Mui Ne, Mui Ne. My visit to this coastal city in southern Vietnam felt like a love-hate relationship. On the one hand, it is a beautiful place with a gorgeous long beach, water filled with kite surfers, and great activities where you can visit sand dunes and orange-colored rock formations. On the other hand, Mui Ne attracts so many Russian tourists. I saw Russian stores, restaurants with Russian menus, and on the storefronts Cyrillic texts. It is not as bad as in other places in Southern Vietnam (Nha Trang!). Still, to me Mui Ne looked more like a tropical version of Russia than Vietnam.
Visiting Mui Ne, worth it?
Reading the intro, you are probably wondering: should I even bother going to Mui Ne? Yes, you should. Mui Ne has interesting activities to offer. Moreover, the town itself has a gorgeous beach that attracts a lot of kite surfers (lots of wind!). If you want to give kitesurfing a go, this could be the place for you. Just lower your expectations a bit. Mui Ne is not super charming, it is small (basically one long road with hotels and restaurants) and everything looks commercial. I didn’t enjoy the town, but I still had a great time because of the activities in the area.
4 great things to do in the Mui Ne area
All activities mentioned below are often offered as a tour package at hotels and hostels. We booked our tour at Mui Ne Hills Hotel for 90,000 VND (entry fee for Fairy Stream not included).
1. Take a walk through Suoi Tien (Mui Ne Fairy Stream)
Mui Ne Fairy Stream is number one on the list of things to do in Mui Ne. It is an ankle-deep stream along orange and white rock formations. Wind and rain have sculpted these rocks which resulted in an almost fairytale-like landscape. Visiting the Fairy Stream is a barefoot activity, so you have to remove your shoes at the entrance. The soil in most places is very soft, because of the sand and crumbling clay.
To me, the Fairy Stream rock formations were quite unique, especially the orange ‘teh Tarik’ color. The one thing that I didn’t like was the vendor halfway along the route with a huge snake around his neck.
Entrance fee: 5,000 VND.
2. Spot the Thung Chais at Mui Ne Fishing Village
Not my favorite activity in Mui Ne, but I include it because Mui Ne Fishing Village is part of most tours. The Fishing Village is a beach strip with dozens of boats in the water. Fishermen go out into the sea at night, in the morning they bring the fish back to land, hand it over to the women who clean and sell it on the beach. Traditionally, they used in a Thung Chai to fish, a round basket boat with a wooden paddle. Back in the day, it was made from bamboo, but now most of them are from plastic.
Entrance fee: free.
3. Hop into the desert at the White Sand Dunes
Sand dunes. Yes, you are reading that correctly. That’s how diverse tropical Vietnam is. Mui Ne hardly gets any rain, which makes it one of the driest areas in South East Asia. Mui Ne has two sand dune areas. We first visited the White Sand Dunes, a 45-minute drive outside Mui Ne. The sand at Doi Cat Trang (local name) is more yellow than white, but it is still quite beautiful. I remember the wind being very strong, blowing the sand up in the air, and into my eyes, mouth, and hair.
The White Sand Dunes are nice but don’t expect a tranquil place. The dunes are filled with jeeps, sand buggies, and kids renting out plastic sand boards to slide of the hills. All fun activities, but it makes the dunes a tourist place.
Entrance fee: 10,000 VND.
4. More Mui Ne desert: Red Sand Dunes
Mui Ne’s second desert is the Red Sand Dunes. Smaller than the White Sand Dunes and perhaps a bit less impressive, but it does have a few advantages. No entrance fee and it is easier to visit because it is right next to Mui Ne. It is good to know that the dunes are not actually red. The sand colors red (or pink) during sunrise. We were there during sunset, so were presented with a gold-colored desert. Also beautiful!
Entrance fee: free
More activities near Mui Ne
For travelers who love to explore historical and cultural sites, I recommend adding these places to your list.
- Po Shanu Cham Towers: a religious Hindu ruin from the 9th century. Fairly close to Mui Ne. Not as impressive though as the Po Nagar Cham Tower in Nha Trang or My Son near Hoi An.
- Ta Cu Mountain: hop on the cable car and head up the Ta Cu to see the impressive large white reclining buddha.
Where to stay in Mui Ne
We stayed at Mui Ne Hills Backpackers hotel and were quite happy with it. It has two pools, spacious private rooms with a balcony and hammock, and they offer a great deal on tours. The place has a party vibe, but it is large enough to also stay away from the party dorms. The only thing we didn’t like, was the cockroach problem in our room. They loved to run around in our bathroom (there was a hole in the ground where they jumped in and out from). I hope that the hotel solved this problem.
Click here for more accommodations in Mui Ne.
Where to eat or have a coffee in Mui Ne
- Barista Love: a super small authentic coffee place, run by a Vietnamese lady who can make a great coconut coffee (vegan as well). One of the few places in Mui Ne without a Russian menu.
- King of Sandwich: decent place for lunch or dinner. It is not super authentic, but the food is good. And they offer vegetarian and vegan options.
- Hoa Sen: a typical Buddhist vegetarian restaurant. You have to remove your shoes at the entrance. Don’t go too late, because they close up at 9 pm.
- Choi Oi: great place for lunch, lots of vegetarian and vegan options.
And there you have it: a list of things to do and recommendations for Mui Ne. Would you visit this beach town?
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