Mui Ne is described as the “up and coming” beach town of Vietnam. This would suggest that it’s in the process of being developed and relatively unknown to tourists. Wrong. Mui Ne is probably the most established (and perhaps the most disappointing) tourist town I’ve been to throughout my travels in Vietnam.
Mui Ne (pronounced “mwee-nay”) is in relatively close proximity to Ho Chi Minh City, offering city dwellers and travellers white sand and blue sky for a $6/ 6 hour drive. The town itself is one huge long strip stretching 4 miles along the coast. I was astounded by how long this “strip” actually was, it seemed to go on and on, yet you seem to pass the same scenery on repeat: resorts varying in size and luxury, restaurants serving international menus (i.e. wherever you’re from in the world you can eat your home comforts, but can’t for the life of you find a Vietnamese restaurant anywhere), gift shops and massage parlours.
The beach itself is wonderful, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s one of Vietnam’s best. What it does offer is water sports opportunities. Due to it’s positioning, Mui Ne’s coast seems to catch a lot of wind and swell making kite surfing, wind surfing and regular surfing possible. It’s relatively expensive to pay for a lesson but renting the equipment is quite affordable, so as there are limited things to do in Mui Ne I’d say it’s worth the expense. Find out more about water sports options here: www.vietnamkiteboardingschool.com
The main tourist activity is visiting the sand dunes at either sunrise or sunset. I would definitely say this is worth doing as they are quite spectacular (and only costs $6 to do). We opted for the sunrise excursion as we’d heard that the sand gets very hot in the afternoon, so despite the early start sunrise seemed the best option. The Jeep will pick you up from your hotel around 4am and drive for just under an hour to the white sand dunes (and if you’re lucky like us you’ll have the added thrill of a driver who falls asleep behind the wheel and swerves down the road!) The sun rise was really beautiful and the dunes were really well preserved. It’s possible to rent a quadbike for $10, but walking is a really peaceful experience as the sand is so fine and cool in the morning.
After sunrise comes the red sand dunes. These were slightly less impressive than the first dunes, but on this site you can hire a sledge and whizz down the sandy hills. A 20 minute stop at a fishing town follows the red dunes- which I particularly enjoyed. There are literally thousands of fishing boats for as far as the eye can see, so we took a few snaps and scurried into a Pho diner to get a fix of cheap and authentic Vietnamese food. The next and final stop on the tour is Fairy Springs. We had relatively low expectations of this, but it was really beautiful. You wade upstream past stalagmites forged from red and golden sand, tropical palm trees and bullrushes for about 20 minutes. It’s really serene and extremely photogenic. Please note that as you enter the stream a local family tell you that you have to pay them to keep your shoes safe for you, this isn’t true as it’s free to walk up and you can keep hold of your shoes. Overall I’d say the trip is certainly worth doing, parts were a little naff but as the only tourist excursion to do in the town it’s worth seeing something other than the beach/pool.
Ultimately, if you want a low effort/ lounge-by-the-pool/ sunbathing/ chill out kind of holiday then Mui Ne certainly delivers. We ended up spending our 2 days in the town by our hotel’s glorious swimming pool, sunbathing with a Mojito in one hand and a book in the other. We stayed at the Mui Ne Hills Budget Hotel (click the link for a full review) and would highly recommend it to those travelling on a budget but still seeking some luxury!
As you can probably sense, I wasn’t hugely overwhelmed or inspired by Mui Ne. There’s just something really artificial about it. Then again, most people go to the beach for some sun and sea and not culture, so if that’s the case it’s ideal. It’s very affordable but dominated by Westerner’s and Russians – personally I’d recommend bi-passing Mui Ne and heading straight for Con Dao Islands which offer far more beautiful and quieter beaches.