Mui Ne Itinerary, Vietnam

There's so Mui Ne things you can do in Vietnam

I've noticed that during my travels I felt more contented if I reached the countryside. This is where you see a country's authenticity especially with your interaction with the locals, with their food, culture, and tradition. It is way better rendered in the province compared when in the city. 

Before that let me tell you about something about me. When I was young my brother and I would watch our VHS Tapes in the living room. He always allows me to watch my favorite Disney movies. I always picked the Little Mermaid and the Aladdin, I think he likes the Arabian nights compared to the underwater scenes too. Since then I've been curious about seeing the Sand Dunes plus with the great influence of the Disney Movie "Aladdin". I've always imagined the Arabian Nights a mysterious and dangerous place. However, I've still fancied to see these expansive piece of land despite the horrors I've seen in movies. 

When I knew that Vietnam has this kind of place I've set out a plan and made sure to have it written in my itinerary. Mui Ne is a place located in the southwest region of Vietnam, 5  to 6 hours drive away from the main city of Ho Chi Minh, depends on the traffic. A road less traveled due to its distance which is energy and time-consuming. Let's go!

How to get there: Ho Chi Minh to Mui Ne

Bus from Ho Chi Minh to Mui Ne
Bus fare: 140,000 VND 
Travel time: 5-6 hours

My mum had a 20 kg luggage and it was really hard for me to  roll it on the uneven street. If you're traveling from one place to another make sure just to bring a backpack with you. I'm quite used to this kind of traveling, it makes me relax and think clearly. Back in Philippines we would always take the bus to travel the north or south end of Cebu. The beach is awesome in this part of the island. It's worth every inch of those bumpy roads and the agonizing bladder break deprivation. 

Check out: Vietnam Itinerary First Day in Ho Chi Minh Cu Chi Tunnel, Ho Chi Minh Vietnam Mekong Delta River, Vietnam Ho Chi Minh City Tour, Vietnam Saigon to Mui Ne. 

Traveling to Mui Ne in comfortable seats is a must. The Hanh Bus Liner is a great ride for long hours trip, the adjustable seats and dim lights are conducive for sleeping. They also provide a free water bottle for each passenger. The thought of seeing the white and red sand dunes of Vietnam is worth traveling for.

We took the bus from HCMC by booking a day early in our hotel. On the way you can ask the bus driver to drop you off in front of your hostel. In the southern region of Vietnam, the people still prefer to call Ho Chi Minh City or HCMC by its old name "Saigon". I will be using Saigon too this time around for this post.

We passed by several coffee shops outside the city. I've noticed one shop has a hammock inside the cafe and nearby the table just beside it, I thought that looked pretty cool. Then all of a sudden all the coffee shops we've passed by have it. People outside Saigon really knows how to have a good time. The bus service was comfortable, some seat lever was not working so if you managed to find a good one take it. It's a long ride ahead so being comfortable is your main priority. My mum and I transferred to the top bunker with a lever that pulls the chair to a seating position. We had one stopover for bladder break and for short snack time.

What to do in Mui Ne

Welcome to Mui Ne! Now what?!

After more than 5 hours' journey, we've reached our destination. For Hanh bus liner they stop at their headquarters approximately 200 metres away from Mui Ne Backpacker Village. An easy brisk walk to see nearby restaurants and shops before checking in the hostel. Some said you can actually take a train from HCMC to Phan Thiet. Then in the afternoon, you can take a local bus directly from the train station. If you arrive late you will need to take a taxi to Mui Ne. Anyways, I actually expected the bus to stop in our hostel but to our surprise, it didn't. Good thing the bus has a wifi service so before heading down I google map our hostel indicating how far we were from the bus stop. It showed just a walking distance from our stop point and I double confirmed with the bus operators. When you often travel especially backpacking you will develop this travel instinct, a deep attraction to distance and place Or let's say here I go again with my imagination in my own world.  Nah! Its really google map that showed me the right direction. Anyways, Always trust your instinct! the map showed me we had to go in the opposite direction which contradicts what the operator instructed us. I asked him again, showed the map and that's when he was convinced that he gave the wrong way, or simply agreed to get rid of one annoying big-eyed Asian. There are two Mui Ne Backpacker Accommodation: one is the resort and the other is the village. We passed by the resort first and just a few metres away across the street is the Mui Ne Backpacker Village. 

Where to stay in Mui Ne

Hotel Address: 137 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Ham Tien, Mui Ne, Binh Thian Province, N/A, Vietnam Hotel Phone: +84 62 3741047
3 days 2 nights
USD 54 / 1,178 VND (pay the amount when you arrive in the hostel, they do online booking just for reservation purposes).

