Mui Ne – Phan Tiet
Mui Ne has long been considered the “Hawaii” of Vietnam. Its features are immense sand dunes meandering through kilometers of red, yellow and white, shady roads under coconut trees, beautiful rows of palm trees and cliffs battered by the waves of the sea. The beach is shallow and sloped, the water is clean and blue and the sun rarely hides behind clouds. The typical scenery of Mui Ne lies in the moving lines of golden sand caused by the wind and when they are seen from afar they look like moving waves. The scenery looks more fascinating at dawn, when young Cham girls in green dresses go to work. That’s why no photographer fails to visit this area.
Mui Ne is an ideal place for rest and relaxation. Mui Ne has known as “resort capital” of Vietnam with many resorts along the seacoast. Tourists can swim in the blue water of the sea, slip on the sand dunes, relax in swimming pool of resorts or kiteboard and windsurf. The beach has the best conditions for water sports because it has strongest and most consistent cross-onshore winds in Asia and the lowest rainfall in Vietnam. There are currently about a dozen kiteboarding centers in Mui Ne and the competition is fierce. In addition, tourists can go shopping at the Mui Ne Market for types of fresh sea-food and local specialties.
Mui Ne’s surroundings has some beautiful sceneries such as Suoi Tien (Fairy Spring) – deep and red canyons parted by twisting streams and echoed by the sounds of tropical birds; Ong Hoang Building and Poshanu Cham Tower Complex.
BEST TIME TO GO TO MUI NE
As always on the south coast of Vietnam it is best to visit during the dry season which runs from October/November through to April/May. However, Mui Ne has a unique climate that means it sees very little rain in comparison to nearby Nha Trang, Hoi An and even Phan Thiet (just 30kms south) thus making it a great choice year round.
GETTING TO MUI NE
The closest international airport to Mui Ne is Saigon or Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) airport. The easiest and fastest way to Mui Ne by taxi, about 5 hours, and probably cheaper than you think. There is nothing quite as reassuring, when arriving in a strange country for the first time, as a smiley man holding up a sign with your name on it when you come out of the arrivals hall, who then ushers you into the back seat of an aircon taxi!
Most overseas visitors reach Mui Ne via “Open Tour” buses that run between Ho Chi Minh City and Nha Trang. Most depart from HCMC between 7:30 and 9:00AM or PM (7:30AM for Sinh Cafe in air-conditioned bus and arrive at Mui Ne at about 1:00 PM, same for night schedule). In the opposite direction, buses typically depart from Mui Ne around 2:00PM or AM and arrive in HCMC at 7:00PM or AM~ five hours at night or in the morning. Joe’s Cafe is a good place to catch an outgoing night bus as it offers full service all night and you never know how late the bus will be. Outside HCMC, the coach will stop at a petrol station with a pretty large shop and stalls selling snacks, drinks and fruit.
The buses stop in the heart of the tourist strip in Mui Ne, so there is no need to take a taxi. The cost is about US$6 (105,000VND – Vietnamese dong) each way, and tickets are sold all over the tourist districts of both HCMC and Nha Trang. If you are traveling to HCMC from Mui Ne, you will most likely be put on an already full bus traveling from Nha Trang. Since you are not assigned a seat you may not be able to sit with any traveling companions, and at some of the less scrupulous travel agents you may not even get a real seat (we were put on a mat at the back of the bus with four other people).
Public buses from both destinations also travel to Mui Ne, though finding the departure stations and figuring out the schedule is difficult for visitors. It’s not worth the trouble unless you have a strong need to depart at a different time of day than when the Open Tour bus leaves. Travel agencies play dumb because they don’t earn anything from helping you find a public bus.
A train runs daily from HCMC to Phan Thiet, departing around 6:30AM and arriving five hours later. The return trip leaves Phan Thiet around 1:30PM. The cost is quite modest at around 60,000VND per person each way (similar to the bus). The train station in HCMC (Saigon Railway Station) is in District 3, about 3 km from the center. The railway station in Phan Thiet is about five km (80,000VND taxi ride) from the beginning of the Mui Ne resort strip, and taxis are abundant to take you there. The railway also sometimes runs a mid-sized bus from the station to Mui Ne for 25,000VND per person. Tickets are sold on the train, though the announcement might be made in Vietnamese only, and you need to watch carefully for the ticket sellers to pass by.
The train has regular carriages operated by the state railways, and sometimes other carriages booked and operated by private companies. The latter have somewhat larger seats for a higher price, but fall short of luxury. The regular carriages are a bit cramped for the western-sized body. When the train is not full, railway staff usually pack everyone into one carriage, leaving another one empty, and then run a side business selling “upgrades” to the quiet, empty carriage. The entire train will be jammed on on holidays.
Overall, the train is probably less comfortable and convenient than the open-tour bus, though it has some advantages – you get a better view of the countryside and avoid the endless honking of horns and lunatic driving of the bus drivers.
ATTRACTIONS AROUND MUI NE
SAND DUNES IN MUI NE
Mui Ne is well known for its massive sand dunes. It is their special shapes and colors that have made dunes here become a source of inspiration for many photographers.
Due to moving up and down into the wind, the sand dunes don’t have the fixed shape but varying from day to day, which never makes tourists feel bored when visiting here. Besides, what much help enhance the beauty of sand dunes in Mui Ne is their different colors such as gold, red, pure white that have made particular impressions on many visitors.
Mui Ne is not only the perfect spot for enjoying and taking pictures on beautiful enormous sand dunes but also the place for interesting games such as sand-sledding. The best way to reach the dunes is by Jeep. It is advised for tourists to come here in the early morning for sunrise or sunset as these time offers the best lighting for photography and the sand temperature is still cool to walk on Long beautiful sand dunes in Mui Ne have long been the subject matter in photography arts and become the favorite destination for tourists nationwide.
