting multiple restaurant owners.
With our simple activities and the restraint we are having with our food choices, we are managing well with the budget. Hopefully this will allow us to be a few steps ahead when we look into the motorbike tours through central Vietnam.
We will continue to Nha Trang and Dalat before heading further north to Hoi An. With Lunar New Year approaching (a massive holiday here and most of the country comes to a stand-still for 3 days) we are a bit anxious how we will manage travelling around that time.