The sand stricken coastal town of Mũi Né is a strange juxtaposition of Russian resorts, Vietnamese fishing villages, sprawling white sand dunes, red-sand fairy streams, and hundreds of seemingly abandoned properties. It has undergone a complete transformation in the last 15 years due to the spike in increased tourism, and draws an adrenaline-seeking crowd (mostly Russian) interested in kite-surfing, sand-surfing, motorbiking, and sun-bathing.
Where to begin?
There is a wide range of accommodation from five-star Russian beach resorts, to motels and local guesthouses. We opted for a guesthouse with favorable reviews, and couldn’t be happier with our stay at Duc Thao guest house. Duc Thao himself was such a friendly host, and our fresh seafood dinner was accompanied with guitar playing, broken-English conversations, and shots of sea-horse-infused rice wine courtesy of a shirtless Duc Thao. Stay here for a clean room, authentic experience, and great food.
Cost: 100,000 VND/person or 300,000 for Double Room with 2 beds
Like anywhere in Vietnam, renting a bike is a necessity and a daring feat altogether. It’s easy to get lost roaming around local back streets getting yelled at in Vietnamese, but it only makes you a better driver and you’ll get your bearings after a few wrong turns.
Cost: 100,000 VND ($5 USD)
If you’re only here for one day, get your butt out of bed, I promise it will be worth it. Watching locals bring in the catch of the day on their rounded, colorful, bamboo boats is entertaining to say the least. Dozens of little Vietnamese women stand at the water’s edge awaiting the return of the bamboo boats filled with huge slime buckets oozing with freshly caught squids, shrimps, mussels, and exotic fish.
The stream is hidden behind an old dirt road, and doesn’t look like much at first, but as you wade a little deeper into the trickling streams of the soft red sand, a world of sand art and cliff formations begin to appear.
Price: 10,000 Dong
Motor biking to the dunes is about an hour drive out of Mũi Né (35 km) passing through beautiful beaches, abandoned towns, and an array of resorts. The hot, tropical micro-climate creates huge swells crashing into the coastline and sweeps sand onto the roads. Wind gusts are a huge problem if you’re not enjoying them on a kite board, and we felt as if we were going to float right off our bikes and into the oncoming herds of cattle. If you can endure heavy gusts of wind, possible sandstorms, and the 2 km stretch of legitimate ‘off-roading’ leading to the sand dunes, go for it! It really is so rewarding to see these massive Sahara-like sand dunes appear in the middle of nowhere.
There are a couple of other options for the cautious (or less insane) including a jeep tour or hiring a taxi to and from the dunes! We chose to hire an old U.S. Army jeep to take us out on the dunes once we arrived for 450,000 VND ($8 each with three people). Scaling the dunes in an army jeep was exhilarating and one of my favorite moments in Vietnam.
Mui Ne is a visually stunning, strange mixture of ancient fishing villages, karaoke bars, beach town vibes, and sand dunes. Every 100 meters grants a new view into local life, Russian holidays, and the wondrous diversity of Vietnam.
Have you ever been to Mui Ne? What was the highlight of your stay?