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.
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.
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.
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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