Should you visit Mui Ne or Nha Trang

As far as Vietnamese beach resorts go, Mui Ne and Nha Trang are the two most famous in the country. Most extended southern Vietnam tours visit both, while it would be astounding if any Vietnam beach holidays did not visit at least one. The two resort towns have grown from very humble beginnings as sleepy fishing ports but were both swept up in the 90s tourism boom that propelled Vietnam, again, into the international limelight, but this time for all the right reasons.

Mui Ne or Nha Trang - Beach Getaway

The question of whether to visit Mui Ne or Nha Trang is one with many layers, running deeper than just the face-value beaches of two of the best beach resort towns in Vietnam. Both destinations have a wealth of peripheral attractions that keep tourists entertained, spanning the natural, the architectural and the adrenaline-based. Types of accommodation and ease of access also vary considerably between the two, so, if you’re pressed for time on your Vietnam tour, should you visit Mui Ne or Nha Trang? Let’s find out here.

1. Beaches

We’ll start with the prime reason that most tourists visit Mui Ne or Nha Trang. Both towns comprise just a tiny section of the over 3,000km of coastline that writhes like a dragon up the eastern coast of Vietnam. Beaches abound all over the country, but most visitors in search of such golden sands usually flock to the south, where Mui Ne and Nha Trang join the likes of Vung Tau, Quy Nhon, Con Dao and Phu Quoc as some of the top beach destinations in Vietnam.

1.1. Mui Ne

It would be hard to miss the white sands of Mui Ne, which feature primarily on the eponymous Mui Ne Beach, curving for many miles around a south-facing bay. Much of the beach is claimed by private resorts, but vast swaths of it are still easily accessible and contain a strong natural beauty among the soft sand, deep-blue ocean and background of tropical vegetation arching over the fringes of the beach. Occasionally vendors will come by with a basket of snacks and drinks, offering the perfect convenience so that you never have to move. Alternatively, head to the east-facing bay at Suoi Nuoc Beach (also called Long Son Beach), where the crowds are lessened and the views of a perfect sunrise are incomparable to anywhere else in the town.

Vietnam Beach Holidays

Mui Ne Beach Break

1.2. Nha Trang

Remarkably, the stunning beaches of Nha Trang went completely unloved between the mid-17th century and the turn of the 20th century, and the whole area where the city now stands was deserted, save for a few tigers that prowled the jungle and coast. The French set up shop here to manage affairs around Khanh Hoa Province and found a host of natural wonders across its white-sand beaches. The main one that tourists visit today is Nha Trang Beach, located on the other side of Tran Phu Promenade and offering gorgeous sands with a view of the city and Vinpearl Island.

Swimming in Nha Trang Beach

Despite its great length, the beach does become regularly crowded and can get a little filthy, leaving more ambitious holidaymakers to seek out alternative options. Luckily, Nha Trang has plenty of these, many of which are quite far out of the city, but totally worth the effort. Bai Dai Beach is one of the quietest of these alternatives, containing not much in the way of development and retaining a free-spirit kind of aura that is quite contagious upon arrival. Doc Let Beach lies further afield, to the north of the city, offering a stunning mountain range to back the incredible sands and unique salt hills where locals harvest salt.

Nha Trang coastal line

=> Should you visit Mui Ne or Nha Trang for the beaches?

For the wealth of choice and unsurpassable beauty, Nha Trang claims the beach prize here.

2. Natural Attractions

If, and we mean IF, you manage to get a little bored of lazing on golden sands during your Vietnam beach vacation, you will be thrilled to hear of the other excellent natural attractions that both Mui Ne and Nha Trang can boast. On the fringes of all the beaches lie gorgeous and, in some cases, unique attractions that keep southern Vietnam beach tours interesting.

2.1. Mui Ne

You can’t get far away from the sand in Mui Ne, as sandy attractions make up many of the town’s other natural assets. One of the most unique of these is the Red and White Sand Dunes, two incredible and frankly surreal desert landscapes that offer visitors a wealth of fantastic photo opportunities, as well as the chance to sandboard down the amassed dunes.

The Red Sand Dunes are just 20 minutes out of Mui Ne, thus attracting quite a few tourists and making the sandboarding more of a bumper car affair. However, the White Sand Dunes are bigger and much more empty, giving you a chance to experience a genuine desert landscape containing a lotus-filled lake which adds further beauty to an already stunning daily sunset. Another of Mui Ne’s unique attractions is the Fairy Stream, a shallow stream that runs between cemented sand and rock, creating an otherworldly landscape that is easy to walk through.

Read more: Things to do in Mui Ne

The White Sand Dunes

2.2. Nha Trang

The fact that people stay for multiple days, even weeks, in Nha Trang is because of more than just its beach life. The city is the primary Vietnam beach resort, tours of which often stop off at some of the other attractions, most famously its spas. Mud baths offer the perfect accompaniment for a time spent relaxing in Nha Trang, melting away any stresses of the city using natural remedies from the earth. Getting yourself covered in mud might not sound like a beach vacation in Vietnam that you particularly want to have, but the mud is purported to have fantastic natural minerals to soothe the skin and ease the mind.

Hon Mieu - Nha Trang

More relaxation can be sought via island-hopping around the smattering of Nha Trang’s islands off its eastern coast, namely Hon Mieu, Hon Mot and Hon Mun. This small archipelago is where you will find the typical island paradise scenes of small, quiet beaches, rustic wooden shacks and turquoise waters containing blooming coral reefs. Day tours run from Nha Trang and feature the set menu of all three islands, where you can visit an aquarium, snorkel, visit a fish farm and then enjoy lunch on the beach. It’s certainly not a bad thing, but it’s pretty hard to escape the beaches of Nha Trang.

