Mui Ne beach sits in the heart of the Binh Thuan Desert. It's the driest spot in South East Asia.
It's also an area with some of the most beautiful and overlooked beaches in Vietnam.
I left Saigon at 12pm in the afternoon. 12pm is when the first bus departs from Ho Chi Minh City, in the South of Vietnam.
3.6 hours later the bus dropped me off at my destination before continuing on to Nha Trang and Northwards.
There are two daily bus departures from Ho Chi Minh City to Mui Ne beach. The first leaves at Noon and the other departs at Midnight.
It didn't make any sense for us to arrive in Mui Ne at 3am with no hotel booking. I also know that the bus drivers use the open roads of the night to practice their Formula One driving skills.
No, Thanks. We took the 12pm departure.
You can choose to take the Government maintained bus or the Private tour bus. The Private tour buses will pick you up at your hotel and you can usually buy your ticket from the reception desk of your hotel or Guesthouse.
The ticket will cost between $5USD-$7USD.
If you are staying in the Pham Ngu Lao area of Saigon then this is the easiest option.
The Government is Super cheap at under $3USD. It's just as nice as the Private bus with air-con and toilets and in some cases the Government owned buses are newer and better maintained. But you'll have to get yourself to the bus station in Saigon.
Xo Viet Nghe Tinh St.
It's not far in a taxi from District #1 (Pham Ngu Lao) but you will also have to go there to buy your ticket a few days before your intended departure date.
Or just pay a travel agent to do it for you.
I took the Sihn Cafe tour bus and bought my ticket at Happy Tours on Bui Vien street in the Pham Ngu Lao area of Ho Chi Minh City (District #1).
They charged me $5USD when my hotel wanted $6USD. I saved a dollar! But it is never just about that.
While searching for the better prices I get to meet more people and walk more City streets than I would If I wasn't so cheap.
So, I have embraced my inner cheapness. I have learned a lot more about how things work while hunting down the best bargains.
If you run into any problems getting a bus ticket, you can give "Chi" a call (Owner's Name) at Chi's Cafe @ 090 364 3446.
She will sort you out on just about anything from renting you a motorbike, doing visa renewals or getting tour bus tickets. She has taken good care of me over the last 3 years.
She does not always have the best prices in town but she was always fair with me. And she serves an excellent 'Aussie Burger' in her Cafe.
40/27 Bui Vien Street.,
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
If you rent your own motorbike, it is a straight haul along National Highway No.1 (Don't tell "Chi" that you're taking the bike out of the city!).
Most Travel Agents in Ho Chi Minh City will tell you that ALL the rooms in Mui Ne are booked. But they always seem to have the last available booking in case you want to book it now...with them.
The rooms are never fully booked. Unless you are heading up to Mui Ne beach during the Vietnamese New Year (Tet). The Vietnamese New Year is held at the same time as the Chinese New Year during the full Moon in late February or early March (Depending on when the Full Moon is out).
Also, from November through March is the Windy Season. During the windy season Mui Ne beach is crowded with kite boarders and wind surfers from around the globe. They also fill up the available rooms quickly.
We asked the bus driver to let us off South of Mui Ne City just past the Hai Au Resort. The resorts are so far apart that in many cases you have to hire a taxi to get you from place to place.
The driver let us off in a great area. There were 3 hotels side by side and each had small bungalows on the beach and each charged $8USD-25USD a night.
We took the cheap one so there was no air-conditioning but the bathroom was nice, the room clean and we could hear the waves at night and well...that's my personal form of heaven on Earth.
Once we set our bags in the bungalow, we changed into our swim trunks and ran out to the beach. The beach slopes gently into the sea with a desert-type fine sand that is splendid. The temperature of the water was just below air temperature so that when you dive in, it is refreshing without being a shock to the system.
We were there for hours just swimming, drying off in the sun fro our wood sun chairs, then swimming again. I was very happy to find such a place in Vietnam that so few people seemed to know about.
We had dinner that night in the hotel and then turned in early.
We rented a motorbike from the Guesthouse the next day. They only asked for our passports for collateral and nothing else except the $5USD per day rental fee.
Lucky for me as I don't have a driver's license nor does Lin. But we were handed the keys and set off with an empty tank of gas and some rudimentary directions.
Our destination was the Red Sand Dunes and the White Sand Dunes. We set off before noon, heading North along the main road that runs parallel to the coastline. Go North and and you can't go wrong because even getting lost is a great time!
As you drive North, away from the Center of Town, you will pass Hai Au Resort. The road is narrow and bumpy in some areas. It gets most hectic as you come into the fishing village where the vessels unload their fish for processing. The stench in the air is a beacon to head for.
You'll see Mui Ne Bay (Or Bay of Phan Tiet) dotted with fishing boats on your right-hand side. It's a great place to stop for a photo or just to look at the sight of so many fishing boat anchored so close together in the tiny Bay.
