Like a kid in a candy store, travellers are spoilt for choice when it comes to Vietnam’s many beautiful beaches.
Blessed with hundreds of white sandy beaches along more than 3,400km of coastline, Vietnam offers up almost too many options – which is a shame considering most travellers bypass the less-touristy Vietnamese beaches in favour of just one: Nha Trang.
Vietnam’s answer to Venice Beach in California, Nha Trang boasts amusement parks, five-star beach resorts and more Western-style restaurants than you can shake a stick at. It’s beautiful, flashy and home to a popular backpacker boat trip but it might not be Vietnam’s best beach.
Vietnam’s best beach could well be Mui Ne.
A traveller’s guide to Mui Ne
Mui Ne is situated in the Binh Thuan Province of south-eastern Vietnam, a world away from chaotic Ho Chi Minh City and yet, in reality, it’s just a three-to-five hour bus journey from the city not-so formerly known as Saigon.
A little-inhabited beach less than 20 years ago, Mui Ne is now a 15km strip of resorts and restaurants of budget accommodation and bars. But that doesn’t mean it’s busy or noisy; in fact, the town’s bars and restaurants are so quiet during the day you’ll wonder whether everyone in town is on a diet.
By night, however, the town comes to life somewhat – with a few street-side stalls opening up and most of the restaurants becoming full of sunburnt tourists sipping on Saigon Beer.
Much smaller than Nha Trang, Mui Ne consists of just one main road running adjacent with the restaurants, bars and hotels on the edge of the beach.
Nevertheless, Mui Ne caters for all kinds of travellers, from budget backpackers and flashpackers through to families and filthy rich tourists. Locals, meanwhile, tend to stick to the old Mui Ne fishing village around the corner from the main tourist drag.
For backpackers, budget accommodation is plentiful. The most affordable guesthouses may be found on the other side of Mui Ne’s main road – meaning you’ll have to cross the road and duck through a bar or restaurant to get to the beach.
For less than $15US you’ll be able to get a decent room with hot shower, air conditioning and free Wi-Fi. You will have to spend considerably more to be right on the beach.
The wind-surf capital of Southeast Asia
What really makes Mui Ne special for so many travellers is its consistently strong cross-onshore winds – which makes it perfect for kite- and wind-surfing.
The windsurf and kiteboard capital of Vietnam – if not all of Southeast Asia – Mui Ne is a veritable Mecca for water-sport fans. Seemingly hundreds of pros and thousands of beginners clamour for space offshore, dipping and diving, twisting and turning in the surf.
It’s enough to make you want to immediately sign up for lessons in one of the half-dozen learn-to-surf schools scattered along the beach.
For swimmers, Mui Ne is decent but not great. The waves are a bit unruly for most, plus you will have to watch out for the occasional out-of-control kitesurfer as they zoom back in to shore. However, the odd calm day is not unheard of for Mui Ne, with pristine conditions for swimmers rather than wave riders.
Whether you’re after cheap and cheerful accommodation or a flashy beach resort, rest and relaxation or extreme water sports – Mui Ne has it covered.
And it’s perfect for backpackers. Just a few short hours from Ho Chi Minh City, it’s only a matter of time before this gorgeous beach is a card-carrying member of typical Vietnam backpacker circuit – as well it should be.
More popular Nha Trang is undoubtedly a fantastic beach town, too, but it has nothing like the charms of the slightly quieter Mui Ne. Although it might not be that way much longer if too many travel bloggers like me start singing its praises on the internet
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I’m shocked and amazed by people’s comments of Mui Ne. It’s a shit hole! We’re here right now, staying in Ham Tien and it looks like a bomb was dropped here and dispensed a load of rude Russians along the way. The beach is non existent, there is rubbish EVERYWHERE, buildings half built, piles of rubble that have been left for years it seems. Why anyone would call this a nice holiday destination is beyond me. I lived in Weston Super Mare for a few years and thought that was rough, but this place is just awful and not as cheap as people are making out. Prices of food and drink are are double in most places compared to HCMC. I’ve seen many beaches around the world and this is not a good one! Give it a miss if you’re looking for beauty!
Thanks, Chris – I must say I’m surprised to hear that. But it has been two years since I was there. Enjoy the rest of your trip.
Travelled to Vietnam last July/August and Mui Ne is not the best beach there. The water is often rough and dirty in colour. We stayed there for a week and it was about 5 days too long for all of us :(. It is a very windy beach so unless you are into wind sufing or kite boarding don’t bother. The surrounds however are a different story. Quite a relaxing town compared to many others, but the beach at Doc Let, Phu Quok and Nha Trang are much nicer. I will however warn you that Nha Trang is VERY busy. If you have been to Thailand, Indonesia or the Philippines you will be very disappointed with most of Vietnam’s beaches. Go there for the history, the food, the people and if you find a nice stretch of beach enjoy.
I am an expatriate based in Vietnam since 2005 and in Mui Ne since January 2013. I dive, sail and explore islands and beaches a lot.
Mui Ne’s northern beaches are among the top in my ranking of Vietnam’s southern beaches. NOT the crowded, narrow beaches with surf churned water between Phan Thiet and Mui Ne (known as Ham Tien), where resorts stand shoulder to shoulder and the hub of kite surfing.
Head for the long stretches of relatively isolated beaches north of Mui Ne town. The best stretch is at Suoi Nuoc, also known as Long Son about 12 minutes / 11 km from Mui Ne town. Land marks are the Full Moon Village Resort and Long Son Restaurant.
