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

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?!)

The Legal Nomads Mui Ne Guide

This is the practical part two post!

How to Get to Mui Ne

Bus from Saigon to Mui Ne

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.

Train from Saigon to Mui Ne

Another option, the train!  Friend of Legal Nomads Tom from Vietnam Coracle has written a very helpful post on just how to get to Phan Thiet from Saigon. He notes:

Over the years, I’ve travelled many, many times between Saigon and Phan Thiet/Mui Ne: by bus, bicycle, car, minivan, coach, but most of the time, by motorbike. I love the ride along the Ocean Road from Vietnam’s biggest city to one of its most popular beach retreats. But there is another way: put your motorbike on the train and let the rails carry your wheels. It’s cheap, easy, fun, fast, efficient and relaxing. Even if you’re not taking your motorbike with you, the train is a much better option than taking one of the buses along Highway 1.

While the Saigon-Phan Thiet train is an express service, some trains make short stops at Bien Hoa and Binh Thuan. His post is here, and includes costs, different booking options, and how to take the train if you’re also bringing your motorcycle along for the ride.

For times and schedule, and online purchase of tickets, see Vietnam Railways here.

Note from reader Lilian, who took the train:

The train departed at 6.40am and arrives at Thiet Phat at 11.10am, the journey was very comfortable, we were given bottled water, towel and there is a food cart that comes along the aisles. The ride was so relaxing we both immediately dozed off for a nap for a couple of hours as the train gently rocked along the tracks. TV is on board, good toilet facilities and the cost is approx 140,000 VND each way. We took a taxi from Thiet Phat for 80,000VND only 10 to 15 minutes away.

Motorbike from Saigon to Mui Ne

Back to Tom from Vietnam Coracle, who is all about long bike rides. He writes:

The Ocean Road is the scenic route between Saigon and Mui Ne. Skirting the deserted coastline for much of its length, occasionally ducking inland through cashew trees and dragon fruit plantations, over white salt flats and green rice fields, past hot springs, hilltop pagodas, and dusty villages where ox-drawn carts full of sun-dried hay linger in the heat, the Ocean Road is a destination in itself. It may be longer than the direct route on Highway 1, but the Ocean Road is a far more rewarding, scenic, and relaxing way to travel between Saigon and Mui Ne.

See his post for more!

What to do in Mui Ne

what to see, do and eat in Mui Ne, 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 in Mui Ne

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). Note: reader the Traveling German found the soup and has a bit more details on how to find it here.

Another option is the seafood place I photographed below, Chi Em (195 Nguyễn Đình Chiểu Street; +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 in Mui Ne

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.

More Longform Posts from Around the Web

(None of those crappy 300 word top 10 posts that essentially lead you to sign up for a free ebook but give you very little practical information)

  • Travelfish’s guide to Mui Ne here.
  • Pinay Backbacker’s long Mui Ne guide here.
  • La Vie au Vietnam’s Mui Ne guide for what to do (French).
For those of you heading to Saigon and looking for a guide, I’ve written a far more comprehensive Saigon Guide (clocking in at over 10,000 words!) with where to eat street food, international food, drinks, and also a basics sections for visas, hospitals, taxis and more. 

Travel safe!

-Jodi

59 thoughts on “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. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

    1. 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!

  7. 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.

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

  9. Pingback: » Instagramming Mui Ne The Hipmunk Blog

  10. 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!

  11. 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 ;)

  12. 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.

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

  14. 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!

    1. 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.

      1. 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?

  15. 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!

    1. It’s really up to you Sash! It’s a most-of-the-day trip out there, so i’d do a few days in HCMC then Mui Ne for some variety before returning. Or just go from Mui Ne and continue onwards, seeing HCMC ahead of time.

      1. Thanks Jodi.What is the best form of transportation since I read that we must have a Vietnmaese license to even use a bike?

  16. 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!

  17. I wanted to put a plug in for a guest house called Toan Thang. It was built as part of the the larger and way more expensive surf4you motel, but is managed by another person who runs tours from a shop front across the road. The things we liked about it- it was very reasonably priced at $15/night for 3 people, it is on the beach side of the road with direct close access to the beach, with grass and deck chairs. It is north of town, on the way to the fishing village, so the beach is real sand (not concrete retaining walls), and best of all the man was very kind and honest. I left something in my room that was valuable to me and he sent them on the next bus to the place we were staying (it was the bus driver that didn’t want to give it to me). Also there is a road side eatery down south of the school on the right just beside a stream where we had very very nice pho. Also a lady walks from the fishing village each day carrying very yummy dumplings with ginger in them in not too sweet syrup with crushed peanuts on top – yum!

    1. Thanks Mara. Always good to hear from others who’ve had successful stays. Hope you enjoyed your time! (Yes to the ginger dumplings with rice paper wrappings – those were great!)

