When I go abroad for R&R for at least 5 days, I try to mix in as much travel experiences as possible. I have three travel categories that I normally rotate: culture, urban and nature. For this trip, we already had our cultural fix with Angkor Wat, the urban with Saigon and for nature, Mui Ne. I initially planned to go to Sihanoukville, a burgeoning beach destination in Cambodia's only coastline. But I've heard that it's not really that nice beach wise. I also realized that traveling with Filipinos, you get high standards for beaches. So, I didn't try to impress based the quality of beach, but on what can be done in the area. Hence, I took the risk of taking everyone to Mui Ne, which is popularly known for one astonishing geological formation, the Sand Dunes.
There are actually two sand dune destinations in Mui Ne, the White and Red San Dunes. The Red Sand Dunes were nearer the resort town. Since it was about to hit lunch time, the sun was high, so we decided to go after eating. Our lunch venue was nearer the White Sand Dunes, so at 2PM, we headed out to the grander sand dune.
There was a lake beside the White Sand Dune, which made the place more amazing. The landscape was beautiful. I didn't feel like we were in Vietnam, nor in Africa. We hurried down the van and walked towards the vast whiteness.
I was left speechless as I set foot on the sand. I covered myself with a sarong, and walked on the blistering hot sand. And the sand went on and on into the horizon. I didn't even see the end of it. I made it up to a peak, to get a better view of the place. It was spectacular. It really had that Sahara feeling, but in South East Asia. Our sand dunes in Ilocos do not compare.
The sand shifted every now and then, because of the strong winds, hence the spectacular dune formations. I like the white sand dunes because it was really bigger in area.
Sand sledding was a popular activity here. We were followed by a local who didn't stop at offering us a sand sled to rent. I saw one of the travellers try the sand sled, and they didn't quite go down smoothly on a slope. So, I thought it was not worth it. I wanted to roll on slope more, than using a sled. In the end, I ran down a steep slope. It was hot, but it was fun.
We didn't explore the entire area anymore, because it was getting way too hot, and we didn't know where it would end. I didn't want us to get all tired, so we decided to go back to our van at 5PM, and catch the sunset a the Red Sand Dunes. We were surprised that we spent almost 3 hours on the dunes, taking all sorts of pictures and admiring the view. There was also a lake in the middle of the sand dunes, sort of like an oasis, where some trees offered a bit of shade.
Very satisfied with our dune experience, we moved to the Red Sand Dunes, that was nearer the coastline, and which promised a great view of the sunset and the sea. However, when we arrived there, we were greeted by hundreds of Vietnamese tourists, probably on a company excursion. They were running around, shouting and just getting wildly excited at the dunes.
We walked further away from them towards the sea. But the sun was already setting, and again, the sand seemed endless. So we stopped at a spot and just admired the sunset from there.
Though the Red Sand Dunes were more dramatic because of its setting and color (more like saffron), I liked the White Sand Dunes because it was grander.
Well, that ends our tour of Mui Ne. We would be going back to Saigon the next day after lunch for our last night in Vietnam. Mui Ne is a very interesting destination only 3 hours away from Saigon. There are other scenic spots in the area, but some of them were closed, like the Fairy Steam (I didn't understand the reason why they were closed). And with great food as usual, Mui Ne was indeed a good choice. I'm glad we came here. You'll never know until you experience it yourself.