White Sand Dunes
The White Dune are 22 miles northeast of Mui Ne town, Hong Lam Hamlet, Hoa Thang Commune, Mui Ne, Phan Thiet, VietnamMore information Prices
Entrance fee: 10,000 VND
Ostrich riding (from 100,000 VND)
All year round. Best time to visit is either early in the morning or late afternoon as the sand can get very hot during the day. Take lots of water.
Mui Ne is famous for its enormous red and white sand dunes (Bau Trang). The white dunes are the more impressive, the near-constant oceanic winds sculpting the sands into wonderful Saharaesque formations. But as this is Vietnam (not deepest Mali) there's little chance of experiencing the silence of the desert.
The White Dunes are by far the larger dunes and are known by locals as Bau Trang or White Lake. There are quite a few small stands selling food and drinks to visitors within the area along with pine trees offering much-needed shade.
Prepare yourself for the hard-sell as children press you to hire a plastic sledge to ride the dunes. Unless you're supermodel-light, it can be tricky to travel for more than a few meters this way.
Quad bikes and dune buggies also destroy the peace. Bizarrely, ostrich riding (from 100,000d) is offered as an activity, but we don’t recommend it due to animal cruelty concerns. Expect some litter too; periodically there's a clean-up, but the tide of plastic keeps returning.
You’ll need a 4WD to explore the dunes properly, but be careful to agree on an itinerary for the tour, preferably in writing. We hear complaints, particularly about ‘sunset tours’ that cut short with the sun high in the sky.
The white sand dunes have long been the most popular tourist attraction in Mui Ne, and for good reason! Imposing dunes encapsulate the entire landscape making you feel like Laurence of Arabia wandering through a desolate corner of the Sahara. For the complete experience it’s possible to visit the sand dunes at sunrise, when the spectacle of the rising sun creates an awe inspiring view. The sand, untouched at this early hour, welcomes your footsteps on its soft, cool surface. As the sun rises find your own spot in the deserted dunes and watch as the morning rays dance across the landscape. It’s well worth getting there early to cement a prime spot atop an empty dune and capture those all important pictures and memories.
Visitors will undoubtedly be offered the chance to hire a quad bike or knee board on arrival at the dunes. During the day this experience is great fun as the dunes offer copious amounts of open space to let loose. However, avoid the temptation at sunrise as the quad bikes prove only to become an ambiance killer and will limit your time to enjoy the sunrise.
Opening hours: All year round. Best time to visit is either early in the morning or late afternoon as the sand can get very hot during the day. Take lots of water.
Lake lotus flowers
The two lakes comprising Bau Trang are called Bau Ngo and Ba Bau, Bau Ba the eldest of 2. Right in middle of the Ba Bau Lake, we have the famous point where waters are covered with Lotus flowers, this place is known with the name of the Lake of flowers of Lotus (Lotus Lake in English). The Vietnamese in the area cultivated these lotus flowers to use their seeds and stems.
How to get White Sand Dunes ?
Mui Ne actually has two sets of sand dunes, the aforementioned white-sand set, located about 22 km. from the beach, and a smaller cluster of red hills about 7 km. outside town. Every one of the dozens of travel agents on Mui Ne’s main strip offer tours that include these two sites, plus the “fairy stream” and Mui Ne fishing village.
Scrolling options white sand dunes are reduced, we recommend renting a bike or a jeep tour directly with that visit the two dunes (red and white) and a point of Mui Ne (normally the stream of fairies).
If you decided to bike to the white dunes, it is important to park the bike in a secure parking lot, for example in the parking located right at the entrance to the dunes (at that point we also have the option of renting a plastic slide down the sand).
By jeep tour
Beautifully-battered and restored army jeeps ply the tourist stretch throughout Mui Ne. These jeeps can be booked for four-hour tours which take in both sets of dunes, the fairy stream, and sometimes the fishing village.
