MUI NE BEACH
Peaceful Mui Ne Beach is a long and beautiful stretch of white sand 22km east Phan Thiet on Route 706, near a fishing village at the tip of Mui Ne peninsula. It’s a lovely spot with swaying palm trees, and for traffic weary travellers, as well as residents of HCMC. Mui Ne offers a relaxed and welcome cahnge of pace.
Mui Ne is famous for its enormous sand dunes. These have been a favourite subject matter for many a Vietnamese Photographer, Including some who sit like camels on the blazing hot sand for hours, waiting for the winds to sculpt the dunes into that perfect “Kodak moment”
Also of interest in the Fairy Spring (Suoi Tien), which is really a stream that flows sand and rock formations. It’s a beautiful trek to follow from the sea to its source, though it might be wise to hire a local guide. You can do the trek barefoot, but if you’re heading out into the big sand dunes, this is out of the question unless you have leather soles on your feet; sandals are even questionable during the midday sun.
Further afield there are some lovely lakes to explore. There is a small Cham Tower called Thap Poshaknu about 5km out of Phan Thiet on the way to Mui Ne. The tranquil Ta Ku Pagoda is 25km south from Mui Ne.
Mui Ne sees only about half the rainfall of nearby Phan Thiet. The sand dunes help protect Mui Ne’s unique microclimate, and even during the wet season (From June to September) rains tend to be fairly light and sporadic.
There is no scuba diving in Mui Ne, but when Nha Trang and Hoi An get the rains, Mui Ne gets the waves, Surf’s up from August to December. For windsurfers, the gales howl as well, especially from late October to late April, when swells stir over from the Philippine typhoons. In 2001, there were reportedly 240 days with a minimum wind speed of 12knots.
A narrow palm-lined road runs for about 10km along the Mui Ne seafront. Local addresses are designated by a kilometre mark measuring the distance along Rte 706 from National Hwy1 in Phan Thiet.
Place to Stay
Although Mui Ne has seen an extraordinary increase in the commercialisation and social ills of Nha Trang. Another distinct advantage to Mui Ne over Nha Trang is that early all local accommodations is riht on the beach front.
For budget travellers, there are several cheap place to stay, some of which hire out tents for around US10 (Including use of shared toilet and shower facilites). In the midrange, nice bungalows can be found for between US$15 and US$45. At Mui Ne’s pricier resorts you can expect all the trimmings, including satellite TV, IDD phones and minibars, plus breakfast included in the room rate.
Hight-/low season dates vary from from resort to resort, and rates are typically higher on weekends.
Place to Stay – Budget
Rang Dong (tel: 848645; km 19, Tents US$10, 12, double/quads with fan US$12/15, air-con rooms US$ 15-18) is a good budget place with friendly ftaff and a commendable on-site restaurant.
Thai Hoa MuiNe Resorts (Tel: 847320, email [email protected], km 18; Bungalows with shared/private toilet US$ 10,15) is a cheap and tidy place that has a nice sandy courtyard situated between two rows of basic bangalow-style rooms.
Nam Duong Hotel (Indonesia Hotel: Tel 848646 email: [email protected]; km 19 long-house//private room US$ 10-20) another friendly place, has 15 windowless rooms in a bamboo long house, and 11 rooms in a nearby concrete building.
Canary Resort (Formerly Huong Bien Mui Ne Resort, tel 847285; email [email protected], km 18; tentsUS$ 20/25 offers ultra-basic bungalows and basic air-con rooms in concrete buildings.
Hoang Di Guesthouse (Tel 847014, email: [email protected]. km 13 Bungalows with shared/private toilet US$18/25, air-con rooms US$ 25) has four very simple bungalows right on the seafront, one bungalow with private bath ( cold water only) and one air-con room in a concrete box.
Small Garden (Vuon Nho, tel: 847012, fax 847377 email: [email protected], km 11 room US$10 -15, Triple bungalows US$ 15-20, 6-8 person bungalow US$40) is run by swiss – Vietnames couple, Guests can sleep in a communal house, bungalows, in the open – air gazebo, or on the beach for a per person rate. Bungalow have private bath.
Hiep Hoa (Tel 847262, email [email protected]; km 13.3, rooms US$15, bungalow with sea views US$ 15-20) is fairly reasonable for the price.