Walking distance from the hostel is the Tien Dat Mui Restaurant where we had our first Dinner in Mui Ne. 
Mixed Hot Pot: 249,000 VND
Pineapple rice: 89,000 VND
Orange Raspberry Smoothie: 75,000 and Cucumber Juice: 30,000

The hot pot was too much for me and my mum, but to my surprise, we've almost finished the whole thing. I love this restaurant for the staff showed genuine service. I've noticed the service attendant assigned to our table was hearing impaired, a hearing aid was attached to his ear. I'm not sure with the other staff but if they do support this kind of person. I salute the management good heart. No wonder the food tasted great.

Jeepney Tour

Mui Ne is located in the southern region of Vietnam. It's famous for its all-natural white and red sand dunes. This is on top of our itinerary as we reached Mui Ne. I woke up early to book for our Sand Dunes tour. The receptionist was still rearranging their things and I was already there waiting to be served. What can I say I'm an early bird.

Jeepney Tour 
Price: 110,000 VND
Meeting point: Mui Ne Backpacker Village 

Trip starts: 1:30PM

I went back to the room and woke up late. What can I say?! Ahahaa We had a light breakfast in Thach Thao Cafe, a few steps away from the hostel. 
Hot Black Coffee: 16,000 VND
Lemon Juice: 20,000 VND
Bread and Omelette with Beef: 35,000 VND
Garlic Bread: 30,000 VND

Mui Ne's Fairy Stream 

An old American Jeepney picked us from the hostel, 8 of us participated in this tour. Our first stop was the Fairy Stream, where you we had approximately 45 minutes to explore the stream and visit the small waterfall at the end of it. The driver simply drove us to the tourist spot and waited for us at the front road. 

The web stated that there might be a few young local people who may present themselves as tour guides. This is merely their way of getting some guide fee from you. They were not available when we got there. I really don't mind, it's a great way of knowing more about Vietnam.  The road to the fairy stream is quite easy, less than 10 minutes away from the main road, just follow the signs and you'll find it. When we found the start point for the stream everyone hesitated to remove their shoes and slippers. Nobody knew this was part of the itinerary so some of us wore snickers. Great thing my mum and I just had slippers on and our cotton pants. The river was clean and soft due to the sand. We passed by Bamboo trees, magnificent rock formations and the famous white sand dunes landscape. I was amused how the sand dunes looked, it was pure white and you could never guess if there's a beach on the other side of that hill. 

No one knew when to stop walking or which way to go. It was difficult to climb, each step I made bore a big hole in the sand. The more I tried hard to climb the more I sank in the sand. One technique that will help you get up there is to run as fast as you can and if you sink hard pull yourself with your hand and don't stop running. It's really not that hard everyone made it on top for those who tried of course while others went the different way and retreated back. 

The Vietnamese teens ahead of us was the one who showed us how to do it. I've even planned to follow the other guys who wanted a simple path but when I turned around my mum was almost halfway on top Ahahaa. I love my mum! So immediately I ran after. The other side had more obstacles, the sand was getting hotter by the minute and I have to stamp my feet a few times to cool it off. We didn't get to the waterfall, the last trail leads to two parallel coconut trunks that serve as a bridge to the other side. When we managed not to fall on the planks a small hut serves drinks on that side, we didn't go further than that. We had gone exploring more than 40 minutes and had to get back to the jeepney. 

Mui Ne's Fishing Village

Our vehicle drove for 15 minutes or so to our next stop which is Mui Ne's Fishing Village. The driver gave us less than 10 minutes to take picture and that's it. I really love this place I even wanted to go down there and see how was the catch of the day. This is what I hate about tours but then on the brighter side we were in a hurry to watch the highlight of the day. The white sand dunes is a bit far from the fishing village maybe an hour or more so getting back on the road is a great idea. Besides I went to Mui Ne for this magnificent landscape so I let it pass. 

The beautiful coastline greeted everyone a good afternoon, soon we drove in a rocky road with dust that hovers the whole vehicle. A great sign that we were almost to our destination. When we arrived in the White Sand Dunes the tourist were all over the place yet it wasn't that hard to take pictures. It was an expansive, spectacular piece of land and there's pretty much space for everyone to enjoy. The sand was really fine, white, and soft to touch. It felt like I was walking along the white, pristine sandy beach of the Philippines. They said in desserts you can actually find shells and all sorts of ocean-related things. It could be true that maybe a thousand years ago, the dessert was our ocean and due to climate changes it has shifted or dried up. We were allowed to enjoy the white sand dunes for 45 minutes to an hour, activities like sandboarding for 50,000 VND and Quad Bike for 300,000 VND was available. Make sure to check the bike's condition before hopping in and paying the amount. The stopover point offers drinks too, I just had bottled water for 10,000 VND. Keep yourself hydrated it can be very hot in the sand dunes around the afternoon. 

