“Believe in the good of people! Believe in the good of people!!”
That was what I chanted repeatedly in my head, as I started to panic in what seems like 2 days prior to my first solo leisure trip. Further to that, in either the most exciting or foolish ways ever, I’d engaged the services of an Easy Rider (yes, think male and big bike!) to ferry me from Ho Chi Minh City to Mui Ne. It has just struck my mind that it might actually be a dangerous thing to do…
It all started with a photo. A like-minded Instagram (IG) friend has gone on a backpacking trip. Upon his return, he posted several pictures of his extended vacation and one caught my eye – a happy image of several tourists running down the white sand dunes in Mui Ne. The image lingered on. During one boring afternoon at work, I stumbled upon some dirt-cheap air fares (perpetual wanderlust propels me to constantly check out airline websites) and the rest is history.
Mũi Né is a coastal resort town in the Binh Thuan Province of southeastern Vietnam. Located close to the city of Phan Thiết, it boosts beautiful tropical beaches, unique sand dunes that resembles mini deserts as well as natural red canyons among other interesting attractions. Popular for its kite-surfing and wind-surfing activities, Mui Ne is hot and dry with strong breeze throughout most of the year. To get there, you can either take a flight to Ho Chi Minh or Nha Trang and transfer via tour buses. Alternatively, you may also hire an Easy Rider like I did.
Despite its “pea” size as compared to other towns of Vietnam, Mui Ne has much to offer. The company of a seasoned Easy Rider certainly helped to “open” my eyes to some lesser-known (but beautiful!) parts of this special destination. I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking.
Things To Do
Hop on a Easy Rider’s bike and have the “ride” of your life! Travelling by bike is one of the best ways to visit Vietnam. Upon landing in HCM, i hopped onto Mr. Binh’s bike and off we go! (Yes, sometimes i do crazy stuffs like this but thanks god, Mr. Binh was very reliable, professional and quite simply, safe.)
Visit a dragon fruit farm! Known as Thanh Long, dragon fruits thrive in this part of the country! Bite into the sweet fruit and indulge in the freshness. We zroom off with my dragon fruit in hand. Juices dripped down my chin as I multi-tasked between juggling the camera, phone, eating and keeping balance. Totally unglam, but totally loving it!
Hold on! Let’s make a pit -stop! Have a cuppa Vietnamese coffee in one of the local shack! Pit-stops lined the road and many a times, we stopped for a short break. Just taking in the breeze, have a drink and chill. I believe this is what they called a “perfect holiday”.
Wave hello as you zoom past the salt farm! Or perhaps you wanna stop and lick some salt? Hehe, The salt water reflects the sky, making it seems like heaven on earth~
Learn. Knowledge is wealth, and sometimes we travel to know more. Mr. Binh gestured for me to take some pictures as he slowed down. These are people who stayed by the coast and live day-to-day, depending on their luck at sea. They do not even have electricity and have to live in dark by night. The frivolous me who initially thought it great to live by such beautiful sea, feels solemn. Mr. Binh called them – the real Vietnamese.
Appreciate nature in the form of lil “grand” Canyon. A natural formation that overlooks the sea, it makes a pretty landscape for the local children to play.
Take in the romantic view of the Ke Ga Lighthouse and dream… Located 4km from Phant Thiet, this lighthouse is one of the famous historical vestiges in Binh Thuan province. Built in 1897 by a French architect named Chnavat, the lighthouse is reputed to be one of the most beautiful lighthouses in Southeast Asia! I always have the notion that lighthouses are romantic… do you agree?
Walk along the Fairy Stream, feel the cool freshness of the water and smooth mud beneath. Not unlike a spa foot bath, the fairy stream is a little river that winds its way through bamboo forests, boulders and the dunes behind the village, in parts resembling a miniature version of the Grand Canyon.
Titanium in abundance! I am constantly amazed by the vast amount of natural resources in Mui Ne. I told Mr. Binh, this is like BLACK GOLD! Nonplussed, he told me simply, “move to Mui Ne, Karen. We will sell these titanium and make our riches”.
Enjoy sunrise at the Red Sand Dunes with a cuppa ice coffee~ My obsession with sunrises and sunsets had me sneaking out of the guesthouse at 4+am. It was worth it though. 🙂 The Red Sand Dunes is a fascinating geological phenomenon that is constantly shifting! This small patch of “desert” is said to be expanding (not sure how true is that) but this is easier to explore on foot as compared to the White Sand Dunes (much farther). I would say both sand dunes are charming in their own ways.
Don’t miss the White Sand Dunes too! Also known as Bao Trang (White Lake), it is one of the top attraction of Mui Ne. The dunes range from gold to pure white. It is best to explore it on a 4WD though because the sand are so fine that you literally sink with each step you take!
Mr. Binh wrote my name in the sand and let the wind carry it away~
Visit Po Klong M’hnai and relive forgotten memories. A forgotten Champa tower that is located in Phan Thiet. It is devoted to the worship of the last king of Champa.
Catching the sunset of South Vietnam… Do u see a dragon? I do. (Coincidentally, this picture was taken in the year of Dragon too.)
Take a cable car up to Takou Mountain! Located 30 km south of Phan Thiet city, the Takou Mountain Pagoda (also known as Linh Son Truong Tho pagoda) is surrounded by forests and mountains, and accessible by cable cars. Did i mentioned i hate heights? That explains the over-enthu smile plus the German couple who insisted on helping me take a pic, just proclaimed they are very very rich retirees (confounded).
Also known as the Sleeping Buddha, the statue of “Sakyamuni’s nirvana”, lies at the highest point, measuring 49 m in length and 10 m in height.
Relax by the beach~ Mui Ne is actually very popular for its kite-surfing activities but the season I went happened to be rainy!
Indulge in the finer things in life – Spa in Vietnam is relatively of good value and I had one of the best massage session in this spa center.
Visit local farms and gain greater insights to everyday life! Do you know mountain lizards are local delicacies? Reputed to be very very delicious, their $value has inflated significantly in recent years due to overwhelming demand and dwindling supply.
It’s time to HARVEST peanuts. This family harvest peanuts for a livelihood and they are located just opposite the uncle who owns the lizard farm. This was actually quite fun though I have to say I didnt do it very well. The fellow workers mostly stopped, stared and laughed. And we all laughed along. 🙂
Drop by Mui Ne village & blend in! This is one of my favourite part of the trip as I watched everyone bustling around the beautiful seaside at dawn. Work is hard but the smiles of their faces are bright. These are good, hardworking people who give meaning to life.
Tuck in to local yummies! Mr. Binh took me to the local market where we settled our breakfast of Ban Xeo and Banh Mi (akin to Vietnamese sandwiches)! The food was so good that I constantly craves for it!
As usual, my tradition of sending postcards is made easy, as the mailbox & post office are just a couple streets away from my guesthouse. You know you are special, if you received it.
Bask in the sunshine! Blue waters, green fields, cows grazing grass and me… basking in the sunshine, with a smile of my face. Life is good. Akin to a precious pearl that still lies within its shell, the subtle glow of Mui Ne belies a natural beauty that you will never be tired of. I hope you will enjoy Mui Ne as much as I do.
The above information has been complied based on various sources, including my own experience and should only be used as a reference. For more information on the destination, do check out http://www.vietnamtourism.com/.