Mui Ne: If You Ever Want A Glimpse Of Sahara Dessert (But Don’t Have The Money To)

The first time I heard and read about Mui Ne was in my Vietnamese language class. What the exact words were I can’t remember, but I think it described Mui Ne as the city of beaches. I got to admit, that was not really the reason why I included Mui Ne in my grad trip’s itinerary. The true reason was this: I was scrolling through Instagram and the millennial in me was instantly drawn to a photo of my cousin frolicking through some dessert-like area, in which she captioned “Mui Ne”. That was when I decided that I had to visit this place.

Yes, yes I know Mui Ne is nothing like Sahara Dessert, but for all my tropical-climate (and broke) friends out there, Mui Ne is close enough. Sometimes, you don’t really want to be in the dessert, you just want a glimpse. I totally get it!

When is the best time to visit?

Mui Ne is a fishing village located at the southern part of Vietnam. Yes, this place like HCMC, is scorching hot, and I wouldn’t really recommend visiting during Summer  (April to June). The only reason why I say this is because that was precisely the period when I was there. We tried going out for a walk at 11:00am and 15 minutes into it, we turned into the nearest eatery to buy ourselves 2 pints of Saigon beer (this beer is so good, by the way. I absolutely love it) and never came out till we had enough guts to walk back to the hotel.

When I say that Mui Ne is burning, scorching hot in the summer, I mean it. The sky is often cloudless (very picturesque) and if you aren’t underneath the shade, your skin literally feels like its being baked in an oven. This is coming from me, a person who lives in a tropical climate and never had any sun burns in her life (I have a lot of Melanin, it seems).

Nonetheless, it’s really worth going

Now that I’ve essentially scared you out of your wits about Mui Ne, let me move on to telling you why you should really visit this place (Just not in the summer. Any other time of the year is great!).

Mui Ne, “city of the beach” is really quite an unexpected place. Right next to the sea lay the immense sand dunes that stretched into the horizon. I’m not quite sure if the sand dunes can be considered a dessert area of some kind, but if they were, it would make this place all the more enchanting. Who would have imagined that a dry, dessert-like  area would be located right next to a vast body of water, the sea?

Fun Things To Do

There main “sand dune attractions” in Mui Ne are, the Red Sand Dune and White Sand Dune. They’re called “red” and “white” mainly because of the colour of the sand, both of which are stunning (although I much prefer the red sand dune)! At the White Sand Dun area, you can rent a little jeep for an hour or so and cruise along the ups and downs of the sand dunes. A local guide will show you how to work the little jeep, and later, he’ll offer to give you a thrill ride which means riding up and speeding down really steep sand dunes – yes, you might scream a bit, but no, you won’t die.

I remember being on the thrill ride and thinking that we’ve come to the end and then screaming my head off because I was wrong. We went up quite slowly to the peak of a really high sand dune – it was kind of like a sand dune cliff, I couldn’t even see it sloping downwards because it was that steep – and then speeding down. It was horrifying, but it was horrifyingly good. I’d love to do that again!

Besides going on thrill rides and taking envy-worthy photos, you can also watch the sun set/ sunrise at the sand dunes. Just book a tour at the hotel or any tour agency outside of your hotel. I’d recommend the later because it’s a lot cheaper.

Amazingly fresh, (and cheap) seafood!

Don’t just go walking into any seafood restaurant though! The first night my friend and I were there, we chose the one nearest to our hotel. Man, did we regret. The seafood wasn’t that fresh, and it was really pricey. On our second night, we asked our day tour driver to recommend a good seafood place and he brought us to a large, open air local restaurant. I haven’t got a clue what the name of the restaurant is (damn it) but I swear the food is good! We ordered stingray, prawns, oysters, clams, and fish – all of which were really fresh! Most of the customers at that restaurant were locals and servers there spoke mainly Vietnamese so you might have a bit of a language barrier when you’re ordering your food. Seeing that almost everything in the menu is good, though, I doubt you would be disappointed even if you ordered something unexpected anyway!

Having seafood by the sea and just watching the sky, the sea, and how the colours change was a really great way to end our second night in Mui Ne. We finished at least 2 pints of beers each because the mood called for it. Although the restaurant was a bit of a distance away from our hotel, we had no regrets for that meal. No regrets at all.

I’m probably biased (because this was my grad trip) but Vietnam is, to me, one of the best places to travel to. Not because its glamourous, not because its luxurious. Actually, a lot of it is because it’s not. Amidst language barriers, crazy traffic, and the scorching heat, is a place that is full of unexpected surprises. Once in a while, it’s good to go out, and let yourself be surprised, and Vietnam is a good place for that to happen!




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