For a change of scenery, when visiting Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), you can head south to one of the country’s rising adrenaline capital – Mui Ne! This erstwhile fishing community in Pan Thiet has transformed into a booming tourism destination in recent years.
Here are some things to do in Mui Ne, to help you plan your trip:
ATV Ride and Sand-sledding at the Sand Dunes
The postcard-worthy White Sand Dunes is bathed in serenity and hugged by vast pastoral land dappled with verdurous bushes and pine trees overlooking the cerulean sea. Hop on an ATV for about $30, and go riding on the rolling sandy hills. On the other hand, the Red Sand Dunes is ideal for catching the breath-snatching Mui Ne sunset. Here, local kids will approach you to try sand-sledding for a $1. Not as easy as it looks, but there’s no harm in trying!
Stroll at the Fairy Stream
The miniature gorge of Mui Ne, commonly known as Fairy Stream, is a worthy stop-over. There’s a small river that winds through the desert, the boulders and the bamboo- clad forest. Scale up the red sand knoll overlooking the river valley and take a dip at the refreshing waterfall nearby.
Visit the Mui Ne Fishing Village Along the way to the red or white sand dunes, chances are you’ll pass along a scenic blend of fishing boats floating on the endless sea. Amusingly, circular bamboo rafts called thuyen thung are also parked here. Two men in a cramped position can ride them while rowing and catching fish with a net. Based on anecdotes, at the time of the French occupation, they levied tax on fishing boats. Some Vietnamese then created thuyen thun, as it is free to use them because they are too small to be considered as a fishing boat.
See the Po Shanu Cham Tower
This ruin of the ancient Cham culture was constructed in the 8th century. It stands proudly on a headland, overlooking Phan Thiet and a cemetery dotted with candy-like gravestones.
Learn the Art of Sailing
Escape the tourist horde and bask in the tranquil water. Mui Ne is ideal for sailing because of its gentle beach gradient, minimal beach break and protected inshore area from northeasterly winds. Manta Sail Training Centre offers hands-on lessons to sailing at $60 per hour per person and rental with a skipper at $50 per hour per boat. Learn to balance the boat and sail, steer, upwind, downwind, sail backwards and in circles, pick up and drop anchor, sail without a centerboard and rudder, among others.
Go Kitesurfing, Kiteboarding or Windsurfing
Popular water sports in Mui Ne include kite surfing, kite boarding and windsurfing. Best season is around October to March as the winds are cross on-shore, the ideal condition for beginners. The shoreline is dappled with kite surfing, kite boarding and windsurfing schools starting at $80 per hour.
Feast on Seafood
You will never run out of a place to dine here as several restaurants flanked the resort strip. Highly recommended are the seafood joints along the bay where you can point at raw seafood that you like to eat and it is cooked and delivered for you. Must-tries are oysters, scallops and tamarind crab cooked in Vietnamese-style.
Enroll in a Vietnamese Cooking Class
Learn the secrets to preparing a great Vietnamese dish through C2Sky Kite Center Cooking School. The tour commences at the Ham Tien market where you get to pick and learn about the different ingredients, spices and herbs included in a great Vietnamese cuisine. Afterwards, an English-speaking Vietnamese chef will guide you in preparing the dish. They will also send you a full recipe book of the meals you have cooked and other recipes for you to try at home. Cooking lesson with market tour is priced at $35.
How to get there:
Philippine Airlines has regular flights to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC). Open tour buses that run between HCMC and Nha Thrang are highly recommended to reach Mui Ne. You can book them from your hotel or guesthouse, or better yet, head to Sinh Tourist Café to save a few bucks. They leave around 7:00 to 9:00 A.M or you may also take an overnight bus. Fare is around $7 and travel time is approximately 5 hours. The bus will stop directly at the resort strip. Alternatively, you may also take a train to Phan Thiet that departs daily from HCMC at 6:50 A.M, travel time is 4 hours and return trip is around 1:30 P.M.
* All photos were taken using Nikon D5500 .
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