Exploring Mui Ne, Vietnam

June 2017 Mui Ne, Vietnam

I never really knew Mui Ne existed until a friend of mine posted pictures of this exotic town. Situated in Southwest Vietnam, it surprisingly has long, beautiful stretches of beaches and sand dunes waiting to be explored.


The closest city you can fly to will be to Ho Chi Minh City. From HCMC, you can either take a train, bus or cab to Phan Tiet, the closest city to Mui Ne. There are no direct transfers (by bus or train) to Mui Ne. 

Based from my research, train is the fastest way to get to Phan Tiet City. It is advisable to book your train tickets online as seats get filled up easily. We paid SGD 47* each for two way tickets. From Phan Tiet City, you can take a cab (or GrabTaxi) to your hotel in Mui Ne. Total travel time by train was about 4 hours.

Book your train tickets via https://vietnam-railway.com

There's not much scenic view on the way, except for a few rice paddies and some mountain ranges. Be sure to buy some snacks with you on board, get your phones fully charged or better yet grab a book to kill time in the train ride.

Some Vietnamese entertainment on board


I would strongly recommend to sign up for tours to get to places. I haven't seen any means of public transportation there so it will be more convenient to get someone to drive you around or better yet rent a motorbike so you can drive yourself around.

Or rent a jeep.

We paid USD 29* for a half day tour (all in for three people) with Hai Tuan Travel since we arrived only around lunch time at Mui Ne.


Sand Dunes

With a variety of red and white sand dunes, this is definitely something I never thought would see in Vietnam. If you are being a little adventurous, you can try the sand slide and quadbike in here. We opted to just pay someone to drive us in a quadbike to go up since the sand dunes were quite steep. 

Quad bikes are available for rent

Have we had more time, we could have catch either the sunrise or sunset to marvel at these sand dunes.

Waiting for the sunset at the Red Sand Dunes

Fairy Stream

This is an ankle-deep, red-orange stream surrounded by rock formations where visitors can take a stroll following its current. There's nothing really too special about this and the walk may take 30-40 minutes.

There is no entrance fee to this and it is advisable to carry your shoes with you. It is comfortable to walk on it barefooted.

The murky colour is not due to waste but due to the red sand surrounding it

Fishing Village

This is a good place to see traditional Vietnamese fishing boats and observe how the locals get on with their livelihood. 


Another gem in this town is its stunning beaches. Unfortunately, it was high tide when we visited so we haven't had a chance to take a dip on its rough waters.  Some water sports activities like surfing can be done here as well. 
Our half day tour didn't include a stop over at the beach so it was good that our hotel has beachfront access.

By the beachfront of our hotel.


I highly recommend the Full Moon Beach Resort . The rooms are very spacious and have a homely, Vietnamese vibe to it. There is a pool and it has an easy access to the beach as well. There are a lot of nearby massage places, souvenir shops and restaurants that you can easily walk into.

The pool

The hotel entrance

If you ever find yourself traveling to Ho Chi Minh City, take a few days off and explore Mui Ne. It is definitely worth the train ride.

(*) prices at the time of booking (June 2017)

Expectations Vs. Reality: Japan

March 2017 - Mt. Fuji, Japan
A view from Mt. Kachikachi ropeway

Japan never really made it on my travel priority list. I find it as one of the tourist-trapped, stereotyped countries every one wants to go to especially during the Sakura season. I can't blame them. Apart from the Sakura, Tokyo has a lot of touristy, instagrammable spots to see. 

But because of a dear friend's invitation, I had to visit Japan last March and I am going to take back most (if not all) of the things I thought about what it would be like.

Expectation: Japan is all about the Sakura.

Reality: It is way more than just the Sakura.

While most people go there during Spring for the picturesque cherry blossom, this country has a lot more to offer. Traveling to Lake Kawaguchiko and seeing the majestic Mt. Fuji was definitely the highlight of my trip. If given more time, I would have loved to explore more of the outskirts of Tokyo and see its more scenic views that you wouldn't even expect are in Japan.

Lake Kawaguchiko

Tip: Take the Kawaguchiko Sightseeing Bus. It costs 1,340 Yen for 2 days and
will take you around Kawaguchiko with various spots to stop.

at The World Heritage Fujisan - one of the stops of the sight seeing bus.

Tip of the Mt. Fuji as seen from our sightseeing bus.

Expectation: Japanese food is all about ramen and sushi.

Reality:  Japanese Street Food is what everyone should try. 

As I have mentioned on my previous blogs, I am not a foodie when traveling and would gladly settle for cup noodles if need be. However, Japanese street foods have piqued my appetite. The most exciting part of trying a few of these is that I don't exactly know what they are! All of those I have tried had a very rich flavour to them and were cheap too. Believe it or not, I didn't even have the opportunity to eat sushi and only had ramen once during my 7-day trip.


the locals making Takoyaki

Expectation: Shopping in Japan is expensive.

Reality: There are cheap shopping place options like Daiso and their street markets.

I don't usually shop when traveling except for souvenirs, but I had fun just strolling around their shops especially Daiso. They just have the cutest things you don't even need but you will be tempted to buy.

                                             Ameyayokocho - a street market
                                         near Ueno Park
Souvenirs at Asakusa Temple Market

Expectation: Complicated Train System

Reality: Complicated Train System (Metro)

Daimon Metro Station

It is inevitable not to compare the ease of Singapore transportation system when traveling and that quite frustrated me having to use the metro in Japan. Most of the stations we had to go to don't have any lifts to be used especially for tourists with large luggages! The flight of stairs was not easy as well (could be three floors or more). It didn't make things easier for first time travellers like us that some of the train stations' ticketing system were reliant on prices and not on the actual station name! So as a tip, you have to know the price of the station where you will be alighting to make it easier for you. 

An example of a typical Japanese metro ticket counter
photo credit: https://randomwire.com

How are their toilets more improved than their metro system?

Taxi was very expensive so it was already out of our options to choose from. They don't use Uber or Grab as well, and even if they did, having asked the locals around, they are not familiar with these life-saving-apps.

Expectation: It will be difficult to communicate because of the language barrier.

Reality: It was difficult to communicate with the locals.

I was already expecting this having read on my research but I was still culture shocked having to experience first hand with the locals. While most of them were very polite and would gladly help you with directions even if you do not ask them directly, I still had a rude experience with a tourist information officer who couldn't understand my query. She can speak english but really couldn't comprehend well.

On our first night, we lost almost an hour trying to find our accomodation because the taxi driver had it mistaken to another hotel. The frustrating part is they will still speak in straight Nihongo while giving me the impression (based on their tone) that they are frustrated with tourists who don't know a thing about their country. 

Still, with hand gestures and broken English, we survived.

Typical street in Tokyo where most of the signages are in Nihongo

Even though it was a brief vacation, I still enjoyed seeing a side of Japan. Most of my expectations of it were not really met and I would probably be back to explore the other prefectures.

Enjoying the scenic view at Lake Kawaguchiko.