Ward of Vietnam

Mui Ne is a traditional fishing town with approximately 25,000 residents in Bình Thuận Province in Southern Vietnam that became a ward of the City of Phan Thiết in 1999. The name Mui Ne is often erroneously used as the general name for the main resort area in Phan Thiet along Mui Ne Bay, 220 km northeast of Ho Chi Minh City. The wards along the coast have been transformed into a resort destination since the mid 1990s, when many discovered the area during the solar eclipse of October 24, 1995. Most notably, tourism has developed in the area from the city center of Phan Thiet to Mui Ne, including Phu Hai and Ham Tien wards along Phan Thiet Bay (also covered in this article). The dense resort area along Phan Thiet Bay and beyond now boasts over two hundred beach resorts and hotels, as well as guest houses, backpacker hostels, restaurants, bars, shops and cafes.

Understand

Mui Ne Harbor
Beach front

Northeast of Phan Thiet the coastal road climbs over the slope of a Cham tower-topped hill and descends into the long, sandy crescent of Mui Ne Bay. The formerly little-inhabited beach southwest of the historic fishing village of Mui Ne proper has seen some serious development in the last few decades. Now it is a 15 km long strip of resorts that line up like pearls on Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street, shaded by coconut palms. The main resort strip lies between the addresses of 2 and 98 Nguyen Dinh Chieu and is called Ham Tien. Like Mui Ne it is now a ward of the city of Phan Thiet which stretches over 50 km of coastline to the south and to the west of the original city center of Phan Thiet.

At the shoreline, nature moves the sand around, much to the dismay of some developers. Beach sand tends to migrate up and down the coast seasonally, leaving some spots with just a concrete breakwater rather than sandy beach. There is always a good sandy beach somewhere along this 15 km beach. Accommodations at higher addresses tend to be smaller and less expensive, somewhat removed from the main tourist section and more mixed in with local life. If a sandy beach is important to you, some research is called for before booking in the area, especially after the tropical storm season. This research is important as without the beach there is little for non-kite-surfers to do in Mui Ne.

Quite a few bargain and "backpacker" hotels have popped up on the inland side of the road, across from the shoreline resorts. If you stay on the inland side, you will need to pass though one of the resorts to reach the beach, which might or might not result in some hassle from the guards. The resorts jealously guard their lounge chairs and palapas, though the beach itself is open to everyone.

Mui Ne Bay has become very popular with Russian tourists. Major Russian tour operators who bring busloads of tourists to Ham Tien and Mui Ne from the airports in Cam Ranh and Ho Chi Minh City have bought up several hotels along the main road and fill them year-round with Russian charter tour groups. English and Russian menus are common in most restaurants, and many stores and hotels are advertising and catering specifically to the Russian-speaking tourists, especially along the lowered numbered area of the strip on Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street which some guidebooks have rebaptised "Little Moscow."

In 2018 the Prime Minister approved the master plan to develop Mui Ne (Binh Thuan) as a National Tourist Site with a size of around 14,760 ha by 2025, with an orientation towards 2030. An area of 1,000 ha has been defined as a core area for the establishment and development of functional areas for the tourism sector. Mui Ne National Tourism Site will be developed in an environmentally responsible way with a focus on protecting existing natural resources and environments, landscapes, and in particular the ecosystem in the Bau Trang tourist area (White Sand Dunes) as well as the sand dunes along the sea shore.

Get in

Map of Mui Ne

Unless you arrive directly by tourist or open tour bus, Phan Thiet to the west is the main transport hub for this region and Mui Ne.

By bus

Most foreigners will reach Ham Tien and Mui Ne via "open tour" buses that run from Ho Chi Minh City, Da Lat, and Nha Trang.

Most buses depart from Ho Chi Minh City between 07:30 and 09:00 and arrive at Ham Tien and Mui Ne at about 13:00. In the opposite direction, buses typically depart from Mui Ne and Ham Tien around either 14:00 or 02:00 and arrive in Ho Chi Minh City 5 hr later.

