Beachfront backpacker haven
Cheap. Beachfront. Backpacker. Music to your ears? Set on a virtually empty stretch of white sand beach, Longson Mui Ne Campgrounds is the Club Med for backpackers travelling on a shoestring. Whether you prefer a bricks and mortar air-con dorm, an open air dorm or a tent on the sand, it will cost you chump change.
Imagine driving along a quiet, narrow coastal road full of the skeletal remains of abandoned resorts and stumbling upon a bustling village of travellers – and we do mean a village. There are people coming and going, dining, playing pool, sleeping off their hangover, swimming or just hanging out, chewing the fat with others. Longson Mui Ne is a social hive, with 90 plus people a night, 120 in high season – that is a lot of humans. They are often drawn here by word of mouth alone. In its current iteration, the campground/beach club has only been around for a year and isn’t found in any of the traditional guidebooks.
First, the accommodation. The open-air dorms are set in a large pavilion with bamboo blinds that offer some privacy while still allowing a breeze in. The beds are built out of stacked pallets topped with a mattress and each comes with its own mosquito net. There are also dorms with double beds for couples who will hopefully not engage in coupling while others are trying to sleep. Air-con dorms are basic but cold, with bunks (eight-beds) and the shared bathroom ensuite.
Tents are lined up on the sandy lawn and there are a few available right on the beach. They come with a mattress, pillow and blanket. The shared bathrooms are large, have unheated showers and are a decent level of cleanliness.
There’s a surprising mix to the guests. When we visited there was a Vietnamese school group doing a team building camp. The property’s Vietnamese restaurant caters to tour groups and there were a few buses doing a lunch stop. But undeniably, the main market is the foreign budget backpacker crowd and the population swells on Friday, when dorms drop to US$4, tents to US$1 per person. Expect a party.
Big wooden lockers are large enough for a backpack (locks are available), plus there are charging stations for electronics, spotty WiFi, a pool table, foosball, several bars and hangout spots everywhere – loungers, bean bags, tables, sofas. Every day there are activities and food and drink specials: movie and trivia nights, beach bonfires, poker tournaments and menu items for just a dollar. We’re sceptical of quality, but hey, for some it’s just fuel. The only alternative dining is to head to Jibe’s Beach Club down the road (where you can also arrange for good kitesurfing or windsurfing lessons) or travel four kilometres to Hon Rom, a coastal area built up for Vietnamese tourists.
The downside? This place is what it is: unheated shower, party, people, no local eats or local anything for miles — if any of this review makes your toes curl, then this is not for you. You will not get five-star or even one-star service for one dollar accommodation. The only reasonable disappointment is that swimming in the ocean is seasonal. Suoi Nuoc is even breezier than Mui Ne and during the windy months from around September to February it’s too wavy to swim. Also, we imagine that sleeping in a tent during rainy season downpour isn’t so fun.
If you arrived in Mui Ne and imagined budget beachfront accommodation, you would have been disappointed. Most of Mui Ne’s beach is either taken by pricey resorts or erosion, with limited areas the public can use. So Longson Mui Ne will fulfil the dreams of some backpackers.
Longson Mui Ne Campgrounds, Restaurant and Beach Club is located on Suoi Nuoc Beach, 16 kilometres northeast up the coast from Ham Tien village (Mui Ne’s tourist strip), just past Hon Rom. By motorbike from Mui Ne, travel east on the highway DT716. Eventually there is a fork, with hotel signs pointing you to exit right to follow the narrow coastal road. Or take the white and blue local bus #1 (“Tien Loi – Mui Ne – Suoi Nuoc” in the window) which departs every 20-30 minutes, costs 16,000 dong and goes right past the property. Buses start early until the last bus around 19:00. Any buses coming from the north headed to Mui Ne will pass – the driver can drop you off and it’s a short walk from the highway. Of course, taxi from Mui Ne is always an option.
Address: 706 St, Hon Rom, Long Son, Suoi Nuoc Beach
T: (090) 268 6489; (098) 744 6699;
Coordinates (for GPS): 108º20'26.53" E, 10º58'22.25" N
See position in Apple or Google Maps: Apple Maps | Google Maps
Room rates: Under US$10
What we were quoted as a walk-in.
|Dorm fan cooled|
Open-air (not fan). Friday: $4.
Cindy Fan is a Canadian writer/photographer and author of So Many Miles, a website that chronicles the love of adventure, food and culture. After falling in love with sticky rice and Mekong sunsets, in 2011 she uprooted her life in Toronto to live la vida Laos. She’s travelled to over 40 countries and harbours a deep affection for Africa and Southeast Asia. In between jaunts around the world, she calls Laos and Vietnam home where you’ll find her traipsing through rice paddies, standing beside broken-down buses and in villages laughing with the locals.
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