From there we kept heading North on that same narrow road until we saw a Petrol Station on the left-hand side of the road. We stopped in there because no Motorbike is ever given up for rent with a full tank of gas.
$2(USD) or 32,000(Dong) bought us enough gas to fill the tank. (Get a currency converter here.)
Moments after you pass the filling station, you'll come to a fork in the road. Follow the road that veers to the left.
You'll know you're on the right path if the road suddenly opens up into a modern-looking freeway. You should see the Mui Ne Market on your right-hand side also.
Just stay on that road and follow the clear signs pointing the way. You'll come to the Red Sand Dunes on your left. The Dunes look exactly like the massive sand dunes in the Namibian Desert in Africa but in miniature. They are interesting and I recommend a climb to the top to get some good photos of the surrounding area.
When you get back on your motorbike, keep heading in the same direction and you'll come across a view like the one in the video below:
As you can see in the video, the beaches in this part of Mui Ne were deserted. We drove out to the furthest end of the beach. The most spectacular thing was how lonely and untouched so many miles of these beaches were.
On the same road you'll come across some excellent Hotels that serve superb seafood.
The only complaints I have about Mui Nui is that things are too far apart, the pizza at "Good Morning Vietnam" is expensive and there is a lack of nightlife.
Kite Surfing and Windsurfing shops do equipment rental for varying rates and offer hourly instruction for $10USD-$30USD.
The three best are:
"Jibes" is at 90D Nguyen Dinh Chieu (ph.(062) 847 405). They offer organized Kite Surfing and Windsurfing trips. They host the popular Vietnam Fun Cup* each February (9th annual is Feb 22-23, 2008). (*A big Windsurfing and Kite Surfing Competition.)
Bau Trang, or the White Sand Dunes, are an immense Saharan range of golden and snow-white dunes, 45 minutes drive from Mui Ne.
Early Morning Fishing watch
Just once, you have to head to the beach very early in the morning. Do it at 5am and you won't regret it. All the fishermen come out as the sun rises to throw their nets out into the surf, pulling them back with squirming fish caught in the net.
Watch Lin save one of the fish from a fisherman's net. She threw it back into the ocean to the chagrin of the fisherman.
It is the color of the sky that I find most impressive. It was like an enormous ripe orange exploding high above so that everything was lit up for them to see better.
Wow, that was deep. I find it hard to describe some of these things but that's what I love about the videos. You can see it for yourselves.
Ham Tien Market in the center of Mui Ne beach serves darn good food for great prices. It's at its finest during breakfast at 9am in the morning. The coffee is fantastic though you have to get there before 11am if you want breakfast.
The Mui Ne Village market is a great place to get a cheap dinner or late snacks. It's only open in the evenings starting at 5pm and closing at 10pm).
There is a bus that leaves at 10am in the morning and another that leaves at 6pm in the evening. Those are buses destined for Ho Chi Minh City. If you are going North then Nha Trang will probably be your next destination.
Buying your tickets through your hotel or Guesthouse is a good way to go. If you have built up a good relationship with the owners of the Guesthouse then they'll usually give you the tickets at cost. It pays to say hello to the owners of your guesthouse if you get the chance.
From Nha Trang you'll have many more train and bus destinations open to you.
QUESTION: "Where should I Go If I get Sick?"
ANSWER: The Medical Clinic at the Swiss Village Resort. They are at 44 Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street, Mui Ne. Phone them at (062) 847 497 during office hours or at 091 821 0504 for an emergency. The office hours are from 9:00am to 10:00pm daily. A 24-hour service is available in case of emergency.
But there is no fully equipped hospitals in Mui Ne. The nearest hospital would be in Phan Tiet City, which is about an hour away in a bus or less in a car.
QUESTION: "Is there a Bank so I can get Money or change Money?"
ANSWER: Yes, there is. Incom Bank is at 5 Khu Pho Rd, Mui Ne.
QUESTION: "Where is the Post Office in Mui Ne?"
ANSWER: You'll find the small Post Office at 348 Huynh Thuc Chang Street, Mui Ne.
QUESTION: "I'm an avid Scuba Diver. I heard there was some great diving to be done in and around Mui Ne and Phan Tiet. Who can I contact?
ANSWER: Ca Na & Vinh Hao are renowned in this part of Vietnam for diving enthusiasts. Vinh Hao sits atop a huge mineral deposit. Upwelling contributes to the seeping of the minerals into the bay, making for some of the healthiest and most colorful coral reefs in the country.
There are 147 different species of coral and the rich waters attract Crustaceans of all variety as well as a huge population of varying species of fish.
In Vinh Hao,
They do it right here. But it is not cheap. For an entire day of diving plus a room and three meals will cost you $130USD. You'll stay in a gorgeous bungalow that overlooks the Bay and you will have the option to join the night Dive (Extra Cost, of course).
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