My adventure in Vietnam started in Ho Chi Minh City and continued onto Mui Ne. Mui Ne feels like a completely different country from Ho Chi Minh, so check out all the photos I took in Ho Chi Minh City.
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Read my post about Da Lat!
Overnight bus from Ho Chi Minh City to Mui Ne
My friend Myriam and I purchased two last minute tickets for the infamous sleeper bus ride from Ho Chi Minh City to Mui Ne for only $16 USD. The bus left at 11 p.m. and arrived around 3 a.m. so there wasn’t anytime being wasted by travel and we saved on accommodation for that night.
If you read my Ho Chi Minh City post then you would know that before heading out we spent some time at Golden Lotus Spa which was such a cool experience.
After we took a grab to the bus pick up location and checked in. The waiting area was exactly what you would except in a developing country but no fuss because it did the job.
This was my first experience taking a sleeper bus and it wasn’t awful but it wasn’t anywhere near luxury either although each bed came with a blanket and a water bottle.
The first thing I did was the toss the blanket as far away from me as possible and then get to wiping before I tried to get comfortable.
There was barely any space to let my legs lay straight and I’m only 5’4 so if you’re someone taller than me or have a larger body mass, I wouldn’t recommend a sleeper because it would be hard to get comfortable.
Besides editing some photos and reading a bit, I booked our one night stay at the Mui Ne Hills Backpackers. This is a good example of just how last minute you can plan stuff while traveling in Vietnam.
Our driver was 110% speeding and weaving through traffic but I managed to sleep a bit as well before we thankfully arrived safely and right on time.
Attempting to check into Mui Ne Hills Backpackers
We were dropped off at the bottom of the hill and of course the accommodation we booked was at the very top.
With two oversized backpacks and two tote bags, we made our way up a narrow road way in the middle of the night. It was pretty much pitch black so luckily we had each other because there wasn’t anyone around which made it eerie.
The only people we ended up passing was a group of your classic drunk European backpackers who greeted us with a, “heeey!”
Once we made it to the top, we were in for quite a treat.
I should preface by saying that when I booked our accommodation I selected that our arrival would be between 3-4 a.m. so we expected to be able to check into the room at that time.
The young man who was working the office didn’t speak English and was already in a bad mood so we started at a disadvantage.
We went back and forth using Google translator trying to understand why he was telling us we couldn’t check in until 1 p.m. when we had selected our arrival time as 3 a.m and why he was telling us that we would need to pay more money if we wanted a room now.
After more backpackers arrived and battled with the worker for the same reason and by this point we were so exhausted and just wanted to lay.
The full service English speakers shift started at 6 a.m. so we had no choice but to wait at the beach until 6 a.m. Little did we know that this misfortune would turn out to be one of the most amazing experiences of our lives.
Watching the sunrise on the beach
Once we made it down the hill and onto the beach, it was darkness all around except for a few lights in the distance. There was our favorite group of drunk backpackers in the distance but other than that it was just us.
It might sound a bit scary but honestly it was relaxing and felt so freeing.
We took the opportunity to go skinning dipping in the ocean and surprisingly the water was a comfortable temperature. It wasn’t too cold and it wasn’t hot either. In addition, the waves were perfect enough for us to enjoy and not get knocked over.
Everything just aligned so well.
We chatted, laughed, and ate snacks until the sun started to rise around 5 a.m. I had never witnessed an entire sun rise performance and damn it’s truly magic.
The sky started by peeking a bit of orange in the distance before engulfing the entire sky a deep orange red gradient. The few fishing boats in the distance created the perfect silhouette among the orange ambiance.
As creatives, there’s no way we could pass up this moment without doing a photo shoot. Our jaws were literally dropping at the photos we were getting.
The silhouette of our bodies contrasting the red, orange and purple gradient sky was out of this world.
After our shoot, we spent the rest of the sunrise swimming and playing in the water. It was so luxurious to not have any responsibility or commitments to think about.
By this time other early morning people started to wander onto the beach to enjoy the sunrise as well.
It took forever but the sun finally peaked over the horizon and the heat instantly hit. It was around 6 a.m by this point so we took a quick nap before heading back to try and check in.
Street food for breakfast
On our way back we stopped at this lady’s establishment for breakfast. I say establishment because I’m not sure what to call it. The space was a cafe, grocery store, butcher shop, and banh mi shop. She’s a true hustler and it was inspiring.