BEACHES IN MUI NE
Off Phan Thiet city 24 km to the north east is Mui Ne which is not only famous for enormous impressive sand dunes but for long beautiful beaches also. If tourists are looking for a site of relaxation, beaches in Mui Ne can be satisfying choices. Beaches’ beauty lies in clean blue water, yellow sands with semi-fine grains and shade-coconut tree lines.
Unlike beaches in other places, ones in Mui Ne remain untouched. Visiting here can be terrific chances for tourists to go swimming, to sunbathe as well as to play such interesting games as kite surfing and windsurfing. Some popular beaches in Mui Ne are Hon Rom, Ong Dia, Bai Rang, etc. In 1990s, resorts were begun to be built here and there have appeared many resorts of various sizes until now, which can bring tourist best services for resting. Beautiful beaches in Mui Ne are truly ideal destinations for tourists to take a rest after so many hard days at work.
TA CU MOUNT AND FOREST
Ta Cu Mount is near 650m high, located by 01A national highway across Tan Lap commune, Ham Thuan Nam rural district. Ta Cu Nature Reserve is not to be missed. It was formed on October 26, 1996 in Tan Lap commune, Ham Thuan Nam district, about 30 km South East of PhanThiet. The drive from Mui Ne is about an hour. This is an attractive climbing destination as well as the picturesque scenery in Binh Thuan. Around the year, the climate is pure, cool and the average temperature ranges from 180 to 220C. Ta Cu has charming scenery with diverse shaped marble blocks and hundreds of year old trees.
This place has Nui Pagoda, a historical architecture built in 1878 – 1880 on a height of 475m. The area of Nui pagodas includes 2 main pagodas, Linh Son Truong Tho and Long Don. The distinctive feature is the Statue of Buddha in Nirvada that is 49m high and considered the biggest Buddhist statue in Southeast Asia. Ta Cu Forest was recognized as a national natural reserve by the government in 1996. It is home to many rare plants such as barian kingwood, pterocarpus trees, medicinal plants, orchids, apricots, and bamboo. Tourists are advised to bring along a packed lunch, as it will take a whole day to visit the place.
PONASHU CHAM TOWERS
Poshanu Towers, located on Ba Nai Hill – 7 km to the northeast of Phan Thiet city, are one of the most precious and important cultural vestiges of the Champa Kingdom. Built in the late 8th century, this group of towers worships the Shiva Genie, who is highly respected by the Cham. Beside these three towers, there was once a temple, but it has been buried in the ground for more than 300 years. Inside the main tower, there is an altar, on which a couple of Liga-Yoni, a symbol of the existence of the Shiva Genie, is worshipped.
This group of Poshanu Cham tower temples was constructed in the manner of HoaLai art architecture – one of Champa Kingdom is ancient art architectural manners, but now there are only very a few of these tower temples left such as some ruins in My Son Holy Land, HoaLai group (Phan Rang) and PoDam one (Tuy Phong – BinhThuan) left and only the group of Poshanu Cham tower temples are comparatively integral. Poshanu Towers are among the oldest Champa towers that are not much damaged. Despite its small size, the Poshanu architecture is the work of talented artist and is the great combination between classic architectural techniques and decoration art of the Champa people.There are in total 3 towers: the main Tower A (15m high) located in the South and 2 sub towers including Tower B (12m high) on the North and Tower C (4m hight) on the East.
WATER ACTIVITIES IN MUI NE
Kiteboarding & Windsurfing
Mui Ne is quickly becoming a South East Asian Mecca for kiteboarding and windsurfing. Mui Ne has the best conditions in all of Asia for water sports because it has Asia’s strongest and most consistent cross-onshore winds and the lowest rainfall in Vietnam. Every day is a perfect day.
The area is often referred to by the water sports industry as “Mui Ne Bay,” although the bay is more correctly the “Bay of Phan Thiet” (Phan Thiet is the provincial capital of Binh Thuan Province and lies in the center of the bay). Depths in the bay are irregular, and a bank with depths of less than 5.5m, extends 1.5 miles west of Mui Ne. The true name of Mui Ne Beach is actually “Rang” but the tourist industry refers to it as Mui Ne, after the village on the point.
There are currently about a dozen Kiteboarding centers in Mui Ne and the competition is fierce. Resorts have taken note of the popularity of the sport, and new teaching centers are bound to pop up all over the beach. Just a few years ago you might see just a couple of kites and sails on the water during an afternoon. These days it can be quite a spectacle. Not all kite centers are created equal. There are a lot of inexperienced amateurs with fly-by-night instructors opening new centers at resorts every season. We’ve made your choice much easier by choosing only the best, certified, and most experienced kite centers.
SHOPPING IN MUI NE, PHAN TIET
Phan Thiet Central Market
If you got a chance to go to Mui Ne, Phan Thiet Central Market which is not very far from Mui Ne would be an interesting place to visit. The market, located on Ca Ty River, is the place for tourists to shop and to discover bustling trading activities of the locals. As the largest market in Phan Thiet Province, it supplies a wide variety of local stuffs such as seafood, fruits, sand paintings, etc. Especially, seafood here is fresh and cheap with such many types as shrimps, squids, fishes, snails, crabs. As for squids, there are also varied products including fresh squids, dried squids, frozen squids, one-sun-dried squids. Besides, Phan Thiet Central Market is a home of various popular dishes such as thick noodle soup with fish pastes, noodles in crab chowder, steamed thin rice pancake and so on. Paying a visit to this market will offer visitors a chance to know more about daily lives of locals, enjoy fresh seafood as well as buy some stuffs as gifts for family and friends at cheap prices.
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