Mui Ne

Mui Ne is Vietnam’s best strip of beach resorts. Well, Mui Ne is actually the fishing village at one end of a 20km long bay with golden sand, consistent afternoon breezes and no name of its own.

The rest of the bay is lined with a fair few resorts and guesthouses, and even more people busily scrambling to get on the tourism gravy train. Every patch of land next to the beach is rapidly being built upon by people keen to part dollars from the tourists sweaty hands. There are two main attractions to be capitalized upon – the first is a stiff afternoon breeze that has already attracted droves of kiteboarders and windsurfers, and a few of the resorts seem to cater only to fanatic lovers of the kite or the sail.

The second attraction is a lot more unique – Mui Ne sits on Vietnam’s answer to the Sahara. For some reason unbeknownst to me, this seems to be the only part of Vietnam not covered with rice paddies. Which might just be because it is in fact covered by lots and lots of sand dunes. Not just sand dunes, but sand dunes of varying colours, depending on which part of the beach you visit. Bright shining white in one spot and a deep red in another, will all shades of yellow and orange in between.

The sand dunes continue through straight from the hinterlands and into the sea, with a line of coconut trees in between. Sorry, the dunes used to go straight into the sea. Now, there is a long line of guesthouses and coconut trees in between, which at the moment isn’t too bad, but don’t put off visiting Mui Ne for another 5 years.

At the moment though, this place would be a bit like beach paradise, if it wasn’t for a couple of factors spoiling it. The major factor is the wee fishing village at one end of the bay. The village might be small, but its fishing fleet sure isn’t. When all the boats are in port, it looks like a major beachhead invasion. This in itself isn’t so bad, as it’s what provides the plentiful and cheap seafood to be had in all the restaurants along the bay, but the fishermen (and indeed it would seem everybody here, not just the Mui Ne fishermen) still have a very non western attitude to trash – if it’s trash, out the window it goes, or in this case, over the side of the boat. Meaning that unless there’s been a heavy swell to clear the beach, this gloriously beautiful long stretch of sand can just gloriously be littered by an amazing assortment of garbage.

The second thing I don’t understand is this: the whole area seems to be nothing but coconut trees. Chock full of coconuts just waiting to fall on your head and ruin your day. Try ordering a coconut in a bar or restaurant though. “Sorry, we no have today” is the nicer option I’ve had. At another place, the barman litteraly had to walk about 5m chop one coconut off any number of midget palms lining the resort (not even having to climb it), hack it open and bring it over. Price? Twice that of a big bottle of beer.

Never mind though, stay off the coconuts unless they’re very obviously displayed at a very decent price, stay off the beach unless there’s been some heavy seas recently, and stick to the beer and the dunes, and it’s a lovely place.

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