Mui Ne, Vietnam: where to stay, what to eat & what to do

Categories Crash Course, Food, Vietnam

In my prior post about Mui Ne, I talked about some wonderful soups, of lazy nights watching the sun set into the water and of taking a motorbike along the beach. While the narrative is usually my focus, it’s always good to give some practical information with the narrative, so my part two for my time in Mui Ne is just that. (I have two other “crash courses” as well – Marrakesh and Montreal. Perhaps I’m just writing them for cities starting with an M?!)

Crash Course Mui Ne

How to get there

There are many buses that ply the dusty, choked roads between Mui Ne and HCMC, but I’d recommend taking Futa Buslines’ Phuong Trang (link to Vietnamese-only site) bright orange buses, one of the more reliable bus operators. Yes, it will take you a bit longer than the 5-6 hours for the open bus tours, but it’s safe and they stop for food half way in. For your 130,000 dong ticket ($6.25) you’ll receive a bottle of water, a fresh towel and no smiles. The bus trip takes 7 hours and will stop once for a bathroom and fruit break, and once for lunch. Tickets can be booked at the office on De Tham near Pham Ngu Lao (272 De Tham; link is to Google map. Phone is +84 838 309 309), and in Mui Ne there is a separate office at the end of the beach strip (the directions away from the big resorts. Phone for Mui Ne is +84 623 743 113).

Buses leave HCMC at 7am, 7:30am, 8am, 1:30pm, 2:30pm, 3pm, 6pm and 7pm.

Buses leave Mui Ne at 1am, 7:30am, 8:30am, 9:30am, 11:00am, 2:30pm, 3pm and 3:30pm.

In both cases, the bus will ask where you are staying and drop you off right at your door, a nice add-on that I was not expecting. Note – Feb 2014: a reader has written saying the bus driver didn’t drop people off at their hotels. This is the only person to experience this thus far but please let me know if you experience the same as I want to ensure the post is up to date and accurate.

What to do

Mui Ne harbour, Vietnam

Mui Ne’s many fishing boats.

  • Rent a motorbike and explore Mui Ne proper and the fishing catches that come in and out of the sea. At dawn until about 10am there is also a morning market in Mui Ne village.
  • Take the bike out to the sand dunes, a dozen kilometers out of town.
  • Try your hand at kitesurfing. (A list of schools here.)
  • Hike and visit the nearby Fairy Spring.
  • Visit Phan Thiet harbour and its many larger fishing vessels, with fresh catch of the day for sale on the bridge linking Phan Thiet and Ham Tien, and fish pho at the nearby market. You can also find fresh fish on the bridge near Mui Ne’s smaller harbour.
  • Hike up Takou Mountain and its nature reserve (about an hour away).
  • Enjoy the view from your room and wander along the water’s edge at dusk.
Mui Ne Vietnam

Cow crossings abound just outside the resorts.

Practicing Kitesurfing Mui Ne

Practicing kitesurfing without the surfing part.

Where to stay

I stayed at the beautiful Bien Dua Resort (136 Nguyễn Đình Chiểu St) filled with plants and hammocks, but I would caution those who plan to head there. Like many other guesthouses in Vietnam, you either pay upfront if you like the place, or you make sure you have a Plan B since I was kicked out a few days into my stay when she said new customers had reserved and were coming in. What really happened, I suspect, was that the newer customers did not negotiate down the rates as I did, and thus she could make more money off the room with me not occupying it. Despite the fact that she said the room was available, she changed her mind.

Either way, despite the beautiful environment and upkeep of the rooms I wasn’t terribly impressed, but given the Trip Advisor reviews (at the link above) I got off easy.

Mui Ne tiles Vietnam

Visitor.

From there I moved to Thanh Duy (243 Nguyễn Đình Chiểu street, +84 123 452 685), which was run by a lovely family and the grandmother made what remains one of the best hot Vietnamese coffees I’ve had yet in the country. The rooms were clean and staff very sweet, though it was not overlooking the beach like Bien Dua. I, uh, may or may not have snuck into the resort across the way and used their pool instead.

*cough*

For those looking for dorms or a hostel environment, the very clean Mui Ne Backpackers came highly recommended from a reader I met up with during my time in Mui Ne.