=> Should you visit Mui Ne or Nha Trang for the natural attractions?

No one can refute the beauty of Mui Ne’s sandy attractions, so the small town trumps the big city this time.

Read more: Nha Trang Overview - Places to go and Things to do

3. Accommodation and Atmosphere

Since the relatively recent establishment of both destinations as resort towns, the accommodation options have shot up, literally in some cases, and now travellers are spoilt for choice when visiting Mui Ne or Nha Trang. From backpacker hostels to 5-star luxury hotels, there’s a Vietnam beach break to be had by every traveller to these two destinations, regardless of their budget.

3.1. Mui Ne

One of the key aspects when deciding whether you should visit Mui Ne or Nha Trang is the atmosphere surrounding each destination. Mui Ne appeals more to independent and budget travellers, keen to experience the sleepy aura of the fishing town that was uniform in the 1990s, but has since been lost somewhat in the race to turn Mui Ne into one of Vietnam’s top beach resort towns.

Coco Beach Resort

Mui Ne’s low-rise hotels and small-town feel have still kept this somewhat alive, as the skyline of the town barely rises higher than the coconut trees that flank its beaches. Some 3-star hotels like the Coco Beach Resort still aim to retain the languid air of Mui Ne with quaint bungalow accommodation and access to a private slither of beach. 5-star options like the Anantara Mui Ne Resort and Spa don’t get too much higher, preferring to expand horizontally for wider access to the beach.

3.2. Nha Trang

In a direct mirror image to Mui Ne, Nha Trang features sky-scraping hotels amid a city rife with vertical buildings. Due to its longer-running history and better geographical advantage, development in Nha Trang happened much quicker than it did in Mui Ne, leading to a wider and taller expansion of the city. The sleepy fishing village vibe has been well and thoroughly obliterated by the arrival of big resorts, but this has only increased visitors to Nha Trang in huge numbers.

Sunrise Nha Trang Beach Hotel & Spa

Many 3-star options, like the Summer Hotel, reach high into the skyline, while 5-star options such as the Sunrise Nha Trang Beach Hotel & Spa stretch further still, offering fantastic views of the surrounding mountains and ocean.

=> Should you visit Mui Ne or Nha Trang for the accommodation and atmosphere?

This one depends on what you’re looking for most from your Vietnam beach holiday. If you’re after a laidback feel with more of a small-town vibe, then Mui Ne would be perfect, but those looking for a city break with the convenience afforded by huge hotels and resorts will find Nha Trang as the way to go.

4. Ease of Access

Both Mui Ne and Nha Trang lie on the cross-country tourist bus route that runs between Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, making both easily accessible for independent travellers and tourists on Vietnam group tours. Large-scale efforts have been made to bring the resort towns closer to the masses, and so options now stretch beyond the tourist bus.

4.1. Mui Ne

However, if would like to go on the tourist bus route, it would certainly not be a bad option. The bus from Ho Chi Minh City to Mui Ne takes about 4.5 to 5 hours and costs between 180,000 and 280,000 VND ($8 - USD 12). This is the most popular route to Mui Ne because of its efficiency, but a more convenient door-to-door service is also available with the use of a private car, reflected in its inflated prices starting at about 1,650,000 VND (USD 70) for a 4-seater.

Mui Ne's beaches - Tropical Destination

The final method of transport from Ho Chi Minh City to Mui Ne is the train, which takes just 3.5 hours and starts from around 400,000 VND ($17). The train, however, only goes to Binh Thuan Station, which is 40km away from Mui Ne, requiring a taxi to make the final journey. The early morning service, SPT2, leaves daily at 06:40 am and arrives at Phan Thiet Station, which is just 20km away from Mui Ne, so this would be a better option for the sake of convenience.

4.2. Nha Trang

The big city’s massive advantage when deciding whether you should visit Mui Ne or Nha Trang is its international airport, lying in the town of Cam Ranh 35km to the south. The airport has been one of the crucial factors in the rising popularity of Nha Trang and the reason that its development has surpassed that of Mui Ne’s. Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Da Nang and many smaller airports around the country have access to Cam Ranh International Airport for as little as 480,000 VND (USD 20) from Saigon, as do airlines like China Southern, All Nippon Airways and Korean Air, turning Nha Trang into a hub of East Asian holidaymakers.

The addition of the airport is vital, as the bus from Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang is a rather arduous 9.5 hours, but costs a cheap 210,000 VND (USD 9) and is usually done on a sleeper bus. Private cars are essentially pointless, because they take far longer than a flight and cost considerably more, but a train can be a rather pleasant, if long, experience, taking 7.5 hours and priced at about 300,000 VND (USD 13) for its most basic seats.

=> Should you visit Mui Ne or Nha Trang for their ease of access?

Cheap and plentiful options for transport to Nha Trang make the big resort city the winner here.

5. Overall

So, after that, hopefully, you have a better idea of whether you should visit Mui Ne or Nha Trang while arranging your Vietnam beach holiday. These two beautiful destinations are both worth visiting, but not everyone has the time to do so. If you are after a more relaxed and independent time, with a great few beaches and other natural attractions, then you should opt for Mui Ne.

However, for those looking for the convenience of a city and the high-rise luxury that comes with it, along with a great array of fantastic beaches and easy accessibility via flight, then Nha Trang is your ideal beach destination in Vietnam. Contact Incredible Asia Journeys to help you plan Vietnam tours perfectly!

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