Alternatively, you can travel through the next larger city, Phan Thiet, which is just 10-20 km west of Mui Ne and has connections into all directions and also covers smaller towns and cities that are not offered by the usual tourist buses. Local buses connect Phan Thiet and Mui Ne for 8-11,000 dong — see below.

By train

At Phan Thiet railway station

A train runs daily from Ho Chi Minh City to Phan Thiet, departing around 06:30 and arriving 5 hr later. The return trip leaves Phan Thiet around 13:30.

The railway station (for HCMC) in Phan Thiet is about 2½ km from the center or where you can catch the bus to Mui Ne and Ham Tien resort strip. But also taxis are abundant to take you to the latter.

Northern destinations are only served by Bình Thuận station, which is about 12 km from Phan Thiet center — see all the information at Phan Thiet.

Get around

You can't get lost in Mui Ne and Ham Tien, since the whole place consists of one long strip along a main street, Nguyen Dinh Chieu. Even-numbered addresses are on the sea side of the street, and odd numbers on the inland side. Even and odd addresses are not aligned, thus 39 on the odd side can be several hundred metres from 40 on the even side.

By bus

Phan Thiet–Mui Ne Bus Prices (Dec 2023)

There are regular public buses (Bus No. 1 and 9) running 06:00–19:00 every 20-30 min between Phan Thiet and Mui Ne, probably even further. They might actually run until 21:00 — best inquire with your accommodation.

The prices as of Dec 2023 can be seen in the picture here. Most trips inside the main strip should cost 8,000 dong, since the strip is about 10 km long — unless you go from Sea Links to Mui Ne village, which is about exactly 10 km.

The trip between Phan Thiet center and most places along the strip is 11,000 dong – Phan Thiet center to Fairy Stream is 18 km.

Note that most buses have this price list written to their outside, which you can refer to. Some buses don't and they will be most likely the ones trying to overcharge you. It is best to show any conductor trying to overcharge you the price list picture and potentially the distance Google Maps states for your trip. Stand you ground and just remain seated, these bus conductors are bound by law to give you the proper price.

By taxi

Motorbike taxis (xe om) and regular taxis are present everywhere and their drivers will bug you each time you leave the hotel or walk along the road.

Along the tourist strip it is much cheaper to stop one as long as you know how to bargain. It can be hard for Western tourists to get appropriate prices.

10,000-15,000 dong for a motorbike taxi is more than enough to pay for a ride from one place to another along the main strip. Taxis are slightly higher than Ho Chi Minh City, but still reasonable, starting at around 20,000 dong.

Or just use Grab, also see Vietnam#By taxi.

By motorbike

Bikes are a common means of transport

You can rent motorbikes at many resorts, ho(s)tels and tour agencies. Since traffic is light, motorbikes are a pleasant way to explore the region. Motorbikes cost anywhere from 120,000 dong per 24 hr (automatics can cost 230,000 dong).

By bicycle

You can rent bicycles at many resorts, ho(s)tels and tour agencies.

Be careful when riding a bike in Ham Tien and Mui Ne, especially during the summer months, since nobody pays any attention to traffic rules. Also, as a bicycle ride it is harder for you to get noticed since you don't have a horn to honk.

The increase in big coaches shuttling Russain tourists in and out of Ham Tien and the uncontrolled jeeps used to bring hundreds of tourists to the White Sand Dunes every day contribute to increased risks for motorbikes, cyclists and pedestrians along Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street in particular. Traffic fatalities are not uncommon. Rumors are that up to 30 people die every month in accidents.

