Mui Ne – located in the southern part of the country – is less popular among travelers, than North-Vietnam hiding real treasures of nature. It is a traditional fishing town spoilt by huge concrete giants and resorts with secret gardens, which lead to the beach.
It can be easily riched from Saigon by bus in 4-5 hours. Regarding the „beach” there are two options for sunlovers and mermaids: there are some guesthouses and hostels with swimming-pool or we can check the luxury resorts providing private beach.
It is not so easy to catch the golden sunset of Mui Ne, while dipping your toes into the water „for free”, but if you are an obsessed foodie or you just have desire for chilling and pampering after long weeks of backpacking, it can be the perfect shelter.
The first impression
After my very hectic and noisy Vietnamese-city-moments I really longed for something different. Something without thousands of thundering scooters and never-ending crowd of people. And then I arrived.
The check-in was adventurous: it means, I went for basic English in order to understand each other at the reception of the – by the way incredibly awesome – hostel. We got our dorm for us only, so it was like we had a whole suite on the third floor, the view from the huge balcony was priceless. There was a nice swimming-pool in the garden: the silent sanctuary after breakfast, the perfect oasis for diving into the refreshing water sun-kissed, the unique spot for stargazing and taking a journey to the Wonderland of Alice. And the fairy-tale like place for falling in love under the shimmering pinky-blue sky.
Are we in Russia?
Yes, it may seem strange the question, but after exploring other parts of Vietnam, one thing is for sure: the basic Vietnamese language would definitely help more than the English or whatever. But here, in this cute fishing village I was sometimes a little confused, where am I?
Most of the locals speak fluently Russian, especially if it is all about bargain and selling the well-known souvenirs embroidered with the red star. The five-pointed red star is not exactly the „embodiment” of nice memories, but we do everything for the business, right?
Mui Ne is a real paradise for the Russians and for reason. There is no language difficulty, the weather is perfect all year round, not to mention the wide range of spirits and wine. A lot of asian countries I have been to, but I didn’t „meet” so much rum, than here.
The heaven of Foodies
Here comes my favourite activity of exploring the world. Vietnam is amazing for waking up your taste buds, but Mui Ne with its heavenly good seafood can be the icing on the cake.
Even here we can find the adored vietnamese flavors of Pho, Bánh Mí or Bánh xéo, however the treasures of the sea are the very best!
Walking on the main road I got pretty confused, what to chose: thousands of local restaurants lured me into their rainbow-like world. Don’t expect nothing luxurious, most of these places wait for their hungry guest with simple, plastic tables and chairs, but the magical music of the waves and the gastro journey licks everything.
The most tasty bites wait for us at the entrance, where we can chose from the fresh – still alive – catch of local fishers. I advice to try as much seafood as you can in order to get the real taste-orgy experience.
And a short introducing about drinks: as I mentioned, there are tons of local and foreign spirits, trust me, everywhere, while from wine the local one – from Dalat or North-Vietnam – is the most popular. For non-drinkers trying the maracuja juice is a must. There are delicious other compositions of vegetable and fruit juices, that it would be a shame to miss it.
For starting or ending our sunny days we took a visit to one of the locals, who was selling mostly beauty stuff, oils, medicinal products and the main medicine served in cute russian, wooden shot glasses: it was a whiskey with fermented cobra, very similar to our beloved Lao Lao – the traditional rice whiskey – from Laos. So we simply couldn’t skip it!
Discover the Fairy Stream
The Fairy Stream is located a short drive away from the centre, on the way to the famous Sand Dunes. It is one of the Mui Ne’s highlights and can be a good idea, especially if the kitesurfing or the endless sneaking into the hotels’ private beaches is already boring.
The atmosphere of this place was magical from the beginning. Slowly stepping down the stairs a mysterious world burst upon my view: the quietly creeping stream surrounded by bamboo, palm trees and lacy rock formations is definitely home of creations of our colourful imagination, the secret nest of Fairies.
The level of the stream never goes upon your knies, so you can walk in its glittering water whilst pampering your feet in golden-red, powdered sugar-like sand. The strange creations of nature – the canyon, the small dunes and the rocks – are changing their mesmerizing colour into endless shades of white, gold, brown and red, while playing with the sun.
If you would like to hike, just do it and capture the moment of freedom looking at the wonderful landscape around you. At the end of the stream a small, but luring waterfall is waiting for us, as surprise or hidden gem of the „fairy-walk”. On the way, in shade of the palm trees tiny food-stalls and restaurants are waiting for those wanting local delicacies or to sip the famous vietnamese beer.
Conquer the White Dunes
At first glance it may seem strange: there is a huge white sand oasis in the middle of this southern seaside village. It looks like a perfect painting, like a crazy blend of lush greenery and desert of the Tales of Arabian Nights or simply the silver playground of fays.
It is possible to rent a quad bike to barrel up and down feeling the sweetness of speed or to discover it walking. If you are fit enough, I recommend to do the latter. Walking through the dunes I got a unique experience: it enchanted me, as the dunes constantly were changing their shape while feeling each grain of sand on my skin.
Coming up to the „highest” point the view is marvellous with the seemingly endless desert surrounded by the sea. The best seasoning at the end of exploring this fairy tale-like place is running down from the top: just „flying” with opened arms, like a bird, whilst feeling as the hot wind is caressing your face.
Catch the sunset at the Red Dunes
On the way back from the White Dunes we ended our day with my favourite pastime: immersed in beautiful pink-purple rays of vietnamese sunset. Going up to the highest point of the „smaller” but still unique Red Dunes the sunset can be a memorable experience, especially if we just sit down and listen to the sand’s faint melody.
Some bad points: here we can find much more tourists, as most of the travel agencies are selling it as the last part of the „Sand Dunes Tour” and apparently there are thousands of sunset-lovers wanting to taste the vietnamese dusk, too. Unfortunately the littering is also very striking, I was pretty disappointed to see the here and there popping plastic bottles and rests of junk food. Furthermore local ladies wait for the visitors everywhere trying to sell plastic stuff for sliding down from the dunes, but I have to disillusion everybody: it doesn’t work unless you are light as a feather.
Anyway, I tried to forget these negative things because nothing is perfect, right? But I can tell you, to watch the dancing silver-blue clouds, the mermerising sunset, while laying in sand was the perfection of the imperfection.
I have very mixed feelings and memories about Vietnam, about the people living there. I could compare this journey to a roller-coaster. Because if you try it, your feelings are changing every second, every moment. Some parts you hate, you can’t wait to leave it and catch the new „chapter”, you are after something more exciting, breathtaking, then comes the „highest point”, the beloved part or the biggest fear full of adrenaline?
Everyone has their own roller-coaster journey. Mine was Vietnam.