Mui Ne Overview
Mui Ne is a small beach resort town which stretches 10km along Vietnam's south-east coast. Its popularity over the years has come in waves. Favoured for the arching crescent of sandy beaches and clear waters, the town has a friendly, laid-back vibe. Easily accessible by bike, train or car from Ho Chi Minh City, Mui Ne is a popular escape from the stresses of the city.
Mui Ne’s gorgeous beach.
Before its heydey as a beach resort, Mui Ne was a quiet town whose main income came from fishing. Tourism really picked up here with the introduction of kite surfing. Because of the consistently good conditions for half of the year, Mui Ne became one of the top spots for kite surfing in the whole of Asia. This influx of tourists brought with it a flurry of development, although unlike many other places in Vietnam, the buildings are mostly low-rise and, for the most part, do not disrupt the charming surroundings.
Mui Ne's second wave of popularity came from the influx of Russian tourists. Although the numbers of Russian tourists have declined in recent years, their impact on the town can be seen in the Russian translations of menus and signs.
As well as lounging on the beach and taking a dip in the ocean, Mui Ne has a few different activities for visitors to try their hands at from exciting water sports to exploring the vast sand dunes or discovering the ancient Cham ruins.
Mui Ne's seasons are split between the rainy season and dry season. The rainy season lasts from April to October, bringing with it monsoon rain and occasionally flash floods. The dry season runs from October to March and has average temperatures of 27 degrees celsius. During this time, there are also strong winds which create great waves, making it the prime time to practice the range of watersports on offer.
See and Do
The beach on Miu Ne is prone to slight changes in topography season to season due to the forces of nature playing games of throw and catch with the stretch of sand. That being said, there is always enough beach to house the many tourists that visit. The easy-going atmosphere and high temperatures in the dry season, make it an ideal place to relax on the beach.
If lounging on the beach isn't relaxing enough, there are numerous spas on the main strip which offer a range of beauty and relaxation treatments to rid visitors of any remaining stress. It can also be a good place to treat your muscles after a heavy day of water sports.
Driving ATV’s around the red dunes.
For those wanting a bit more action, there is plenty to choose from when it comes to watersports. Although kite surfing was the original sport of choice, Mui Ne now has a whole range of seaborne activities to offer. During the high season, November to April, the clear blue sea becomes awash with colourful, billowing kites towing adventurous surfers. Kite surfers dominate the waves dipping and rising with the gusts of winds. Also popular in Miu Ne are surfing and, more recently, stand-up paddle boarding. All of these adrenaline-fueled sports can be practised just off the shore of the sandy beach and there are a host of companies hiring equipment and running daily classes.
Outdoor adventure isn't limited to the sea in Mui Ne as it has some incredible sand dunes not far from the main area.
The sloping Red Dunes are just 20- 30 minutes from the town and are a dramatic change in the landscape. Named for the firey coloured sands which make up the unusual scene, it is a fabulous place to watch the sunset as the whole area glows an intense orange colour. The dunes can be explored on foot, and there are plenty of children waiting to sell you a ride down the dunes on their plastic mats.
About an hour's ride out of Mui Ne are the incredible White Dunes which, unsurprisingly, are made up of a sea of glowing white sand which seems to be of another place altogether. These rolling desert like sand dunes are sculpted into rippling banks by the wind and are dotted with lotus-filled ponds. The dunes are oven busy with people exploring on quad bikes or in 4WD vehicles which are available for hire with a driver.
There are a small number of golf courses in the area for budding putters to try out. The courses feature are range of challenging set ups and look out across the beautiful arching bay.
Culture and Arts
As Mui Ne has developed mainly as a tourist destination, most of the town is now devoted to the tourism industry. The traditional fishing village life can still be experienced by getting away from the main strip. Visiting the nearby fishing villages is a great way to experience the local culture and meet some local people. The colourful basket boats and bigger fishing boats look charming bobbing up and down on the waves with their reflections rippling below. As well as discovering local life, these villages are a great place to try some freshly caught seafood.
Po Shanu Towers, a remnant of the ancient Cham culture.
Mui Ne also has relics left over from the ancient culture that once inhabited the nearby areas. The Cham civilisation spread across Vietnam from approximately the 2nd to the 19th century and what's left of the Po Shanu Towers offer an insight into this ancient culture. Similar to the ruins at My Son, the ravages of time and war have taken their toll on the impressive towers, but the remains abound in historical significance. There are two tall towers and a small building, dedicated to the worship of the Hindu god Shiva, whose detailed architecture shows the creativity of the Cham civilisation. The temple's location on a hilltop offers amazing views of the surrounding areas.
Food and Drink
Mui Ne's coastal location and long history as a fishing village make it a prime spot for trying some delicious seafood. There are swathes of seafood barbeque joints along the beach offering freshly grilled seafood. The main dishes here consist of succulent stuffed fish and fresh juicy shellfish all cooked in flavoursome Vietnamese sauces. As well as being extremely fresh and well prepared, the seafood dishes are well priced.
Oc Huong, a type of snail eaten as a delicacy in Mui Ne.
Many of the local specialities are also seafood based. Somewhat unusual for Vietnam is the Mai fish salad which takes fresh small fish and serves them raw in a salad. The fish are marinated in a thick flavoursome sauce and served with herbs and vegetables. The ingredients are wrapped in rice paper to make a package with a punchy, fresh taste.
A favourite amongst many locals is Oc Huong or sweet sea snail which is prepared in a number of different including steaming, baking or grilling along with the usual mouthwatering accompaniment of plentiful garlic.
Mui Ne has some more unusual dishes for adventurous visitors to sample. Small lizards feature on the menu and makeup two traditional dishes. Grilled lizards are dong lizards which have been flavoured with lemongrass and grilled or fried. Dong lizards can also be minced, fried and served with Banh Phong Tom, a shrimp flavoured rice cake which is deep fried and then fired.
As well as the Vietnamese restaurants, there are a ion of restaurants offering international cuisine to cater for the varying tastes of visitors.
Festivals and Events
A traditional Vietnamese ceremony which is widely celebrated by the local people of Mui Ne is Nghinh Ong or the Whale Worship Festival. This is a chance to pray for health, happiness and prosperity. People travel to the Ong Pagoda each year, from the 16th-18th of the 8th lunar month, to join the celebrations. The festival features performances of traditional dramas, singing and dancing with the highlight being the energetic and exciting dragon dance.
Celebrations kicking off for Nghinh Ong Festival.
The Ramuwan Festival is celebrated each year by the Cham Bani community in Mui Ne. The biggest of the Cham festivals, the month-long celebration takes place in summer and is held to worship ancestors and pray for happiness and successful crops. To begin the festival, families visit their ancestor's graves and make offerings. People gather wearing their finest traditional clothing to partake in the celebrations which include art and sporting events.
Another Cham festival is Kate Festival which is held in the seventh month of the Cham calendar. It is a colourful, musical celebration in honour of noteworthy ancestors. The festival features processions of costumes which are left on statues as offerings. This is followed by followed by many different cultural activities which bring a playful and celebratory air to the town. The traditional singing and dancing are particularly uplifting and contagious.
Mui Ne is another Vietnamese holiday destination that is keen to keep up with the times and get on the modern festival circuit. The Mui Ne Music and Arts Festival is a new edition to the scene. The brainchild of party producers from Ho Chi Minh City, the festival takes place over three days on the hillside overlooking the beaches and ocean. The yearly bash sees partygoers descend on the dunes to listen to top Vietnam based DJs and live acts. There is no doubt this festival attracts not only international travellers but also residents of the nearby Ho Chi Minh City looking to shake off the everyday stresses and strains and let loose.