Tours cost around $10 per head; a minimum number of passengers may be required. Jeeps usually depart at 5 a.m. for sunrise in the dunes or 2 p.m. to catch the sunset. The drawback, as with joining other tours, is that you relinquish control of how much time is spent at each attraction. Go with certified guides or book through your accommodation to avoid frustrating surprises.
Although possible with enough blood, sweat, and desire, cycling to the White Dunes is not very enjoyable.
The first half of the 22-mile journey is fairly easy, however strong winds along the coastal road and steep grades will have you wishing that your bicycle came with a motor!
Bicycles can be rented around Mui Ne for under $3 per day.
Riding motorbikes on the slightly-chaotic roads in Vietnam is not for the faint-hearted, however the reward for a few near-death experiences is sheer, exhilarating freedom with beautiful scenery.
Traffic along the coastal road outside of town is extremely light; the road is flat and straight - easy enough for novices. Fully-automatic motorbikes can be rented for $8 or less through your accommodation. If a few gear changes don't bother you, manual motorbikes are cheaper.
Directions to the Mui Ne Sand Dunes
Most of the free tourist maps found around Mui Ne are an excuse to kill trees and print ads. Much to the delight of tour operators, few maps have accurate directions to the White Sand Dunes. Getting there is fairly straightforward, however a lack of signs can throw you off with one wrong turn.
Saddle up, strap on a helmet, and prepare for a ride to remember!
Begin your trip heading southwest - the beach will be on your right - along the tourist stretch into Mui Ne fishing village; pass Joe's Art Cafe on the left and Pogo Club farther down on the right. If signs start turning to a mix of Russian and English, you have gone the wrong way on the strip!
Easy to miss, the Fairy Stream is reached by a rough path on the left side of the first small bridge that you cross. Continue past the charismatic fishing port on the right, then turn left at the large Christian church on the left; there is a traffic signal.
Drive to the end of the road, then turn left at the traffic signal. You will quickly reach a large traffic roundabout; take the first exit to the right. The photogenic Red Sand Dunes will come into view on your left; you must pay 25 cents or buy a drink to park at one of the cafes across the street.
Continue past the Red Sand Dunes on the long, coastal road for a bulk of your journey; go straight through the small town and past newly-constructed resorts. When the stretch of coastal road ends, turn left and continue up the hill ignoring what looks like grassy sand dunes on your right.
Pass the only petrol station on the right, then take the first red-clay road on your right; a sign indicates that you are near the White Sand Dunes. The dirt road is rocky and unfinished - everything a motorbike driver doesn't enjoy. Continue bouncing along for some time with the sprawling lake on your left side. Do not worry about the White Sand Dunes appearing so far away on the left, the road eventually wraps around the lake and brings you to the parking area.
Parking for the White Sand Dunes costs a flat 25 cents; always lock up your motorbike! A small footpath leaves the left side of the parking area taking you through a park with cafes, beautiful strands of pine trees, and eventually to where the sand starts.
If you wish to try your luck, grab a sled rental for under $1 before leaving the area; there are no options once in the dunes.
If you still wind up lost, try asking a local for Bau Trang which means "White Lake" in Vietnamese; good luck with the tones!
Visiting the Fairy Stream (Suoi Tien)
Sometimes called the Fairy Springs, most people tack on a visit to the Fairy Steam when going to the Mui Ne Sand Dunes. A small, inconspicuous bridge along the main road to town - far before the fishing port - marks the entrance to the attraction.
Park your motorbike or bicycle at the cafe on the left for 25 cents, then proceed down the unfinished path. The fascinating smell comes from large, clay pots of fermenting fish sauce - a Mui Ne specialty - on the right. The small footpath weaves between houses where children will offer to guide you for a fee. No guide needed, just continue to where the path ends into a muddy stream.
Here you can either walk right up the ankle-deep stream or take the steeper path to the right. Many people choose to make a circle and return via walking in the soft sand of the stream. Despite the magical name, a few interesting rock formations and a tiny canyon are the only highlights of the Fairy Steam.