See

Cham tower
  • 1 (Thap Po Sah Inu). The Poshanu Cham Tower in Phu Hai ward is a derelict remainder of the ancient Cham culture that was built in the 8th century. It is still in use for religious and social gatherings by the local Cham population, especially during the annual Kate festival.
  • . Where the famous nuoc mam (fish sauce) is produced. Big jars harbor the concoction that, after months in the blazing sun, is sold all over Vietnam to add some spice to the food.
  • 2 (Doi Cat) (The trip by taxi from the main resort strip in Ham Tien is about 170,000 dong each way, and less by xe om. It is reachable by bicycle in 30-45 minutes, passing the Fairy Stream on the way.). The famous Red Sand Dunes on the main coastal road a short distance north of the fishing town at the north end of Mui Ne Bay, about 10 km from the main resort strip. The whole region is fairly sandy, with orange sand threatening to blow onto the coastal road in some spots. The dunes that visitors visit are about 50 ha (1/2 km²) of open sand on a hillside with ten-meter undulations, staffed by dusty children with plastic slides, who will offer instruction and assistance if you want to slide on the sand. Caution is recommended since a number of tourists have lost money, cameras or cell phones in the sand or through theft and pick-pocketing on the dunes. The sand dunes offer nice views of the sea coast to the north. On the opposite side of the road are a series of small cafés, where you can park your vehicle for a small fee if you ride there on your own. Most day tours sold by local tour operators include a stop at the dunes.
  • 3 (Lang chai Mui Ne). If you are staying on the resort strip in Ham Tien or Phu Hai wards, don't miss out to visit this once quiet "fishing village" but nowadays bustling town, at the northeast end of Mui Ne Bay. The coastal road leads straight into the town (with a left turn required at the first red light to continue up the coast). If you arrive during the dry "winter" season, don't miss the harbor overlook at the entrance to Mui Ne with a splendid view of hundreds of colorful fishing boats moored in the bay. The boats move to the other side of the "Shelter Cape" (English translation of "Mui Ne") during the monsoon season from May through October, when the wind direction changes from mainly northeast to mainly southwest. If you take your transport just down to the water, you will reach the fishing harbor, where you can purchase fresh seafood (if you have any means to cook it) or purchase steamed crabs, shellfish, etc. to eat on the spot from local vendors. Walking along the beach, you'll pass by fishermen sorting out their catch, ship-wharves and, at the southern end of town, a section where clams have been rid of their shells for many years, so the sand on the beach is by now substituted with littered shells. Be prepared to encounter piles and stretches of rubbish on the beach.
  • 4 (Chợ Mũi Né). Further along into town, just off the main road, there is a colorful local market.
The Fairy Stream
  • 5 (Suoi Tien). The Fairy Stream is a little creek that winds its way through bamboo forests, boulders and the dunes behind the village, in parts resembling a miniature version of the Grand Canyon. Local children will want to accompany you to show you the way (and of course earn a dollar or so), but since you're just following the stream, there's little need. For the most part, the stream is about ankle-deep and no more than knee-deep even at its deepest. It is sandy with few stones and can be walked comfortably barefooted. You can climb up the red sand hills overlooking the river valley and even walk there parallel to the river, however, the sand may be hot on a sunny day, so bring some footwear. Walking upstream for about 20 minutes, you will reach a small waterfall into at most waist-deep water, great to take a refreshing bath before heading back. The stream is underneath the small bridge, you will see a sign pointing towards a path to the left, go that way to reach an easy place to enter the stream. 10,000 dong (although entrance is officially free) and 5,000 dong for motorbike parking. Free from the north.
  • 6 (Đồi Cát Trắng). The White Sand Dunes are approximately 45 km away from the Ham Tien tourist strip to the northeast, and some 24 km from the Red Sand Dunes and nearby resorts on the east side of the Mui Ne peninsula. Trips are offered by any tourist agency along the resort stretch for 4WD or quad drives, as well as by some resorts with their own vehicles. While too far away for a bicycle trip especially in summer, a motorbike trip can bring you there. Make sure to bring an international driver's licence if you do not own a Vietnamese one — driving without Vietnamese driver's license is illegal in Vietnam. 10,000 dong.