I ordered an avocado banh mi with a fresh passion fruit juice. The banh mi was really good with avocado that tasted really fresh and added a nice cooling element.
After eating we headed back up the hill and got to see the area in daylight which was comforting. There was a real simple and local vibe that I loved.
Once we got to our accommodation, we were blessed with two receptionists that spoke English. We explained to her the inconvenience from the earlier hours and she told us that check in isn’t until 1 p.m.
Finally it all made sense as to why we couldn’t check into our room at 3 a.m but the guy never said that check in time is 1 p.m. which would have solved the issue right then and there.
It was still only around 7 a.m. at this time so waiting until 1 p.m. to shower and get proper sleep sounded like hell so we managed to finesse our check in time down to 11:30 a.m. To our surprise, the lady even gave us a room upgrade which was super nice.
Lounging and swimming at Mui Ne Backpackers
We were given a wristband so we could access the pool and restaurant area while we waited for our room to be ready.
Since it was still early, we had the entire pool area to ourselves. We made the most of it by taking a swim before reading and taking a nap.
When I woke up from my nap the sun was blasting on me, the music was bumping and there was people everywhere. It was quite a shock to wake up to compared to what I fell asleep to.
It was still only around 10 a.m. when I woke up so we still had more time to kill. The pool was flooded with rowdy drunk backpackers so we decided to eat at the restaurant next door which was conveniently connected less than 1 second away.
Lunch at Breeze Restaurant and Bar
The atmosphere was incredibly calm with tables and pool chairs around the perimeter of the pool. Since the hostel is at the top a hill the view looked so tropical with the beach in the distance. It seriously felt like we were paying $1,000 a night to live this way.
The menu was a variety of different cuisines to cater to all kinds of travelers. I ordered a… passion fruit juice (surprise surprise) and we got two different noodles dishes and something breakfast related. No lie the food was pretty good, a lot better than you would expect at a backpackers hostel in a developing country.
Finally checking into the room
Once we finished eating, it was finally time to check into the room. There was two beds and a huge shower which was handy because of all the sand that we tracked in. There was nothing special about the room, but it was nice none the less and did the job.
Chilling in the jacuzzi
After a well needed shower, we rested for a bit before heading to the jacuzzi which was nestled at the highest point of the hostel. The view seriously made us feel like we were living on daddies money.
In hindsight, the water was probably so nasty but it was so nice to enjoy in the moment.
By this point we had exhausted ourselves with the heat so we showered once again and fell asleep. Unfortunately, I didn’t wake up until after the sun had set but it’s okay because we had one more night.
Having dinner at Trinh Restaurant
The sun had already set, but it was still only around 6 p.m. so we headed out into the city to find some dinner. The streets were full of people which was such a difference from the desert town it was when we first arrived.
Majority of the people were obviously tourists so there was a ton of different food options and stores to shop at.
After our third attempt to try and find a place to eat we finally decided on one that was right on the beach. The first place we went to wasn’t on the beach and I’ll update this post with the name once I find it and it had the most bougie walk through a carefully manicured garden before you reached the restaurant.
It gave me total country club vibes with prices to match. There was the cutest dinner set up in the corner that make me wish I was invited although we ended up choosing not to eat there.
We got rejected from another place called Long Son Mui Ne because we didn’t order drinks and only wanted pancakes which was quite comical having the waiter try to translate that to us.
At Trinh Restaurant they were saving a buy one get one free so we got cosmopolitans and then some spring rolls and crossiants? I don’t even remember why these choices were made because the food was pretty average and looking at the photos now it really was not good.
After dinner, we headed back to our room to chill for the night. Earlier in the day we booked a 4 a.m. sunrise tour to the red sand dunes through our hostel so we went to bed early wishfully thinking that we would wake up in time.
Waking up to watch the sunrise
Of course, we woke up right before 4 a.m. so there was no way we were going to get ready and make it down the hill in time to catch the shuttle.
There’s nothing wrong with sleeping in so I figured we could just deal with it later in the morning.
I woke back up at around 5:20 a.m. to watch the sunrise from the hostel. There was a balcony on the 2nd level so went up there to get a better view.
The colors were vibrant and similar to what we saw the morning before but at a different perspective. The clouds created a wispy effect that looked red against the sky.
