Mui Ne / Vietnam


Mui Ne | Ham Tien

Mui Ne is actually a fishing village placed on a peninsula in the South Chinese Sea at Vietnam's long east coast. Between Mui Ne and the bigger town of Phan Thiet lies the sea resort of Ham Tien.

Beach of Ham Tien
'The Beach of Ham Tien (Mui Ne)' by Asienreisender

The beach at high tide. Sand is sometimes scarce, often washed away by the strong waves and currencies here. The concrete wavebreakers are to stop further land erosion; up lie the resorts. Don't mind the rat - it's part of the experience. Mui Ne / Ham Tien is a not too clean place. Image by Asienreisender, 3/2017

Ham Tien, which is in most cases by the tourist industry falesly called Mui Ne, is brutally touristic. The tourist boom started with a solar eclipse in October 1995, when many visitors came here to watch the astronomic event. It's actually mostly a place which parallels one long coastal road, which is seamed with resorts, guesthouses, hotels, restaurants, tourist agencies and souvenir shops. Here and there is a workshop or a living house with garden embedded into the tourist surroundings. The only main road is pretty busy, motorbikes, cars, many buses and also trucks pest the place with din, smog and danger. Traffic is relentless also on the sidewalks; taxis and moreover speeding of motorbikes make walking also here a dangerous adventure. And it's not only the locals who drive badly; Westerners adapt all to quick to the bad driving manners. It's not very clean and actually a very boring, unattractive place. Besides tourists from other parts of Vietnam many Russian and Chinese visitors come here, together with a number of Westerners. Many menues and signs are written in Cyrillic (Russian script). The often strong winds make the bays here attractive for kite surfers.

Ham Tien (Mui Ne) Panorama
'Ham Tien | Mui Ne Panorama' by Asienreisender

As described, the place is just a narrow stripe along the coastline. This road leads from there upwards into the still sandy hills. Behind is a ringroad bypassing Ham Tien. Image by Asienreisender, 4/2017

The place is a good example for rampant tourism into a deserted, impovered area. The long sandbeaches and the sandy inland were over all the past centuries almost completely useless land, infertile and not arable. Nobody wanted it and only the poorest people lived here. That only changed when the tourist industries developed the suddenly so highly appreciated sand beaches for the 'recreation' of the modern human material.

Another part of the economy is still fishing. Remarkable are the many circular fishing vessels here, who are unique for Vietnam. They have been invented by the local fishermen in the colonial times to avoid being taxed, as they would have been by using usual fishing boats.

The Bay of Mui Ne
'The Bay of Mui Ne' by Asienreisender

The bay of Mui Ne is coined by fishing boats. Mui Ne itself is not touristic. The place is located on a smaller peninsula. Image by Asienreisender, 4/2017

The Fairy Stream
'Fairy Stream | Ham Tien | Mui Ne' by Asienreisender

Some of the sandstone formations at the western banks of the small stream. At some parts one can climb up the slope and getting an overview over the landscape and the stream. The easter side looks completely different and not at all spectacular. The stream itself is merely ankle-deep over the verymost part, at the end there is one spot where the water reaches up to the knees. A nice barefoot walk in the tropical heat. Image by Asienreisender, 3/2017

There are a few sights around Mui Ne / Ham Tien. Particularly beautiful is a river landscape with bizarre and colourful sandstone formations. The river got the touristic name 'fairy stream' and is actually, at least in dry season, a flat stream one can easily walk along barfoot. After a few hundred meters one meets a waterfall. The steep western side of the river consists of red and white sandstone, so soft that one can crumble it with the fingernails. Inside the riverbed are some souvenir shops and simple restaurants placed. In the mornings the river is mildly visited, in the afternoon it can get quite busy here, when busloads of tourists, mostly Chinese, walk it upwards. Most of them don't go as far as to the very end, so that it is more quiet at the waterfall.

Another sight between Ham Tien and Phan Thiet are the three brick towers Po Sha Nu, who are of Cham origin. The Cham empire was a strong rival of the empire of Angkor.

The Cham Towers (Po Sha Nu) at Phan Thiet
'The Cham Towers of Mui Ne | Phan Thiet' by Asienreisender

The Cham prasats of Po Sha Nu, here also know as Thab Ba. Barely any information was available here. As usually, nobody knows what about, but entrance is charged.

The place as a 'holy' site dates back maybe to the times of Funan. The temples are basically from the 8th century, but have been repeatedly destroyed in wars. The prasats we see here are built in the reign of king Jayavarman I at the end of the 10th century. Later extensions or at least restorations have been made until the 13th century. Alltogether there are five prasats with shrines inside, dedicated to different Hindu gods.

Images and photocomposition by Asienreisender, 4/2017

In the wider surroundings are landscapes coined by white and red sand dunes. It seems to be that the area is particularly dry and forms a small desert. It's dryer here than in other parts of the country. It's generally so that Mui Ne is built on sandy grounds, all along the coastline, what is to see when walking one of the few roads upwards into the hills. Not far away from the coastline, in the inlad runs a parallel road which has little traffic. It's a bypass road to avoid the traffic in the busy village of Mui Ne.

The Sanddunes of Mui Ne
'The Sanddunes of Mui Ne' by Asienreisender

The entrance to the sanddue landscapes of Mui Ne. It starts with the unavoidable cash box. Image by Asienreisender, 4/2017