On the southern Vietnam coast, Mui Ne is perfect if you’re in need of an escape from the chaos of Ho Chi Minh City. Or maybe you simply just want some sunshine after the cooler climate of Dalat. The beach town of Mui Ne ticks all the boxes for Vietnam backpackers. This year round destination attracts as many holidaymakers as backpackers, all of them looking to relax by the beach, sip Saigon by the pool or try their hand at kite surfing.
For some reason, Mui Ne seems to be especially popular with Russian holidaymakers heading to Vietnam. Perhaps they’re just looking to escape their winters, but anyway you’ll see plenty of menus in their native Cyrillic.
Ready to start planning your trip? Our guide to the best things to do in Mui Ne is here to help!
- Getting There
- Things to Do in Mui Ne
- Visit the Sand Dunes
- Hit the Beach
- Where to Stay
- Where to Eat
- Mui Ne Summary
- Mui Ne Budget Breakdown
Mui Ne is located in the South of Vietnam, and easily reachable from Ho Chi Minh City and Dalat:
5 hour bus ride – be warned that the road is not the best so may be quite a bumpy journey. As per usual in South East Asia, a transfer will pick you up from your accommodation and take you to the central bus terminal where they fill the buses.
Fancy a more scenic option? An Easy Rider tour from Dalat to Mui Ne includes a motorbike guide, accommodation and food. We heard lots of good things about these tours from other backpackers and it certainly seems worth splashing out a bit more on if you have the time & money. There are also options to cycle between the two towns – read more about it here.
FROM HO CHI MINH CITY
This journey also takes around 5 hours and buses leave frequently throughout the day/night. Best bet is to book through your accommodation.
Things to Do in Mui Ne
Visit the Sand Dunes
The White and Red Sand Dunes are one of the top things to do whilst you’re in Mui Ne. You’ll see a lot of hostels, resorts and tour operators all offering bespoke tours. Be sure to shop around as they definitely seemed to vary in price. Most tours will include a visit to both dunes, the fishing village, lotus lake and Fairy Stream. Our hostel – Mui Ne Hills – offered the tour with either private jeep or the cheaper group bus with other backpackers and the option of going at sunrise or sunset.
We went to the White Sand Dune for sunrise, using a local tour operator to arrange a private jeep for 450,000 for 4 passengers. It would have been better to rent a bike and go ourselves, but the police are making it awfully expensive for tourists who dare to drive to the dunes.
Unless you have a Vietnamese driving licence, expect to pay a 1,000,000-2,000,000D on-the-spot “fine” which you won’t be able to talk your way out of. Thankfully, our hostel warned us against this, and we were glad they had as we saw a police car loitering around the main junction on our way there.
We were picked up by our less-than-charming driver at 4.30am for the 30-minute drive to the dunes. The sunrise was spectacular and well worth the early alarm. Don’t miss this out on your Mui Ne itinerary in Vietnam (especially when it’s one of the only things to do!)
WEE TIP: When you arrive at the dunes, do not fall for quad bike/buggy scam (price: 400,000d/ $17). YOU CAN WALK (it’s not 3km to the top like our driver tried to claim). It took us around 10 minutes uphill and walking also means that you can choose your own area away from all the other tourists (and their buggy tracks!)
For some people, Vietnam, and more specifically, Mui Ne, has a huge kitesurfing appeal. If you’re a newbie, it’s not cheap. Starting price for lessons is around £45/per hour. We saw a lot of companies offering deals like ‘free first lesson’, but this still seemed expensive on our budget and wasn’t on our priority list. Seeing the kites along the coastline is pretty cool though!
Hit the Beach
We’ve got to be honest, for a ‘beach’ town Mui Ne centre lacked a…beach. Unless you’re staying in one of the many holiday resorts with a private beach it was tricky to find a public section of coastline that wasn’t full of both rubbish and crowds. We even saw some diggers building the ‘beaches’ where new resorts were under construction. Most people didn’t seem to mind this, as they were either chilling by their accommodation pool, or in the water kitesurfing. Since we were flying to the Philippines a couple days later, a beach wasn’t a huge priority for us.
If you really are desperate to find a beach for the day, you’re best to rent a scooter and head further out of town, past the red sand dunes. Sadly, we did not have the time for this. Our jeep and our initial bus in to town passed some nice looking spots on the coastline between here (11.014843, 108.353679) and here (10.954451, 108.306417) on Google Maps.
Our recommendation? Choose a backpackers hostel in Mui Ne with a pool. Especially when it’s 87p a night!