Spending the morning on the beach
I think it’s a crime to go to a beach town and not spend time at the beach, so that’s what we did before we had to check out.
I was almost finessed out of paying way more for a coconut by some ladies doing at a make shift fruit stand.
My mistakes were not having smaller cash amounts and not telling the lady to step back up when she tried to grab money out of my hand.
In the end, they tried to clear their karma by trying to put a bag of baby bananas in my hand but I said declined and eventually got some of my extra paid money back.
It was so chill to waste away the day at the beach but once it started to get too hot, I was ready to head back.
Once we got back, cleaned off and packed up, we checked out of the room and asked the reception if we could do the evening sand dunes tour since we missed the AM one.
Luckily, they agreed to switch our tickets to the evening tour which left at around 1 p.m. so the customer service at Mui Ne Backpackers is definitely A+.
Brunch at Breeze Restaurant and Bar
Since Breeze was so convenient and well priced, we decided to eat there for brunch as our final Mui Ne meal before heading on the tour.
We ate brunch at the hotel restaurant and ordered our final Mui Ne meal. We each ordered a margarita pizza and devoured them before heading down to catch the bus to our first stop of the tour: the Fairy Stream.
The pizza was surprisingly really good even though it was pretty basic.
Having a mini photo shoot
We had a bit of time before having to head down the hill, so we squeezed in an impromptu shoot.
There was this area of the hostel that had the word “tolet” written in a way that created an authentic southeast Asia aesthetic.
Our matching sets really took the idea home and we matched to shoot all these photos in less than 10 minutes with my makeshift tripod and self timer.
Visiting the Fairy Stream
The Fairy Stream was only a short 10-15 minute drive from the hotel. We weren’t really briefed at all about what to except but our driver told us to be back in an hour (or so we thought).
There was a short walk to the start of the stream and once we got there, we had to take off our shoes before getting in the muggy water.
The water is colored orange by the clay and there was a ton of really cool rock formations along the walk through the stream.
We really weren’t sure of what to except along the walk but in addition, there was a guy which a huge snake, really pointy rocks to walk on, and a cute little waterfall at the end.
It was kind of a “this is it?” moment but it’s about the journey not the destination, right?
On our way back we made sure to get all the photos we wanted in our custom made Soul Bohostyle two piece sets.
There was a spot that we had passed along the way that I really liked so that’s where we got the shots. It looked out of the worldly with the rough white and orange terrain.
I guess we took way longer than we thought because once we made it back to the entrance we didn’t see the bus and assumed we were early. Our first mistake was not looking at the time when we started because we swore we had made it back within an hour.
After taking more pictures and waiting around we didn’t see anyone else from our tour group and decided to call the hostel to see what’s up.
After a short conversation we learned that we actually had missed the bus to the next location. They gave us two options and the one we chose was to get a taxi and meet the rest of the group at the red sand dunes.
Watching the sunset at the Red Sand Dunes
We arrived at the red sand dunes around 3:30 and the rest of the group was still at the White Sand Dunes so weren’t arriving until around 5 p.m. to watch the sunset.
Since we had arrived so early, there was only a few people there so we got to enjoy the entire dunes to ourselves during golden hour.
The whole experience was so mesmerizing. The way the sun was glowing in the distance truly looked and felt like magic. The wind was strong so we could even see the sand blowing into the air and even though it looked cool it hurt so bad.
Obviously we took a ton of photos and the combination of the sunlight and smooth dunes looked so mystic.
Once the sun had started to go behind the horizon everyone started walking into the dunes. We picked a spot in the distance so our view was everyone standing on a hill watching the sunset.
It was such a cool view because everyone was super small so they looked like ants.
The colors and contrast made everything look so whimsical so it’s definitely an experience I will never forget.
After the sun had gone down we headed back to the bus and were reunited with the rest of our group.
A bunch of jokes were exchanged about how they waited for us for a bit but we were no where in sight so they had to move onto the white sand dunes.
They said we didn’t miss much because the Red Sand Dunes was better than the White Sand Dunes.
Even though I don’t have my own comparison to make, I would definitely recommend doing a sand dunes tour when visiting Mui Ne.
Once we made it back we started an interesting hour long journey to Lara’s Homestay in Ke Ga, Vietnam which was such an amazing experience and will get its own post!
What is your favorite beach town? Let me know in the comments!