Travelling Guide to Mui Ne, South Vietnam

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Vietnam's own underrated jewel.


To end off my virgin trip to Vietnam with Mui Ne is definitely icing on the cake for me. This little quaint town has surprised me through and through with what it had to offer. Even though the faded pictures of Mui Ne at Saigon's tour agencies were not all that enticing, but experiencing Mui Ne totally blew me away. That proves that nothing beats seeing it in person and experiencing Mui Ne for yourself, with plenty to do, see, eat and completely relax yourself here. Here I compile all my Mui Ne experiences in one post as a travelling guide just for you:




Getting to Mui Ne from Ho Chi Minh City

Nearly a 6-hour ride away from Ho Chi Minh city, Mui Ne is set at the coast of Vietnam facing the gorgeous East Sea and South China Sea. Being already familiar with the Pham Ngu Lao backpackers lane, we booked a straight bus at one of the tour agencies soon after we reached Saigon from Can Tho. We left the city at around 10 in the morning and reached Mui Ne shortly after 4pm. Most of the buses are sleeper buses, which means you can lie down and rest for the journey. It was fairly comfortable with short breaks in between for toilet breaks.

General points on Mui Ne

Most of the restaurants, bars and lodging are located on the Nguyễn Đình Chiểu street, one straight road that is easily navigable, almost closed off from civilization with mostly tourists and the small tourism industry serving them. It reminds me of Bali but a thousand-fold less touristy and commercialized, much more laid-back and enjoyable.

 

Accommodation in Mui Ne

We didn't book any accommodation in Mui Ne, but managed to get this bungalow hut rooms at 15USD per night, which is an amazing steal.This is Hongdi Bungalows, one of the bungalow resort apartments along the beach side of the Nguyễn Đình Chiểu road. No booking required as it was off-peak season and there were plenty of rooms available. The room was generally clean and basic, not fancy but sufficient. The best part is guests have access to the beautiful, serene and quiet beach just 10 metres away from the back of the resort (the resort area is not big). The beach had absolutely nothing on the horizon, making it a dream to visit. I miss it so so so much! You can literally hear the waves even from your bed.

Hongdi Bungalows
70 Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street
Ham Tien Phan Thiet
Mui Ne, Vietnam

Pictures of the beach:

 
 

 


Beach is life.

I had a great time at the beach just soaking up the atmosphere, doing yoga and running into the shallow waves. If you ever needed to change your shoes or clothes or have a quick shower after dipping into the sea, your resort is right behind you. Isn't that extremely convenient? I loved having that stress-free feeling - do whatever you want without worrying about logistics issues. There are windsurfing/ kite surfing lessons, jetskiing, sailing, kayaking available, though most people are just paddling around the water chilling instead of doing high-intensity sports. How remarkably quiet the whole place is!



Your 24-hour store.

If you ever need anything, there is a handy 7-11 along the main street.


Joe's Art Cafe
El Latino
Nhà Hàng Lâm Tòng

Dining in Mui Ne - bars, restaurants.

There are a couple of good music bars and restaurants around, enough variety for you to try for a two to three-day trip in Mui Ne. The number one restaurant that my sister and I loved was Joe's Art Cafe which was more like a live music bar with nostalgic classic songs from the 80's like Lemon Tree, Oh Pretty Woman, Hey Jude and Hotel California.  They serve mostly pizzas, American cuisine, pastas, burgers and sandwiches. Not to mention, their beers and alcoholic drinks are cheap too. I love the vibe a lot. There is access to the beach from Joe's as well, though at night the tide comes in high and it's too dark and dangerous. Nevertheless, they have a pool table and a swimming pool within the music bar/ restaurant itself  - think you can take a quick dip while sipping on whiskeys. Regretfully I didn't take much decent pictures at this place but I was too busy enjoying here. A quick shoutout to the live singer at Joe's - you are really great and sporting!

Joe's Art Cafe is good for: Post-dinner drinks and bites

Joe's Art Cafe
86 Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street
Ham Tien Phan Thiet
Mui Ne, Vietnam

The second restaurant we visited was El Latino, a Mexican restaurant, along the same stretch with a very friendly boss. Portions were small and prices tend towards the pricey end - but only by Vietnam standards, otherwise it is still honestly much more affordable for the same thing you get in Singapore. Their happy hour drinks are sufficiently potent and really tasty, a decent passionfruit mojto. The decor is cute and the vibes are fun and puts you in a holiday mood in an instant.

El Latino is good for: Lunch, and some mid-day drinks

El Latino
139 Nguyen Dinh Chieu
Ham Tien Phan Thiet
Mui Ne, Vietnam

Finally, the restaurant we visited Nhà Hàng Lâm Tòng, with an amazing view of the same beach I mentioned previously, dine in some seafood, pancakes (ban xeo) and pho while staring into the horizon and watch the sky turn into a brilliant thousand shades of blue and grey as evening beckons. I have my reservations on the food - don't expect too much. Most of the price and enjoyment comes from sitting at the tables with a fantastic view.

Nhà Hàng Lâm Tòng is good for: Chillin' with a beach view, with some seafood and drinks

Nhà Hàng Lâm Tòng
92 Nguyen Dinh Chieu
Ham Tien Phan Thiet
Mui Ne, Vietnam

There are plenty of other cafes, restaurants and bars that look awesome as well so go forth and explore - you might even find something better than I did. These are the ones that I went to, not necessarily the best, but I'll definitely recommend Joe's Art Cafe.

Other activities in the evening include massages, nail pampering sessions, ice-cream dates, planning your day trips at one of the few travel agencies on the street... shopping is pretty dismal except for one shop selling beachwear.