Do

  • All-terrain vehicle – You can ride one on the white sand dunes.
  • Day tours – Travel agents and restaurants abound with day tour offerings for US$7–13. The standard half day tour takes you to the fishing village, fairy stream, and the red and while sand dunes. Tours normally start later, so you can watch the sunrise/sunset over the sand dunes.
  • Hot air ballooning — This used to be a thing in the past and Mui Ne is the only place in Vietnam where you could fly hot air balloons, but it is unclear whether trips are still done after COVID — best to inquire with your accommodation. Most flights take place over the white sand dunes. When the winds in dunes are too strong, flights take place from Phan Thiet city centre. Expect to pay at least US$150.
  • Surfing – Sometimes you get good waves in mornings of windy season. Lessons, day trips and rentals are available, don't hesitate to ask around. While Mui Ne is not the best destination for surfing, it can be good place to give it a try. It seems beginners go for the break near Sea Links.
  • Swimming – The sea is wonderfully warm, but it can be quite rough, with large waves and a strong rip tide. When the tide is in, there is not much of a beach to speak of. When wind is blowing it can be quite chilly to even think of swimming. The area between kilometre markers 11 and 13 has the largest stretch of enduring sandy beach. Since large waves normally emerge after 11:00, you might prefer to swim in the early morning hours, when the water is flat and free of Kitesurfers. Most mid-range and top-end resorts have swimming pools for their guests. Some are open for day users starting at 80,000 dong per day. But you can always behave as guest from this hotel and buy a few drinks for these 80,000 dong.
  • Water sports – Most outfitters offer a host of water sports including kayaking, paddle surfing, and jet ski rental.

Kitesurfing and windsurfing

Kitesurfing is a popular activity here

Kitesurfing is offered by many outfitters and hotels. Kite surfing instruction is available, starting at US$60/hour, beginners package of 7 lessons start at US$350. From November till March you generally will have strong winds every day. The Winds in Mui Ne emerge by thermal movements, after the shores got warmed by the sun. You will have perfect wind everyday from 11:00 until the late evening. Gusty winds are seldom. With strong winds, the sometimes choppy waves can be as high as 4 m and more. The water is free of rocks, which makes it relatively safe to kite. However in the peak season there up to 300 kiters in the water at the same time. Beginners and Students, who mainly practice close to the beach front makes things a bit more dangerous. So watch out for other kitersurfers and swimmers and control the speed, in particularly because swimmers are difficult to see when waves are high. Accidents between kitesurfers or between kitesurfers and Swimmers happen from time to time and medical facilities are limited in terms of their equipment and abilities.

There are several kitesurfing schools along the beach, which all employ beach boys who will help you to start and launch the kite. It is widely common to tip the beach boys with US$1/day. If you bring your own equipment and don't want to carry it from and to your hotel every day, you can store it at one of the kitesurfing schools for US$20/week or US$60/month, including usage of their compressors and shower facilities.

If you are a beginner but already can practice independent without an instructor, you might avoid the area around Sunshine Beach Hotel/Sankara/Wax, because there are too many kite surfers and swimmers which may lead to accidents, particularly if you can not fully control the kite. Try the western part of beach front around the Kitesurfing School Windchimes. There are less kiters in this area and you can practice without bringing you and others into danger.

There is a place called "wave spot" or 1 . It is suitable only for intermediate/advanced kiters, but its much less crowded there.

Likewise, if you like windsurfing, go to eastern part of Mui Ne. Starting from Hai Au resort, there are some hotels that are offering good place to water start, rent or store your gear.

Buy

Money

There are numerous ATMs along the strip, including ACB.

Shopping

Along the Mui Ne strip are several small nameless shops; all selling the same sundries and souvenirs. You can find packaged snacks (Oreos, cakes, biscuits, ice cream, etc.), liquor, clothing, and souvenirs. Standard souvenirs offered include wooden and lacquered bowls, wooden statues, snake whiskey, and pearl necklaces. Compared with Ho Chi Minh City, souvenirs are almost five times more expensive in Mui Ne. The same small wooden bowl selling for US$3 in HCMC is US$14 in Mui Ne.

At least 2 WinMarts represent a little more diverse choice.

Eat

Seafood for sale

Every resort area in Ham Tien and Mui Ne is surrounded by restaurants specializing in seafood. The food is invariably fresh, well-prepared, and served in friendly and interesting surroundings. By all means get out of your hotel and try one of the local restaurants. The best restaurants are a motorbike ride away, found outside of the tourist/resort district on the ocean.

