While Phan Thiet and Mui Ne are among the busiest coastal towns in Vietnam, it remains relatively untouched by urban development, making it an ideal retreat from the bustling cities of Saigon and Hanoi. The most famous attractions here are the Red and White Sand Dunes, where travellers can enjoy a fun-filled day of riding ATVs or sliding down the slopes on rickety sleds. With that being said, there’s more to this town than the extraordinary desert plains, so we’ve compiled a list of Phan Thiet and Mui Ne’s most popular attractions.
Red Sand Dunes
The Red Sand Dunes are one of Phan Thiet’s most unique natural formations, where you can take gorgeous snapshots and enjoy an array of activities. Located three kilometres north of Mui Ne, it features reddish-brown sand with gentle slopes that’s reminiscent of a miniature Middle Eastern desert. If you get to the highest peak, you’ll be greeted with a great sunset view of the ocean. Sand-sledding is a common (and fun) activity here, with plastic sleds available for about VND 10,000 to VND 20,000. Be aware you have to haggle to rent the boards as the local boys will try to charge extortionate fees to rent the thin sheet of plastic. Visitors can also rent quad bikes and dune buggies to explore Red Sand Dunes, but make sure you agree on the price beforehand.
Mui Ne Beach
Mui Ne Beach runs along the coast of this popular coastal town in the capital of Binh Thuan province. It features 15 kilometres of sandy beaches, gentle waves, and luxurious beachfront resorts. The northern end of Mui Ne Beach is home to a traditional fishing village while the southern caters to recreational activities such as swimming and water sports. Thanks to its rock-free waters, the most popular activity in Mui Ne Beach is kitesurfing. The best time to enjoy this is between the months of November and March, when the skies are sunny with strong winds.
Mui Ne Fishing Village
Essentially a congregation of fishing boats, the location of this floating village differs according to the season and when the winds change direction. From around May to October, the wind comes from the North and the fishing boats move to avoid the waves. Here, you can glimpse small basket boats bringing produce to shore from larger fishing boats harboured out at sea.
Po Shanu Cham Towers
Once a hallmark of the prosperous Champa kingdom that thrived in this region from around the 7th century to 1832, the Poshanu Cham Towers from the late 8th to early 9th century are perched on a hilltop with views of Phan Thiet and the distant coastline. On site are three towers. Inside the main one is a linga and yoni monolith dedicated to Lord Shiva. The two other towers are devoted to the fire deity Agni and the buffalo deity Nandi.
Fairy Stream is a photography hotspot in Phan Thiet and Mui Ne thanks to its dramatic landscape of reds, whites, oranges and pinks. With clear water flowing from Ham Tien’s Dinh Mountain, one side of Fairy Stream features a mix of white and red sand dunes while the other is an expansive field of verdant trees, blossoming flowers, and coconut palms. If you’re feeling a bit peckish, there are several food stalls set along the way while bars and restaurants are located upstream. Also, make sure you wear comfortable clothing and bring an extra pair of shoes as you’ll be wading through water during your visit to Fairy Stream.
Van Thuy Tu Temple
Van Thuy Tu Temple, dating back to 1762, is the largest and oldest whale temple in Phan Thiet – Mui Ne. Built in honour of Ca Ong (Lord Whale), locals believe that whales are benevolent creatures that protect fisherman from bad weather and the dangers at sea. Therefore, Van Thuy Tu Temple houses the skeletal remains of more than 100 whales, including 22-metre long whale skeleton that’s thought to have been the biggest in Southeast Asia. Numerous artefacts from the Nguyen Dynasty are also displayed within the main hall of the temple, such as written decrees by 24 former kings, terracotta statues, incense table, lacquered boards, and an antique bronze bell.
White Sand Dunes
White Sand Dunes or Bau Trang (White Lake) feature dramatic white sand dunes plunging towards a small lagoon lined with lotus flowers. Unlike the Red Sand Dunes, there’s also a small pine forest within Bau Trang, providing visitors some much-needed shade from the scorching sun. As one of the only desert areas in Southeast Asia, it’s a favourite spot for unique photo opportunities, sand-sledding, and ATV rides. For about VND 20,000, you can slide down the White Sand Dunes on plastic sleds; going down is quick and easy, but coming back up can be quite a challenge!