VIETNAM TRAVEL

 

South Central Coast

Quang Ngai - Around Quang Ngai - Sa Huynh - Quy Nhon - Around Quy Nhon - Song Cau - Tuy Hoa - Beaches North Of Nha Trang - Nha Trang - Around Nha Trang - Phan Rang Thap Cham - Ninh Chu Beach - Ca Na - Vinh Hao - Mui Ne Beach - Phan Thiet - Ta Cu Mountain

MUI NE BEACH

IDD Code:(+84) 62
Mui Ne has quickly been transformed from an isolated stretch of beautiful white sand to one long row of resorts. While there's still a fishing village at the east end of the beach, it's tourists that make up most of the population. The boom in top-end resorts hasn't killed the chilled surfie vibe, although it has brought an increasing number of up-market restaurants and souvenir shops. It's an unusual set up. as everything is spread along one 10km stretch of road - the accommodation is on the beach side, and the restaurants and bars mainly on the other. Mui Ne sees only about half the rainfall of nearby PhanThiet. The sand dunes help protect its unique microclimate, and even during the wet season (from June to September) rains tend to be fairly light and sporadic. Mui Ne's developing a reputation as the action capital of the coast. There's no scuba diving or snorkelling to speak of, but when Nha Trang and Hoi An get the rains, Mui Ne gets the waves. Surfs 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 ty-phoons. Kite-surfing is very popular. If this all sounds too much like hard work you can simply splash about in the clean, clear water. One major problem the area faces is the steady creep of coastal erosion. Many resorts have almost completely lost their beaches and rely on sandbagging to keep the little they have left.
Orientation
The road follows the curve of the beach, running roughly east to west. Until the explosion of resorts it went by the name of Route 706 with addresses designated by their distance in kilometres from Hwy 1A in Phan Thiet (to the west). Half the properties now follow a new numbering system, with Route 706 given proper street numbers and renamed Đ Nguyen Dinh Chieu on the west half of the beach and Đ Huynh Thuc Khang on the east half. Adding to the confusion, some refer to themselves by the old kilometre marking combined with the new street name.
Information
The main post office (Tell: 849 799; 348 Huynh Thuc Khang) is in Mui Ne vil-lage, but there's a more convenient branch at Swiss Village (Tell: 847 480; 44 Đ Nguyen Dinh Chieu).
Fami Tour Office (Tell: 741030; 1210 Nguyen Dinh Chieu) Local tours, internet access and cheap international internet calls.
Hanh Cafe/Ha Phuong Tourist (Tell: 847 597; 125A Đ Nguyen Dinh Chieu) Local day tours, open tour bookings, fast food and internet access.
Sinh Cafe (Tell: 847 542; 144 Đ Nguyen Dinh Chieu) Operates out of its Mui Ne Resort, booking open-tour buses and offering credit card cash advances. Tam Nam (Tell 742 457; 49 Nguyen Dinh Chieu) Friendly and cheap laundry service operating out of a small grocery store.
Sights
Mui Ne is famous for its enormous red and white sand dunes. These have been a favourite subject matter for many a Vietnamese pho-tographer, 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. If you visit, be sure to try the sand-sledding. You'll need a jeep to explore these properly, but be careful to agree on an itinerary for the tour, preferably in writing. We've heard com-plaints, particularly about "sunset tours' that cut short with the sun high in the sky and the drivers getting aggressive when challenged. Also of interest is the Fairy Spring (Suoi Tien), which is really a stream that flows through a patch of dunes with interesting sand and rock formations. It's a beautiful trek wading up the stream 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, you'll need leather soles on your feet; sandals are even questionable during the midday sun.
Heading west, Po Shanu ChamTowers (Km5; admission 2000d; 7.30-11.30am & 1.30-4.30pm) occupy a hill near Phan Thiet, with sweeping views of the town and a cemetery filled with candy like tombstones. Dating from the 9th century, this complex consists of the ruins of three towers, none of which are in very good shape. There's a small pagoda on the site, as well as a gallery and shop.
Activities
Jibes( 90 Đ Nguyen Dinh Chieu; 7-30am-6pm) is a surfer's heaven, of-fering lessons and renting state-of-the-art gear like windsurfers (one hour/half- day/ full-day US$12/30/45). surfboards (one hour/half-day/ full-day US$10/25/30), kitesurfers (one hour/ half-day/full-day US$30/75/95) and kayaks (one hour/half-day/full-day US$5/13/25). Insurance is extra.
Airwaves ( 24 Đ Nguyen Dinh Chieu), based at the Sailing Club (sec opposite), is another outfit offering kite-surfing, windsurfing and sailing lessons and equipment rentals.
Windchimes is a third option, operating out of Saigon Mui Ne Resort (56 Đ Nguyen Dinh Chieu) and Swiss Village (44 Đ Nguyen Dinh Chieu).
Sleeping
