Many Vietnamese beach areas have seen recent surges in popularity, but MUI NE takes the biscuit. Not so long ago this was a sleepy backwater ignored by domestic and international tourists alike, but the beach is now largely invisible from the coastal road, thanks to 10km of wall-to-wall resorts. The fact that Highway 1 juts inland before Mui Ne was the main factor behind it keeping off the radar for so long, but the secret was fully unveiled during an eclipse of the sun in the mid-1990s, which had its optimum viewing spot here. Now it’s popular as a weekend retreat for expats living in Ho Chi Minh City, as well as a favourite with upmarket visitors happy to pay $70 or more per day to lounge around in a luxurious resort. Many of these visitors are Russian – this is one of the only places in South East Asia in which Cyrillic text vies for supremacy with Roman.
There’s no doubt that its laidback atmosphere is one of its best features, but Mui Ne is also something of a tourist enclave, separated as it is from any Vietnamese community. This probably won’t bother you if you’re looking for unadulterated beachside relaxation, but if you crave interaction with locals or a higher-octane nightlife scene, you’d be better off heading on up to Nha Trang. Another potential problem at Mui Ne is that the strong winds and surf tend to erode parts of the beach between August and December, so you might just find the waves lapping onto the garden of your chosen resort. However, good stretches of soft sand can always be found with a little exploration.
Mui Ne is stretched along one main road – resorts make up most of the seaward side of the road, especially to the west of the curl; these peter out further east, where budget hotels start to pop up. All along, the non-seaward side of the road is made up of restaurants and cheap hotels. Heading further east, the beach finally disappears too, before the road reaches the actual village and harbour of Mui Ne, where fishing boats cluster together in their hundreds.