Mui Ne is a town and cape located 180 kilometers east of Ho Chi Minh City (220 kilometers on the current highway). In 1999, the town of Mui Ne, plus the village of Hon Rom and Suoi Nuoc Beach north of Mui Ne were combined into one ward and, along with a number of other communities along the coast, were annexed by Phan Thiet. This annexation nearly doubled the population of Phan Thiet to just under 400,000, thereby allowing it to be registered as a city.
Northeast of the city center of Phan Thiet, the coastal road climbs over the slope of a hill in Phu Hai ward and descends onto the long, sandy crescent of Mui Ne Bay in Ham Tien ward. The formerly little-inhabited beach west of the fishing town and cape of Mui Ne proper has seen some serious development in the last 20 years. Now it is a 10 km long strip of resorts that line up like pearls on Nguyen Dinh Chieu and Huynh Thuc Khang streets, shaded by coconut palms.
Given the choice, nature would move the sand around, much to the dismay of some developers. Beach sand tends to migrate up and down the coast seasonally, leaving some (but not all) spots with just a concrete breakwater rather than sandy beach. There is always a good sandy beach somewhere along this 10 km beach. If a sandy beach is important to you, some research is called for before booking a resort in Ham Tien ward.
A few bargain hotels have popped up on the inland side of the road, across from the beach-side resorts. If you stay on the inland side, you will need to pass through one of the resorts to reach the beach, which might or might not result in some hassle from the guards. The resorts jealously guard their lounge chairs and palapas, though the beach itself is open to everyone. If all else fails, you can always access a nice sandy stretch of beach via Joe’s Cafe at 86 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, with a drink purchase.
Within the past few years, resort development has expanded into Mui Ne ward, as well as along the coast south of the Phan Thiet city center in Tien Thanh commune and the area around the Ke Ga lighthouse. Phan Thiet and most particularly Rang Beach in Ham Tien ward is very popular with Russian package tour tourists which means most of the restaurants have signs, names and menus in Russian. With the decline of the Russian Ruble, Russian tourist numbers have dropped, but since late 2016, they are again on the rise.
Mui Ne ward itself has two beaches; Ganh Beach and Suoi Nuoc Beach, both with an increasing number of resorts, shops and restaurants. Strong sea breezes make all the beaches of Phan Thiet very popular for kitesurfing and windsurfing.
Rang Beach in Ham Tien ward was first discovered by many foreigners when they descended on the area on October 24, 1995 to watch a solar eclipse. Scientists had predicted that one of the best places in the world to see the total eclipse was on the beaches northeast of the Phan Thiet city centre. Guide books directed would-be astronomers to the beach along Mui Ne Bay, incorrectly referring to Ham Tien as ‘Mui Ne’ and Rang Beach as ‘Mui Ne Beach’. This confusion has continued and most tourists still think that all three wards east of the city center are called Mui Ne.
Places should visit in Mui Ne:
Mui Ne Market and Harbor (Lang chai Mui Ne). Don’t miss out on an excursion to Mui Ne harbor and market. Near the northwest end of town is an overlook with a splendid view of hundreds of colorful fishing boats moored in the bay.
Po Sha Inu tower is a derelict remainder of the ancient Cham culture that was built in the 8th century.
Fish Sauce Plants, where the famous nuoc mam (fish sauce) is produced. Big jars harbour the concoction that, after months in the blazing sun, is sold all over Vietnam to add some spice to the food.
The Fairy Stream (Suoi Tien) is a little river that winds its way through bamboo forests, boulders and the dunes, in parts resembling a miniature version of the Grand Canyon.
The famous Red Sand Dunes (Doi Cat), are located in Mui Ne on the main coastal road at the intersection with the four lane (706) highway. The whole region is fairly sandy, with orange sand threatening to blow onto the coastal road in some spots.