Oh, what do we tell you about Mui Ne and Phan Thiet?! These tiny fishing villages are nestled between turquoise beaches that line the Eastern coast of Vietnam. The area is just 4-hour train ride away from the chaos of Ho Chi Minh City but seems like a different world altogether. There are endless reasons for visiting Mui Ne and Phan Thiet. We found it tough to choose between gorgeous sunsets, glistening beaches, surreal scenery, and picture-perfect villages but we managed to restrict ourselves to listing just 10 Things To Do in Mui Ne and Phan Thiet
Before we tempt you with some amazing things to do in Mui Ne, let’s get the slightly boring stuff out of the way?
Accommodation in Mui Ne and Phan Thiet
We would strongly recommend staying in Mui Ne as Phan Thiet can get crowded and busy. We stayed in a very nice beach-side resort called Pandanus Resort.
How To Get To Mui Ne And Phan Thiet
Although a bit convoluted, it is possible to get a Vietnam visa on arrival (for which you must apply online first). Once you are in Vietnam, It’s fairly easy to get to Mui Ne / Phan Thiet from Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City). On our way to Mui Ne, we took the train from Saigon that departed at 06:50 a.m. (eek!) and brought us to Phan Thiet in 4 hours. We could have taken the bus, but our hotel staff suggested that the train would be more comfortable. Right they were? From the train station, we were ferried to our resort in Mui Ne by the pre-arranged pick-up driver from our resort. In total, it took us 4.5 hours to get to Mui Ne. Train tickets, including reserved seating, cost $ 16.
On our way back from Mui Ne to Saigon, we decided to take the bus. Our hotel arranged the bus tickets with a company called Hanh Cafe, which we later found out did not have good reviews? It was too late to change our booking but thankfully our experience was not bad at all. We were picked up from our resort hotel and after picking up a gazillion other tourists from different hotels in Mui Ne, we were driven to Saigon through the choked roads and highways in a little over 5 hours. We preferred the train, but the buses offer more flexibility in terms of schedule.
Top Things to do in Mui Ne and Phan Thiet
1) Rent a bike
You are in Asia. This is a no-brainer. If you want to explore the area, there is no better way to do it than by renting a bike. Bike rentals in Mui Ne cost anywhere between $8-12 per day. Traffic can get crazy in this part of the world, so be careful. Bus drivers seem to be on a mission to demolish anything comes in their way. Another piece of advice – always have your helmet on or you’ll definitely be stopped by a cop which will result in a lot of discussion and eventually, bribery.
Renting a bike will give you the flexibility of exploring offbeat places in the area, discovering hidden beaches, and exploring local markets.
2) Go Quad biking at the White Sand Dunes
We’ve already introduced you to this geographical wonder in our write-up on the White Sand Dunes Of Mui Ne. If you’ve rented a bike, getting to the White Sand Dunes is a joy ride in itself. It will take you through unpaved roads and gorgeous stretches of Vietnamese countryside. Once you are there, enjoy the dunes on a quad bike – everything from gentle bumps to stomach-churning bends is on offer.
The white sand dunes of Mui Ne are approximately 25 km. away from the center of Mui Ne – once you have had your share of fun at the dunes, just walk over to the lotus pond and spend the afternoon watching the sun go down.
3) Visit the early morning fish market of Mui Ne
Mui Ne’s chaotic early morning market provides a fascinating peek into the lives of local Vietnamese fishermen. Every morning they get their catch to the shore. Their wives and family members sort out the catch and sell it to the local traders, restaurant owners, and street food vendors on the spot. It’s like a trading floor right out of a Wall Street institution. Expect to find fishing nets full of seafood, buckets overflowing with fish, shells strewn everywhere, raucous conversation, and plenty of photo-opps (It was tough to tear Vid away from the market ? )
Early morning isn’t the only time you should visit Mui Ne. This little village is absolutely magical at sunrise and sunset. Dozens of brightly coloured boats adorn turquoise waters. Everything is bathed in a luminescent light – highly recommended!! In fact, this might be our favourite thing to do in Mui Ne and Phan Thiet.
5) Visit the Red Sand Dunes of Mui Ne
Another great place to catch a gorgeous sunset are the Red Sand Dunes of Mui Ne. If you don’t have the time to venture out to the White Sand Dunes, the Red ones are just a couple of kilometres from the centre and can be reached on foot as well.We still can’t get over the wonders of nature in Mui Ne and Phan Thiet – sand dunes that make you feel like you are in a desert right next to the beach?!
6) The Fairy Stream
When we first heard about it, we were apprehensive about this being a tourist trap. But we were wrong!! This aptly named stream is another wonder of nature. Tucked between beaches and fishing villages, this gurgling stream is surrounded by amazing limestone formations. You can deposit your shoes at the entrance or carry them along with you to explore this muddy stream. Make your way through colourful limestone formations, warm water, and bright green trees to reach a waterfall.
7) Treat your nostrils at fish vats ?
Mui Ne and Phan Thiet are famous for being the home of fish sauce. This popular condiment might add a great dash of flavour to Asian food, but it doesn’t smell particularly pleasant. In fact, the word vile comes to mind – fermented fish in huge vats – doesn’t exactly remind you of perfume, does it ? There are a number of factories in Phan Thiet, but if you are in Mui Ne, you can witness the action close to The Fairy Stream.
8) Find a secluded beach
There is no shortage of things to do in Mui Ne but it is easy to spend languid days at your hotel’s beach. But we suggest taking your rented scooter out for a spin and exploring the area. There are a number of isolated beaches perfect for an impromptu picnic or skinny dipping, if you enjoy that sort of thing ? Our favourite secluded beach is the Hon Rom beach which can be reached by driving past the Red Sand Dunes towards the White Sand Dunes.
9) Learn Kite Surfing
Mui Ne and Phan Thiet boast of a number of windy beaches that are perfect for kite surfing. In fact, the area is one of Asia’s most popular sites for kitesurfing. There are a number of Kite Surfing schools in the area that offer courses for amateurs and beginners at extremely competitive prices. Moreover, there is no shortage of wide, sandy beaches to practice the sport
10) Binge on The Food
Aah, the best for the last ? Mui Ne offers scrumptious seafood for dirt cheap prices. Grilled Red Snappers for £3 and clams and mussels for £2 often crop up on menus. If you’re adventurous, there’s snakes, crocodiles, and turtles on the menu. Freshly BBQ’d scallops with spring onions and peanuts drizzled with a lemon, sugar, and salt dip were my favourites. Mmmm, I want to go back for some more.
Then there are the fruits – everything from litchis and mangoes to mangosteens and papayas are on offer. Mui Ne’s morning fruit market is the equivalent of a candy factory for fruit lovers. The pick of the lot? Fuchsia-coloured Dragon Fruit. You’ll see entire orchards of Dragon Fruit on the way from Ho Chi Minh City to Mui Ne. No wonder it tastes better here than in any other part of Asia. Our friend Jodi talks about some great eating options in her Crash Course on Mui Ne ?
Fresh Fruits – nom, nom, nom!
Planning a trip to VietNam? Don’t forget to read our tips on VietNam travel guide.
For more details without fee, please call us +84.968187718 (Mr Stanley Ho)