Where to eat

For lunches, Lâm Tòng (92 Nguyễn Đinh Chiêu street +84 62-3847598) is right on the beach, with a dizzying amount of tables set out facing the water. A small balcony area juts out into the beach itself, great for low tide but ill-advised when the water is higher; you will get wet. Some good noodle dishes and fresh fruit options, as well as grilled fish with lemon and the typical Vietnamese staples. Not the best daytime soups – for those, head into Mui Ne itself at 8am or around 4pm for fish pho and other great market eats, or eat the bun bo noodle soup I described in my prior post. However, a solid bet for midday snacking with a view, even if it’s not the best food you’ll eat in Vietnam.

Seafood soup Mui Ne Vietnam

An unusual Christmas lunch of seafood soup and fresh coconut from Lâm Tòng.

If you’re sick of Vietnamese food or beach eats: Sindbad Kebab (233 Nguyễn Đình Chiểu Street) offers something vaguely resembling Mediterranean plates, with kebabs, hummous salads, tsatziki, sweet potato fries and other small dishes. Open late.

For dinner, Taxi Stand Soup (what else can I call it?), the soup I wrote a love affair about in my last post, is my first choice. It’s in the empty lot just before Tutti Frutti restaurant. If you can’t see her, it might be because she’s hidden by all the parked taxis, their drivers slurping up her braised pork soup. No menu – just soup. 25,000 dong – 30,000 dong depending on what you order, with a fresh coconut to accompany it if you’d like (an extra 10,000 dong).

Another option is the seafood place I photographed below, Chi Em (Nguyễn Đình Chiểu Street, no address but on the left side if you’re walking from Mui Ne toward the Russian end of the beach; +84 166 808 4171). Lovely and family owned, it was less touristy than some of the other seafood joints along the beach.  Opt for the tamarind crab, the scallops (fried in pork fat and shallots and served with peanuts) or a smaller fish stuffed with chili, lemongrass, ginger and herbs.

Grilled fish mui ne vietnam

Grilled fish stuffed with chili, herbs and lime.

Mui Ne Food

Mise-en-place for the small outdoor kitchen at Chi Em

Mui Ne Bo Ke offering

No abode (outdoor or otherwise) is complete without a small altar of offerings.

Where to drink

We ended up buying small bottles of Vodka Hanoi (cheap, $1.25 Vietnamese vodka that is distilled from rice.) and mixing drinks on the water’s edge and chatting. These can be procured from any corner store on the beach and in HCMC. Strangely bereft of them in their namesake of Hanoi, and Hanoi friends hadn’t even heard of the stuff. For celiacs: the blue label is distilled from rice, the red label from corn and grains.

For actual bars, ended up at Fun Key Bar (124 Nguyễn Đình Chiểu Street) a few times after dinner. Very reasonably-priced drinks, right at the edge of the water and very nice owners and staff. Open for lunch too, and my wheat-eating friends say their crepes are a good bet. Open quite late.

That’s about it for now! I only spent 6 days in Mui Ne, but it was a fun place to explore, great to be near the beach (though it’s not a lounging beach – be warned! It’s very, very windy) and a fun last-minute decision for a Christmas vacation.

I’ll be based in Ho Chi Minh City for most of my time here; other than the trips to Hanoi and Mui Ne, I will likely explore the Mekong Delta (markets!) and perhaps Hoi An or Hue, but it’s been really wonderful to have a base for these few months. The city’s got no shortage of districts to explore, there are lots of fun people in town and I wake up daily thankful that I’m eating such amazing food.

More soon!

-Jodi

 

33 comments to Mui Ne, Vietnam: where to stay, what to eat & what to do

  1. jodi:
    if you are going to visit the mekong delta, the floating market in can tho is worth a visit. also downtown can tho is full of wonderful street foods and hidden island to explore.

  2. Hi Jodi: If you’re forced to choose between Hoi An and Hue, I’d suggest Hoi An – it’s spectacular. Although the Purple Palace and ruins around Hue are quite magnificent as well. Hugs!

  3. Thanks for putting together this immensely helpful post! We’ll be heading to Vietnam mid-March and would really like to spend a few days exploring Mui Ne… now most of our research is done!

    (Though, as an aside, I can hardly imagine someone ever being tired of Vietnamese food!)

