Today, we will travel not too far North of Saigon to the coastal town of Mui Ne. This fishing village turned holiday destination, has a lot more to offer than just beaches as you'll soon discover.
An overview of Mui Ne
The other part of visitors is comprised mainly by backpackers.
The curious phenomenon with backpackers, though, is that times are changing and while there are still a good number of young gap-year travellers around Asia, our impression was that they no longer make the majority. The majority of backpackers nowadays are people in their 30's and over. In Vietnam, this includes a lot of young families travelling with toddlers and young kids.
What to do in Mui Ne
Notes: there are several kids offering to give you a plastic slide for you to use to come down the dunes. Do not give them any of your belongings as there are often stories of your phone or wallet disappearing, so use common sense and keep your belongings with you - at all times-.
The Fairy Stream
It looks so dodgy, and it's so badly signed that we almost missed the location and we almost did not go. We are so glad that on this instance, though, we did not listen to our instincts. The stream goes on for about a mile, and the scenery changes several times, going from white sand stalactites to bamboo forests with a colorful mix of red and canyon white walls.
The water is for the most part only ankle deep and in several areas you have no choice but to walk inside the stream, so bring your flip flops for the dried parts and walk barefoot in the sandy bed of the stream for the rest.
The stream provides a refreshing 20 minutes or half hour walk in the otherwise hot humid climate. Along the stream, you will also come across a couple of family's run cafes/restaurants and a mini zoo where you can enjoy chilled beer.
If you go all the way to the end of the stream either by water or through the forest, you'll be rewarded with a small waterfall.
Notes: this is not a private stream and since October 2014 the government has declared all rivers and beaches in the country free to access. Naturally the locals will argue this, so it's up to you how much you wish to stand behind the $1.20 fee. There are also some kids that will want to show you the way and get a dollar in return, and again this is not necessary as there's only one way to go: follow the water.
Mui Ne Fishing Market
Zip around in a scooter
Scooters are the best way to discover Mui Ne, so we really recommend you hiring one. There is only one main road, but it's a long one. The resorts and touristic area extends for 15 Kms so it's a continuous strip of shops restaurants and bars, and if you fancy it, you can keep going South to Phan Tiet for a ride that's smooth and scenic.
There are in fact several points where you can stop and take pictures of the beautiful coast. Most hotels, hostels and guest houses will assist with the rental for prices that vary between the $6 and $10 per day. If you are lucky, you even get to look as fearless as I did with the Hello Kitty helmet I sported all over Mui Ne!
Where to stay in Mui Ne
We rented ours for $6 per day in 2015 directly from the hotel's owners. If peace and quiet aren't pros for you, then maybe these others services will be: the rooms are spacious with two double beds, private bathroom, cable TV, fridge and AC. Toiletries, towels and a hairdryer are also supplied. On arrival, there's a fruit basket waiting for you in your room, and there is free self-service breakfast in the morning. Another big plus it's the free self-service laundry. The owners also have an on-site mini market to stock on drinks, food and souvenirs.
With prices starting from $15 a night, this place is a bargain, but what makes it even more special it's the family that runs it. They show you real Vietnamese hospitality, even if they spoke little English, they were eager to help us with anything we asked and when we left they gave us a 2lt water bottle each for the journey and a bag full of Mui Ne souvenirs to thank us for choosing to stay with them.
Without a doubt, The Minh Anh Garden Hotel was by far the best budget place we stayed in Vietnam.