Many people chose to travel Vietnam either from the south to north or vice versa – no matter how, two places that have to be visited are Da Lat and Mui Ne in the south-eastern part of the country.
We took the south-north route and had our first stop in Mui Ne after leaving the bustling city life of Ho Chi Minh. Properly written as Mũi Né – a resort town mostly known as a tourist beach destination and kite- & windsurfing spot. It is particularly popular among Russian tourists and most of the bars and resorts are actually owned by Russians who settled down here. We had no particular expectations of this place as it was more of a stop-over and last beach spot before heading further up north. Turned out that this place has some nice areas to discover.
1. The Beach
As already mentioned the primary and most obvious attraction is the beach. The beach however is not the best beach to have a swim as the winds can get quite strong and the water is by far not as clear and beautiful as you might know it from Thailand or beaches further down south. Nevertheless, it is a great place to surf or hang out as there are many resorts, bars and restaurants along.
2. White Sand Dunes
As part of a tour that we booked in our hostel we were able to see the sand dunes of Mui Ne. Never expecting to find sand dunes and desserts around that area we were quite amazed by this. You have the choice of taking the early morning sunrise tour or the later tour to see the sunset. We actually chose the earlier tour and had some nice moments enjoying the sun rise – quite a nice scene!
3. Red Sand Dunes
Yes, there are also red sand dunes in Mui Ne and we also had the chance to see these during the tour. You can walk around the dunes and feel like you are in the desert – with an ocean view!
4. Fairy Stream
It was very hard to imagine what this fairy stream was all about and we didn’t do any sort of research on this before. Quite skeptical as we left our tour car and headed down to a small creek under a bridge. The tour guide told us to continue walking up the stream and it didn’t seem like anything would come up. We almost stopped walking as I decided to turn at least that one more corner and was quite astonished by the beautiful scene. A very interesting mix of distinct rock formations, red sand dunes and the blue sky made some nice shots!
5. Fishing Village
On the tour you will also drop by a fishing village – nothing particularly special but still nice to see the many different colored boats (more like large, floating bowls) spread across the bay. Here the fishermen bring the catch of the day and sell these to local merchants along the beach. Nice place to stay a bit and enjoy the scene.
We spent some nice days in Mui Ne and enjoyed our stay there. If you have the chance just stay around 3-4 days and relax before continuing your journey. We also had the chance to meet some nice people in our hostel and had some fun in the many restaurants and bars in town. Also, you can discover these places by yourself if you have a motorbike as they are not that difficult to find.
We left Mui Ne and headed up towards the Central Highlands to a place named Da Lat (Đà Lạt). Developed as a resort by the French in the early 1900s this area is known for its diverse natural attractions and moderate climate. You immediately feel this when you arrive in town and, coming from very hot Mui Ne, it was a comfortable yet surprising change in temperature. We eventually went to our guesthouse and decided to have a closer look at what this place had to offer in the upcoming days.
The most common way of exploring Da Lat and its surroundings is by bike and the best way to do so is by joining the Easy Rider Tours.
6. Easy Ride Tours
You wont get around them and nearly ever second person on the street will offer you an Easy Rider tour. We had heard of these before but had no clue about what exactly it is all about. In this type of tour you sit on the back of a motorcycle and have the driver/tour guide take you to many different places around the area. They all offer more or less the same tours with some different stops here and there. Our guesthouse offered a great tour and we were happy we joined in with that.
The tour takes you to many different waterfalls, local towns, temples and also stops in between to explain you about how fruits and vegetables are grown or how coffee is made. This brings us to our number 7:
7. Da Lat Coffee & Weasel Coffee
So have you heard of this coffee that comes from the poop of a weasel? Its the shit, literally!Sounds quite nasty but turns out to be a very different and good-tasting coffee. Check out about this and other interesting things about Vietnam in our post on 12 Things you did not know about Vietnam. We stopped by a plantation that offered normal and weasel coffee. Definitely worth trying when you are here as this area is quite famous for is coffee plantations.
8. Crazy House
A crazy place!This house/hotel/restaurant (not sure what it really is) is definitely something you gotta discover when visiting Da Lat. It is a sort of labyrinth with a very bizarre architecture where guests can come and get lost in. So what you do is you go there with a bunch of people and play a game. One person takes a bottle of rum (or whatever alcohol there is) and hides within this maze of weird rooms and hideouts. After 10 minutes the rest follow and have to try and find that person. Whoever finds him sits down with him and has a shot of the alcohol. This then goes on until everyone gets together again. A really very,very strange but amusing activity and something that you probably wont find anywhere else and wont forget!
Definitely two interesting places to visit when you drop by this area during your travels through this incredible country. Both are very unique destinations and differ very much from each other. This contrast makes it very attractive and special.