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Mui Ne, Phan Thiet

Introduction to Phan Thiet

Mui Ne is the name of a cape and also a ward in Phan Thiet City, Binh Thuan Province. The name ‘Mui Ne’ originates from fishermen, where ‘Mui’ means the protruding cape into the sea and ‘Ne’ means a place to escape storms. Located approximately 200km from Ho Chi Minh City, Mui Ne, or Phan Thiet in general, is an enticing tourist destination in Vietnam, boasting diverse natural landscapes, beautiful beaches, traditional craft villages, and historical relics of the once prosperous Champa civilization. Interestingly, the name ‘Mui Ne’ is more widely recognized than Phan Thiet, even though the attractive sights are not solely confined to this ward. To provide a comprehensive experience, this article will showcase the captivating aspects of the entire city of Phan Thiet, extending beyond just the Mui Ne Ward.

Phan Thiet falls within a dry region of the typical tropical climate, characterized by ample sunshine, winds, and low rainfall. It distinctly experiences two seasons: a rainy season extending from May to October, and a dry season lasting from November to April. The weather remains warm throughout the year, with an average temperature of around 27 degrees Celsius. This area is less affected by storms and doesn’t experience fog, allowing travelers to visit this coastal city at any time of the year. From August to December is an ideal period for surfing enthusiasts and those who enjoy water sports.

Phan Thiet is about 1,500km away from the capital Hanoi and around 200km from Ho Chi Minh City. Since there is no airport, traveling by bus from Ho Chi Minh City is the most optimal and cost-effective choice. With the utilization of the highway connecting Ho Chi Minh City and Phan Thiet, the journey has become incredibly easy and swift, typically taking just over 2.5 hours at a cost of around $7 for a bus ride.

Another option is taking the train from Ho Chi Minh City to Phan Thiet Station, with ticket prices ranging around $10 for a 4-hour trip departing from Saigon Station.

If you’re coming from Hanoi or other northern cities, you have the option of flying to Ho Chi Minh City or Nha Trang and then taking a bus or train to Phan Thiet. Alternatively, you can choose to travel directly from Hanoi to Phan Thiet by train, but keep in mind that the train stops at Binh Thuan Station, which is around 14 km away from the center of Phan Thiet. So this journey takes approximately 30 hours in total.

Traveling within Phan Thiet is easy with 9 bus routes, including 3 main routes leading to famous tourist spots: Route 1, connecting the center of Phan Thiet to Mui Ne; Route 6 to Ke Ga Cape; and Route 9 to Po Sah Inu Cham Towers, Red Sand Dunes, and Hon Rom.

Phan Thiet is renowned as the ‘Resort Capital of Vietnam’ due to its large number of resorts. Accommodations here vary greatly, ranging from budget to high-end options. Resorts are often situated along the coastline, featuring private beaches and offering modern amenities. Additionally, you can opt for budget-friendly hotels in the city center. Guesthouses with basic standards start at $10 per night, predominantly located in the Nguyen Dinh Chieu and Huynh Thuc Khang street areas.

Iconic Destinations in Phan Thiet

The tourism map of Phan Thiet is divided into three main areas, forming an axis: the city center, Mui Ne, and Hon Rom. Starting from the city center of Phan Thiet along this axis, you can explore most of the famous landmarks in this coastal city. If you only have 1 to 2 days in this city, consider visiting the following famous spots.

Doi Duong Beach Park, formerly known as Doi Duong Beach is one of the most popular and easily accessible beaches as it lies within the center of Phan Thiet. Along the way to the beach, you pass through rows of casuarina trees planted on both sides. Stepping beyond the trees, a large expanse of white sand stretches out in a crescent shape. 

Van Thuy Tu Temple is a unique cultural and religious destination in the city center of Phan Thiet. Constructed in 1762, the temple is a place to worship whales, the sea deity revered by the locals here. Inside the mansion lies a place of worship housing over 100 sets of whale bones, including the largest whale skeleton in Southeast Asia. Additionally, it preserves many cultural heritage items related to maritime activities.

Located 7 kilometers from the city center of Phan Thiet, Po Sah Inu Cham Towers were built by the Champa people in the late 8th century to worship the deity Shiva and later the princess Po Sah Inu. They are one of the most intact Cham towers in Vietnam up to date. Despite their moderate size, they embody the architectural and decorative artistry of the ancient Champa civilization.

Bai Da Ong Dia is one of the beautiful beaches in Phan Thiet. Located approximately 4 kilometers from Po Sah Inu Cham Towers on the route from Phan Thiet to Mui Ne, Bai Da Ong Dia is surrounded by protruding rocks with fine white sand and clear blue water that has created unique, rustic but gorgeous scenery. 

