Sand dunes in Vietnam?
When you think of Vietnam, places like the Halong Bay, Mekong Delta, and the Chi Chi Tunnels usually come to mind but definitely not sand dunes. These are mostly found in the Middle East, Morroco, or Mongolia. As soon as we found out that Vietnam has these majestic sand dunes, we made sure to take a quick trip.
The red and white sand dunes are located in a town called Mui Ne in the Phan Thiet province. This is located in Vietnam’s southeastern coast around 220km north of Ho Chi Minh city. Mui Ne has a laid-back vibe and a still a good get away despite the growing number of crowds that visit every year. Aside from the sand dunes, Mui Ne is also famous for various water sports activities you can find along its vast shore line such as wind surfing, jet skiing, snorkeling, kite surfing, etc.
Where and How to Get to Mui Ne?
From Ho Chi Minh City
You can get to Mui Ne from Ho Chi Minh city by private car, train, and bus. The cheapest would of course be by bus (around PHP 400 – one way), by train (around P750 – one way + an additional P450 since you will need to take a taxi from the station to Mui Ne), and by private car (around P4000 – one way).
The estimated travel time is around 4 – 6 hours depending on traffic. As of November 2019, it seems that there are no bus or train that leaves Ho Chi Minh by night and the earliest time to leave Ho Chi Minh is around 6:00AM.
Since our visit to Mui Ne was just part of our week long backpacking trip, we came here from Dalat. We took the 5 hour bus with the Sinh Tourist company going to Mui Ne. The bus left Dalat around 7:00AM and we arrived around 12:00NN. The bus station is in the middle of Mui Ne and we did not have difficulties getting a taxi to our hotel. Total fare is PHP 420 (as of November 2019).
Click on this link to view our Dalat trip.
Getting to and from the Dunes
There are only 3 ways we know of on getting to the sand dunes from your hotel in Mui Ne. You can either rent a private car or 4×4 jeep, take a taxi (which might be more costly), or rent a motor bike (only if you have an international driver’s license). We took the option of renting a 4×4 jeep to get us around. We took this option since it was cheaper than renting a car / taxi and more convenient than taking a motor bike. The jeep rental cost us PHP 1500 which can accommodate a total of 4 persons. Optional charges upon arriving at the dunes are as follows: ATV rental: 40 USD for 30 minutes/ one ATV for 2 persons. Jeep ride to the dunes: 9 USD per persons. Sand boarding: 4 USD for one sliding board
White Sand Dunes
The only reason why we decided to make a stop in Mui Ne was to see this vast desert in person. We rented a 4×4 jeep (which cost us a little more VND) to get us to top of the dunes. Once we arrived on top, we saw the vastness of white sand as far as the eyes can see and beyond the desert horizon, you will see forest green and plains. Its as if the white sands in Boracay was piled up to make rolling hills all around this area. It was one of the most unique sights we have seen combining a desert and forest.We also made sure to visit during sunset as the hot sun can be quite punishing. Tours here start as early as 5:00AM for sunrise and 3:00PM for sunset. Tourists can also rent a quad bike and do sand boarding. We didn’t get to try this though. We were already happy with taking hundreds of photos as every angle is picturesque. Entrance fee is PHP 40.
Red Sand Dunes
Equally as impressive as the White Sand dunes are the Red Sand dunes. We visited during sunrise and had the place to ourselves. Going to one of the top view points will give you the majestic sight of the Mui Ne coast line and ocean from the dunes. Best time to go would be early in the morning or at sunset while the sun is not that hot. Entrance fee is PHP 40.
Mui Ne Fishing Village
Another attraction in Mui Ne and sometimes overlooked because of the sand dunes is the fishing village. One unique sight here are the basket boats (Thung Chai) of Vietnam. Many years ago, when the French colonized Vietnam, they placed heavy taxes on boats. Thus, the locals who cannot afford to pay taxes improvised and built the Thung Chai. They argued that these are not boats but baskets. We would not resist and paid one of the fishermen to ride the Thung Chai and take us on a quick trip! It was a unique experience riding a circular boat. You will also see lots of fishermen selling freshly caught fish along the shore line. This is one attraction worth visiting whenever you are in Mui Ne.
Where to stay and other tour details?
We stayed in Mui Ne Sports Hotel which has a good location. It is right in the center of Mui Ne. It is also around 20 mins away from the Fishing village, 30 mins from the Red Sand Dunes and about an hour from the White Sand Dunes.
Best way to contact them is via email. They respond very fast.