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When you think of sand dunes you probably think of places like the Sahara desert or Namibia, and I doubt your first thought heads to the Mui Ne fishing village in Vietnam. Well, that’s why I’m here as I want to make more people aware of this natural landscape in a place you wouldn’t expect.
This small region of Vietnam is home to some stunning sand dunes and it’s easy to forget where you actually are when visiting. Normally sand dunes are found in hot, dry places instead of countries covered with tropical forests. That’s why it’s so surprising that Vietnam has such a large desert!
If you’re planning on visiting Vietnam you should definitely head down to Mui Ne as they have (arguably) some of the best beaches in the country. Plus, if you need inspiration for south-east Asia overall, check out my post on the most popular backpacking route through the region!
Check out these 10 fun things to do outdoors in Mui Ne so you can add them to your travel plans.
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How to get to Mui Ne
Mui Ne is located in the southeast of Vietnam and is on the coast. It is about 4.5 hours from Ho Chi Minh which is the largest city in the country. Many people will visit Mui Ne for a weekend due to the region having some of the best beaches in the country.
If you need to travel to Mui Ne from elsewhere, my recommended site to use is 12Go for overland travel.
Once you are in Mui Ne, it’s very easy to get around on foot or on a scooter. If you are interested in renting a scooter during your visit, you can do so here.
Tours to the Sand Dunes in Mui Ne
Although visitors have the option to visit the sand dunes independently (often by motorbike or scooter), the majority of tourists will join a group tour.
With a group tour of the sand dunes, you will get the opportunity to meet others, get taken to and from the tourist site and learn more about the attraction from a local than you probably could alone.
Now, since most people who visit Mui Ne come to the area for the beach and sand dunes, it’s no surprise that there are multiple tours available that visit BOTH attractions. This means you can book in advance and know that you will get to see both attractions in one day.
Below are two tours where you can join a group and visit both dunes and the Fairy Stream.
The Red Sand Dunes (Doi Hong)
First, we will start off small. The red sand dunes are the smaller of the two but no less impressive. They have the same red hue to their sand that you find in the Fairy Stream a short drive away.
The red sand dunes are located just off of the main Mui Ne strip which makes them easy to visit.
Location: 01 Hòn Rơm, ĐT716, Mũi Né, Thành phố Phan Thiết, Bình Thuận, Vietnam
Things to do
As it says in the name, the red sand dunes are red in colour. This makes them the perfect place for a photo opportunity for visitors. The best time to visit for the best photos is sunset. If you do arrive in time for sunset it’s advisable to go at least 45 minutes before the sun is due to set so you can find a good spot to settle in.
During the busy months, it can get extremely busy and filled with tourists around sunset so it pays to get there earlier than later. Otherwise, you could find yourself struggling to find a good place to watch the sun go down.
Other than taking photos of the sunset, the second most popular activity here is sand sledging. You can purchase a sledge from one of the few stalls by the entrance.
The White Sand Dunes (Doi Cat Trang)
Now, the white sand dunes are the main attraction and are much larger than the red dunes. They span over a much larger area and are located next to a lake and the ocean.
Location: Hoà Thắng, Bắc Bình District, Bình Thuận, Vietnam
What to expect
Since the white sand dunes are so much larger than the red dunes, most visitors come to Mui Me to see these. They are a lot more impressive than the others and are the main attraction – for good reason.
Luckily for visitors, the sand dunes are so large that even on a busy day, visitors can easily spread themselves out. This area really does look and feel like you’re somewhere in the Sahara desert with nothing around!
Safety tip: Although the dunes are big, there are lots of ATVs and Jeeps on the dunes. Try to stay out of their way.
As well as the vehicle tours that take you up on the sand, there is also the option to take part in sand sledging here. Some of the dunes are extremely steep so this is a thrilling activity! You can rent a sledge at the entrance near the seating area.
Due to how much larger the white sand dunes are and how many more visitors you’d expect to see, there is a large shelter with food stalls and bathrooms for guest use. These are all located near the seating area and entrance.
Best time to visit
Due to the climate and average temperature in Mui Ne, the best time to visit is between November and April. This is when Vietnam is in its dry season with an average of 27 degrees Celsius.
If you happen to travel between May and October, you will still get consistent hot weather, however, it will be much more humid and will have a higher chance of rain. This is because this is the rainy season each year.
Sunrise is best from the white dunes & sunset is best from the red dunes
Each of the dunes is better to visit at different times. This is great if you’re on a tight schedule as it means you can visit each one on the same day. However, if you are on a group tour, it is more likely that you will be taken to the red dunes in time for sunset – rather than to the white dunes for sunrise.
If you are travelling independently, you will have flexibility with your schedule and can easily do both attractions at their optimal times.
Places to stay in Mui Ne
I will always recommend hostels first as a solo traveller or someone who wishes to stay in social accommodation.
If you’d like to stay in a hostel to meet other travellers, I’d recommend booking to stay at Eva Hut Mui Ne Beach Hostel. They are one of just a handful of accommodations available in the small town located by the beach. If you’d like to see what else is available check out Hostel World.
If a hostel is not your cup of tea and you would rather stay in a resort or hotel, Booking.com has a good collection of different accommodations to choose from. Everything from hotels, apartments and guesthouses.