Fairy Stream, locally known as Suoi Tien, is essentially a small stream stretching about 1.8 kilometers. Its distinctive vivid orange-red water color is the result of the harmonious blend of water and sand. Alongside the stream are natural reddish and white sand dunes showcasing peculiar formations, creating a truly enchanting landscape fitting to its name.

Mui Ne Fishing Village is where boats and coracles dock every sunrise. About 1 kilometer long along the coastline, this fishing village allows you to experience the daily life of fishermen. From the break of dawn, you can witness the returning boats bustling with buyers and sellers.

About 3 kilometers from Mui Ne Fishing Village, Red Sand Dunes, also known as Flying Sand Dunes due to the constantly changing shapes caused by the wind, is a must-visit destination in Phan Thiet. The color of the sand is a fascinating feature that brings uniqueness to the place. Besides the distinctive red and yellow hues, the sand exhibits various other colors like pink, white, and gray which create a stunning landscape, especially during sunset hour. 

Hon Rom is the name of a small hill, approximately 50 meters high, that protrudes into the sea, forming a small bay. With over a 17-kilometer coastline, beaches at Hon Rom feature gentle waves, no submerged rocks, and clear blue water making it an ideal area for beach relaxation and water sports activities.

About 27 kilometers from Mui Ne, Bau Trang is a natural freshwater lake nestled amidst vast white sand dunes. Its name, ‘Bau Trang’, means White Lake, indicating the bright-colored sand dunes surrounding it. Hence, this place is also commonly referred to as White Sand Dunes. You can explore the area by renting an ATV or a Jeep to traverse the sand dunes.

Culinary Delights of Phan Thiet

As a coastal city and a major fishing area, Phan Thiet boasts a beautiful and diverse local cuisine that cannot be found anywhere else. The hot and dry climate contributes to the local cuisine, making it more rustic and distinctive compared to other regions.

Embark on a culinary journey in Phan Thiet with Banh Canh Cha Ca. True to its name, the dish consists of two primary elements: Banh Canh (Vietnamese thick rice noodles) and Cha Ca (fish cake). The fish cake is mainly crafted from tuna, mackerel, and cobia. The fish is deboned, minced, seasoned, shaped into flat, palm-sized pieces, and then either steamed or fried. Meanwhile, Banh Canh, is a type of noodle that is made from rice flour, presenting a thick, long, and whitish appearance. Notably, the highlight of the dish is its broth, simmered from pork and fish bones, which brings out a natural sweetness.

Banh Quai Vac is a local delicacy in Phan Thiet. These white, translucent dumplings, with a red filling, symbolize the street food culture of this coastal city. A mixture of shrimp, pork, and mung beans sautéed together and then beautifully wrapped in a thin dumpling dough made from wheat flour has created a simple, yet flavorful dish to Phan Thiet local food. The combination of the chewy texture of the shell, the savory filling and a bit of sweetness and tanginess from the dipping sauce bring a delightful bite that you hardly can forget.

Banh Can is a cherished dish among the coastal communities in the South Central region. It’s made using soaked rice ground into a thin batter. To prepare Banh Can, a large round clay oven with evenly spaced round molds on top is utilized. Around 10 to 16 small bowls are placed in these molds, and the batter is poured into each. Once added, the vendor covers the bowls and allows the batter to cook until the bottom turns golden brown and crispy. Banh Can is commonly served with diluted or braised fish sauce.

Unforgettable Experiences in Phan Thiet

Phan Thiet might not be the most stunning coastal city in Vietnam, but it’s a prime destination for water sports aficionados, particularly those interested in surfing and kitesurfing. The crescent-shaped, shallow beaches, especially around the Mui Ne area, are ideal for surfing enthusiasts. Surfboard rentals typically cost around $6 per hour. Kitesurfing is more advanced, so if you’re new to it, taking a kitesurfing course is crucial. Renting a complete set of kitesurfing equipment is approximately $40 per hour.

An unmissable activity in Phan Thiet is exploring the traditional craft of making fish sauce at the Fish Sauce Museum. It stands as Vietnam’s first and only fish sauce museum, preserving 300 years of Phan Thiet’s fishing village history. A tour of this museum will take you through an insightful journey into the traditional craft of making fish sauce, a highly popular and quintessential seasoning in Vietnamese cuisine.

Dubbed as the ‘Resort Capital of Vietnam,’ Phan Thiet often receives comments about lacking well-equipped public beaches compared to other tourist cities in Vietnam like Nha Trang, Da Nang, or Vung Tau. Nevertheless, this coastal city has its unique charm that’s hard to find elsewhere, from the sprawling sand dunes to the vibrant fishing villages and thrilling water activities. Come to Phan Thiet and share your thoughts about this coastal city. See you in Phan Thiet!

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