Mui Ne is one of the most coveted beach destinations in the south of Vietnam, especially for Kite-surfers who line the beaches between October and March when conditions are at their peak.What tourists refer to as Mui Ne isn’t technically Mui Ne! The tourist part of the area is Ham Tien which is sandwiched between Mui Ne a small fishing village to the North and Phan Thiet, the capital of the region to the south.
Mui Ne isn’t necessarily the best spot for budget travelers as this has become a favorite spot among Russian Tourists on packaged vacations. It is still relatively easy to find budget accommodation but due to the popularity of this spot for Russian vacationers, many of the restaurants have their menus in Russian as well as English and a bit of the culture you’re seeking may feel out of place! Don’t let this put you off as the beaches are gorgeous, and the area is pretty relaxed and it’s a good spot to spend a couple of days relaxing.
WARNING: If driving a motorbike through Mui Ne be careful, this is the only place in all of Vietnam where we saw a police checkpoint actively pulling over westerners on motorbikes. Three people I met had been fined 500,000 VND for not having the correct papers. Passing through Mui Ne was the only way to get to the sand dunes which were not accessible by the main highway running up the coast. So if you are visiting the sand dunes and are worried about your paperwork I’d suggest you book one of the Jeep tours to avoid getting into trouble with the police.
Where to Stay
If you’ve got the budget there are a slew of nice resorts on the beachfront, the budget accommodation is on the other side of the main road that runs along the sea front. You can find Dorm rooms for 100,000 VND ($5), nice double rooms in budget hotels are around 220,000 VND ($10). When booking online check where the hotel is situated as you don’t want to end up in downtown Phan Thiet (not the nicest area) so make sure the hotel is in Ham Tien, or at least along Nguyen Dinh Chieu (the main road through Ham Tien).
Where to Eat
The actual village of Mui Ne is a fishing village so as you’d expect seafood is the specialty. There are lots of restaurants serving BBQ’s at a fairly reasonable price by western standards. Due to the package holiday crowds the food isn’t as cheap as other parts of Vietnam and there’s no trusty street food market to rely on. For tasty, cheap food keep an eye on the smaller local restaurants serving up local cuisine, you can still find a Pho for 20,000 VND.
Things to Do
Kitesurfing: Mui Ne is one of the premier destinations for Kite Surfing in South East Asia, so if you need a hit of adrenaline there are plenty of surf schools which will take you on beginner courses. Lessons can be pricey: an hour lesson is around $50 and a beginners course of 10-12 hours spread over 3 days is $300-400.
Beaches: Lounge on the beaches watching the kite surfers and topping up your tan. The beach is about 10km long with plenty of spots to relax. You can get day passes for a lot of the resorts along the beach, or just take a towel and find a quiet spot.
Sand Dunes Tour
One of the only day trips in this area is the sand dunes tour. The tour takes you to watch the sun rise from the top of a set of sand dunes, you can rent ATV’s to drive around them and even ride on a plastic board to get to the bottom. If you are in Mui Ne this is a must do activity, the sand dunes are amazing, you also get to see the local fishing village and walk down the fairy stream.
Fairy Stream – Suoi Tien
Northeast of Phan Thiet about 18km out of town you’ll find the Fairy Stream (Suoi Tien). This romantically poetic stream is situated next to the sand dunes, and most tourists choose to visit this as part of a sand dunes tour. The water is colored red from the red sand and gorgeous sun beams, and the stream is lines with coconut palms which are perfect to lounge under after a morning of exploring the dunes.