The beach at Suoi Nouc / Long Son, is long, slopes gently, clear of debris and sea is relatively calm, at least until about October when the winds blow on this side of the coast. The benthic zone (between the high tide mark to the shallows at low tide) is very interesting with lots of life hidden just below the sand; shellfish, crabs, crayfish, starfish. Birds feed along the beach when it is quiet.
Mui Ne is easy to get to from Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Dalat or Nha Trang (5 – 6 hours by bus). There are also the added attractions of the giant red or white sand dunes and lakes.
Nha Trang beach isn’t better than Suoi Nouc. The beach is limited and crowded but lots of dive shops take you out to nearby islands though the diving isn’t great. The best diving is off Con Dao island or Ca Na (100km north of Mui Ne). For comparision, my notes on other beaches:
Con Dao Island (You have to fly): Beaches on main island of Con Son in various bays with varied charcteristics; sandy, mangrove, rocky or pebble strewn. Limited beach areas on smaller outlying islands. The sea is pristine and there are coral reefs off the outlying islands. Turtles still come to nest on outlying islands with ranger stations. Best for snorkeling or diving.
Phu Quoc Island: Long stretches of gently sloping, golden hued sandy beaches in the south-west. Clean and uncrowded or isolated. Quality of sea water is clear and clean. Some outlying island beaches off the southern tip are fringed by coral but fishing activity degrades some. Bigger than Con Dao island but probably not as adventurous.
Wow, thanks for the great insider tips! I want to go back there now and explore these northern beaches a bit more. Thank you very much for taking the time to give us your recommendations, mate – it’s much appreciated!
Well, if you come this way again, drop me a note and I will be happy to explore with you or at least chat over a glass of wine watching a glorious sunset.
Sounds amazing, mate – one day I might take you up on that offer!
I was in Mui Ne last year and to be honest the beach is not the best. The water is dirty and it is very windy there. The people, restaurants etc surrounding the beach are pretty good and the locals are lovely. If you are expecting a beautiful beach you will be disappointed. The beach here would not make it into my top 100. I have travelled extensively and as far as beaches go I give it a 3/10. Phu Quoc is much more relaxing and much cleaner. This is just my opinion so if you are not sure just do it! If you are looking for beautiful beaches head to Thailand. There are dozens and dozens to choose from there.
Fair call. Thanks for the comment!
I am visiting mui ne in july do you think its a bad idea?
It’s hard to say, really – I believe that’s the rainy season but you may get lucky? My understanding is it gets less rainfall than other places during the rainy season but that mightn’t make a difference; rainy is rainy! On the bright side, accommodation should be cheaper around that time – not that it isn’t incredibly cheap already.
I am just south of Mui Ne (between Phan Tiet and Mui Ne) and was worrying about being here and in Vietnam during rainy season. Today it was cloudy and partly cloudy through out the day, but no rain. In HCMC it rained on and off. When it rained it poured, but it did not last too long. It was a good excuse to hop into the nearest bar and grab a SAIGON beer! Rain or not, your vacation and stay is what you make out of it right?!
Haha, I love the good old Saigon beer! Your’re right about the weather; I was fortunate enough to have primo weather everywhere in Vietnam except around Hue and Hoi An, where it was a good ten degrees cooler and it pissed down with rain. And I still had an awesome time! Enjoy the rest of your travels.
Never been to Vietnam, but based on these pics, the beach looks awesome! Think I’d just laze around there all day and give the sports side of it a miss though 😉
Haha, that’s what I did too! You might be pleased to know that beer and food is extremely inexpensive in Mui Ne – cheaper even than Nha Trang
I’ve never been to Nha Trang, but Mui Ne is awesome! the white sand dunes is my favorite!!!
It’s the best!
I absolutely adore Mui Ne beach. When I lived in Saigon we would go to Mui Ne a couple of times a month.
I used to stay in a small guest house that cost $10 a night but we could use the pool of the guest house opposite as long as we bought food or drinks in their restaurant. I love the beach because it is so alive, it is probably not the most beautiful beach in Vietnam but I tend to find beautiful beaches a bit dull anyway.
I miss hanging out on the beach in the day and then partying at Wax at night 🙂
Sounds like a great lifestyle! And you’re right, it’s not the most beautiful but it is just so fun and alive. I wish I was back there right now – and that’s coming from someone who’s having a great time travelling through Malaysia at this particular moment in time!
I really loved Mui Ne while I was there. Though admittedly I didn’t like the beach. We really just hung out at one of the seaside pool resorts the whole time! The beaches were way too windy for me 🙂
Haha, admittedly I’m always fond of the places where I hang around the pool all day, too. Outside of the resort my destination could be rubbish-dump but sometimes staying in a sweet resort makes all the difference
Loving the blog.
Haven’t been to Vietnam yet but will chuck this beach on the places we have to visit!
Thanks mate. Appreciate it. Definitely check it out when you’re there!
Nice to see a post about someplace a little off the beaten track. I backpacked through Southeast Asia, but missed Laos and Vietnam. When I go back, I’ll have to check out Mui Ne.
You definitely should. But sometimes it’s hard to make yourself go off the beaten track in Vietnam purely because the beaten track is just so good!
I liked Mui Ne, more than I expected to. But I doubt it’s the best beach in all of Vietnam. I’ve never been, but I’ve heard such incredible things about Phu Quoc island. One day I’ll make my way back to Vietnam…
Thanks for weighing in, Izy. I hear great things about Phu Quoc, too, but I haven’t been there yet. There’s always next time!