Travel & Life - December 30, 2018 | 09:16 am GMT+7

How to enjoy a Mui Ne holiday to the fullest

Mui Ne is already a top beach destination in Vietnam, but the town has much more to offer.

For starters, it is home to historical vestiges including remnants of the Champa Kingdom that once ruled south-central Vietnam.

The added attractions of the town, part of Phan Thiet City in Binh Thuan Province, can be enjoyed at any time of the year, as Mui Ne enjoys a tropical hot climate all year round, but the best time to visit is from April to August. From August to December, it is a better destination for adventurous travelers who like to surf and/or engage in other extreme sports.

But to really enjoy Mui Ne to the full, here’s a selection of ten places you can add to your itinerary.

1. Hon Rom islet

This islet, located in Mui Ne Ward, is an islet that offers unspoilt landscapes of beaches and mountains. Early morning and late afternoon are great times to be here, because the sunrise and sunset scenes are magnificent. 

The island is also an ideal campsite where you can gather around the fire at night or simply sit and gaze at the stars. The beaches in Hon Rom, Hon Rom 1, Hon Rom 2 or Thuy Trang, are safe with gentle waves and clear blue waters, great for swimming and sunbathing.

2. Sand dunes

One of the most impressive natural landscapes in the area are the sand dunes that change into different colors, with some counting as many as 18 shades, making it a photographer's delight. 

Sand sliding is popular here, with people renting boards for around VND20,000 ($0.85). At the foot of these dunes several shops serve local foods and drinks, including coconut water, dumplings and tofu.

3. Hon Ghenh islet

Hon Ghenh, also called Hon Lao, is a kilometer away from Mui Ne. Visitors can rent a boat for 10 people from local fishermen for VND200,000 ($8.67) or use a private hotel's service to reach Hon Ghenh. This is a good place for fishing and scuba diving to see the coral reefs. 

Twilight is the best time of the day here, as the sun sinks beyond the horizon, casting its customary orange, red and purple glows across the sky.

4. Bau Trang – Bau Sen lake

Bau Trang and Bau Sen are two freshwater lakes amidst the vast sand hills. During summer, Bau Trang lake sports thousands of lotuses that bloom, and, seen through spaces between the white sand dunes, are an amazing sight.

The Bau Trang sand dune in the area is called "the mini Sahara" in Vietnam.

Visitors can rent an all terrain vehicle to drive around Bau Trang sand area, which costs around VND600,000 ($26.02) for 20 minutes.

5. Suoi Tien (Fairy stream)

Suoi Tien, a small stream located next to Hon Rom islet, has a landscape that rocks, literally. The rocks, here, shaped in a myriad of shapes and colors, including white and red, by erosion, can be enjoyed up close because the water is shallow and the stream flows for about two kilometers.

6. Mui Ne fishing village

The Mui Ne fishing village is located on Huynh Thuc Khang Street in Mui Ne District, around 24 kilometers away from the center of Phan Thiet City. The village greets you with the scene of hundreds of colorful fishing boats anchored at its entrance.

The fishing village stretches for around 100 meters along the coastal route. Apart from watching the daily life of its residents, an early morning arrival in the village also enables visitors to buy fresh seafood and watch the bustling trade that happens on its shore when boats return from overnight fishing trips.


7. Duc Thanh school (Education for youth)

This is a historical destination you should not miss in Mui Ne. The school was founded in 1907 by patriots as a part of the Duy Tan movement in central Vietnam. Duy Tan was a non-violent reform campaign launched by Phan Chau Trinh (1872 - 1926) in 1906 against the repression by French colonialists.

Duc Thanh School is also the place where Ho Chi Minh taught before entering Saigon. Today, Duc Thanh school preserves many artifacts from nearly a century ago.

8. Van Thuy Tu Temple

Located on Ngu Ong Street, Van Thuy Tu Temple was built in 1762, and still carries its original architectural features.

The temple is most special because it has the largest whale skeleton in Southeast Asia, and is a place where the Whale God is worshipped. This skeleton is 22 meters long, and weighs 65 tons. Every year, important ceremonies are held in this temple on lunar calendar days.

9. Mui Ne Bay

This is a great destination for visitors who like swimming and outdoor activities. Located along Mui Ne Bay are beautiful beaches with white sand, but you can get to unspoiled beaches by renting a boat to Hon Lao Island.

10. Po Sah Nu tower

The Po Sah Nu tower complex, 7 kilometers to the northeast of Phan Thiet City center, is a remnant of the ancient Kingdom of Champa. The complex has three towers. The main tower is 15 meters high, located slightly to the south. The two sub-towers are slightly to the north of the east of the main tower. In the tower, Linga-Yoni altar of stone is still preserved. The sacred atmosphere can be felt on particularly quiet days.

If you have extra time, consider a visit to Hon Ba Island, Ke Ga Lighthouse, Ta Cu Mountain, Co Thach Stone Beach and Hang Pagoda to make your trip to Mui Ne a more holistic one.


Cuisine

Coming to the sea paradise, you should never miss heavenly seafood dishes here. Since it is easy to get fresh ingredients, raw fish or raw melo melo snails can be great culinary options. The raw fish can be eaten with fresh vegetables, noodle and special dipping sauce. Raw melo melo snails can be sliced into pieces, mixed with pork, greens, peanuts, and dipped into sour and sweet fish sauce.

Crab is also a specialty of the area. Crab meat is sweet, chewy, and savory, the crust is soft, crunchy, and can be used to bite teeth. Crabs are usually grilled or steamed with lemon salt, but the best is to cook crab in porridge.

Binh Thuan Province is also famous for roll rice paper. You can find and buy in the street vendors, Thu Khoa Huan and Tran Hung Dao crossroads only sell in the evening.

Another dish is the "dropping" hotpot, a typical dish in Phan Thiet. The main ingredients are different types of fish including apricot fish, mackerel, herring, perforated fish, red tilapia. 

The fish fillet are washed and then sliced into thin slices to be cooked in the hotpot. The dipping sauce is an essential part: it is a mix of sour tamarind, chilli, garlic, roasted peanuts, bananas and fish sauce.

Accommodation

Mui Ne offers a wide range of accommodations, from budget homestay to luxury hotels and resorts. The homestay are usually far from the beaches and target young people or foreigners who like new experiences.

The hostels are often located in small alleys, mainly on Huynh Thuc Khang Street. The hotels in Mui Ne are mainly on Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street.

If you come to Mui Ne to relax, you should choose the luxurious resorts near beautiful beaches.

Transportation

From Ho Chi Minh City, tourists can easily reach Mui Ne by motorbike, bus or train.

Photo by Minh Minh Huu 

Motorbike riders often follow the coastal road to reach Mui Ne. The total distance is about 230 kilometers.

You can also go to the Mien Dong bus station to buy tickets to Phan Thiet City. Travel time is about 5 hours, and tickets cost VND130,000 ($5.64) apiece.

Visitors can also take the SPT1 /SPT4 train from Saigon Station. Tickets cost VND110,000 ($4.47) per person, departing in the morning.

From the north of Vietnam, visitors can fly to Ho Chi Minh city or Phan Thiet City, and take bus or train to Mui Ne.

Story by Bao Ngoc, Photos by Shutterstock