  4. Great and useful tips. Thanks!

  5. Thanks for linking to me in this post, Jodi! You reminded me of a favorite old post and a favorite old beachside town :) So glad you made it to Mui Ne!

  6. That soup and coconut combo looks delicious! I’m liking the “crash courses” for M cities series. Does that mean we can expect a crash course Melbourne? :)

  7. I’ll be going to Vietnam at the end of the summer, I’ll definitely be checking out Mui Ne.

  8. Glad you enjoyed Mui Ne. Very accurate description of the service in Vietnam (gives me a chuckle). I enjoyed my time in Hoi An. Lots to explore. Any of the restaurant cooks will show you around the market or let you into their kitchens for a small fee (although I’m sure you can sweet talk them into it as well.) Also, I’m all for sneaking into resort pools.

  9. more and more reasons to visit vietnam!!

  10. Were you following us? We did 3 days in Mui Ne, starting with the 10 pm bus in HCMC, arriving at 1am, with a drop off at the base of gorgeous Mui Ne hills,
    Departed at 1 am 3 days later on the sleeper to Na Trang, flew to Hoi An, spent 6 days there and loved it.
    Thanks for reminding us. Still waiting for Sheryl to wear her new outfit we made there 11 months ago.

    • Haha, no I am not following. I’m actually staying mostly in Saigon and not going up to Hoi An or Nha Trang. Loved my time here thus far. Hope you and Sheryl are well and hope to see you guys this summer when I’m back in the 514!

  11. We love Mui Ne also! The food, the dunes, the beach…although the waves were massive when we were there and I almost drowned, but besides that, it’s gorgeous! Thanks for the post and tips.

  12. Mui Ne is such a great little place. It has some beautiful scenery-the sand dunes in particular are lovely!

  13. I endeed up there over American Thanksgiving and have to say, the food was amazing, and very different to what I was normally used to for Thanksgiving!

  14. i would highly recommend you hit up hoi an. it’s got some nice beaches and a lovely old town. and best of all, if you need some new threads the tailors there can make you anything in about 24 hours!

  15. Some fantastic tips here…..thanks! I can highly recommend Canary Beach Resort at the far end of the strip away from the centre of town. Great, clean place for about $45 a night. Hire a moto directly across the road for getting around and seeing the sights. Tip – Buy fresh seafood from the locals on the beach after your morning stroll and have it cooked for you for lunch and served buy the pool. Cocktails served in the pool bar till late are a bonus. Also, if you don’t like the bus then take the train from Saigon to Phan Thiet…..only $14 one way. Its a 5 hour trip with soft seats, air con, food car and toilets. If your feeling up to it, try and chat to one of the train staff and upgrade (by way of cash bribe) once on board an score yourself a sleeping car ;)

  16. Hey,
    I went to mui ne and saw that there are a bunch of dragon fruit farms. I never found them after trying very hard :(. Do you know about these? I think the sand dunes are pretty cool too.

  17. Hi, great post! :) Would you know how much it would cost to try kite surfing for a couple of hours? Thanks!

  18. Hello Jodi! I’m contemplating whether I should goto muine or vungtau from ho chin min. The only thing is muine is so far and I don’t know if its worth the trip. Could you let me know your thoughts? Thanks so much!

    • Vung Tau was fun for me because of the food (the banh khot) but for a sports-based beach, definitely Mui Ne. If you’d prefer just beach time without the choppy water, head south to Pho Quoc instead.

      • Thanks for your quick response! I think I’ll visit vAngtau since it doesn’t seem too far to visit. Are there markets in the area and perhaps restaurants you might recommend?

  19. Hey!

    I will be in Mui Ne in September, looking to stay for a while. Hows the job situation there? I’m an English teacher from the UK.. however I wouldn’nt mind doing anything!

  20. Should I stay in HCMC for a day before moving on to Mui Ne? or head to Mui Ne first before returning to HCMC?

  21. Thanks for an informative post. The only thing I would change is NOT to take the bus, but take the train from district 3 HCMC. It’s only four hours, air conditioned, free water and towel and around $8. Only two stops also!

  22. In mui ne right now. Cannot find your soup lady as no locals seem to know where Tutti Frutti is!!

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