Mui Ne has become the escape of choice for ex-pats working in HCMC, meaning that the nicer accommodation can book out during weekends and holiday times. This seems to have encouraged a number of properties with midrange standards to demand top-end prices. At the budget end, prices have also begun to creep up a rude shock compared with the luxurious facilities you'll find for the same rates in Hoi An. The good news is that the sheer volume of options on offer means that there is still value for money to be found in every category - although this is one of the few places on the coast where it pays to book ahead.
BUDGET
Xuan Uyen (Tell: 847 476; 780 Nguyen Dinh Chieu; r US$6-12; Big on atmosphere, these cute bamboo bungalow rooms are simple and clean. Hoang Kim Golden (T140 Đ Nguyen Đinh Chieu; r US$6-25; The cheapie rooms here are very basic - shared bathrooms and no air-con. The rest cover a range of prices from good, clean budget options to newer rooms with bathtubs and minibars. There's a lot of bamboo decoration, plants in the courtyard, and two restaurants, one of which is on the beach.
Thai Hoa Mui Ne Resort ( 56 Đ Huynh Thuc Khang; r USS8-25; A cheap and tidy place, with two rows of bungalow-style rooms separated by an attractive central garden. Cheaper rooms have no air-con or hoi water.
Kim Ngan Guesthouse (km13;rUS$10-15;With bungalows whose tiled balconies jut over the water, this friendly family-run place is a good choice. All the rooms are similar, with a US$5 saving if you forgo air-con.
Hiep Hoa Resort ( 80 Đ Nguyen Dinh Chieu; r US$12-16; This is a great spot with a lovely garden and clean, attractive rooms - albeit without frills such as TVs, fridges and phones, or air-con in the US$12 rooms.
Nhan Hoa Resort (Tell /fax 847 371; 1280 Nguyen Dinh Chieu; rUSS12-26; The old wing is basic but the newer wing is comfortable enough, and the poolside garden area reaches to the sea. Back-up budget options;
Saigon Cafe Guesthouse (Tell:847 091; 168-170 Đ Nguyen Dinh Chieu; r US$5; These bamboo and thatched-roof bungalows are as cheap and humble as it comes.
Mellow (Tell:743 086; 117C Đ Nguyen Đinh Chieu; r US$6-12) On the wrong (nonbeach) side of the road, the cheaperrooms share bathrooms and toilets. The only treats are hotwater and free-standing fans, and a good social vibe in mebar-restaurant.
Vietnam-Austria House (T km13.5; r US$8-25; This established place has wooden bungalows and a block of simple rooms (the cheapest without hot water or air-con); there's also a tiny swimming pool.
MIRANGE
Sunshine Beach (820 Nguyen Dinh Chieu; rUS$15-30; Friendly and welcoming, this hotel has a large open lawn area, perfect for kids to run around. The rooms are immaculately clean and comfortable. Little extras include free wi-fi, DVDs and bottled water,
Lucy Resort (km18; r US$1845; This collection of thatched-roof bungalows open on to a peaceful coconut grove or, in the case of the most expensive rooms, a small pool. Don't expect air-con for less than US$25, but breakfast is included in the price.
Indochina Dreams (Tell: 847 271; fax 08-8322174; 74 Đ Nguyen Đinh Chieu; r USS20-25;) This dreamy place is on a small scale, but the big stone bungalows are very comfortable. Rooms are cool and well-appointed, and there's a good restaurant in front, serving the complimentary breakfast.
Mui Ne Resort ( 144 Đ Nguyen Dinh Chieu; r US$25-30;Owned by the open-tour originators Sinh Cafe, this is an incredibly easy option (the buses arrive and depart from here) and an attractive one at that. The rooms are clean, comfortable and reasonably priced, if a little on the small side, and the staff are friendly. The restaurant is huge, to accommodate the bus patrons who swarm into the place several limes a day on their compulsory pit stop. Expect a US$5 surcharge on the weekends.
Full Moon Resort (84 Đ Nguyen Dinh Chieu; r US$35-80; Most of the bungalows are set around the garden, but the beachfront bungalows have a beautifully traditional feel - with silk hangings, low square tables, wooden ceiling fans, slatted sliding doors and large corner bathtubs. Rooms in the colonial-yellow house have huge bathtubs and sofa beds to accommodate extra guests.
Sunsea Resort (50 Đ Nguyen Dinh Chieu; r US$50-70; The traditionally inspired round bungalows with pointed thatched roofs are dotted around a beautifully maintained large garden under the shade of coconut palms. The oval pool is particularly enticing.
Little Mui Ne Cottages (10B HuynhThucKhang;rUS$50-85; Lots of perks warrant the higher prices: comfortable cottages have lots of space around them, and the pool is big enough for swimming laps. Other special touches are a welcome drink upon arrival and complimentary bottled water, breakfast, internet and bicycles,Other midrange options;
Red Sun( km 13; r US$15; Red Sun has six simple clean rooms right by the water and a shady brick courtyard and terrace The beach disappears at high tide.
Suoi Tien Mui Ne Resort ( 60 Đ Nguyen Đinh Chieu; r US$15-45; The friendly owners give this place a family feel, although US$15 is a little pricy for a room without aiKon or hot water. Ngoc Suong Hotel Marina ( 94 Đ Nguyen Dinh Chieu; r US$33-65; The paintwork could do with some maintenance, but this little place is dean and comfortable.
TOP END

