Smaller and more chilled out than the other southern beach cities of Da Nang and Nha Trang, Mui Ne appeals to travelers who’ve had enough of massive groups of tourists and the raucous party scene.
Mui Ne is a fishing village of roughly 25,000 people and packs a punch for such a small place. It houses some of the most scenic nature trails in the southern part of the country in addition to the famous desert-like sand dunes that sweep majestically along the coast. It’s also possibly the best place to kitesurf in all of Asia.
It certainly wouldn’t be difficult to find more positive points about Mui Ne, however the four things listed below are our favorite reasons for visiting:
1. Ride the famous sand dunes
The number one biggest attractions in Mui Ne has to be the iconic sand dunes. The Red Dunes are probably the most striking due to their vivid color, however the White Dunes are more impressive in terms of size. Both are worth a visit when in Mui Ne because they are drastically different to one another.
The most spectacular aspect of the Red Dunes, just 20 minutes outside of Mui Ne, is undoubtedly their spectacular color. The way the brilliant red sand contrasts with the bright blue sky is breathtaking. Catch the sunset here and the colors are sure to be even more mesmerizing. The White Dunes are not as easily accessed – they are roughly an hour drive from the Mui Ne center. However, they are bigger, higher and most visitors say they are more dazzling than the Red. The way the pristine white sand meets the crisp blue sky creates an infinite horizon that’s ideal for pictures. The White Dunes are also constantly shape-shifting due to the strong winds coming off the water.
* You can rent ATVs (4-wheel vehicles) at both sites. This is the easiest and most efficient way to explore the dunes, although walking is perfectly acceptable.
2. Wander through Fairy Stream
A beautiful natural landmark, the best part about Fairy Stream is its complimenting color scheme. The red rock cliffs on one side and emerald-green jungle on the other create a perfect contrast. With the radiant blue sky above and the peaceful, ankle-deep stream below, it’s easy to capture no-filter-needed Instagram pictures.
A tour here includes kicking off the shoes and socks and walking barefoot through this peaceful oasis. Feeling the soft, red clay of the stream bed between your toes while listening to the peaceful sound of the babbling stream is a rare and serene experience.
Entrance to the stream is free and it takes about an hour to complete the full loop. Scramble to the top of the rocks near the end for a sprawling view above the lush greenery overlooking the flowing red water.
3. Take kitesurfing lessons
If you’re up for something a little more adventurous than wandering around streams and sand dunes, then you’d better make your way to the beach. Known for its strong and consistent winds, Mui Ne is Vietnam’s kitesurfing hot-spot. In fact, it’s known as the top spot for this water sport throughout all Southeast Asia.
If you’ve already taken kitesurfing lessons, then there are several beaches that are appropriate for catching some wind. However, some are for more advanced and confident surfers. If you’re a beginner or feel a little unsure, start at Mui Ne’s main beach or ask for advice from the kitesurfing shops.
If you’ve never surfed before and want to give it a try, you’re in luck. There are many kitesurfing schools right on the beach that offer lessons.
Word of warning: there are many unprofessional operators in Mui Ne! Don’t go with the cheapest priced course. Stick to the recommended schools that have good reputations. Jibe’s Beach Club and Mui Ne Kitesurf School both have licensed and certified instructors. Also remember that you’ll need more than a few days to complete a full beginner’s course.
4. Visit a fishing village
At its core, Mui Ne is a picturesque fishing village that’s grown into a tourist destination thanks to its surrounding beauty and natural attractions. So, although taking to the dunes, streams, and water are all essential parts of experiencing Mui Ne, it’s also important to appreciate the humble roots of this now popular tourist destination.
The Mui Ne Fishing Village is marked by the numerous boats bobbing just off the shore of the beach. It lies just a few kilometers outside of the city center, located just below a rocky outcrop off the main coastal road. This natural viewpoint is the perfect platform for viewing the hundreds of brightly colored traditional fishing boats moored in the shallow water. The round basket boats are especially interesting to see.
Venture down onto the sand and discover the local fish market in full swing. Here you can buy the fresh seafood and have it cooked on the spot. A visit here is necessary if understanding the simple beginnings of Mui Ne and its residents is the goal.
What makes Mui Ne such a great destination is the variety of things to do. It’s the perfect place to post up for 4-5 days if you’re traveling with a group of people who want to do different things. There’s white-sand for the beach bums; kitesurfing, windsurfing, and ATV tours for the sporty; hiking and trekking for the active; and authentic culture for the intrigued.
Simply put, Mui Ne is a one-stop-city for those who want a sampling of the varying attractions in Vietnam.