Motorbiking Vietnam Part V: Da Lat to Mui Ne
Duration: 1 riding day, 4.5 hours
Distance: 150 km
Sina and I left for Mui Ne on February 3rd, after a fun few days in Da Lat. In fact, we may even have been a bit hungover. Our first challenge of the day was the monster hill from Da Lat Family Hostel to the main road, as it’s narrow and difficult to climb without a head start. Sina needed a local to push her up to get started, while Eagle and I surprisingly made it up to the top without problem. Yay!
As we left Da Lat, we descended the mountains, riding switchbacks with amazing views. The temperature also increased dramatically as we got passed the mountains, slapping us with intense winds of hot air. As the land flattened out, the landscape got drier, dustier, and more desert-like.
About 30 km outside of Mui Ne, I began to get nervous. I had heard rumors of large police activity outside of Mui Ne, pulling foreigners over and fining them arbitrarily. Technically, it is illegal for foreigners to own and drive motorbikes in Vietnam. They do not honor International Driver’s Licenses, only Vietnamese licenses, which are quite difficult to attain. Luckily, we made it to Long Son Mui Ne Campground, 12 km outside of Mui Ne, without any police in sight.
*Tip: Keep a “fake” wallet on you with a couple hundred thousand Dong. Police will try to fine to 500,000 Dong or more, but may accept a smaller bribe.
*If they pull you over, turn your bike off and put the keys in your pocket. If they get a hold of your keys, passport, or registration blue card, they will ask for ridiculous amounts of money to get them back.
*Police hang out just south of Long Son Mui Ne Campground from 9 am – 5 pm most days. So if you need to get into or out of town, go early in the morning or in the evening.
While on the ocean, Mui Ne is not a huge beach town, since it faces strong winds. Beaches are also quite littered, with just about anything and everything washed up. I’ve seen light bulbs, shampoo, and tons of plastic. And because it is so windy, Mui Ne is popular among kite surfers!
The Fairy Stream is a flow of water sourced from underneath the sand dunes and canyons. While at some points it becomes waist deep, it’s mostly an inch or so of water the runs to the ocean, winding past red canyons and sand dunes.
The White Sand Dunes are amazing! Sina and I went for sunset, after most tourists had already left. The dunes themselves transport you to Africa, as the white hills and ripples do not feel like Vietnam. And the sunset was amazing, one of the better ones I’ve experienced. (Don’t worry, San Diego, you’ve still got it.)
PS Sina and I might’ve gotten carried away with pictures…
The Red Sand Dunes are less exciting and much smaller. They’re still worth a visit, as they’re on the way into town. And get ready for a bunch of children that will run at you trying to sell you sleds.
Where to Stay
If you want a different hostel experience, stay at Long Son Mui Ne Campground. Single and group tents line the property and beach front, giving a more raw and simple stay. People lounge around all day, soaking up the sun on the beach or relaxing in the common area on the many couches and oversized bean bags. For just $4, Long Son Campground promises a chill, relaxing stay. Take advantage of their daily $1 specials on food and drinks and their Friday special on tents: just $1 for the night.