Between Desert and Sea, Mui Ne
In Mui Ne, you get to see both the weary, yet serene lives of local people and beautiful views of the Vietnamese tourist destination.
Author Haruki Murakami wrote in his travel essay that he travels to Laos to figure out what there is. Sometimes you get tired or disappointed while traveling, but the Japanese author thought traveling is about ‘finding something that was not assumed.’
Searching for Something in Mui Ne
In that aspect, Vietnam’s Mui Ne is a destination with many ‘somethings’ to be found. For tourists, there are a variety of things to see and experience in Mui Ne, but more importantly it’s a place where you can naturally feel what the everyday life of the locals is like.
Mui Ne is a ward of the city of Phan Thiet in the south-central Binh Thuan Province of Vietnam. A ward would be similar to Korean ‘dong.’ It is the smallest administrative unit. Only a couple of pages are on Mui Ne if you read the travel guides on Vietnam available in Korea. It is simply described as a small resort destination that takes five hours from Ho Chi Minh City by bus. If you are looking to have a unique experience among local people in a rural area in Vietnam, there are not a lot of places more suitable for you than Mui Ne.
Hop on a bus in Ho Chi Minh City and five hours later, you’ll arrive in Mui Ne. Depending on how long you will stay in Mui Ne, you can adjust your departure time. For example, if you take a sleeping bus departing from the city at night, you can get to your destination at daybreak, meaning you can be time-efficient. If you have a lot of time to spare, you may leave during the day.
Mui Ne

Travelers walking on the valley stretched between the red sanded wall and lush forest

Fairy Stream

‘Fairy Stream,’ with its red muddy water,’ is a popular Instagrammable spot.

A Stream Only Fairies can Make
Start your day early in the morning, pass Bo Ke Street downtown to head to the seaside, and you will come across the ‘Fairy Stream’(Suoi Tien in Vietnamese). The name originates from a belief that the stream never dries no matter how droughty it may be. Years of erosion caused the sinking of red sand hills, and lime water flows along the dunes, forming a long valley. If you look closely at the shallow stream, you will see that it is red muddy water. The sand is soft and fine, making it pleasant to wade in the stream barefooted. After walking for a while along the waterway, you will find yourself surrounded by limestone hills that remind you of a droid battle scene from the movie . You will easily understand why the place is called ‘Little Grand Canyon.’ The shape and composition of the geological features are similar to those of the Grand Canyon in the U.S. It’s on a much smaller scale, though.
Continue walking between the red sanded wall and the lush forest on the opposite side. At the end of the narrow path appear a couple of street vendors, restaurants, and a small waterfall. A glass of beer with some ice can be purchased at one of the street vendors to end your trek along the Fairy Stream.
Mui Ne

Mui Ne Fishing Village looks peaceful, with large fishing boats and round, thung chai basket boats coming into view.

Mui Ne

A fishing village resident looking out toward the beach in Mui Ne

Mui Ne

Ca com, an ingredient for nuoc mam, is caught in huge amounts in Mui Ne.

Real Life in the Fishing Village
Five minutes in the car from the Fairy Stream, you reach the Fishing Village that’s 3km away. It literally is a small fishing village in Mui Ne.
Before becoming a resort town, Mui Ne was a fishing village entirely dependent on fishing for its economy. Many local people still rely on marine products for their living. Entering the village, you see the rows of fishing boats crowding the harbor and fishermen handling the nets. There are ‘thung chai’ boats that are round-shaped basket boats made with densely-woven bamboo trees, small ferry boats, and motored double deckers. The atmosphere is filled with the fishy smell unique to fishing villages, but that’s also a part of life for the residents of Mui Ne.
Mui Ne

A fisherman cleaning up his boat after work

If you visit the Fishing Village early, you can see fishing boats coming into the dock with a boatful of fish. In order to buy fresh fish on the spot, you need to haggle a little bit, but prices are cheaper there than at Bo Ke Street famous for seafood. One whole lobster can be bought for less than 5,000 won. You can also ask around to ride a thung chai and head out to the sea for a maritime experience.
Mui Ne

