One of southern Vietnam's prime slices of beach real estate, Mui Ne beach is a 12 kilometre-long sweeping bay boasting a wide range of guesthouse and resort options, with the actual village of Mui Ne set at the far eastern end of the bay. With Saigon a mere four hours away, it makes an attractive destination for travellers looking for a quick beach holiday and Saigonese seeking a weekend retreat. The main resort strip is known locally as Ham Tien beach.
Twenty years of development has transformed the once sleepy fishing town into one of Vietnam's top tourist destinations and it stands as a mellow alternative to the lively party scene in Nha Trang. The area offers some luxury hotels, along with a wide range of outstanding mid-range resorts. While options for budget travellers have dwindled, some great cheap haunts are still worth seeking out.
Mui Ne is all about the beach and the semi-fine grain sand is well suited for swimming and other watersports. The bay is a popular destination for wind and kite surfers due to consistent onshore winds throughout the year. It's not uncommon to see kite surfers mixing it up with fishing boats throughout the day. Many consider Boracay in the Philippines and Mui Ne to be the best spots in Southeast Asia for wind and kite surfing, so if you are interested in learning, you could do much worse.
If you can peel yourself off the sand, a few places are worth checking out in the surrounds. The key attraction is the sand dunes, which can be visited by motorbike or with a tour operator. Tied in with a stop at the Fairy Stream and Poshanu Towers, they make for a good afternoon.
Most of the accommodation and restaurants are spread out over a 10-kilometre stretch of road called Nguyen Dinh Chieu. If you're accustomed to beach towns you can easily walk around, Mui Ne takes some adjustment. The western end of the beach, dubbed Russia Town by local expats -- is where you will find most of the higher end accommodation, with more mid-range and budget options available as you head east. The really cheap rooms are further east still, nearer to Mui Ne village, and if you stay there, a bike or motorbike rental will be invaluable.
Xe om are available, but can be hard to find later in the evening and along certain stretches of the road, so if you don't have your own transport, stay in the area where you also want to hang out. Most places can however call you a taxi, so you won't get stranded if you do go wandering. Mui Ne village isn't itself of much interest, with most people driving past it to get to the sand dunes.
Nguyen Dinh Chieu turns into Huynh Thuc Khang as the road gets close to Mui Ne town. As for addresses, even numbers are on the beach side and odd numbers, the other.
A centrally located 24-hour Vietcom ATM is found right next to the Saigon Mui Ne Resort, with a few others around the area as well. There's also an Incom bank closer to the village -- it's east of the road to the white sand dunes, 60 metres to the north, with a sign on the main road clearly marking it. Incom will exchange most major currencies and it also hosts a 24-hour ATM. They don't cash travellers cheques, if you're using those -- try one of the big resorts.
The main post office is in the nearby town of Phan Thiet, west of Mui Ne bay, plus the Swiss Village Resort has a 24-hour drop box; both locations offer a full range of postal services and long distance phone calls.
A medical clinic at the Swiss Village charges US$20 for a consult with a Vietnamese doctor who speaks English and Russian. Dr Dinh Polyclinic at 29A Nguyen Dinh Chieu is another option. The closest hospitals are in Phan Thiet but to treat major injuries or serious illnesses, head to Ho Chi Minh City.
Dr Dinh Polyclinic: 29A Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne. T: (062)3741 213. Open 24 hours.
Incom Bank: 05 Khu Pho Rd, Mui Ne. T: (062) 848 226, 383. Open Mon-Fri 07:00-11:30 and 13:30-17:00.
Main Post Office: 348 Huynh Thuc Chang, Mui Ne. T: (062) 849 799. Open daily 07:00-21:30.
Medical Clinic: Swiss Village Resort, 44 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne. T: (062) 847 497, (0918) 210 504. Open daily 09:00 -21:00, 24-hour service available.
By Vinh Dao