Where to Stay
MUI NE HILLS BUDGET our choice
Who can argue with dorms for just 87p a night?! Mui Ne Hills is the backpacker ‘resort’ of choice and it’s easy to see why – although it can get pretty confusing as there are three buildings with different names. With access to two pools, clean but basic rooms, lots of organised activities and a good social scene (be sure to check out the pool pillow fight…) it is ridiculously good value for money. We stayed in both the Budget Hotel (dorm) and Bliss Hotel (private) and would recommend both. The newest building is called Mui Ne Hills Backpackers, which is closest to the pool.
Where to Eat
In general, we were pretty disappointed with the food in Mui Ne, especially in comparison to the rest of Vietnam. In Mui Ne, eating out was certainly not one of the top things to do. Restaurants are extremely catered to tourists, with all menus in both Russian and English before Vietnamese. Breakfast at Mui Ne Hills Backpackers is reasonable value at 50,000D including a drink, so we opted for this most mornings. We made the mistake of eating at restaurants on the path from the main road to Mui Ne Hills a couple of times – don’t bother. They’re instantly forgettable and cashing in on being close to backpacker accommodation. Walk a little further and there are a few places worth checking out on the main street.
We stumbled upon this place by accident and found it to have the best local food– be sure to try the beef fried noodles and chicken curry! Expect to pay around 90,000D for two people.
RESTAURANT QUAN AN
This street food joint always seemed to be busy with locals and tourists alike and shuts whenever it runs out of food, so bear this in mind if you’re arriving after 8pm! The Pho (beef or seafood) was the best we tried in Mui Ne and will only set you back 30,000D – the cheapest we’d seen in the town.
In Mui Ne you’ll find everything from Mexican food to American bars, anything catering to sunburnt holiday-makers. On our last night in Mui Ne, a little bored of the only decent local food we could find, we decided to try something different and have some Indian food. We may be biased being from Glasgow (which probably has some of the best Indian food outside of India), but the fare here was pretty average to us and pretty expensive for Vietnam. If you’re looking for something different though and don’t get to sample Indian food too often, then this is the best Indian place in town.
BARISTA BIKE CAFE
We must admit, we were surprised to find nice coffee in Mui Ne! A great pick-me-up and something to cure the sore heads after the hostel happy hours, Barista Bikes have great staff, a cute little shack and great prices for quality coffee. They seem to open whenever they like, and close whenever they want, so don’t expect an early morning caffeine-fix. If you’re really struggling in the morning, we also thought the espresso in Red Pho was not bad, and the pho is pretty well reviewed too. Sip back your coffee with speedy wifi and refreshing air-conditioning.
KATIE’S COFFEE HOUSE
The stale breakfasts in Katie’s Coffee House are pretty pricey and should be skipped, but the coffee got a pass from us. Only if Barista Bike haven’t decided to open yet, and only if you’ve walked this far down.
OLD FASHIONED BAR
We never made it in to one of the many taxis heading from Mui Ne Hills to downtown Mui Ne, but if you do the Old Fashioned Bar serves up quality drinks in its classy establishment. Other guests in the hostel raved about the live music and party atmosphere – we stuck to the scummy backpacker digs.
We hope our Guide to the Top Things to do in Mui Ne is helpful when planning your trip! Let us know if you end up going to Mui Ne in our Comments section below. For more Southern Vietnam guides, check out our WIT article Top 11 Things to do in Hoi An. Additionally, you can find all our WIT articles here for travel inspiration and budget tips.
Mui Ne Summary
- Bus from Da Lat
- Check into Mui Ne Hills and relax at pool
- Dinner at Quan An
- Sunrise Sand Dunes tour
- Lunch at Choi Oi
- Kitesurfing lesson
- Check out and bus to Ho Chi Min City
- Mui Ne Hills Budget Hotel (Dorm)
- Mui Ne Hills Backpackers
- Bliss Hotel (Private)
- Choi Oi
- Restaurant Quan An
Mui Ne Budget Breakdown
- Da Lat – Mui Ne bus terminal
- Journey time: around 5 hours
- 130,000d pp
- Taxi to Mui Ne Hills (meter): 50,000d (for 4 passengers)
Total: 285,000d ($13.50)
Mui Ne Hills Budget Hotel
- 6-bed dorm
- 40,000d price per person, per night (x2 nights)
Mui Ne Hills Bliss Hotel
- Double room
- 400,000d per night (x1 night)
Total: 560,000d ($24)
- Sand Dunes sunrise tour
- 450,000d (4 passenger jeep)
- Entrance: 10,000d ($0.40) per person
Total: 245,000d ($10)
- Mui Ne Bus Terminal – Saigon Bus terminal
- 130,000d per person
Total: 260,000d ($11)
Total for 4D/3N: 1,375,000d ($58.50)
The above budget is for x2 people. Food and drink is not included.
This budget breakdown isn’t meant to be an exact record of what we spent, but should give you a rough idea of what you’re likely to spend.
*all currencies accurate at the time of writing
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