Mui Ne is a small coastal fishing town in Phan Thiet of Binh Thuan province and located about 180 km east from Ho Chi Minh city. Both locals and foreigners love to come here to relax and have a short getaway far from a busy city like Ho Chi Minh.
It is a small resort town with beautiful resorts, budget hotels and backpacker hostels situated along the sandy beach of Mui Ne. Visitors can dine in at restaurants that serve fresh seafood that was caught from the sea by the fishermen in the fishing village.
Mui Ne has recently become an increasingly popular tourist destination because it has a unique natural landscape. Travelers also get to experience first hand of local culture and lifestyle in this amazing fishing village.
Getting There and Around
The most affordable way to travel to Mui Ne is by coach bus which cost USD 15 per way. You can approach any local travel agencies in Ho Chi Minh city or online to buy the bus ticket. Although the distance is 180 km from Ho Chi Minh, it takes about 4.5 hours to reach this small town because the coach bus will pass through some small towns with only two lanes. Trucks and long trailers will also use this road and sometimes cause road congestion.
When I was on the trip to Mui Ne, I took two buses from two different companies that come with sleeper-bed and my preference is Hans Cafe that is cleaner and comfortable (click here for bookings)
Wonder what to do in Mui Ne? Read on about my 4.5 hours morning tour here.
Crawling up from my bed and getting ready for the morning half-day tour in Mui Ne. I was greeted by my driver/ guide, Ong Xa in my Airbnb home. We drive along the coast to the White Sand Dunes while the sky is still dark. The ride takes approximately 40 minutes, just in time to catch the beautiful sunrise. The sand dunes are locally known as Doi Cat Trang or White Lake.
This area of sand dunes is pretty huge. So, it’s best to hop onto one of this quad bike and the fastest way to reach the edge of the dunes to watch the sunrise at 5.30 a.m. The view is simply breathtaking, making you for in love with such beauty and the word to describe it is a big “WOW”.
Normally when you think of sand dunes, the places that come in mind are the Sahara Desert in Morocco and Dubai in United Arab Emirates. So do I. Well, you can get the taste of the desert just by getting to Mui Ne. It has caught my attention because of its natural landscape and nowhere else to be found in any other parts of South East Asia with a tropical climate.
Before heading to our next point, we make two unexpectable stops. Firstly, we stop by at a dragonfruit plantation. The plantation was not fenced, so we get a chance to have a closer look at this full-grown fruits.
We also park along the roadside next to the beach to take pictures of the sea view. It is one of the great spots to enjoy calm weather as the sun is shining bright at 6.45 a.m.
At last, we arrive at the Red Sand Dunes (Doi Hong) where the sand is bright red/ brown color and the area is smaller compared to the White Sand Dunes. It is too crowded with tourists, locals walking around selling all sorts of food and asking me and others to rent their mats to slide down the dunes. Yet luckily for me, I still manage to find my own personal spot further away from the crowd.
Getting to observe the daily life of fishermen early morning at the Fishing Village. Fishermen will carry their catch from their typical circular boats to the shore. Then, the women begin to sort out the fishes, crabs, seashells, eels and lobsters into baskets under the shade, selling them to tourists, restaurant owners and other suppliers.
My last stop of the tour is Fairy Stream, where the water flows alongside an impressive rock and sand formations before reaching the sea just a few hundred meters down. The water is vivid red, formed by clay and limestone particles and mixed with pale white sand which forms a soft red creek. You will see the rock formation on one side and big bushes on the opposite side.
The stream is just ankle deep and you just need to take off your shoes at the entrance. You might need to be careful because the path can be slippery or rough with hidden holes at some point.
After the end of the walk in Fairy Stream, I still not entirely sure how it got its name but it sure feels magical to wander around. Maybe because there are some fairies lived here a long time ago.
In my own opinion, it would be best to stay here at least one night but not more than two days in this small resort town. The suitable time to visit will be between December to April and take a half day tour in the early morning at 4.30 a.m, just like what I did. The morning weather is cooling and less crowd. You can enjoy more personal space to take photos of a beautiful sunrise at the sand dunes.
If you are on a short trip around Ho Chi Minh and want to take a tour here, do check around any travel agencies in the city. Most tours depart at 7 a.m. and end at 8 p.m. This means that you will be spending about 10 hours alone just to travel to and back from Mui Ne and less time to enjoy any activities here. I can imagine how the crowd going be like when tourists from Ho Chi Minh and other nearby towns come flocking in during afternoon.
After searching on several tour operators, I decided to choose Jeep Tour Mui Ne to take me around the attractions. If you are a solo and/ or budget traveler who is looking for an affordable trip, this will be a suitable choice where the cost of private jeep tours starting from 400,000 VND. The staff and driver are very friendly and knowledgable, helping me to organize my trip and transportation as well back to Ho Chi Minh. (Visit their website and Facebook page for details)