Saturday, September 11, 2010

Road trip section 3: Mui Ne to Phan Rang

Click on the map: In brown what we've already done, in pink the latest section, which this post is about.

photos to follow......terrible internet connection

After a day of R&R in Mui Ne which consisted of eating, reading, sleeping, shopping and a little more eating we jumped on the bike for the next leg (no pun intended) of our journey. Before I get to that, if seriously cheap, fresh and delicious seafood is your thing then Mui Ne must be considered. It also has a very long white sandy beach, which is great for swimming and relaxing but for the more adventurous there is kite surfing, wind surfing and jet skiing. The little town, which is spread along one long road, has a chilled out atmosphere and would be a good place to hang out and relax for a few days.

We only had one day, which we enjoyed immensely, before it was time to make tracks up the coast to Phan Rang (a night stopover before on our way to Dalat). The trip was around 130km and we got on the road at around 9am after a beach breakfast.

Leaving Mui Ne towards Phan Rang, is an area renowned for its sand dunes and it wasn’t long before we drove past them; big and red, but not steep, with happy Vietnamese kids riding down on sand sleds. I was waiting for the white sand dunes, about 30km further, which was ideal for adults who wanted a go at sand sledding.

As we drove we enjoyed the landscape, which was as amazing as the previous trip from Long Hai, but was in many ways different. We still often hugged the coastline, constantly peering down to white sands and blue water, but the sand dunes had become more prominent and at times it resembled a desert.
First the sand dunes were red, then white and then really white like salt. At times, in the valley of the sand dunes was a bunch of assorted vegetation, that similar to an oasis.

We turned off the main road, onto a sandy and rock filled red dirt road, trying to reach the white sand dunes for some adrenaline action on the scary, thrill inspiring sand slopes. It was getting hot and Celine and I trekked out into the sandy desert, sled in hand, finding the perfect run. The sun was beaming down and we were sweating and tired after a few minutes. After painfully hiking up a hill of hot sand we found a spot to launch. Celine, the dare devil, went first.

She prepared herself.

Took a deep breath.



She slid, which probably isn’t the appropriate word, like a snail descends a bump on the road.

I followed with the same result.

Ok, maybe we did it wrong, but I had convinced Celine to trek out into the hot sand, in the near middle of day, sun blaring in our faces, to fly down a sand dune. She had obliged, party for the thrill and party so she could me see me “fly” down and have a great time.


We walked back, about 10 minutes, sweating and hot laughing at another of my wise, exciting activity choices. I decided this was the second lamest thing I have done. The first was a horse ride on the South coast of New South Wales in Australia. I organized the ride for her birthday as she loves horse-riding, with the anticipation she could canter freely through an open paddock. I went too and for the best part of an hour we followed a path, only allowed to walk the horse, with a group of losers; I am sorry but they were. Each slow step of the horse, following obediently behind another, was a little kick to my head, telling me how lame this whole situation was. I cringe now just thinking about it. Sorry Celine. So anyway, my sand dune suggestion is number 2.

After the sand dunes we were back on the road again, navigating our way along a bumpy 25km dirt road until we reached something close to civilization. Over the hour, or possibly longer trip, we passed maybe 5 other bikes. At times we again travelled by the sea with sand dunes on our other side. It was a great, authentic little ride, but we were burnt, sandy and dusty. We finally passed through a town, which only had dirt roads, waving happily to the surprised locals. We had lunch in a small town and later had our routine coffee in the next small town. We try to stop in each small town we pass so we often stop for a Vietnamese coffee or tea. The landscape changed with big rocky hills towering above us. We were back on the main Highway, after our sand dune detour, so could fly along on our bike. We passed a number of small towns which are always so interesting. One had little boys sitting high on a cart of hay which was dragged by cows. In another a cow walked freely, without any apparent owner, down a main street. Many Vietnamese women were working in rice fields, wearing the traditional conical hat. Others were on the side of the road drying some kind of produce; possibly rice. Kids were riding bikes home from school. Men were riding their motorbikes. Big buses and trucks were speeding along.

We arrived mid afternoon in Phan Rang, hot, sweaty and dusty but otherwise in good spirits. The bike is doing very well, despite a recently detached head light, and has defiantly taken some abuse today. We booked into hotel, had showers and took some time to relax. Again, a very enjoyable day on the road.


  1. I want to do this exact same trip. Can you tell me how long it took u to reach Pha Rang if you took a bus? Did you reach Mui Ne from Ho Chi Minh City? If so, how did you get there? When you say bikes, I'm assuming vespa mopeds vs. bicycles? Thanks! Any other info would be so helpful! Including places to stay in the area, etc. Cheers!

  2. We left from HCMC and went south to the coast. We then followed the coast line to Mui Ne and then to Phan Rang. We had a motorbike; a 100cc Honda. It took us a few days, but we stopped along the way.

    Buses go everywhere so I am sure you can take grab one; i am just not sure they will go the same way as us, instead taking the highways. We took the scenic route. From HCMC I guess it could be done in a day.

    We usually just grabbed any hotel we liked the look of; or had a read of options in the lonely planet.

    I loved that trip so I am sure you will have a great time.