Mui Ne: Vietnam’s Water Sports Capital
Mui Ne is one of Vietnam’s favorite beach destinations. Located just 5 hours by bus east of Ho Chi Minh City, it’s easily accessible by the people living in the biggest city in the country. Mui Ne has now been built up into a long stretch of resorts and restaurants. The entire stretch, around 6 miles (10km) long, is essentially one road packed with buildings on both sides; the east side is on the coast and the west side is just across from the beach. Like Nha Trang, there is a large amount of Russians visiting and living here, so most signs are in Vietnamese, Russian, and English. Most of the places on the northern part of the stretch do not have a beach, as the water comes almost all the way up to the buildings. To the south, the hotels have more beaches out front, depending on the tide.
We found a great deal on a bungalow for the 3 nights we spend in Mui Ne. At Hong Di Bungalows, we paid just $15 per night on a place that was on the beach. Although the beach was small, the tables and chairs at the hostel were perfect to relax with a sea view. There is no better way to blog than with a sea breeze blowing and a Vietnamese iced coffee in hand!
Because of the amount of wind coming off the sea, kitesurfing and windsurfing are especially popular in Mui Ne. I had never known what kitesurfing was until coming here. It must be one of the toughest water sports to learn. Kitesurfing may be exactly what you think it would be; it’s essentially surfing on a board with a big kite pulling you around. It probably sounds simple. But putting this into action with wave after wave slapping you in the face means it’s a much bigger challenge. The key is understanding how the wind works and manipulating your kite to take you where you want to go. Trying to do all of this while getting up on the board is a lot.
I didn’t really have an interest in doing it, but Chika decided to do a 5-hour course over two days. She really enjoyed it but can attest to the difficulty of getting started. She definitely improved during her time. At first, she seemed to just get absolutely dragged around by the wind. But by the end, she had much more control and was even able get up a few times. There is no doubt that it would take hours and hours of practice to be comfortable kitesurfing. It seemed that all of the other kitesurfers (and there were a lot!) made it look very easy. Some would use the kite to jump 15-20 feet in the air before coming back down to the water. Others even could do flips and twists while jumping. Very impressive. It was very cool to be on the beach and see the 30 or 40 kites in the distance. Mui Ne is definitely the place to try it!
Mui Ne doesn’t just have a long coastline, but it also has a few other sites to see, as well. The Fairy Stream is a popular site, consisting of a reddish brown stream flowing through just below large red sand cliffs. Located just a block off the main resort road, the entrance to the stream starts out very shallow, not even ankle deep. Heading upstream, the water becomes deeper and deeper, until it hit almost waist high. At that point, we reached the small waterfall which wasn’t much to see. The highlights are the red sandy cliffs that tower over the stream. The cliffs are hard but some places are covered in soft sand, allowing you to climb up. A spot closer to the entrance has a large incline of soft sand leading up to the top of the dunes. It’s an incredible site to see; these sand dunes are so deserted even though they are very close to the coastline resorts. And if you didn’t see the ocean in the near distance, you’d think you were in the Sahara.
There are two other famous sand dunes in the area. The first and closest to the town of Mui Ne are the Red Sand Dunes which are located about 5 miles from our hostel. The others are uniquely named the White Sand Dunes and are located about 20 miles north of Mui Ne. Because of the distance and the heat, we decided to rent a scooter for the day which cost about $5.
We started out with the Red Sand Dunes heading out of town. The dunes were similar to those above the Fairy Stream. They were a bit red (but not as red as we imagined), were located just off a main road, and had large hills of sand. Many children waited at the entrance to try to get us to rent a small plastic sled to sand sled, but we decided not to. Instead, we walked back into the dunes for a bit, taking us away from civilization. The wind continually blew the sand as our footprints disappeared within minutes. Like the Fairy Stream, we could see the deep blue sea in the distance.
After about an hour or so, we continued north out of town and made our way along the coastal road to the White Sand Dunes. We arrived at about 4:30pm, a perfect time to see the dunes. The temperature has become much cooler and the setting sun provides perfect light as the shadows of the sand dunes become more and more exaggerated. These White Sand Dunes were the most impressive in Mui Ne; the hills of sand were much bigger and more vast here than the others. It was fun just to walk around, going up and down the dunes. Just before the sun went down, we jumped back on the scooter and headed back to Mui Ne.
We definitely enjoyed the time in Mui Ne. Not only does it have cheap accommodations right on the coast, but it also has other nice attractions like the Fairy Stream and the sand dunes. I didn’t know what to expect going into the beach town, but I was very happy with the three nights we spent there.