Bien Da (tel 847282; km 12; bungalows US$ 15) is bettr known for its open-air restaurant, but also rents out simple bamboo bungalows with fan and cold shower. it’s cheap, but the beach in front is not the cleanest.
Place to Stad – Mid-Range.
Full Moon Resort (Trang Tron: Tel 847008, Fax 847160, email [email protected] , km13, tents US$10,. Bungalows US$ 20- 40 rooms US$45) is a popular place run by Phuong and her windsurfing French husband Poscal. Simple bungalows, come with large corner bathtubs, are decorated with sea shells and split coconuts. Rooms in the new two-storey house have huge bathtubs and sofa beds to accomodate extra guests. Rates for bungalows and rooms include breakfast. Full Moon also has tents for hire
The Aussie-run Mui Ne sailing club (tel 847440 email [email protected]. ard/de;ixerpp,US$30 -35) Features 36 spacious rooms and a wide open bar overlooking the sea. All rooms have en suite bathrooms and air-con, while deluxe room offer bath tubs and satellite TV. The reson blends Asian and European architecture and places a decided emphasis on good times and funky music.
Red Sun Seaside Resort (Tel 847387 email [email protected]; km 13 tents US$10, room US$ 25) is a quite spot with plenty of shade. Room rates include a breakfast of an omelette and fresh – baked pastries. Thisplace run by a French Vietnamese coffee roaster so you can be sure the Java is good. At the time we visited there was a French artist in residence here.
Mai Khanh (Paradise Huts;Tel 847177, email [email protected]; fan rooms US$ 20 – 25, air-con rooms US$ 25, Bungalows US$ 30) next door to Full Moon resort, has very basic fan rooms as well as Bungalows and air-con rooms
Vietnam – Austria House (Tel: 847047 km.13,5 email: [email protected]’ rooms US$ 15-20), next door to Mai Khanh, offers squeaky- clean rooms in a modern villa or wooden bungalows; there’s also a small swimming pool.
Bamboo Village Seaside Resort (Tel 847007, Fax 847095, email [email protected]; www.vietnamtourism.com/muine; km 11.8 low season bungalows US$ 45-60, Bungalows 21 Dec – 1 May US$ 55 – 70), close to Bien Da, this is a beautifully landscaped resort with attactive bungalows. there is also a swimming pool and a good restaurant on the premises.
Palmira Resort (Tel 847004, fax 847006; [email protected]; www.palmiraresort.com; km11; singles’doubles from US$ 39/49) offers large ferroconcrete villas with air-con, either in the garden or on the beachfront. All rooms have satellite TV and rates include breakfast. Facilities include two restaurants, four bars, a huge swimming pool, tennis courts, a sauna, a fitness room, billards, table soccer and a kiddyis play area.
Sea Breeza Resort (tel 847373, fax 847430; [email protected]; km13.7; double rooms/bungalows US$30/35) is a cosy place with finely manicured gardens. Comfy rooms and A-frame bungalows feature terracotta floors and air-con. The beach, however, disappears under high tide in the afternoon.
Thanh Binh Hotel (tel 847450; km15; air-con rooms 250,000d) is a lime green motel style place; OK at a pinch, if you can’t book elsewhere.
Places to Stay – Top End
Run by a German-French couple, Coco Beach (Hai Duogn Resort; tel 847111, fax 847115; [email protected]; www.cocobeach.net; km12.5; early May late Oct bungalows/villas US$65/130, Nov-early May US$80/160) is was the first proper resort in Mui Ne. There are pleasant thatched roof bungalows and villas, and activities include windsurfing, sailing, water-skiing, fishing and snorkelling.
Victoria Phan Thiet Resort (tel 847170; fax 847174; km9; [email protected]; www.victoriahotels-asia.com; US$120-170++; Internet rates US$80-95++), is a stylish resort with sea view cottages that are furnished to a “T”. There’s a nice terrace restaurant, two bars, a swimming pool, a fitness club, a massage room, a sauna and an indoor – outdoor Jacuzzi. Excursions from the hotel can be arranged by jeep, classic sidecar or Minsk motorbike.
