Our next stop after Saigon was Mui Ne, a place on the coast famed for amazing sand dunes and water sports such as kite surfing. We booked a bus with our favourite Vietnamese company, Phuong Trang, these guys are seriously well organised and look after you well! An extra dollar a ticket is definitely worth it.
When we were first dropped off in Mui Ne I was a little unsure. It is a pretty busy and developed place with a lot of cheesy looking bars. However, this also has its advantages and means that accommodation is cheap and great value. We were amazed to find a lovely place with a pool and free breakfast within our price range, here’s a photo. As you can see this place was holiday worthy and pure luxury for backpackers! For anybody interested it is called the Xen Chao resort.
The view from our room:
We were most interested in seeing the sand dunes and decided to hire a motorbike to do this rather than join an organised tour. The most impressive dunes are the white sand dunes, around 40km from Mui Ne. On the way you pass what the locals call a fairy stream, some red sand dunes and finally you get to the white sand dunes. We set out in the blistering heat to see us some sights!
Our first stop was the fairy stream. I’m sad to say I didn’t spot any actual fairies, but we did pass several cows and also a strange farm that sold Emu rides – very odd! The stream itself goes on for a few kilometres, it is shallow with a base of dark red sand and runs between sand dunes and jungle. It looked pretty stunning.
At one point I decided to run barefoot up a huge sand dune, mainly to see what was up there and for the fun of running back down. Big mistake. Huge. The sand was BOILING and I burnt my feet. Jack had to dash up to me with my flip flops on a rescue mission.
Jack to the rescue!
For anybody intrigued by the emu riding here is the sign for you. Despite the ad promising a ‘relaxing adventure’ (REALLY?) and the farm owners promise/threat of it being very funny it was a big no thanks from me!
After this we hopped back on the bike and headed for the red sand dunes. We had heard these were less impressive than the white dunes but we still wanted to check them out. They were pretty cool, huge and red with numerous peaks to run up and down. There were lots of quite hardened Vietnamese kids trying to rent out strips of plastic to sledge down the dunes on. If you didn’t show interest they pretty much shouted at you to p*ss off when you left – nice!
Jack running up one of the red dunes (shortly before face planting – he sank)
Face plant – the aftermath:
After we hosed Jack down with a bottle of water we decided to go to a little village for some lunch to avoid the midday heat. We found a shack on a fishing beach that was perfect for a cold drink with a view of daily fishing life. The female owner sold us some cold cans of coke and sat nearby with her adorable 18 month old son – yet another Asian child I wanted to take home!
We finally arrived at the white sand dunes around 3PM, hoping that the heat would be a bit less oppressive in the late afternoon. The sand dunes seem to rise up in front of you out of nowhere, the whole area is huge and literally looks like how I would imagine the Sahara to appear – vast, expansive white sand dunes as far as the eye can see (as long as you don’t look behind you towards the entrance of course – desert trekking Bear Grylls style)
You can hire quad bikes to ride up and down the dunes if you are prepared to pay $50 for 15 minutes. We weren’t so we decided to go by foot, which was fine. We sat at the top of one of the tallest dunes for a while, watching people slipping and sliding up and down, before we decided to have some fun of our own. Jack did some spectacular jumps.
An airborne Jack:
As you can see, my jump was rather lame…
However, I did make up for it with this:
After we’d had our fun we jumped back on the bike for the 40km trip back to Mui Ne, we were sandy and a little sunburnt but we had a great day.
We left Mui Ne the next day for Nha Trang, another famous seaside town in Vietnam – blog coming soon!
Lots of love,