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Surfing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, sand dunes, lakes, waterfalls, temples, fishing villages, $.25 beer, empty beaches, sizzling hot days…what else do you need? Mui Ne is an absolute watersports haven full of quirky expats, fun-loving locals, and ceaseless adventure lurking around every corner. While the name of the game in this town is definitely kitesurfing, there are enough places to explore by motorbike or relax with some cheap food and a beer to make this one of those “I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to leave” places you only find every now and again. For anyone looking for a laidback, scenic pitstop on a jampacked Southeast Asian itinerary, Mui Ne is the place to be.
Laid out on a length of road that hugs the windy coast, the town merges from a local fishing village into the more manicured expat side of town that is host to many of the western accommodations and watersports schools. While there are higher end resorts right on the beach that hit your wallet pretty hard, cheap and reasonable accomodation can still be found throughout town for no more than$10/night for a clean, private room. Of all the places in town to stay, there is none that I recommend more highly than the LyLy guesthouse, situated just across the street from the popular Pogo Bar. Brand new and run by a wildly eccentric, impossibly hospitable expat German named Paul, the place offers a true sense of coming home. Everything from home cooked chili con carne to beers in the fridge that you pay by the honor system, the laidback atmosphere of the guesthouse encapsulates the feel of the entire town. For other discount hotel deals in the area check out Hotel in Phan Thiet for more information.
For those wanting to take in some watersports there are a number of different options spread around town. For windsurfing and kitesurfing, many schools and rentals are available on Full Moon Beach. Seemingly at the center of much of the activity is Jibes, a company specializing in watersports instruction that features a beachside bar for added luxury. Anyone considering taking a lesson in either windsurfing or kitesurfing is advised to do so earlier in the day when the winds are lighter, as they tend to pick up into the advanced an unmanageable range as the afternoon wears on. For those looking to simply do some good old fashioned surfing and ride the best that the China Sea has to offer, board rental is available at Malibu Beach on the north end of town from a small local cafe. There is simply no better way to start a day in Mui Ne than with a motorcycle ride at sunrise down to remote Malibu Beach, with a hot coffee in hand standing oceanside as local children play their daily match of soccer to the tune of the rising sun. Getting a surf in post-coffee with no one else around is an added bonus as well.
Not everything in Mui Ne is centered around watersports, however. At the heart of a desert, arid landscape, the town is rung by massive sand dunes ranging in color from Martian red to completely reflective white. Located nearly 35km north of town, the Big White Dune also contains the placid Lotus Lake, an aquatic sliver of life-giving water in an otherwise harsh desert environment. Located virtually in the middle of nowhere, it is as surreal a feeling as any to be lounging lakeside surrounded by massive dunes that are mere steps from the thundering ocean below. Nowhere else in Vietnam is remotely like it, and it is unbelievably refreshing to simply ditch the crowds and get out into nature for a little while.
Those looking for nightlife will find no shortage of that either, as places such as Pogo and the DJ Station frequently run until dawn, with many patrons not even showing up until somewhere around 2am. With a slew of expat water junkies and bedraggled backpackers constantly sloshing through the town, a hardy night out can still be had for those looking to simply tie one on.
While the adrenaline sports and dramatic scenery are reason enough to come to Mui Ne, what really makes the town special is simply the atmosphere of the town itself. While so many places on the Southeast Asian circuit are the type of “see the sights and get out” locations, Mui Ne is a town chock full not of sightseers, but of simple, impossibly happy people just stoked to be living their life. No haggling for souvenirs. No pesky taxis or mot drivers. Nobody trying to be your guide around town. Just an relaxed sliver of sand with casual people that cater to a casual lifestyle, with no desire to ever return to the place they used to be from.