  • 1 (Pit Stop), 122 Nguyễn Đình Chiểu, Phường Hàm Tiến, Thành phố Phan Thiết, Bình Thuận (Go to the fishing village past the Tien Dat Hotel until you see many small cafes near seashore). 09:00–23:00. This is a street full of local cafes that serve BBQ seafood. Prices are very cheap and choice is wide. Scallops with onion and garlic sauce are must-to-have here. If you're a fussy about hygiene, don't bother coming here.
  • 2 , 86 Nguyen Dinh Chieu St, Ham Tien (Across from Shades Resort), +84 62 374 3447. 24 hr daily. Joe's is the only place open 24/7 in Mui Ne. It's a cosy old farmhouse cafe offering Western fare. A Canadian developed the menu, and the pancakes with maple syrup (50,000 dong including coffee) are great. The sandwiches with home cut fries and salad (60,000 dong) are also recommended. Two movies are shown each evening in the pillow-filled loft. Free Wi-fi, exhibits and live performances. A great place to have your bus pick you up at 02:00 when you head out and great for a chill spot for after party breakfast or a romantic glass of wine. A 24-hr supermarket is part of the complex. Joe is on the strip, offering now even accommodation. Drinks 10–60,000 dong, meals 50–120,000 dong.

Drink

  • 1 , 120/1 Nguyễn Đình Chiểu (near the Bo Ke restaurants), +84 91 926-38-05. 12:30-03:00. Mui Ne's biggest disco with two dance floors, a pool, circular bar and its own access to the sea.
  • 2 , 122 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, +84928419988. 17:00-03:00. Bar and nightclub popular with independent travelers. It has a large dance floor, good sound system, good food and friendly staff. During happy hour from 18:00 to 21:00 some cocktails cost just 30,000 dong, and for all cocktails you buy you get a second for free.

Sleep

Sand dunes

Mui Ne and Ham Tien have over 200 accommodations to choose from, in every price category (from 100,000 dong), along the main ocean strip of Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Huynh Thuc Khang ("HTK"). Small guest houses, family-run beach hotels and some big luxury resorts can also be found east of the town center of Mui Ne proper, along the road leading to the Red Sand Dunes, where Ganh Beach offers long sandy beaches and excellent kite-surfing on the east side of the Mui Ne peninsula.

Accommodations at higher addresses of Nguyen Dinh Chieu towards HTK and Mui Ne ward tend to be smaller and less expensive, somewhat removed from the main tourist section in Ham Tien and more mixed in more with local life. If a sandy beach is important to you, some research is called for before booking in that area. Many "beach side" resorts are actually against a sloping cement wall that leads into the sea. The sand itself migrates up and down the long coast seasonally leaving some areas with expansive beaches and others with little at any given time.

Remember that during Tet (Vietnamese New Year), hotels and resorts are booked way in advance.

Budget

  • 1 , Huynh Tân Phát (Coming from Phan Thiet, turn left when entering the village, in the corner where there's a business called Nhà Tho), +84908608706. Local guesthouse in the village, a couple of kilometres from the resorts and beaches, but close to shops, market and street food stalls. Perfect for experiencing local life. Owner family can barely understand English but are nice. Room with 2 double beds, fan, fridge, toilet, and TV. Free Wi-Fi. 150,000 dong.
  • 2 , 102 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, +84 62 384 7187, +84 91 861 0727. Guest house just down the road from Joe's cafe with clean, large rooms. Very friendly people, though English is limited. From 250,000 dong.
  • 3 , 117 Nguyen Dinh Chieu (km 13). Simple bungalows with A/C and warm water. On a side street a bit off the beach. US$8.

Mid-range

Sunset in Mui Ne
  • 4 , 69 Nguyen Dinh Chieu. Different room categories from backpacker dorms to standard rooms and sea view rooms. From 500,000 dong.
  • 5 , 144A Nguyen Dinh Chieu, +84 786348572, . Has the look of a Mediterranean villa. There are only 14 rooms, all with sea views. Well-trained staff, a beautiful garden, and a charming pool. Rates include daily breakfasts. Discounts are offered during the low season and for long-term stays. It is advisable to book well ahead during the holidays. From €40.
  • 6 , 107 Ho Xuan Huong St, +84 8 6282 4567, . 192 rooms with sea views, all-day restaurant, open-air beach club, a grand ballroom that accommodates 400 guests and a fully equipped board meeting room for 40 guests. On-site water sports facility with a professional international team managing board sailing, kite surfing and other activities. From US$35.

