Second stop in Vietnam was Mui Ne, a sleepy seaside town 5 hours east of Ho Chi Minh. Our accommodation, Mui Ne Hills Budget Hotel, was beyond impressive, but not exactly what you would expect as a backpacker: although we stayed in a budget-friendly dorm room, the ‘hotel’ has a luxury sister hotel, and guests at the budget version are allowed to use the pool and restaurant there as well as enjoying the all-day happy hour.
Perhaps not the most backpacker-friendly accommodation in terms of atmosphere but after endless ‘party hostels’ and groups of ‘LADS on tour,’ we welcomed the more upmarket feel of Mui Ne Hills Budget Hotel! Of course, it didn’t hurt that we did lots of lounging by the pool, Mai Tais in hand.
However, we were determined to make the most of what Mui Ne had to offer, and so the first thing we did was head to the highly recommended Fairy Stream.
Fairy Stream resembles a mini Grand Canyon, yet the stream itself is only ankle deep, with the soft red sand riverbed making it very pleasant to walk through. The rock formations to the sides of the creek are truly exquisite, and the waterfall at the end of the 45 minute walk is also very pretty.
After a lovely afternoon exploring the nooks and crannies of Fairy Stream, my friend Nigel and I headed out for some food, and boy did we find it! All the way down the main strip are seafront restaurants with live seafood menus. After the charismatic hostess had convinced us to stop at the first one we saw, we feasted on fresh oysters, garlic shrimp, deep fried frog and chicken spring rolls, with the total bill coming to just over £5 each!
Next stop was Dragon Beach, a huge beach club that boasts 2-4-1 cocktails, house mixes of popular songs, comfy lounge chairs and even a weekly Ladies Night, where every girl gets a free bucket! The club is favoured by locals and travellers alike, and while the place isn’t hugely backpacker-friendly (in the sense that it is not targeted specifically at backpackers), we still had a great time.
Day 2 saw us take part on an organised tour (booked through our hotel) of the local red and white sand dunes. Some people chose to rent quad bikes and sledges to have fun with, but we opted to explore the dunes by foot, getting blown away by the views (and covered in sand!). The tour also included a stop at Fairy Stream, but since we’d already been there the day before, we opted to hang out at a local cafe instead and grab some lunch.
That evening we ate at Hill’s Smokeria, a charming little restaurant with friendly staff, top notch food and even a ping pong table! I went for a chicken and pork ribs BBQ with potato salad and coleslaw, and paid about £4.
Have you ever been to Mui Ne as a backpacker? What did you think? Do you think it’s backpacker-friendly or more suited to families? Let me know in the comments below?