Mui Ne was another nice surprise. When we arrived, my immediate question to Jamie was ‘Why would anyone pay top dollar for Fiji, Vanuatu or another island resort when you can stay here, for a tenth of the price?’ For the thrill seeker, there is surfing of all different varieties – kite and wind included – or sand dunes to take yourself away to another land at sunrise. Hire a scooter and navigate the windy roads down the jagged Vietnam coastline, dodging locals and livestock alike. Or just stop, relax, and enjoy the sublime water, the warm breeze, the sun lounges, palm trees and cool cocktails. No matter what, two nights will not be enough. Make more time for Mui Ne.
Have you ever heard of Mui Ne? I hadn’t. But it seemed to keep coming up with fellow travellers as they discussed where they’ve been, and where they wanted to go. And from what we were told, it was quickly added to our list of destinations, as well.
We arrived in Mui Ne after a 15 hour overnight train from Hoi An. Mui Ne is a few hours south of Na Trang, a popular beach destination in Vietnam, and about 4 hours north of Saigon (by the way, I’ve started calling Ho Chi Minh City, Saigon, because 1) it’s easier, and 2) no one seems to mind). The train wasn’t too bad this time, and I got about 7 hours sleep – although I felt like I’d had a free chiropractic session thrown in there, because the train rocked back and forth so much! Arriving in Mui Ne just after lunch time, we walked into our resort and found a slice of paradise similar to what you’d find in Fiji – palm trees, sun lounges, open air dining – except with a sample of the world’s kite surfing fanatics.
It seems Mui Ne is kite surfing and wind surfing paradise, with superb winds offering the chance to enjoy the sports for hours and hours on end, in the right conditions. Along the stretch of beach where we’re staying, I could count almost 50 kite surfers out there that afternoon, and I’m sure there were more further down the beach. But on the days that the winds drop off, like today, it’s a quiet little spot, with no high rise buildings, no long walks to get your own secluded spot, and some of the warmest ocean water I’ve ever felt. Absolutely sublime! Note to self: stop typing soon and go swimming! We’d booked 3 nights in Mui Ne but within an hour we were asking for a fourth – the accommodation is the most we’ve paid so far (only $55, mind you – take that, Surfers Paradise, or Fiji!) – so we could settle in to Sunshine Beach Resort for a relaxing few days.
We haven’t done much here, besides a bone-shaking scooter adventure, a short day trip yesterday and a lot of reading, sleeping and eating. The resort here has an excellent breakfast spread, including bacon and eggs, toasted sandwiches, and pikelets! Often, we’ve eaten so many pikelets that we skip lunch and just wait for dinner – more delicious vietnamese dishes, or like last night, a splurge at a gorgeous beachside lounge bar for red wine and beef fillet with potato bake. SO GOOD! Mind you, Jamie skipped the wine in favour of an Oreo and banana milkshake. Such a child!
The day trips we’ve done have been only ok, and awesome. The scooter trip to the lighthouse was a little painful – very bumpy roads, a bit too much sunshine, and enough wind to feel like the bike might be wiped out from under us. It can’t help either that when we arrived at the lighthouse and paid to get a boat across to it, the lighthouse was locked and we couldn’t go up. As I told Jamie, lighthouses are best viewed from below and afar (much like waterfalls!) and in this case, I was right. The next day we did a small group tour to the sand dunes though, which was fantastic. Up at 4.30am and whisked away in the dark to see Mui Ne’s famous white sand dunes and a few other local sights for just $8 for 5 hours. We made it to the white sand dunes in time for sunrise and wow. Really, WOW. A little piece of ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ right here on the coast of Vietnam. Words will never do it justice, so enjoy the pics below and back on the main page instead. Absolutely surreal. After an hour of photo taking and enjoying the spectacular view, we stopped by the red canyon, yellow sand dunes, a fishing village and the fairy stream. Along the way we got to meet a few local kids acting as guides in the few hours before school. I hope that idea doesn’t pick up at home!
Now, on day 3, we’re relaxing some more and making plans for our upcoming trip to Saigon tomorrow, and our plans for another beach getaway after that. The final spot in Vietnam will be three nights on Phu Quoc Island before our Vietnam visas run out and we cross the border into Cambodia. White sandy beaches, near-horizontal palm trees and cocktails in hammocks. Ok, if I must!