“What’s there to do in Mui Ne?” other backpackers asked me, saying they’d skipped right down to Saigon since Mui Ne looked boring. “Not a whole lot, to be honest…” I replied. “But if you want to just relax, it’s perfect.” Hey, sometimes even travelers need a vacation.
Mui Ne is a small beachside fishing town about 4 hours east of Saigon that I’d only initially planned one night in (just to see it). However, upon arriving at Mui Ne Backpackers Village, I immediately knew I’d stay longer. Backpackers Village is like a luxury resort for backpackers on a budget. At only $7 USD per night, the place had a sparkling blue pool adjacent a grassy lawn surrounded by lounge chairs and lush green ferns and palm trees. A dreadlocked English guy was sitting in the grass strumming his guitar, a group of Swedish girls were ordering poolside daiquiris while they tanned, and a group of Canadian guys were sitting on the attached café’s balcony playing cards. It was one of the most relaxed (and definitely the most luxurious) hostel atmospheres I’d experienced in Southeast Asia.
I actually did manage to venture out and explore one day. Though it was hard to leave the pool and change out of my bikini, I joined some others on a 4-hour sand dune tour for only $4 each (though we did have to cram 10 people into a 5-person Jeep… typical). We stopped first at Fairy Stream, which we walked up for some very unique and almost surreal views of the dune canyons, and you can even ride an ostrich along the way for only $5 if you choose. I opted not to since I felt sorry for them, but the few friends who did it said it was “awesomely terrifying but fun.”
We continued onto a little fishing village, which was interesting to see all the traditional fishing boats, but the beach was so trashed that it almost ruined it. We even saw a few men throw their trash down onto the sand as if it was just a giant dumpster, and we hated seeing such neglect for their beautiful environment, so we didn’t stay more than a couple minutes.
Continuing on down a bumpy dirt road for 30 minutes, we reached the white sand dunes, where we could rent quad bikes to drive around and mats to slide down on. We ended the day at the red sand dunes watching the sun tint everything gold as the sky turned a fiery orange color.
Post tour we went to eat at our favorite restaurant Lam Tong Quan for some cheap but delicious Vietnamese food (the lemongrass-chili tofu is the best meal I had in all of Vietnam and is only $1.40!) The family-owned restaurant has great views overlooking the ocean, and they have an extensive seafood menu as well, so we ended up eating there way too often during our few days in Mui Ne.
Aside from the dunes, eating out, and a few hours at the local late night spot Dragon Beach Club, the rest of my time in Mui Ne was spent lounging by the pool. After weeks of non-stop adventure and oftentimes stressful transport, it was nice to just chill out and have a mini vacation. One thing I love about traveling solo is creating my own itinerary. Sometimes I want to do and see as much as possible, and then there are the days when all I want is to do nothing at all… and that’s ok. :)
As always, keep on livin’ pura vida ✌