My last blog I wrote about getting out of Ho Chi Minh City and heading to Phu Quoc Island for a short getaway. That’s all great, but it might not fit everyone’s budget. Well, I have solution, why not head over to Phan Thiet and Mui Ne on the East Coast of Vietnam. Situated about 3 hours drive from Ho Chi Minh. Both Phan Thiet and Mui Ne offer something very close to Island life, but in their own unique way.
There are a few options to get to the two coastal towns, so finding your best options for you and your budget does take a little planning. I went with my girlfriend, and we decided on a little more comfort and booked a car from a company based in Ho Chi Minh (Link to their website is at the bottom of this blog), the price was 1 million VND for two people. They picked us up bright and early from their office and we were in a comfortable 6 seater with reclining seats and Wi-fi. We were sharing the car with 4 other people and that helps keep the price down. Your other options are to take the train, which can be booked online from a range of websites, just search in Google for Ho Chi Minh to Mui Ne (Prices start at 325k VND one way). Finally, there’s the bus option, which will be the cheapest option of the three, again a quick search online will give you a good choice of price options. (Prices start at 155k VND.)
We took the car for the comfort and because we were heading straight to your beach side hotel in Phan Thiet. We arrived at Green Organic Villas, early for check-in, but the staff were very welcoming and took us to our rooms with no hesitation. We booked the beach side villa, just to get the best experience we could, so waking would mean open our villa doors and walking 10 steps down to the beach. (Prices start at 2 million VND per night).
The beach itself was incredibly long and the sand was a lovely light yellow, just watch out for the jelly fish if you are wanting to swim, as I got stung and started feeling a bit sick for 24 hours. Green Organic Villas, is a quaint paradise in a quiet one road location, so if you are looking for complete relaxation don’t hesitate to head there for a couple of nights. You can easily do yoga by the pool or book a massage with the staff, they have a lovely restaurant serving a good range of foods and their cocktails taste amazing and look extravagant.
We then left Green Organic Villas, to head to Mui Ne. We had our hotel call us a normal taxi, as Grab didn’t operate out where we were staying, it cost about 150k VND, which isn’t cheap but was really our only option. It took about 45 minutes to get into Mui Ne from Phan Thiet. We had booked a more typical hotel, again on the coast by the name of Serenity By The Sea. A fabulous family run boutique hotel. I have to say the hotel was beautiful and so picturesque I was a little shocked to how empty the hotel was. All that for a very reasonable price. Honestly, we were overjoyed with this find. Having a lovely, friendly and personal service here really made for our stay here. (Prices start at 1.5 million VND per night). If you are on a total budget there are a range of hotels and backpacker hotels you can stay at just next door to Serenity By The Sea.
We wanted to get some sightseeing in as we only had one full day left. So we looked at our options. We always wanted to do the White Sand Dunes, so made the effort to get there. I like taking photos and make films, so was adamant we get there for late afternoon/sunset. The drive from our hotel was in an old Jeep booked through the hotel, a lot of fun, but if you have back issues probably best to get a more gentle ride there. On the way to the White Sand Dunes we stopped at the Mui Ne fishing village, we didn’t stay for long, but there you can walk down to the beach and up close to the boats or get some sea food fresh from the morning catch. By the way Mui Ne is famous for its seafood so make sure you don’t miss out on it, there are a plethora of restaurants to take your pick from, you are never more than 1 minute walking distance from one along the main road through the town.
The White Sand Dunes are as the title describes, in the middle of nowhere these huge dunes just appear. You really feel you are in the desert and they make for a great Instagram photo. You pay a fee to get up to the dunes on a quad bike (as ever not that cheap, since the company there knows you probably aren’t going to walk up there. The price for a return quad bike taxi was 300k VND), which is fair to say is not the safest way, but it is quick and saves you from sweating buckets and getting sand all over you. On top of the dunes you can spend as much time as you like getting photos, making videos, or just sitting and admiring the 360 degree views. The adventure is not over yet, when you want to leave the quad bikes will take you back, but you have the option to go back on a different route, which is straight down the face of the dune. Definitely close to ‘should we be doing this?’ but in all the time we were up there the quad bikes were doing that route repeatedly, so we braved it and my goodness it was worth it. Highly recommend if you want a quick adrenaline rush.
On the way back we stopped at the Red Sand Dunes, but honestly I’m glad we left it for after the White Sand Dunes, as the dunes were packed with tourists. It was a lot dirtier with rubbish strewn across the sand and was definitely not as picturesque as the White Sand Dunes.
That night we had an epic lightning storm and we had the best seats in the house, as our balcony looked straight onto the sea where all the strikes were raining down. It kept us up late that night, but it was truly special to watch the strikes from a safe location and not have to worry about getting wet or cold.
On our final day, we had just enough time to head to the Wine Castle. Again, as the name suggests it’s a castle with a lot of wine in it. More like a theme park attraction, this place has its charm, just if you are a wine lover maybe take this place with a pinch of salt. Depending on how much you pay your entry gets you a tour and either 1 glass of wine, or at the end of the tour a full taster menu of their wine list. They have nice gardens to walk around and even a mini vineyard. (Basic entry was 200k VND, but that does get you a glass of wine at the start of the cellar tour).
Our time in Phan Thiet and Mui Ne was a mixture of relaxation and adventure, perfect I think for a short trip to always remember. If we had more time it would have been nice to head to the Fairy Springs in Phan Thiet, but alas we didn’t have time, so if any of you reading did make it there, comment below, we would like to know your experience of it and whether it should be up there for places to visit.