It’s no secret that two weeks ago I was away to the bustling city of Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam. This wasn’t my first time there, so I wasn’t particularly as enthusiastic about the trip as I was previously. In all seriousness, once you’ve visited Ho Chi Minh and the attractions, there’s nothing left to explore except maybe areas that are beyond the city.
The trip was definitely one that wasn’t totally planned. Mr. C found some cheap flights and seeing that I had just completed all my assignments, saw the opportunity to head back to his birthplace so that he could enjoy what he loves best – Vietnamese food. I, on the other hand just wanted to explore areas where I haven’t already been to. Where food was concerned, I wasn’t such a huge fan of the cuisine.
I made Mr. C promise that this time, we would get to head out and stay at a resort of some kind unless there were other more interesting things to check out that we haven’t already done so previously. That he did, but only for an overnight stay because apparently, the tour operators only provide a 2 day type of package. Apparently. You would think that I would’ve learnt from my last visit to NOT let Mr. C plan the itinerary… Well, never again. I’ll do the planning for ANY trips in the future!
Unlike my previous visit, this time round, we managed to check out the different beaches that were a few hours away from Ho Chi Minh city.
Vung Tau beach lies in the south side of South Vietnam, and it was a place that Mr. C requested to visit. This was the beach that Mr. C and his family fled from to escape communism.
The fishing boats – what Mr. C and his family was traveled in to escape Vietnam
It was once a French Colonial town and is now a rather popular seaside resort. It was about a 2 hour drive from District 5, where we were staying at. If you were coming from District 1, then it would take maybe 15 minutes lesser to get there.
The beach also has some mountains as its backdrop, giving a rather lovely, picturesque scenery. You can learn to parasail, and I’ve seen some tourists do a spot of fishing too. I however, chose to just sit down and chill out, underneath a large umbrella. Like any other tourist resorts, there are people peddling their “expertise”. Such a pity there wasn’t anyone available to give me a massage as I would have loved one while sitting at the beach! Instead, there’s a guy walking around offering to take photos for you as memories. But seriously, why bother when you’ve got your smart phone or own digital camera handy right?
The surf is mild, giving the kids a fab opportunity to body surf in the water. There are of course sitting areas that you have to pay for and it usually goes for about AUD$18 or so for 4 people. You can then sit anywhere once you’ve paid your fees.
We didn’t do much there except to chill out and take in the scenery – just what I needed to unwind really. The kids played in the surf and we had fresh seafood for lunch there too.
The other resort area we headed out to was Mui Ne, about 4 hours from where we were staying at. This was the overnight stay that we had. The drive there was pretty alright I guess. Long but interesting as the kids got to see what a rubber plantation looked like, and I managed to see what a dragon fruit tree looked like!
Mui Ne is in the Southeast of Vietnam as well, set along the South China sea. It’s definitely a tourist spot as the traffic isn’t as heavy, and the streets are lined with shops, resorts and restaurants that have a mix of different cuisines as well as fresh seafood. You can hire your own motorbike to explore the area or go with one of the many tour operators there.
On the way there, we did a quick stop to venture around the Cham towers of Po Sah Inu temple located in Phan Thiet. I would love to share with you the history behind these towers… But, the commentary was too soft for me to hear. The place was rather lovely and peaceful though. And you get to see the view of the city of Phan Thiet from the top too.
Besides the beach in Mui Ne, which by the way is beautiful but I was too busy enjoying my short stay to bother taking any photos, the main attraction for the kids (and Mr. C) was the sand dunes. It was only AFTER the trip did I realise that there were TWO sand dunes – white and red sand dunes.
Our guide brought us out to the red sand dunes, which is located closer to the sea. Be prepared to have kids as young as Master 10 coming up to peddle their thin plastic boards to do some sand sliding, but I would call it “sand tobogganing”.
Mr. C and the kids went ahead to have some fun while I minded their thongs and bags. Plus I am afraid of heights, so thought the better of it. Do bargain before saying yes (if you want to that is) to the “sand slidng boards”. Be prepared to feel as though the kids peddling their slides are some what aggressive. I wouldn’t necessarily call them aggressive but more like EXTREMELY persistent. As in they come up really close to you and surround you until you say yes! I think Mr. C got ripped off and paid them 30 000VND (AUD$1.80) for each slide. He could’ve gotten them for only 10 000VND or even 20 000VND the most. The way I see it, you’re only parting with less than $2 per plastic slide so maybe try and be a little less judgmental on how persistent these kids can be. The good thing is you can slide on it as many times as you like and the kids even show you how to do it. Once you’ve said yes, they’re actually very nice and friendly.
The red sand dunes just looked like a desert in the middle of nowhere, and because it’s pretty bare of any shade, it’s best to go there around the early evening about 4pm when it’s a lot cooler. If you do plan to do some sand sliding, be sure NOT to clean up before heading there as you would definitely get sand all over you anyway.
The kids and Mr. C “sand surfing”
I would have loved an extra day over in Mui Ne just so I could explore the place a little bit more, like the white sand dunes and the “fairy springs”. Oh well…
Those were the two more interesting places I managed to check out during my visit to the southeastern part of Vietnam. Be sure to check out my shopping adventures if you missed it last week. Next week, I’ll share the food we had!
Have you been to Vietnam before? Which parts did you venture? I would love to have gone to Hanoi and surroundings as well as Ha Long Bay. I’ve heard that the views there are magnificent!