We sat down for a few minutes and my mum took a photo and video of me running up and down the slope of the sand dunes. It was basically her idea, I love my mum! and I also took a shot of her with the same craziness of just running up and down the sand dunes. It looked pretty easy but I tell you it needs a good packed of energy to be climbing up that slope down there. After that we went back in the jeepney and stop for a romantic sunset at the Red Sand Dunes if weather permitting - that late afternoon the weather condition was fantastic. 

We calmly sat in the red sand while waiting for the sun to set in the west. It was magically beautiful and its nothing compared from what I've seen in the past. I usually watched the sunset in the beach and the reflection of the light in the water is mesmerizing. However, in the Red Sand Dunes the sunset looked brighter and prominent due to the red sand. The sun waived goodbye and the driver sent us back to our hostels. 

(Please note that there is an entrance fee of 10.000 VND to the White Sand Dunes and that it is not included in the price of your ticket. The jeep drivers are not your tour guides and most of them have a very limited knowledge of the English language. - that info is according to the brochure.) However, they never asked for any entrance fee from us, except at the Fairy Stream when this young guy ask for an entry fee and we decline to give any amount. I think its already included in the package, so be mindful when people ask for any additional money from you guys.

For our dinner, we had a feast at Sankara Light, still a walking distance across the road from Mui Ne Backpacker Village.

Sauteed noodle soup beef: 65,000 VND
Vegetable fried rice: 45,000 VND
Grilled squid with five-spice: 90,000 VND
Watermelon Juice: 35,000 VND
Lemon Juice: 35,000 VND

I went back to our hostel still thinking about the sand dunes. It was a captivating experience for me its like a whole body of the ocean without water - that still freaking amazes me. 

Chill Day at Mui Ne and an Interesting Lunch

Mui Ne is such a beautiful place to relax and unwind. After we did the Jeepney tour and visited the magnificent White and Red Sands dunes of Vietnam it was time to end the whole trip in a Spa Bonanza. 

Before the spa first thing we did was have lunch at Vietnam Home Restaurant, a few metres away from Mui Ne Backpackers Village. I wanted something exotic just like what we ordered at Benh Thanh Market in Saigon (Heo Rung Xao lan/Stir-fried wild boar meat with little water) , so I ordered a frog dish this time around. The frog meat was served surprisingly in its natural form, a bit disturbing for me. I immediately disassemble it before devouring the whole thing. 

Grilled frog with chili salt: 75,000 VND
Grilled Barracuda with ginger sauce: 79,000 VND
Rice noodle soup with vegetable: 49,000 VND
Coconut Milk Shake: 35,000 VND 
Strawberry with yogurt shake: 39,000 VND
Passion Fruit Ice cream: 25,000 VND
Creme Brulee: 45,000 VND

A few walks away from Mui Ne Backpacker Village is the Mui Ne Hot Spring Center. Address: 133A Nguyen Dinh Chieu Str., Phan Thiet, Binh Thuan

I only want the best for a real relaxing day so I didn't hesitate to get their Full Package. 
Single: 770,000 VND
Couples:1,330,000 VND
Group of 3: 1,860,000 VND
Group of 9: 5,700,000 VND
Hot Mineral Mud Bath (15 minutes)
Warm Mineral Water with Aroma and Flowers
Thermal Bath Therapy 
Swimming in the pool, Jacuzzi 
Relax on the Sun Beds, Steam Bath
Body massage and Thai Massage
Meal and Drink nearby the Pool 

Hot Mineral Mud Bath 

I never intended to do the mud bath first besides we just had a full meal and I was thinking it wasn't a good idea. However, the staff only knows basic English so, in the end, we had the Mud Bath right away. We were redirected to a garden with a jacuzzi-like pool. We rinse our skin under the rainshower before hopping in the mud pool. A small tube filled the pool with watery mud that was light, odorless, and warm. The moment I immersed myself with the mud water I already feel rejuvenated. It was something new for me and quite different from all the baths I had. 

One important thing Avoid submerging your entire head down the mud water, a water dipper is provided for a reason. I do silly things sometimes, I mean all the time ahahaa. After I dipped my entire head down the mud water it filled my ears of course and the water didn't flow naturally. Some sand particles were trapped inside my ear, I was half deaf for the entire bath session. If I'm not wrong to think we're in the mud bath for 30 minutes or more than, my mum wanted to stay longer but I know it's not advisable. The staff didn't bother to check on us or maybe allowed us to take our time because we were the only customers around at that time. She came to us when she noticed we were already in the rainshower. 