  18. Hi Jodi
    Good Morning
    Thanks for this last night was awesome. It is a big help. Last night trying to find it and can’t find because there is no address written so we did a spontaneously driving along the road and I am hoping to my self to find it. And we can’t find. So decided just to stop to one of seaside seafood restaurant small and empty maybe because its low season, so I went to look and ask then I noticed a table and the BBQ stand, remembered the pic that you posted and asked them is this is chi em and they said yes. Suddenly the happiness on my face came out:) and the guys asked is your friend recommend you here? I said no I read about your place on the internet. And he was shocked but happy :) then I ordered the sane fish as you mentioned :) they ask for 100,000 vnd and I got it for 80,000 vnd :D and a kilo of clams for 50,000vnd. I was so full :D its very good and cheap….. and also friendly staff not like lam tom where I used to like lam tom expensive for the quality and quantity. Anyways I went to thank you. And tonight we are planning to go back again :)

  19. And oh before I forget, Chi Em address as I asked its 120 Nguyen Dinh chieu on the same side of Dragon Beach…. and when you go there tell them tat you find them on the internet :) they might give you discount. :)

    1. Went on a desperate hunt for this soup and couldn’t find it, nor could we find anyone who knew what the tutti frutti was. It is supposedly near a place called Pongo beach bar but still couldn’t find it. Either way we found Chi Em. It is delish. The address is 195 not 120 if you use Google maps. 120 doesn’t take you quite far enough. Great post! Love reading your blog, hopefully we will find the soup tomorrow before we leave!

  20. Hi Jodi
    Tonight I fallowed again your advise, we are here now in Sindbad Kebab place and we are happy we came here and tried it. Its cheap as ever and quality, quantity is just great. Me and bf had ciabatta with olives and the quantity of olives was surprisingly good amount :) for only 35,000vnd for appetizer. And my bf had chicken kebab and mine if beef kebab for 40,000vnd each for small an its already enough to fill your stomach actually we are really full and it is very good. We decided to stay one more day :) so we will try more of your advice :) I am happy I found this site ;) hope we can get again a helpful advice in the future destination :) me and my bf seen out Regards to you and thank you.

  21. Hi thanks for your blog useful information. My husband and I are in Mui Ne having a beach break from HCMC.
    Just for your information and it may have been mentioned I another comment, we arrived here by train yesterday.
    The train departed at 6.40am and arrives at Thiet Phat at 11.10am, the journey was very comfortable, we were given bottled water, towel and there is a food cart that comes along the aisles. The ride was so relaxing we both immediately dozed off for a nap for a couple of hours as the train gently rocked along the tracks. TV is on board, good toilet facilities and the cost is approx 140,000 VND each way. We took a taxi from Thiet Phat for 80,000VND only 10 to 15 minutes away.

  22. Hi Jodi.
    Thanks for all usefull information given. Me and my husband went to Mui ne a couple of weeks ago (the very beggining of January’15). We took a Futa bus from Saigon. While on board driver’s assistant asked everyone about the final destanation in Mui Ne. They droped all people off where they asked them to. All these buses terminate at the Mui ne Futa bus station (20 Huynh Thuc Khang). But if you live further away towards malibu beach, there will be free Futa mini buses available for you at the station. It seems driver’s assistant arranges shuttles in advance so when you get off the bus at the station that mini bus’s been waiting for you already (that’s how it happened in our case).
    Thanks for sharing your experience!

  23. Thanks for the tips, we just arrived in mui ne today will be following some of your ideas. We took one of the comfy sleeper buses from hcm even thought it was at 8am. It took about 5 hours to get here and we paid $6 bucks for it, just so you guys know.

  24. Hello! Came across your blog and found it extremely useful! :)

    I was just wondering if the bus timings are still accurate? I know this was published in 2013 so I just wanted to make sure… And it’s so hard to find the timings online.

    I’ll be arriving at HCM airport around 8am and intend to head to Mui Ne on that day itself. Any idea what are the timings for the buses and bus operators? Wondering if there’s one around 10am to noon..

    Thank you!!

  25. Hi Jodi,
    Thanks for the valuable tips! I tried to click on the link for the FUTA bus but could not find anywhere where I can choose the bus timing. May I know the location to board the FUTA bus and how do I select for specific timing on the FUTA website?

    TIA!

    Cheers,
    Alicia

  26. Hi Jodi,

    Your post has been very helpful for planning our trip to Mui Ne from HCMC. My husband and I are looking into either taking the train or a bus (Futa bus as you recommend). Do you know if there are any baggage restrictions if we take the bus? From what I understand, you can only take a carry-on baggage on the train (please correct me if I am wrong), and we are both taking pretty big suitcases for our trip. What would you recommend? Can we still take the bus? THANK YOU!

    1. Hi Mariangel, I’m not sure of luggage restrictions or if you have to pay for bigger bags but the buses do have underneath storage as many buses do, and people were transporting big boxes with them as well as luggage so I think it ought to be ok! I don’t know about train luggage as I have not taken it but perhaps Seat61.com has more info for you.

  27. Thank you for the very kind comments, especially about the food !!

    As for the hotel, I cant say much because I was using Airbnb when I stayed there. Just that I stayed in a unique french/Vietnamese Villa, which I highly recommend if you go there with friends or family!

    FYI : https://fr.airbnb.com/rooms/5098087

  28. Hi Jodi, today is my third day in Mui Ne. I was taken by the way you describe the soup and seafood. So, I cycled my way out to look for the soup and the seafood restaurant locations. The soup lady has opened its own shop and the Chi em restaurant address is really hard to find. However, I feel rewarded when I sat down and tasted their food. It is very good and the best. Thanks for your post!

  29. In Mui Ne, I liked Fairy Stream and sand dunes the most. It is a pity that there is so much rubbish. I hope they will pay more attention to cleaning.

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