Splurge

  • 7 , Mui Ne Beach, KM10 Ham Tien Ward, Phan Thiet City, +84 62 374 1888, . The resort includes 89 rooms, suites and pool villas designed according to Vietnamese tradition. US$200-300.
  • 8 , 54 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, +84 62 3847 322. Has various rooms and bungalows. Only metres from many of the kite surfing schools, particularly Windchimes, which is directly outside the property. From US$80.
  • 9 , 32 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, +842523741234, . Has 6 villas with beach front view and 12 villas with garden view. Each villa has a king size bed, bathtub overlooking a small private garden, and a large private patio with comfortable club chairs and a day bed. From US$200.
  • 10 , Block 5, Mui Ne, +84 252 3849 849, . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00 noon. 134 renovated rooms including 24 bungalows with outdoor bathtub in a relaxing beachside environment: 10 ha of lush tropical gardens within walking distance of the Red Sand Dunes. Phan Thiet's largest free-form swimming pool, 2 restaurants, 3 bars incl. lounge with live entertainment, two live bands, spa (indoor and outdoor). Weekly seafood BBQ buffets by the pool, all Inclusive package, weddings, special events, team building, tours and excursions, transfer service. Complimentary bicycle rental. Daily complimentary walking tour of Mui Ne fishing town, free shuttle service to Mui Ne, Fairy Stream and Ham Tien tourist strip. Jet Ski, surfboards, kiteboarding nearby. From €80.
  • 11 , 5, Phu Hai Ward, Phan Thiet, Binh Thuan (Along the Nguyễn Thông road to Mũi Né), +84 252 3719 111 (HCMC), +84 24 3936 5065 (Hanoi), . Check-out: 12:00. A resort complex that has many different room designs in different prices, the more big and beautiful they are, the more expensive they are. All guests can enjoy the big pool in the middle and can have access to the Mui Ne beach. The location is near Phan Thiet. From US$80.
  • 12 (Apec Mandala Mui Ne), DT716, Mui Ne, Phan Thiet City, Binh Thuan Province. 508 rooms with design lines between modern and classic.

Connect

Free Wi-Fi connections can be found in most ho(s)tels, restaurants and cafés.

Cope

Fisherwomen

Mosquitoes are a big nuisance in Mui Ne. So bring or buy either insect repellent or long-sleeved shirts and pants for the evening. You may also consider bringing/buying the fun mosquito-killing racket (maybe 50,000 dong) to "sanitize" your room before sleeping soundly to the break of ocean waves, all available in Mui Ne.

Laundry services are offered by several restaurants and hotels. Upscale hotels charge 1,000-5,000 dong per piece of clothing. Budget hotels and restaurants charge 15,000 dong/kg. Confirm they will machine wash and dry your clothes (and if not, go elsewhere). Check your clothes immediately when you collect as there have been reports of items going missing, and if you don't realise until the next day it is almost pointless to go back and ask.

Sand flies on beach can cause allergic reaction on your legs. If you experience this, just use anti-mosquito spray all over your legs before you enter the beach, it will minimise amount of bites you'll have.

Go next

North:

  • Da Lat – The old French hill-station with "eternal" spring climate
  • Nha Trang – A popular beach town about 4–5 hours away
  • Quy Nhon – The inexpensive and tourist-free alternative to Da Nang or Nha Trang, yet off many people's radar and therefore still a tranquil and authentic, lively and pleasant city with much hyped beaches

South and east:

  • Phan Thiet – The regional capital and transport hub for Mui Ne, about 10–20 km west
  • Ho Chi Minh City – Formerly known as Saigon is about 200 km away, accessible by bus or train
  • Vung Tau – A city popular with locals for access to the beach from HCMC, but also many foreigner find their way here. Many connections exist from here into the surrounding region, Southern Vietnam and the Mekong Delta.



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