Warm Mineral Water with Aroma and Flowers

Our next bath was the mineral bath this was already prepared ahead of time, just in another jacuzzi-like pool around the area. I've always been dreaming of a bath with floating flowers, dreams do come true! I enjoyed this one more than the mud bath. Yet the mud bath was pretty interesting too, so its safe to say its a tie both are satisfying. 

Thermal Bath Therapy

I didn't get this bath, a small hallway with small holes on the walls surrounded us. When it started to spit out water out from the holes it was painful and strong, just like going under waterfalls fingernails. I simply stayed in the middle away from the water, then a few minutes later the staff turned it off. Maybe it was meant to remove any residue of mud or flower petals in our body- but no need to be so harsh. 

Steam Bath

Next on the list was the sauna or the steam bath. I always see it as a humongous dumpling oven preheated for the next dish and that dish was me ahahaa. Here goes my imagination again. I wish they serve dumplings inside, that would definitely be a wonderful experience. 

Body massage and Thai Massage for an hour

Our skin was pink, soft, and supple after the steam bath. I didn't know it was fine to have a massage afterward but we did. What I love about this place is the genuine effort of the management to keep all the guests feel relaxed. Even the view under the massage table had a small basin with little white flowers. It kept me calm and focused entirely on the acupressure and strokes done on my body. 

Meal and Drinks nearby the Pool 

After the massage, we went to relax on the sunbed along with the swimming pool. The staff turned on the Jacuzzi once we arrived in the poolside area, what a great service they have! They offered us our meal and drinks. This is also included in the package. I ordered pizza while my mum had their tuna clubhouse and fruit shakes for our beverage.  

That night going early to bed was a piece of cake. I snap right into dreamland the moment my face touched the pillow. Even the strong scent of the new mattress rocked me to sleep like a baby.  

Sixth Day

Early departure back to Saigon or to Ho Chi Minh City. Booked the bus ticket the other day with Kim Nhanh Travel, this tourist agency is right beside our hostel. 
Bus ticket (Mui Ne to Saigon): 140,000 VND
Travel time: 5-6 hours 

Breakfast in Mui Ne Backpacker Village Cafe
Scrambled Egg with Bread and White Coffee: 30,000 VND
Banana Pancake with honey and Black Coffee: 30,000 VND

The bus arrived at exactly 8 o'clock in front of our hostel to pick us up, and then we drove to another nearby hostel for other passengers. The travel was more than 6 hours maybe because we had two stopovers along the way. This is not good if you're catching a flight in the city. Our scheduled flight was around 3:45 in the afternoon so we were on rushed to get to the city when we've noticed the bus took longer than expected. When we got to Saigon I waved at the first taxi driver I've laid my eyes on and hop inside as soon as we got our luggage from the bus compartment. There's always traffic in the central part of the city so be flexible and don't forget to add in an hour or two in your travel time table. 

Taxi Fare (Saigon to the Airport): 350,000 VND This is quite expensive and I don't have the patience to look for another cab at a cheaper price. Well, actually I was still able to do some bargaining because he offered 400,000 VND at first so I got him to give it to me at 350,000 VND -better than nothing. 

Have fun and be safe ^__^

Itinerary Reminders:

1. Flight Details
Make sure to write down your booking reference number, be at the airport two hours before your flight, and allocate time for your travel to the airport.

2. Accommodation Details
Write down your hotel/motel/resort/BnB booking number. Contact your place to inform them around when you'll be arriving — it really does help.  Also, ask if your accommodation has any discounted activities.  You'd be surprised!

3a. Transportation
List possible times your bus/train/boat arrives and leaves so you don't miss an activity.  Always give yourself an extra 30-45 minutes in case you get lost, get stuck in traffic, or are looking for parking.  Better early than late.  Of utmost importance: check for the last trip and fares!  So you still have time and money to get back.

3b. Car Rentals
Take note of your pick-up address and time allotted.  Our last car rental told us to bring the car back by a certain time with a certain amount of gas.  Allot money for fuel and parking.

4. Budgeting
Set aside a minimum and maximum spending amount for meals, transportation, entrance fees, activities, souvenirs, and emergencies.  3 meals a day + snacks add up quickly, so keep track!  As well as tips for restaurants and activities.

5. Activities
Call to confirm your booking(s) a day or so beforehand.  Set alarms and/or calendar reminders for things you plan to do (i.e- bungee-jumping, river-rafting, or even city/food tours).

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