After visiting Mui Ne there was one question on our minds. Was Mui Ne really worth visiting?
We were drawn to this seaside town by the Fairy Stream and infamous San Dunes which, we have to admit we found through Instagram pictures. Who knew there were sand dunes in Vietnam?!
While we were there however, we found it to be overly touristy and very expensive by Vietnam standards. We also found that to access the beach you needed to book a hotel on the beach otherwise you would have to pay to get onto the sand. Annoying!
Maybe if we had booked a hostel nearer to the west side of the strip we would have let been better off as we have been told this is where all the action is if you are a backpacker and not staying in a hotel. The most popular hostel in the area seems to be Mui Ne Hills Backpacker which costs £1 a night and even has a rooftop pool! It is also nearby to a public part of the beach which is free to access for the public. We have been told that you have to get to the beach early as it fills up pretty quickly bring the only freely accessible part of the strip.
We found that there isn’t much to see and do in Mui Ne apart from seeing the Fairy Springs, dunes, sunbathing and wind sports – which are a big deal in Mui Ne as it is the windiest part of Vietnam!
The Fairy Springs
We were really excited to visit the Fairy Springs as the name would suggest that it would be floaty and magical and home to many fairies. Whilst we were hoping for whimsical we found it rather worn out. Whilst the walk along the stream was very scenic, with the red and white sandstone rocks stealing the show, it was somewhat ruined by the amount of rubbish that was floating around.
To be honest we didn’t spend as much time here as we thought we would, maybe it was the ostrich farm that offered bird riding that dampened the mood? We just thought they could have done so much more with this beautiful, natural spot. It was however, free to walk down which I suppose you could call a bonus but I would have been happy to pay even just a little bit of money if it meant the locals taking care of his space.
Red and White Sand Dunes
Many tours in the Mui Ne area offer combined trips to the local fishing village, the sand dunes AND the Fairy springs. We had already done the Fairy Spring the day before so asked our guide to miss this out. The stop at the fishing village was also missable as we could only look at it from above and couldn’t go down to the actual village.
However, our favourite part of Mui Ne was the spectacular sand dunes. We booked a tour for about 2pm so that we could be on the dunes for the start of sunset.
Our first stop was to the White Dunes. These are further away from Mui Ne so are almost always the first set of dunes you stop at, however I’m sure yours would take you the other way around if you asked nicely. These dunes are taller and more spread out than the Red Dunes, meaning there is an option for you to rent dune buggies to get you up to the top. We chose to walk so that we could take pictures at our own will and didn’t find walking up and around them too tiring. It felt amazing to be in such an unusual place for Vietnam and as these are still quite unknown places, the white dunes in particular, are pretty empty most of the time. We had a great time gallivanting through the sand and looking out at the endless dunes.
After an hour we met up with our driver again and he took us to the red dunes. We had heard that at these dunes children try and sell you bits of plastic so that you can ride down the dunes. However, we didn’t see any children approaching anyone on the dunes and there were only a couple of women at the entrance who didn’t bother anyone too much – we think they may be cracking down on this.
As we said earlier the red dunes are smaller than the white dunes meaning that you can easily walk up them and find your own spot to take in the sites. Because we went on a later tour it meant that we arrived at the Red Dunes a little before sunset, which made the lighting a little yellow, making the dunes look more magnificent. There were more tourists at this site, taking pictures and sliding down the dunes but there is enough sand for everyone to enjoy a good selfie and not feel like you are all packed in.
Would we go back to Mui Ne? No. Would we recommend staying there? If you like water sports and want to see the sand dunes – yes, but only for a night or two.