Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Mui Ne Sunrise Sand Dunes Tour

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The driver of the private jeep pick us up at 4.30am for the half day Mui Ne sunrise sand dunes tour together with another female Taiwanese and a couple from London. The tour normally includes visiting to the smaller red sand dunes, fishing village and red canyon on the Fairy Stream. Our expedition to the white sand dunes took around an hour, hopefully in time for the sunrise. Since the sand dunes were not accessible by any vehicles, the driver dropped us off and we have to stroll another kilometer, going through the soft sands and make it to the top one of the sand dunes for a marvelous panoramic view. So leave your cover or high heel shoes in the hotel; wear a sandal to the sand dunes to avoid any sands into your shoes and also for easier maneuver.

In the early morning, the sand dunes were untouched and not ruined by any foot marks in the sand, as there are not many crowds. The vast white sand dunes area looked like the Arabian Desert and it stretched for miles around.

Due to the overcast clouds, we could not really see the sunrise when it emerged from the ground. But anyway I still feeling ecstasy.

Slopes of the sand dunes

At the sand dunes, local kids will persuade visitors to rent the blue plastic thin board for as low 10,000 VND for sand sliding down the steep sandy slopes for unlimited times. The prices are negotiable. We been harassed when we walked up the dunes and the asking price is 20,000 VND. I keep bargaining till the kid offered me 10,000 VND.

Sliding down was fun, but not when you have to climb up the soft sand dune with the plastic board. I slide for 3 times, and I’m happy with it. If possible, wear any attire that can dry easily like polyester material, so that the sand won’t stick on your shirt or pant or even body.

After the sunrise, the aided by the burning gold shades of light slowly revealed the beauty of the sand dunes together with the sand formation.

When we were at the highest point of the sand dunes, we saw a blue lake at the far sight and the shallower end of the lakes are covered with lotus plant. It’s like an oasis. It’s the only destination in South East Asia countries for budget travelers to enjoy the view of sand dunes and the weather definitely will not be as hot in the ‘real’ desert.

Finally, I found a visitor from Nanjing, China to take this beautiful shot of me and my wife. On top of that, he also was using the same camera model I have, the Nikon D90.

We were soon refreshed by the sea winds through the open shelter jeep as we head to the Red Sand Dunes through the winding road for 15 minutes.

When we arrived at the red sand dunes, there were many visitors, but mainly local people. We saw many people at the top of the red sand dunes, sliding down the slope on the blue plastic thin board.

Red sand dunes facing the sea

This place was always crowded with people due to easy accessible by public transport, it just located by the roadside

Due to this demand, there were many street peddlers selling foods, souvenirs and renting out the blue plastic thin board.

The area covered by the Red Sand Dunes is as big as the White Sand Dunes but I preferred the White Sand Dunes because less visitors visiting and the atmosphere were quieter. Even the sand dune was not that nice and smooth.

We spent around 20 minutes here before we hopped into the jeep to be driven to our next destination, the fishing village. From far away, we could scent the fish smell. The moment we alighted from the jeep and walked for another 100m, we saw hundreds of colorful boats in the sea, all waiting to go out and catch their fish. The view was amazing and overlooked not only the sea and fishing boats, but also the sandy beach and a fleet of conical ‘container’ boat lined along the shore.

Conical ‘container’ boat

When walking along the beach, we saw fishermen and women sorting out their catch on that day

Wives waiting for their husbands (fishermen) to come back with their catch.

Then we walked back to the jeep to our final destination of the tour, Fairy Stream. It supposed to be a walk on the shallow stream for about 15-20 minutes till we reached a waterfall.

There were few kids trying to be our tour guide there and I knew they are going to ask money from us as part of the services. We decided to walk on our own. Further down the stream, we saw some rock formations

After passing by the rock formation, we went up the sandy hill over-looking a mini grand canyon, partly due to the large red sand dunes from the other sides of the stream.

Without going any further down the stream, we headed back to the jeep with a certain extend of disappointment. Once we backed to the hotel, we refreshed ourselves before heading to a nearby famous backpack hotel called Mellow for breakfast. The hotel is run by an Englishman and it’s a great place for kite surfers. All lessons/equipment hire can be arranged through the hotel.

We ordered the famous Banh Mi with sausage omelet and fried noodle, not too bad. It cost us 75,000 VND including drink.

After breakfast, we still have 3 more hours to kill before we heading back to Ho Chi Minh by bus, sigh…another dreading 5 hours bus ride.

Upon reaching at Sinh Café in De Tham, we checked-in to a nearby hotel, Hoang Linh Hotel for USD15 per night. The room was equipped with hot shower, air-cond, double bed and most importantly, clean.

Then we headed to the local supermarket nearby to buy some souvenirs back like instant coffee and snacks. I trusted the price there and cheaper as compared to any roadside stalls that are targeting tourists, especially those without price tags. After getting what we wanted, we hunt for Bun Bo Thanh Noi for Hue style cuisine signature dish Bun Bo Hue (beef noodle). The broth is a bit sours as compared to the normal beef noodle. Taste something different and good to explore.

After the heavy meals, we both headed back to hotel for a good rest. Tomorrow will be our last minute shopping tour before leaving HCMC to my home country. Alas, that the end of the great adventure we had.


  1. Hi, your Mui Ne tour sounds awesome! Do you mind telling me which tour/where you booked it from?


    lindsey [at]

  2. I stayed at Sand Dune hotel and engaged a tour with Hanh Café, Mui Ne. Try to make a bargain if possible. Check out this blog for more details,

  3. We all have the opportunity to travel. Quite a few says they have no time, too much work, and you won't believe this - no money.