Mui Ne: Is This Really Vietnam?

Ahh, Vietnam. Markets, conical hats, fish, coffee, and… sand dunes? What?!

That’s right, there are sand dunes in Mui Ne, Vietnam. And not just your run of the mill dunes – I’m talking big-ass, bright red dunes that make you feel like you’re crossing a desert. And you can even see the sea from them – so surreal!

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There are actually 2 sets of dunes you can visit: one red, one white. They’re both easy to get to on a motorbike; since I couldn’t drive myself, I opted for a day tour from my hostel, Mui Ne Backpackers – which I’d highly recommend. I was driven around town in a jeep with 5 other backpackers. We jumped in the dunes, we ran down the dunes, we got pummeled by sand when the wind picked up – it was definitely the highlight of our day. There are swarms of local kids at the dunes renting out mats that you can use to go sandboarding if that strikes your fancy. We were all pretty content just chillin’ at the dunes, so we opted not to.

mui ne
mui ne
mui ne vietnam
mui ne  

We also made a quick stop at the Fairy Stream, which none of us knew a thing about beforehand – but it actually ended up being pretty neat. We waded ankle-deep through a chocolate-colored stream in what felt like a jungle tunnel, which soon opened up to a blue sky.

mui ne 

The drive along the coastline was BEAUUUUUTIFUL! We had our driver pull over at one point so we could take photos of the fishing village, which we then drove down to. The fishermen had a bunch of eel out to dry in the sun and were still at it when we visited early-afternoon.

mui ne
independent travel blog
mui ne
independent travel 

Mui Ne is a top kite surfing destination – on any given day, you’ll see the beach dotted with kites. I would have LOVED to have tried it out, but I couldn’t justify the price. Especially since you really need several lessons just to land a successful ride. If I’m going to spend a few hundred dollars on lessons, I at least want to walk away knowing how to kite surf. I definitely couldn’t have said that after just one lesson. Still, it was really fun to watch the local instructors surfing – they were zipping across the water and doing flips in the air. Someday I’ll learn how to surf for real!

mui ne
adventure travel blog
mui ne 

Mui Ne may be known for fishing, but the restaurants there have a lot of exotic meats on offer. My delicacy of choice? Frog legs! They were quite tasty – kind of like chicken (are you surprised?).

adventure travel 

Sand dunes, kite surfing, frog legs – get yourself to Mui Ne! It is definitely one of the highlights of a trip to Vietnam.

Frugal Facts

As of May 2013 —

A day trip stopping at the Fairy Stream, fishing village, and sand dunes is 157,000 VND ($7.50 US) through Mui Ne Backpackers.

A bed in the dorm at Mui Ne Backpackers is $8 US per night. Private rooms are also available.

Lindsay Buckley is the photographer and travel blogger behind Frugal Frolicker. She's a New Yorker currently based in Sydney, Australia, documenting outdoor travel experiences Down Under and beyond. Follow along with Lindsay's travel photography on Facebook and Instagram, and be sure to sign up for the monthly Frugal Frolicker newsletter!

Where in the World is This?

  • Shannon Buckley

    the shot of you flailing your arms around/jumping on top of that dune is the greatest thing ever.

    • lindsaypunk

      Hahahahaaaaa – well thanks, I think? :P

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  • cher

    this looks awesome!!

    • lindsaypunk

      It totally is! :D

  • Sam

    Hi there! Great post. I’m thinking of travelling to Mui Ne in May 2014. Did you visit around the same time as well? Just doing some research and asking around cos the info I see online doesn’t match up sometimes. Some sites say May is fine but some say May sees quite a bit of rain :/

    • lindsaypunk

      Yes, I was there in May and it was glorious! I think it’s colder and rainier at this time in the north, but not so much in the south. Come to think of it, my entire 3 weeks in Southern Vietnam were in May and the few times it rained, it was always short-lived, so you should be ok!

  • Kasia

    Hi, it’s me again! (Sorry, if I ask to many questions, but…)
    Would you rather recommend getting to Muy Ne from Phan Thiet by bus and rent a motorbike in Backpackers or maybe it’s better to rent a motorbike in Phan Thiet, go to Mui Ne along the coastline, see the dunes, sleep in Backpackers and give the motorbike back in Phan Thiet the next day? The fishing village you mentioned is north or south from Mui Ne?

    • Guest

      Oh, and the last (PROMISE) question – do you remember any rates in Mui Ne Backpackers? I’ve read a lot of good reviews but they have no price list on their website, while on Tripadvisor and other booking websites there is only an information about something like 30$ for bed – come on, it can’t be THAT expensive for dorm bed.
      Thanks for your patience!

      • Kasia

        As always I’m totally incautious while reading, the answear is in your post – I’m sorry for making such a mess in here, but something just doesn’t work when I’m trying to delete my out-of-date comments. Sorry!

      • lindsaypunk

        Hahaha, seriously – NOTHING is $30 in Vietnam! Assuming you found it on my blog, but I reckon I paid $8/night there!

    • lindsaypunk

      Hey again! Don’t even worry about it! :)

      So, I don’t recall much about Phan Thiet, but google tells me neighbors Mui Ne. I took a bus straight from Saigon to Mui Ne and stayed at the Backpackers there. I’m certain you can rent a motor bike right in Mui Ne and take it up to the dunes and the fishing village. Not sure why you’d need to go to Phan Thiet at all, unless there’s something there you really wanted to see!

  • Kristine Reyes

    Ho long did you travel from Saigon to Mui Ne? Can you also recommend the bus company to go with? Thanks!

    • To be honest I don’t really remember. I don’t think it was a very long trip, and I just went with one of the buses you can book from the main touristy street (they’re all the same, really).