When I was planning my Vietnam trip with my friend, who is a Vietnam expert, I told him that I wanted to go Mui Ne. He asked me why and told me that it was a boring place. I defended immediately: “Mui Ne has so many beautiful sand dunes and is a perfect beach location.” Although he warned me multiple times and suggested me not to go Mui Ne, I still insisted. And I said it so confidently: “We shall see.” Never did I expect Mui Ne to be such a boring place. And most importantly, a place full of tourist traps and thieves. Still wondering why you shouldn’t visit Mui Ne? I’ll show you why.
Where is Mui Ne?
Mui Ne is 200km from Ho Chi Minh City and it usually takes a 4 hour drive to get there. As it’s pretty close to the popular city Ho Chi Minh, Mui Ne attracts both the foreigners and the locals. It has a 12-kilometre long sweeping bay that boasts all kinds of sea activities, especially kite-surfing. In my opinion, the fact that it’s so close to Ho Chi Minh brings troubles and tourist traps to the once quiet and peaceful fishing village.
Why you shouldn’t visit Mui Ne?
Tourist Trap 1 – Extremely Expensive Jeep Ride at White Sand Dunes
The White Sand Dunes is the most popular attraction in Mui Ne. With the vast desert and the beautiful lake view right beside, it’s easily my favourite place in Mui Ne, if the tour operating companies do not cheat tourists’ monies.
There are two types of tours you can sign up with your hotel – Sunrise or Sunset tour. We signed up for the Sunrise tour, which enabled us to see sunrise at the White Sand Dunes. When we got there, we were presented with 3 options: jeep tour at 800000 VND ($35 USD), ATV tour at 900000 VND ($40 USD), or you walk around for free. As I travelled together with my parents who weren’t suitable for long-distance walking, we had no choice but to opt for the jeep tour.
To be frank, I don’t mind paying for the price if the service attitude is good. But the attitude of the driver is the worst I’ve ever seen. He basically drove us to the top of the sand dunes to take picture for 45 mins, before driving us to the lake to take pictures for another 45 mins. And that’s their so-called 1.5 hour jeep tour.
In total, the jeep ride was less than 10 mins out of 90 mins tour. And there was no exciting stunts whatsoever throughout the ride. You must be thinking: “Are you kidding me?” Yes, no kidding.
My suggestion is don’t bother taking any of the tour if you are capable of walking around by yourself. Do take note that it’ll take at least 30 mins for you to get to the top from the entrance.
Tourist Trap 2 – Teenager Thieves at Red Sand Dunes
Following the sunrise tour, your next destination will be the Red Sand Dunes. It’s a lot smaller than the White Sand Dunes, so you can walk around by yourself. Once you set foot on the desert, you’ll encounter some ladies trying to lend you their sliding broad at a very minimal cost. It’s totally fine if you are interested to have some fun sliding down the sands. But the nightmare starts if you encounter a group of “kind-hearted” teenagers offering their help to teach you the correct sliding techniques.
Don’t be fooled by their kindness, they are actually trying to steal money from you in the process, by asking you to put your money pouch to the back. As they are “passionately” teaching you, they are taking the money from your pouch without you noting it. We fell prey to this trap and got stolen at least $50 USD, so be very careful!
Tourist Trap 3 – Over Hyped Beauty
If you really want to find a place that’s truly peaceful and without any kinds of traps, that must be the Fairy Stream. Over there, you can take pictures that look very vibrant in colors.
But even the Fairy Stream has nothing much to do and all the scenery seems identical. To be frank, Mui Ne isn’t as beautiful as I expected. The beach isn’t that nice either, not to mention about the attractions.
Tourist Trap 4 – Expansive Hotel or Resort
The resorts or hotels around Mui Ne are generally more expensive (at least $60 USD per night), especially those situated right next to the main beach. In order to save cost, we decided to stay further away from the main beach and chose Mui Ne Sports Hotel. Overall, I felt the hotel was comfortable, modern and reasonably priced ($30 USD per night).
There’s a pretty good restaurant right outside the hotel too, which offers a variety of food. As Mui Ne is right by the sea, the seafood is a lot cheaper than many other places in Vietnam. What’s more, it is very fresh and delicious.
I hope my advice has successfully heightened your awareness about the existing tourist traps in Mui Ne. Of course Mui Ne is not just about bad things. If you haven’t seen desert before, or if you are a fan of kite-surfing and seafood, this place is still suitable for you. You just have to be more careful not to fall for those traps. Have a safe trip!