Mũi Né, South Vietnam’s chill beach

It has happened. Gregor hit the wall. It’s not what you think. By hitting the wall I mean that he does not have enough to do so feels like he is wasting time. I told him this was exciting because it means he has recovered from being overwhelmed! However, now my task is to keep him busy, so I shipped him off to go mountain-biking (we’re now in Đà Lạt) while I write this post about Mũi Né.

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Mũi Né – Pretty typical beach town. A strip of buildings following a single road running along what in this case is quite a sizable beach, almost 10km long. It’s a popular destination for domestic tourists and Russians. If you are into kite-surfing this is the place to be. Having moved from Alameda, CA (one of the best places in the world to learn to kite surf) it feels funny to not be a veteran, but there is a pretty steep learning curve and I’m sure I would die.

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We got to Mũi Né from Ho Chi Minh by taking the Futa (Phuong Trang) bus, a well-known company that operates throughout Vietnam. Unlike the hop on/off tourist buses these aren’t directly catered to foreigners and so we were a bit unsure as to how it would go. It worked out just fine, though – the staff was very friendly and it’s a great deal with a 6 hour ride around $6! The most interesting thing is all the buses are “sleeper” setups which means 2 layers of 3 rows of almost-flat bunk things. As one would expect, a bit too small for 1.9m-tall Gregor but we managed fine. To keep the floors clean (the bottom bunks are basically on the floor) you take your shoes off at the bus door.

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Squeezing in on the sleeper bus!

Good things about Mũi Né:

  1. It’s a beach
  2. It’s warm
  3. Good seafood
  4. Sand Dunes
  5. Fairy Stream
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Selecting a fresh fish for dinner from a roadside display
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1-2 beers later, delicious grilled snapper is ready!

As far as beaches go, it’s good. It’s clean and you can get a good walk in as the beach is fairly long. It is pretty windy there and the current is pretty strong so it’s not the most gentle beach if you just want to lounge. We also packed headlamps so after dinner one evening we walked back to our hotel along the beach which was really entertaining because there were thousands of crabs feasting on all things dead, especially jellyfish, yum. They scattered when we got close except for the one that ran into Gregor’s foot.

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We did a half day tour which included red and white sand dunes and fairy stream. I did not expect to be impressed by fairy stream, but I think that was actually my favorite part of the tour. Basically you wade up a stream that has cut through the hard-packed dunes uphill. The sand has these dense formations that are quite impressive, especially with the contrasting red and white sand.

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Walking up the Fairy Stream. This is all sand!

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The white sand dunes were pretty good, although when you get there there are a line of ATV’s waiting for you to rent or give you a ride to the top of the dunes. Gregor wanted to drive one, but it was pretty expensive ($30 for a half hour) and the cheaper option was for them to drive us to the top and back. It still seemed pretty expensive, but when we told them it was ok we would just walk, the price came down, voila! Given that we had visited White Sands New Mexico just recently (which is an incredible place) the dunes were not overly impressive, but worth seeing since we were in town.

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The red sand dunes were smaller and less exciting. Except for the fact that the locals try to rope you into renting sleds to slide down the dunes. We read not to try this unless you were a kid and weighed nothing, otherwise it was hard to get moving. Since we are not kids and giants by Vietnamese standards, the locals did not even really try to sell us the sleds, they seemed to know that it would not end well.

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Mũi Né fishing fleet out past the red dunes

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Less-than-great things about Mũi Né:

  1. No bicycles. Would have been nice to ride around (it’s flat) but our hotel didn’t have any and other places wouldn’t rent them to us.
  2. No kayaks. Too windy to stand-up paddleboard, we thought kayaking would be a good option having read that you can rent them on the beach. However after walking the entire beach and asking every outdoor activity place, no one had them. Except this one place that had an aged inflatable mammoth for $10/hr which seemed ridiculous. They also had these round tub-like ‘boats’ that we never saw getting used and I’m not even sure we could have rented them, but given that they are round it seems unlikely we would have gotten very far.
  3. Very quiet: we like quieter towns but this was a bit too slow which I think contributed to numbers 1 + 2. It may have been the slow time of year when we were there.
  4. Russian as the second language: this isn’t so much bad as just strange. Apparently Mũi Né has been the target of Russian investment and subsequent group tours so it’s a bit of a destination for them, and all signs, menus etc are in a combo of Vietnamese and Russian.

Overall we had a relaxing time in Mũi Né and we’re happy we chose this as a beach destination instead of the party town of Nha Trang further north. We wouldn’t recommend going far out of your way for it but if you’re north of Ho Chi Minh and want a beach it’s an affordable stop!

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Top kebab on the trip so far is from Sinbad’s in Mũi Né

Next post will be about the high-country city of Đà Lạt!

Specifics: we stayed at 4 Oceans aka Bon Bien for $30/night including breakfast. It was fine – clean, and breakfast was good. The best food we got was at Bo Ke (seafood), Sinbad’s (kebab), and Ganesh (Indian). Other than seafood there isn’t much in the way of interesting Vietnamese food but we were really happy with both Sinbad’s and Ganesh. Joe’s Cafe is a good place to hang out with a beer or cocktail.

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