Plenty to choose from
Published/Last edited or updated: 24th November, 2016
Twenty years have transformed Mui Ne from a small fishing village to a hot-on-the-radar sun holiday destination. Five hours from Ho Chi Minh City and a regular stop on Open Bus tours, Mui Ne has 10-kilometres of white sand beach – more if you venture north along the coast. Here’s a roundup of where travellers can get their fill of beach time.
...but before we can get into the best spots, there is a long list of caveats. Mui Ne offers a different beach experience than other popular destinations in Vietnam such as Nha Trang, Da Nang and Phu Quoc. In many aspects, Mui Ne performs poorly in comparison. Accommodation and restaurants now line the 10-kilometres of coast but unless you have the means to stay at a beachfront resort, you’ll have to manoeuvre to find a spot to enjoy.
Most resorts (regardless of whether they have a legal permit or not) consider their beachfront to be private. Park your bum and you could be shooed away by security. We suggest you still give it a try – they may not care or notice if you’re discreet. It’s the only way you’re guaranteed to find clean white sand.
You can search for a non-resort patch but expect rubbish – or for it to be gone. Mui Ne is suffering from coastal erosion and in parts, high tide erases terra firma completely. In recent years some hotels have actually lost their beach. If you don’t care about sand, only swimming, then anywhere is possible but steer clear of the strip of bo ke, informal pop-up seafood restaurants that appear every evening. They don’t have proper facilities and all the cooking waste and grey water gets chucked into the sea. It just adds to the challenge for budget travellers to find a decent spot. In Nha Trang, Da Nang and Phu Quoc, tourist beaches are cleaned regularly, easily accessible and have free facilities such as rinse off showers and toilets.
Once you do find your ideal go-to sweet spot, it’s great. Mui Ne has some redeeming qualities such as chilled out beach bars ’neath picturesque coconut trees. They are informal affairs and away from the main drag. Enjoy some food and drink and relax in a sun bed, use their toilet and rinse-off shower. Check out Pogo Beach Bar and Grill at 138 Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street — it is open early until late.
Coco Beach Resort offers a day pass to outside guests, up to a limit of around 25 people per day. For 130,000 dong you get a lounger, towel and access to their generously sized section of beach. Drinks are reasonably priced (32,000 dong for a draft beer), and massage and equipment rentals are available. 58 Nguyen Dinh Chieu St, Ham Tien; T: (062) 3847 111.
The small public beach area is located at the western end of the tourist strip Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street, across the road from monstrous Sealink Ocean Vista Resort. The water is shallow, calm and clear and the piles of colourful basket boats provide ample photo ops. But the beach is packed on the weekend, drawing huge crowds from as far as Ho Chi Minh City. Kids and adults scream with delight as they frolic in the water, jet skis whizzing around. There are kayaks, SUP and such for rent but no chairs or umbrellas. With no bins or no toilets, the bushes at the back of the beach become both. It’s a lively scene. Relaxing? Probably not. Parking the motorbike should be 5,000 dong but unsuspecting foreigners are charged more.
We wish we could say the beach in nearby Phan Thiet is better. There’s a lot more room but it has heaps and heaps of rubbish (or at the least, it did when we visited).
The crowded public beach makes a good case for getting out of town and exploring north of Mui Ne. Head east on the desert highway and just past the red sand dunes is a long section of wild beach, then the road sweeps north to Hon Rom and Suoi Nuoc Beach. Hon Rom is popular with Vietnamese tourists, and there are restaurants and hotels catering for that market; Suoi Nuoc, on the other hand, will be more appealing to Western travellers. It’s miles of empty and accessible wind swept, white sand beach.
Interspersed between the eerie ruins of abandoned resorts is Longson Mui Ne Campground and Jibe’s Beach Club’s second location. The campground is a real backpacker haven and daytrippers are free to come hangout, use the beach, facilities, bars and restaurant without pretension. Jibe’s Beach Club is a more elegant affair, with indoor and outdoor dining/lounge, better food, beach chairs and equipment rental.
We highly recommend a daytrip north of Mui Ne; just keep in mind that it is breezier here than Mui Ne and during windy season from around September to February, it isn’t good for swimming – but ideal for wind sports.
It’s an easy drive up. 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. The final stop is a few metres from Jibe’s. Buses start early, the last bus around 19:00.
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.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.