Fishermen pulling in the large net that they cast early in the morning

Walking on the beach, you may see people tugging hard at a giant fishing net. It would be covered with ‘ca com fish,’ which resembles anchovy, that got caught in the net overnight. Ca com is used as an ingredient for the Vietnamese fish sauce called ‘nuoc mam,’ which is considered to be the soul of Vietnamese cuisine. Mui Ne is famous for its production of nuoc mam. Along with ca com, sun-dried squids are also a local specialty of Mui Ne.
Mui Ne

Sand dunes viewed from above

Sand Dunes Created by Winds
The most popular tourist attraction in Mui Ne is the desert. Some may wonder about the existence of a desert in Vietnam. To be precise, it is an area where the sand-carrying wind drops its load, creating massive dunes near the coast. There are two sand dunes in Mui Ne. In downtown, you can visit the Red Sand Dunes. About 40km away from the city are the White Sand Dunes.
Mui Ne

Mui Ne residents walking across sand dune

Mui Ne

Travelers enjoy sand surfing on dunes

The Red Sand Dunes are famous for their beautiful sunset vista. Most of the tourists visiting the dunes wait for the sun to go down while enjoying riding on a 3,000-won sand sled. Being near the sea, the sand is high in salt and moisture content. It could easily cling to your clothes, so you need to check for it once you’re done with the visit to the dunes.
Mui Ne

White Sand Dunes are adjacent to the Mui Ne ocean.

Mui Ne

A tourist on a quad bike

The White Sand Dunes, on the contrary, offer a great sunrise vista. Many travelers who have gone through Mui Ne say they have seen ‘the sunrise of lifetime.’ The White Sand Dunes are bigger than the Red Sand Dunes in size. On the opposite side of the White Sand Dunes, you can find various activities including 4x4 rides, quad driving, and sand sledding, and have fun while enjoying the exotic landscape.
Most of the lodging facilities in Mui Ne provide information on the next day’s sunset and sunrise hours for the convenience of travelers. If you plan on going to the White Sand Dunes for a sunrise, you’d better book a taxi ride a day before. Grab service, a car share platform available in Southeast Asia, is pretty much everywhere, but it hasn’t been activated in Mui Ne, as of yet.
Mui Ne

Phan Thiet Central Market is a popular spot among the locals.

Mui Ne

Bikes are a common sight in Vietnam.

Mui Ne

Banh xeo, a popular snack for the Vietnamese

Marketplace in Mui Ne
Mui Ne has a marketplace called Cho Muine. In Vietnamese, ‘Cho’ means market. Mostly frequented by the locals, the marketplace mainly deals with daily necessities, fruits, and seafood, rather than souvenirs for tourists. You can buy a kilogram of mangoes for 20,000 dong, equivalent of 1,000 won. If you plan on going out in the evening, try Phan Thiet Central Market. It’s a large-scale marketplace in the city, located 20 minutes away from downtown Mui Ne. People who live in Mui Ne also go out to the city market on weekends for shopping or dining. Compared to Bo Ke Street which gets crowded with tourists, the Phan Thiet market is more suitable to enjoy affordable and diverse dining options just like local people do.



Where to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City: LOTTE HOTEL SAIGON
Located right off the Saigon River, LOTTE HOTEL SAIGON offers a beautiful river view. Its diverse, up-scale dining options include buffet restaurant Atrium Cafe featuring new cuisine every month, Crystal Jade Palace known for its world-class Asian dishes, and authentic Japanese restaurant Yoshino. In addition, guests have access to the hotel’s top-of-the-line fitness equipment and sauna, as well as the outdoor pool that is the most spacious and elegant in Ho Chi Minh City, guaranteed to satisfy their needs.

Address 2A-4A Ton Duc Thang Street District 1, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, LOTTE HOTEL SAIGON
Inquiry +84-28-3823-3333
December 2020 Editor:Jung Jaewook

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  • December 2020
  • Editor: Jung Jaewook
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