Mui Ne is a town located 180 kilometres east of Ho Chi Minh City (220 kilometres using highway 1A). A ward of Phan Thiet, located northeast of the city centre, Mui means cape in Vietnamese and Ne means shelter. The local people call Mui Ne the shelter cape because they use it to shelter their fishing boats from the heavy wind.
From downtown Phan Thiet, the coastal road climbs over the slope of a hill in Phu Hai Ward and descends onto the long, sandy crescent of Mui Ne Bay in Ham Tien Ward. The formerly little-inhabited beach has seen some serious development in the last 20 years. Now it is a 10-kilometres-long strip of resorts that line up along the beach road.
Mui Ne Ward itself has two beaches: Ganh Beach and Suoi Nuoc Beach, both with an increasing number of resorts, shops and restaurants. Strong sea breezes make the beaches of Mui Ne very popular for kitesurfing and windsurfing.
You can find many resorts and hotels to choose from, ranging from US$4 per night for a tent at Longson Resort to suites in the Pandanus Resort or villas in Full Moon Village for over US$250 per night. Also, there are dozens of small guest houses in the town averaging around VND 200,000 or less than US$10 per night.
The famous red sand dunes (Doi Cat), are located in Mui Ne on the main coastal road. Phan Thiet’s main tourist attraction, it is about a half square kilometre of open sand on a hillside, staffed by dusty children with plastic sleds who will offer instruction and assistance if you want to slide on the sand.
There are also white sand dunes located 24 kilometres north of the red dunes. They are much larger than the red dunes, extending up to 20 kilometres along the coast, and vendors offer dune buggies, also called ATVs or quads, for rent to drive around the dunes.
Kitesurfing is offered by many outfitters and hotels. Kitesurfing instruction is available, starting at US$50 per hour or a beginner's package of five lessons starting at US$250. Peak season is from November through March, with strong winds often occurring on a daily basis from 10-11 a.m. until the late evening.
There are several kitesurfing schools along both Ganh Beach and Suoi Nuoc Beach in Mui Ne. All employ beach boys who will help you to start and launch the kite and it is common to tip the beach boys just under US$1 or VND 20,000 per day.
The most professional schools in Mui Ne are Source Kiteboarding, which runs lessons and rents equipment at Nam Chau Boutique Resort – Mui Ne Passion on Ganh Beach and Jibes 2, which runs lessons and hires equipment on Suoi Nuoc Beach.
Sailing is still new in Mui Ne. This water sport has been gaining popularity since Mui Ne is considered one of the best places in the world to sail. Classes are available and offered by Manta Sail Training Centre at 108 Huynh Thuc Khang for US$50/hour per person, taught by certified international and local instructors. This foreign-owned centre is the only sailing school in Vietnam. The sailing area around Mui Ne harbour is safe and quiet, with no swimmers and only a few kitesurfers.
The sea is warm, but can be quite rough during the windy season, with large waves and a strong rip tide. Since large waves normally emerge after 11 a.m., you might prefer to swim in the early morning hours, when the water is free of kitesurfers.
Full Moon Village Resort on Suoi Nuoc Beach and Nam Chau Boutique Resort – Mui Ne Passion on Ganh Beach in Mui Ne offer a host of watersports activities during the windy season from November to April, including kitesurfing, windsurfing, paddle surfing, and jet ski rentals. Nam Chau also offers other activities, such as volleyball and pool disco parties.
Near the west end of the town of Mui Ne is an overlook with a splendid view of hundreds of colourful fishing boats moored in the bay.
Along the Mui Ne Seawall (Bo Ke), you can purchase fresh seafood or steamed crabs and shellfish in the late afternoon and evening to eat on the spot at the restaurants.
If you want to learn to cook Vietnamese food, check out the cooking classes in the Pandanus Resort. You will learn to cook pho, shrimp salad, fresh spring rolls and a number of other specialties of the region. The cost for these cooking classes is under VND 400,000 per person and the food that is prepared is sufficient for two. The Pandanus also offers a cooking 'tour' wherein participants are first taken to the local market to buy the ingredients that they then cook.
There are four ATMs in Mui Ne. Three of them are in the centre of town near the market and the fourth is in front of the Pandanus Resort.
Motorbikes are the most common method of transport around the Mui Ne area. You can also rent motorbikes anywhere from VND 100,000 to VND 200,000 per day and bicycles at many resorts and tour agencies. Some resorts offer complimentary bicycles.
Since traffic is light, riding on two-wheels is a pleasant way to explore the surrounding area.
Alternatively, you can rent a jeep with a driver to visit the white dunes. This can be done at your hotel’s front desk or through any travel agency in Mui Ne.
There are a number of ways that visitors can travel to Mui Ne. The open tour buses from Ho Chi Minh City offer regularly scheduled trips between the Pham Ngu Lao area and Mui Ne. Both regular and sleeper buses are available. The cost is approximately US$6 each way.
Phuong Trang coach company will take all their passengers to the door of their hotel or resort after stopping at their office in Ham Tien. Sinh Tourist only ferries customers to resorts en-route to Nha Trang after a meal stop at their resort in Ham Tien.
A train runs daily from HCMC to Phan Thiet, departing at 6:50 a.m. and arriving at around 10:30 a.m. The return trip leaves Phan Thiet at 1:10 p.m. The cost is around US$8 per person each way. The railway station in Phan Thiet is about twenty five kilometres or more from the resorts in Mui Ne.
The cost for a taxi ride from the train station to your Mui Ne resort is between VND 350,000 and VND 450,000, depending on the size of the taxi and the location of your resort or guest house.
The train offers a great view of the countryside and avoids the endless honking of horns and seemingly erratic driving. The dining car sells food and beverages, including hot soup, and is a comfortable 'hang out'.
You might consider going from Saigon to Mui Ne by taxi, instead of open bus or train. The ride by taxi or private car usually takes around three-and-a-half hours and will cost US$70 to US$100, depending on your ability to bargain. There are a few toll roads on the way to Phan Thiet, so tell the driver, that you want a fixed price with all fees included.