Swiss Village Resort (tel 847399, fax 847491, [email protected]; www.phamch.com; km12; standard/sea-view rooms US$40/50, bungalows US$60, suites US$90) has 70 well-appointed rooms modelled on a traditional Vietnamese design. Facilities include a tennis court, a Jacuzzi and a pool with the Swiss flag emblazoned on the floor tile. From mid December to mid June, rates increase by US$10.
Blue Ocean Resort (Bien Xanh; tel 847322, fax 8477351; [email protected]; www.blueoceanresort.com; km12.2; bungalows US$55) is another stylish choice with thatched roof cattages, a bar in the swimming pool and an Irish pub.
Saigon Mui Ne Resort (tel 847303, fax 847307; [email protected]; www.phuhairesort.com; km8; early May mid Nov rooms US$55 villas from US$65 villas from $75) could be described as Mui Ne’s first “mega resort”. Swiss-Vietnamese run, this palatial spread has 19 villas and 38 rooms, and offers tennis court, a fitness centre, a game room, a beauty salon, massage and sauna rooms, a 600-sq-metre swimming pool andjet skis for rent. The Geneva Restaurant offers Vietnamese and European fare, while the wall of the Phu Hai Bar is modelled after Cambodia’s Angkor Wat.
The antithesis of Phu Hai Resort is Sanctuary Resort Club (tel 847232; [email protected]; km9; rooms US$80-160). Entry is via a long driveway and this secluded boutique resort has just two luxurious villas and one bungalow, each with its own private dipping pool. Appropriately named, it’s got decidedly “away from it all” feel, albeit for the wealthy recluse (as oppased to resort types).
Places to Eat
Beside the ubiquitous in house restaurants at the beach resorts, there are a hndful of interesting eateries in Mui Ne.
Dai Thong (tel 848968; km19; most dishes 25,000-35,000d) is a low key seafront place near the eastern end of the beach. Most people go there for the cheap seafood, but the restaurant also serves “special wild food” like wild boar, deer, pigeon, rabbit and frog.
Dung Su (tel847310; km10) near the western end of the beach is raised on stilts, and sits over water. Highly popular with Vietnamese, tasty seafood is sold by the kilo here, plucked fresh from tanks across the back wall.
Wherever tourists congregate, it’s only a matter of time before the Italians arrive to fatteneveryone up. Luna d’Autunno (autumn Moon; tel 847330; km12; salads from 30,000d, pizza from 50,000d, fresh pasta from 70,000d; open lunch & dinner daily) is an unexpected retreat serving authentic Italian fare like antipasto, salads, fresh pasta and great wood-fires pizza. Meanwhile, Goodmorning Vietnam (tel 847342), the popular Italian chain with eateries in Nha Trang, Hoi An and HCMC, have set up shop at the Mui Ne Sailing Club.
Beach bars that get hoppinng at night include the Mui Ne Sailing Club and Jibes. Both of these places also serve food. If you’re craving a Guiness, Sheridan’s Irish House is at the Bule Ocean Resort.
Jibes (tel 847405, fax 847160; [email protected]; www.windsurf-vietnam.com; km13) is a surf water-sports haven near the Full Moon resort. Run by an expat Frenchman, it rents state of the art gear like wingsurfers (30min/1hour/half-day/full-day US$5/10/25/40), surboards (US$5 per hour) and kite surfing boards (US$10 per hour). Check out its website for package deals. Jibes works in conjunction with Action Max (tel0913929137; [email protected]) an ecotourism and adventure sports outfit that organises trekking, canyoning and rock climbing trips in the area.
Getting there and Away
Nui Ne is 200km from HCMC (three hours’s drive). Many of the open tour buses cruising National Hwy 1 make a detour to Mui Ne. The cost from HCMC or Nha Trang is US$6. From Tuesday to Sunday there’s a comfortable shuttle service (one way/return US$9/16) by Mercedes van between the Blue Ocena Resort and sheridan’s Irish Pub in HCMC.
To best way to reach the beach from the highway in Phan Thiet is by xe om (50,000d) or you can rent your own bike for around US6 a day (ask at the Hoang Yen Restaurant). A local bus makes trips between Phan Thiet bus station and Mui Ne, but it is irregular and slow.
Mui Ne is a small enough to get around on foot or you canrent a bicycle from most hotels.