Half-day tours begin before 5am, depending on your tour agency - but they want you to be able to catch the sunrise at the sand dunes so forgive them for the ungodly hours! It will be worth it. Half-day tours are priced at 20USD per person, including transportation from your accommodation (likely to be on the same street for most people) to the white sand dunes, red sand dunes, Fairy Stream, fishing village and back. It takes slightly over 1 hour to drive to the white sand dunes - our first location for the half day trip. We went by a jeep of 7 people, and it was one of the most amazing mornings I have ever had. The jeep went too fast for any decent photo to be captured, but the landscapes changed from forests to rocky terrain to sand dunes continuously (such a visual delight!!!) until we finally reached the white sand dunes where we caught the sunrise in time:

 

Desert in Vietnam? I must be really ignorant but I never knew there were sand dunes in this Southeast Asian country. It was exhilarating to be in a desert for the first time, however it was extremely tiring running up and down the sand dunes. It was fun nonetheless. The sand was super fine and undisturbed for the most part.


The red sand dunes were not exactly red and not much different from the white sand dunes except there were a lot of young children and presumably their mothers, trying to sell us surfboards to play dune bashing. Avoid them at all costs even though they may seem fun, because the tourists who rented didn't have much fun as hiking up sand dunes was hard work and it was not very smooth to slide down. Moreover, our tour guide told us to ignore them completely because the children would try to pickpocket or rob you while you pay them. Be firm and turn them down.


Back onto the road again as we head towards Fairy Stream where we walked through the shallow river to see amazing sights there were reminiscent of smaller versions of the Grand Canyon.

 

Every corner is extremely photogenic and breathtaking, very therapeutic to walk through barefooted. You will get wet up to your shin. Note that the beginning of the river trek is quite challenging even for me due to the slippery and sharp-edged rocks. Walk slowly and ensure every step is stable at the beginning or you might risk a broken ankle. Towards the middle of the trek, it got much easier as it was only sand in the river bed. It is about half a kilometre one-way and you walk back the same way you came. We took slightly over an hour to finish the whole thing at a leisured pace. The entry to Fairy Stream is free, ignore whoever who tries to tell you to pay them 5,000dong because they do not have ownership over it (according to our day trip tour guide).

 

The Mui Ne fishing village was rather underwhelming, we literally stopped and watched them going about their activities for 10 minutes and left because there was nothing interesting going on. It is quite a picturesque scene though. The smell of fish sauce permeates the air madly here.



The other place we went after the half-day tour ended was the Linh Son Truong Tho Pagoda by ourselves instead of going by a tour which had fixed timings. We decided to go local  and took the local buses, which was a little nerve-wrecking because nobody could not really speak English and explain to us how to get there. We found out on Tripadvisor to take the local bus along Nguyen Dinh Chieu to CO.OP mart in Phan Thiet (there is only one bus). Then, take bus 4 towards Tà Cú mountain (pronounced as tah-koo) mountain about a 80-minutes bus ride away.

 
Can you spot me?

The Reclining Buddha, Linh Son Truong Tho pagoda and Tà Cú mountain are essentially the same places of various attractions, which required quite an intensive climb. We saw elderly and children climbing though, so no excuses! It gave us major Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and Kungfu Panda vibes here. There was nothing much within the pagoda itself to see, much of it was still under renovation when we visited (August 2015) - perhaps they are already completed by now. However, the reclining Buddha is incredibly amazing to see up close, imagine who on earth created this statue so high up in the mountains? Just climbing it alone nearly killed me...

They close at 5pm, they were not too strict about it but do not push it because the whole area was quite isolated and I'd imagine it to be frightening when night falls! As the journey from Mui Ne to this place takes approximately 2.5 hours, try to aim to leave Mui Ne by 1.30pm latest.

 

Enjoy scenic views on the cable car

Much of the mountain was conquered by the cable car ride which gave us a perfect overview of the surrounding regions, including the lakes and forests. What a perfect way to say goodbye to Vietnam.


That's it for my Vietnam series, I love this country a whole lot and can't wait to go back and explore more - in particular Sapa, Hanoi, Halong Bay, Hue, Da Nang, Hoi An, Nha Trang... so much of the world to experience, so little time. Till next time, Vietnam!

For other posts in Vietnam:


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I share interesting episodes in life revolving around food, lifestyle, travel and inspirational ideas. If you would like to stay in touch, follow me on my Instagram on @amie.hu and Facebook page!

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3 comments

  1. Hello Amie. Thanks for the info on Linh Son Truong Tho Pagoda. Really appreciate your kind sharing. Other blogs mostly touched on day trips to the sand dunes, fairy springs, etc. May I know roughly what time you finished the day trip so that you have enough time to go to the pagoda?

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    Replies
    1. Hi there! :) We finished the day trip at around 12.30pm, went back to our accommodation to rest a bit and got lunch at El Latino (see above), then set off to find the local bus to set off for the Linh Son Truong Tho Pagoda only at around 2.30pm. Bad decision, we ended up having to rush quite a bit and got a bit stressed. So ideally you should try to set off at around 1.45-2pm (if you're having lunch at one of the restaurants, just ask for directions to the bus that goes to Phan Thiet. The instructions we found on Tripadvisor was accurate and managed to bring us there:

      - Take the local bus along Nguyen Dinh Chieu to CO.OP mart in Phan Thiet (there is only one bus).
      - Then, take bus 4 towards Tà Cú mountain (pronounced as tah-koo) mountain about a 80-minutes bus ride away.

      If I am not wrong, the whole journey (one-way) takes about 2-2.5 hours including waiting time, so plan accordingly =)

      Safe travels! <3

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    2. Sweet! Thank you so much!

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