Explore Mui Ne, Vietnam

Extras, Planning, Vietnam — By on April 19, 2012 at 2:00 am
By Nancy Lippincott
Special to Lost Girls 

Mui Ne Beaches

Situated in the southeast region just north of Saigon is Mui Ne, a puzzlingly beautiful and paradoxical coastal town.

The contrast of local life against decadent, luxurious tourism is on display to confound and entertain. The local women walk around covered in hoodies, jeans, hats, gloves, and socks to preserve their porcelain complexions while European sun-worshipers prance around in nothing but bikini bottoms. The shoreline is crammed with ultra high-end beach resorts as well as traditional fishing villages. One minute you’ll be tripping over a chaise lounge, and the next, stepping over a pile of nets. The trick is to situate yourself in the middle of these two extremes.

Getting To Mui Ne:

Mui Ne is easily accessible by bus from Nha Trang and Ho Chi Minh City from the north and south, respectively. Most buses will drop you off in the middle of Nguyen Ding Chieu, the main road through town. Most everything is accessible by foot from there. If you’re traveling the length of Vietnam, an open-ended bus ticket is arguably the best deal in terms of convenience and value.

Where to Stay in Mui Ne:

Unless you’re honeymooning, chances are you’ll want to avoid the beachfront hotels and their 5 star price tags. The best value by far is Mui Ne Hills Guesthouse. At around 30 USD a night you can eat your complimentary breakfast poolside while enjoying a unrivaled view of the beach. There are a limited number of rooms so booking at least a few days ahead is recommended. For shoe-stringers, there are a few bare bones surfer shack options such as Mellow Bungalows, located on the inland side of Nguyen Dinh Chieu toward the fishing villages.

Red and White DunesWhat to do in Mui Ne:

A trip to Mui Ne must include a trip to the Red and White Sand Dunes, located about 45 minutes north of town. To get there, you can charter a jeep through your guesthouse or one of the local travel agencies. However, a self-guided ride on a rented motorbike is by far the cheapest and most exciting way… just make sure you leave in the early morning to avoid the afternoon thunderstorm! Hiking the dunes will afford you unparalleled views of the coastline, and while it’s generally futile for westerners to “sled” down the dunes like the local children, you can (and should) haggle a good deal on an ATV rental. On the way back to town, stop by the fishing villages and observe the production of fish sauce first hand.

Although afternoon showers pop up, they are brief. The dunes do an effective job of sheltering the area from any serious weather while allowing two big winds a day to blow in, making Mui Ne a world-renowned hotspot for kite-surfing. Novices need not be deterred, as there are plenty of instructors peppering the beach offering lessons and equipment rentals.

kite surfingIf you’re looking for a more sedentary activity, it’s said Mui Ne is the sunniest place in Vietnam, and the white sand beach is ideal for afternoon spent sunbathing. There is a public access point to the beach hidden next to Wax Bar. Most of the hotels will let you use a chaise lounge for the afternoon as long as you don’t mind buying a $5 cocktail. Be forewarned, however, the sun here is brutal. Remain diligent with the sunscreen or you will spend tomorrow indoors with a bottle of aloe!

Where to Eat in Mui Ne:

No matter how touristy the town, local fare in Vietnam is readily available, cheap, and never disappoints. In fact, local food should be your priority in any Vietnamese town. While there are usually a few food carts peppered along the main road, the options improve the further north as you head toward the fishing villages. The Banh Mi are especially good here, and make a perfect lunchtime cheap eat.

If it’s a sit-down dinner you’re looking for, (and who wouldn’t after an afternoon of four-wheeling and kite-surfing) I suggest checking out Red & Blue where you can savor the homespun flavors of Vietnam in a chic, yet comfortable setting. Come for dinner, stay for the late night happy hour, and dance until the sun comes up.


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