Mui Ne, meaning “sheltered peninsula”, is an idyllic, laid-back beach town featuring all that you need to help recharge those batteries. Palm trees, white sand beaches, great seafood and a range of hotel options make it a great weekend away. However Mui Ne isn’t just about lazing by the beach and reading a book, there are also some exciting water based activities, including kite-surfing and windsurfing, that are guaranteed to get your blood pumping. You can also hire a motorbike and cruise off to the photogenic red or white sand dunes, or get your feet wet at the fairy stream, or simply wake up early to take in a beautiful sunrise and watch last night’s catch unloaded on shore. With such a variety of options all within easy access to the town it is easy to see why Mui Ne is such a popular southern destination.
When you talk to someone who’s visited Mui Ne you often hear; “it was just so relaxing, with all those great little beach bungalows, stacks of different restaurants, beautiful dunes and white sand beaches.” However you could just as easily hear, “Mui Ne was unreal! We tried our hand at dune sledding, kite-surfing, windsurfing and even snuck in a round of golf. And we partied by bonfires every night on the beach. What a wicked weekend away!” Whichever Mui Ne you experience, you are bound to have a great time.
Why not go to Mui Ne
Mui Ne is a little out of the way. With no easy airport access, if you don’t like long bus trips, you’d be better off flying into Nha Trang or heading down to Phu Quoc Island for a beach getaway. Also if you are looking for scuba diving or snorkelling then head elsewhere.
Mui Ne, like many other coastal tourist destinations in Vietnam, has undergone a building and development boom over the last few years. What was once a romantic and quiet local beach town is now almost entirely fronted by big hotels and bungalows and shows very little resemblance to the quiet fishing town that it used to be.
Why go to Mui Ne
Mui Ne is gorgeous and really relaxing. If you make the effort to get there then you will be rewarded with postcard like palm fringed, white sand beaches and a lovely place to watch the world go by. Add to that, the easily accessible attractions around Mui Ne, you will see why the area has slowly turned into the port-of-call for most ex-pats out of Saigon and for backpackers from all over South East Asia seeking a beach break.
Best time to go to Mui Ne
As always on the south coast of Vietnam it is best to visit during the dry season which runs from October/November through to April/May. However, Mui Ne has a unique climate that means it sees very little rain in comparison to nearby Nha Trang, Hoi An and even Phan Thiet (just 30kms south) thus making it a great choice year round.
Where to stay in Mui Ne
Unlike many destinations in Vietnam it pays to make a reservation in this little town. There is an abundance of accommodation choices but due to Mui Ne’s popularity and proximity to Saigon it is a popular destination particularly over weekends and national holidays. With over 100 hotels to choose from there are as you would expect a wide variety of options from beautiful romantic resorts right down to little beach side bungalows. The Cham Villas (32 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, (062) 741-234) are my pick as one of the best priced luxury options in town. However, if you are looking for something a little lighter on the wallet then consider checking out Hiep Hoa Resort – Beachside Bungalows (80 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, (062) 847-262.)
Where to eat / dine in Mui Ne
Mui Ne, as you would expect, is all about seafood. There are some great restaurants that will cook up the catch of the day right as you watch, including; Guava (53 Nguyen Dinh Chieu) or if you are looking for a more romantic option then consider the restaurant inside the Sailing Club – Sandals (24 Nguyen Dinh Chieu.) An extensive menu and a beautiful setting make Sandals a great choice. A popular local option with plenty of fresh seafood to choose from is Lam Tong (92 Nguyen Dinh Chieu.)
Mui Ne and Binh Thuan province is also home to the famous dragon fruit. Aptly named, because of its appearance, it is a roadside favorite, and makes a great breakfast snack.
Nightlife in Mui Ne
Jibes, Pogo and Java are great options for passing the nigh away in town. Jibes is a popular kite-surfing hangout and often has bonfires down on the beach. However trends change, so have a walk along the beach and see where the night will take you!
My to do list in and around Mui Ne
• The red sand dunes – these sand dunes are at the northern end of town. The dunes are incredibly photogenic but because of their proximity to Phan Thiet and Mui Ne, they are incredibly popular as well. They are best visited very early in the morning or late at night to avoid the crowds and intense heat.
• The white sand dunes – more picturesque but a bit more effort to reach than the Red Sand dunes, their grandeur are however, well worth the journey. Fantastic photo opportunities abound.
• Fairy Springs – Located about halfway along the main road at the back of Mui Ne beach. Head up river to the source of the spring and see how a small little river has carved out a huge niche in the local countryside.
• The early morning fish market – at the northern end of Mui Ne town, this is a must. Aim to get there sometime between 5.30-7am to catch the best of the action. You’ll see hundreds of locals furiously unloading, cleaning and trading all types of fish from boats anchored just off shore. A great 30 minute visit and easy to tie in with a trip to the nearby Red Sand dunes.
• The Po Shanu Cham tower – is located just east of the road linking Mui Ne and Phan Thiet. A vestige of the incredible culture of the Cham people who used to inhabit this area. It is beautifully located on a rise overlooking Phan Thiet city and the Phan Thiet river.
Stay away from
If you are going to hire a motorbike be sure to be cautious of all the tourist buses that fly in and out of the town. If you have never been on a bike before this is a great place to learn, but beware. Not long ago a new road was built behind the beach which has alleviated a lot of the traffic problems yet still many cars, buses and bikes continue to drive down the beach road at breakneck speeds!
Mui Ne is about 30kms north of Phan Thiet. Just off highway 1a near the Phan Thiet turnoff is a side road to Muong Man which has north-south train connections. Ask about timetables in advance or prepare for a possible lengthy wait!
Most tourists reach Mui Ne on a bus, either a 4 hour journey north of Saigon or a 5 hour trip south of Nha Trang.