We were only in Mui Ne for two nights, sleeping, eating and relaxing at Mui Ne Hills Budget Hotel. We had to cut our stay here short, due to our unexpectedly extended stay in Huế because of Brecht’s dengue fever. The flight from Siem Reap to Bangkok was already booked and we still had to see Ho Chi Minh City, Phnom Penh and Angkor.
We booked a jeep tour with our hotel, to cram the most interesting things to see in Mui Ne in one afternoon. We paid 133,200 VND ($6) per person, entrance fees not included. There were two tours a day: one leaving at 4h00, the second leaving at 13h30. Although they recommended the early tour, we decided (being lazy and all) to do the afternoon tour. The big difference between both tours is you get to see the sunrise or sunset and we guess you can see the fishing village in action as well when you do the early tour.
At 13h30 some jeeps were waiting to drive us around that afternoon. We were squeezed in the back of a jeep, together with another couple, travelling around the world as well. It was quite small so not that comfortable, but we had a nice talk. There were another two couples in the jeep, but we didn’t had the chance to talk to them. Their backs were turned to us while driving and everyone did their own thing at the stops.
First stop: the Fairy Stream. We got 40 minutes to walk up and down the stream, there was no entrance fee. Go down to the stream right beside the bridge and step in the ankle deep stream for a nice walk. Once you get past the fishy smell (apparently there’s a fish sauce factory), you can enjoy the beautiful orange dunes and limestone walls. Maybe ask your driver for some more time than 40 minutes, because we didn’t make it to the waterfall that’s supposedly at the end. We and the couple that sat with us in the back were back in time. The other two couples on the other hand not. They probably made it to the waterfall and had an elaborate photoshoot, while we stood waiting for them for about 30 minutes.
The next stop was the Mui Ne Fishing Village. We don’t know where it was exactly, so the marker on the map might be wrong. When you drive from the Fairy Stream to the White Sand Dunes alongside the coast, you pass it, and we’re sure every cab driver and hotel reception can tell you where to be. We stopped for 10 minutes, just to take some pictures. The beach was more or less abandoned, little round boats shattered everywhere and colourful fishing boats farther at sea. When you do the early tour, you probably can see the fisher wives welcoming their husbands back and cleaning the fish at the beach during the early morning fishing market.
The following stop was the only one where we had to pay an entrance fee: 10,000 VND per person to enter the White Sand Dunes. We got 40 minutes to explore them, by foot or by quad. YOLO, so let’s get the quad! It was 300,000 VND for 20 minutes of quad driving. Brecht showed his “haggling skills” once again and we got 25 minutes for the same price. We drove up the dunes, took some pictures and had quite a bit of fun. I tried driving it as well but felt safer on the back. We did sort of get lost as we were busy enjoying the view while driving and forgot to memorize where we came from. For once it was me who figured out which of the two bases we could see was the one where we departed from. *Happy dance!*
Then, our last stop: the Red Sand Dunes. We got 30 minutes to watch the sunset. While our jeep was pulling up at the side of the road, children were swarming around us to make us rent one of their plastic sledges to ride the sand dunes. We read the sand dunes are not really fit for sledging here and moreover, you can’t buy from children, so we friendly thanked them. (Read more about child safe tourism here.) No quads here, so we had to walk our way up to the best spot to enjoy the sunset. We climbed two dunes, plumped down and waited for the sun to set. Unfortunately there were a lot of clouds, so it wasn’t the beautiful sunset we were hoping for.
All covered in red sand and tired of sitting in the jeep the whole afternoon, we drove back to our hotel. Suddenly we heard a pop and what sounded like some air escaping. Yep, a couple of hundred meters further, the driver stopped in the middle of the road to discover a flat tire. We all got out of the car and over to the sidewalk. Apparently they don’t have safety triangles here, as the driver pulled some branches from the bushes and put them a couple of meters behind the car on the road. Not really safe, especially in the dark. He made a phone call, a car almost hit the jeep in the rear and another car pulled over to hand over a toolkit. The driver replaced the tire on his own and we were good to go after about 20 minutes.
That afternoon was actually the only time we left the hotel, as we had everything we needed there: a swimming pool and a great restaurant where we got a 50% discount on almost all dishes. There was a quiet beach near the hotel and kite surfing is very popular here, but unfortunately we weren’t in Mui Ne long enough to try this out.
We really recommend to visit the White Sand Dunes, they’re stunning! The Mui Ne Fishing Village is definitely worth a quick stop to snap some great pictures and enjoy the view. The Fairy Stream was nice, but you haven’t really missed anything if you’re short on time and skip it. But you should probably just do a similar jeep your, combining the popular sights in Mui Ne in one afternoon. Hope you’ll enjoy your stay as we did!