Sailing Club (24 Đ Nguyen Dinh Chieu; r US$55, bungalows US$70-100; Popular for its wide open bar and restaurant overlooking the sea, the Sailing Club has spacious rooms in a lush garden setting. The resort is a stylish blend of Asian and european architecture, and the comfortable, clean rooms are designed with bamboo and dark, matte wood.
Cham Villas ( 32 Đ Nguyen Dinh Chieu; rUS$95-120; Set in a beautiful tropical garden with an exquisite swimming pool, this luxury boutique resort only has 14 villas, so it books up quickly. Breakfast and wi-fi internet is included in the price.
Seahorse Resort ( km11; r US$110-120, bungalows USS132-190, sle US$253; Gorgeously designed, the flagstone pathways and narrow pond in the coconut-shaded garden follow the natural contours of the land. Each bungalow has four separate rooms surrounding an interior gar den. The rooms themselves are elegantly decorated with Vietnamese art and furnishings. and have exquisite open-air bathrooms.
Eating
Saigon Cafe (Tell: 847 091; 168-170 ĐNguyen Dinh Chieu, dishes 12,000-45,000d) Great Vietnamese BBQ food in a basic setting, with profundities written on the walls in beautiful calligraphy - although we suspect 'It is still very good if you can learn by your mistake to like butter' may have lost something in the translation.
Lam Tong (Tell: 847 598; 92 Đ Nguyen Dinh Chieu; dishes 12,000-50,000d)You can watch the food being pre-pared from your plastic seat in the fairy-light-strewn open-air dining area at the rear of this family house. The tanks of live seafood attest to the freshness of the reasonably priced meals.
Hoang Vu (Double Wheels Restaurant;Tell: 847 525; km12.2 & 121 Đ Nguyen Dinh Chieu; dishes 25,000-52,000d; lunch & dinner) Like most successful businesses in Vietnam this one's cloned itself into two restaurants. The atmosphere's romantically Asian in both and the staff provide casually attentive service and delicious, beautifully presented Vietnamese, Thai and Chinese food with some French influences.
Peaceful Family Restaurant (Yen Gia Quan; Tell: 741 019; 53 Đ Nguyen Dinh Chieu; dishes 30.000-70,000d;lunch & dinner) This friendly family eatery serves wonderful Vietnamese cuisine in a lovely open setting.
Good Morning Vietnam ( km11.8; mains 60,000-105,000d; lunch & dinner) This is another in the popular chain of Italian eateries- These guys have had the excellent idea of offering free hotel pick-ups to bridge the distance of the strip.
Drinking
No surfie town would be complete without a smattering of beachside bars and Mui Ne doesn't disappoint on this front.
Pogo (Tell: 0909-479 346; 138 Đ Nguyen Dinh Chieu) A fun, open-air bar decorated with colourful infantile paintings - it has a pool table, big sound system and bean bags.
Mellow (Tell:743 086; 117C Đ Nguyen Dinh Chieu) Run by an English-Vietnamese couple, this place is popular with the backpacking/kitesurfing fraternity. It also has a pool table, with a coo! bicycle/lighting feature.
Jibes (Tell: 847 405;90 Đ Nguyen Dinh Chieu) Decorated with surf boards, this one's an old favourite. There's a pool table here as well.
Hot Rock (Tell: 847 608; 12.5km) Another popular place with a pool table, the Hot Rock also serves good food and plays some excellent music.
Gecko (Tell: 741033; 51 Đ Nguyen Đinh Chieu) An upmarket option with lots of fancy cocktails and, yep, there's a pool table
Sailing Club (Tell: 847 440; 24 Đ Nguyen Dinh Chieu) Not as raucous as its sister in Nha Trang, the Mui Ne incarnation is a stylish place to hang out.
Getting There & Away
It used to be that Mui Ne was quite isolated and could only be approached by an 11km diversion from Hwy 1A through Phan Thiet. Recently a new road has opened, heading northeast from the eastern end of the beach, connecting back to Hwy 1A halfway to Ca Na. This scenic stretch, past deserted beaches and a beautiful lake ringed with water lilies. greatly reduces the northward journey and allows the open-tour buses to pass through Mui Ne without backtracking. These buses are the best option for Mui Ne, and Sinh Cafe and Hanh Cafe both have daily services to/from HCMC (US$6, four hours), Nha Trang (US$6, five hours) via Ca Na (60.000d, 11/2 hours) and Dalat (US$7, 51/2 hours). A local bus makes trips between Phan Thiet bus station and Mui Ne, but it is irregular and slow. The best way to reach the beach from the highway in Phan Thiet is by xeom(50,000d).
Getting Around
Mui Ne is so spread out that it's difficult to get around on foot There are plenty of xe om drivers to take you up and down the strip; no trip should cost more than 10,000d. Given that the area isn't highly populated and it's not on the main highway, this is not a bad place to hire a bicycle or motorbike (enquire at your hotel or at the travel agencies). However, a German tourist on a motorbike was killed by a bus on this stretch in 2006, so don't be complacent.