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Mui Ne is Vietnam's Premier
To the lonely mountains, in northern Binh Thuan Province.
Beach Resort Destination
A New Restaurant in Town!
Welcome to The Buttered Monkey, your restaurant for home-cooked meals with heart, and a good sense of humor. We are open from 8am till midnight and serve fresh seafood, sandwiches, spagetti, and a large variety of special delights. We serve carnivores and vegetarians! So please come see us, and bring your appetite! We are located at: 81/4 Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street. Phone: 090.4434.895 (English).
Out With A Splash
22.06.13 A tour bus driver this weekend forgot to put his parking break on and sent the bus rolling backward down the hill, across the street, crashing between restaurants and into the sea. Photo courtesty Pascal Lefebvre. See our blog for more photos.
A New Restaurant in Town
16.04.13 Visit the new "A. Quan" restaurant located in Phan Thiet City for popular noodle dishes including Bun Bo Hue (Hue-style Beef Noodles) and Bun Thit Nuong (BBQ Pork with spicy noodles)!
CNN Features Binh Thuan's Phu Quy Island
15.03.13 In an article this week titled “9 top beach resorts in the South China Sea” CNN Travel’s Adam Bray listed Phu Quy Island among the great island resort destinations of China's South Sea. Although the Spratlys and Paracel Islands at the centre of the small ocean are largely controlled by China, many islands off the coast of Vietnam, Malaysia and Philippines remain safe and exotic holiday destinations. Phu Quy Island is reachable by a 5-hour ferry ride from Phan Thiet port and suitable for short getaways.
Work in Mui Ne
01.03.13 People are facing high unemployment going into 2013, living in the and around HCM City. Why not live and work on the beach in the best weather in Vietnam, in what has rapidly become the Resort Capital of Vietnam? Mui Ne has a drastic continuing shortage of staff at all levels, from gardening and cleaning through office management. English-speaking or not does not matter; trained or untrained. CONTACT: email@example.com.
Nghinh Ong and Hot-Air Balloons
The short video above is the grande finale of Phan Thiet's Nghinh Ong Festival (this year September 4-6); The Ky Lan Dance. The Ky Lan is a mythical Chinese creature described by Confucius. Also borrowed by the Vietnamese, the Ky Lan is a chimera incorporating parts of a deer, lion and other creatures, though here resembles more of a dragon. The creature is believed to only appear very rarely (if I'm not mistaken, just once in a century... or is it 1000 years?) and a bringer of very good fortune. Phan Thiet's Ky Lan requires about 25 people to operate and is the longest in Southeast Asia. Body segments, head, mouth, eyes and ears all move independently, and he even snorts smoke and confetti!
Dragon Dancing at this week's
Nghinh Ong Festival in Phan Thiet.
See more Nghinh Ong photos at our blog
21.08.12 Mui Ne will be hosting its first International Balloon Festival from August 29 - September 3. The government-sponsored event commemorations National Day on September 2, when Communist Hanoi first declared Independence. The festival will take place beside Sealinks Golf Course. We presume the festival is open to the public, but in the past most new government-organized festivals have been for VIPs only. The event is advertised to include hot-air balloons from 20 participating countries, with races, rides and shows each day.
Phan Thiet will be hosting its famous Nghinh Ong – Quan Thanh Festival from September 4-6. The festival occurs once every two years and blends traditions of local Vietnamese whale-worshipping cults and ethnic Chinese culture. Most festivities are held downtown in the vicinity of the central market. The first day usually includes dragon and lion dancing at the Quan Thanh temple. The second day normally features martial arts shows at various Chinese assembly halls around the market. Day 3 concludes with a grand parade around the city. More than 1000 participants march in costume, with lion and dragon dancing, traditional music, drama, stilt-walkers, martial arts, and concluding the largest Ky Lan dance in Southeast Asia. Visitors are advised to show up early each day (7am) so as not to miss the show (unless instructed otherwise). Find more information about the festival in our Culture Section and Festivals Page. Schedules often change without notice—check with your hotel for confirmation on times and places.
New Cultural Performances at Cham Towers
16.06.12 The local government has announced that beginning today, there will be daily performances at the Thap Po Sha Nu Cham Temple (towers). Performances will be held 6-8 times each day, for a duration of 45 minutes for each performance. The type of performance has not been specified, although we expect it will be some sort of costumed song-and-dance show. An outdoor performance area with covered roof has been constructed, at a stated cost of US$14,000, and apparently seats 200 guests. It's a rather ambitious new program, particularly to begin during the rainy season (low tourism season) but a welcome new attraction, presuming it gets off the ground.
Mui Ne: Explore Off The Beach
Dueling Mudskippers have a kissing fight in the shallows of the Phan Thiet River. At low tide the small fish crawl around on the shore and defend their mating territory on dry land.
06.06.12 Phan Thiet City's Ham Tien Ward, known to tourism as "Mui Ne," is well known for its vast, Saharan dunes and white, sandy beach, peppered with Saigon expats, wealthy Vietnamese, kiteboarding backpackers and herds of Russian tourists. There's no mystery why Mui Ne Beach (the traditional name of the beach itself is actually "Rang") has drawn so much attention. Mui Ne has the driest climate and the sunniest weather in the country—which not only draws lots of tourist but also generates strong afternoon winds as cool ocean air moves across the hot sands—creating perfect conditions for water sports. The ideal climate has made Mui Ne one of the fastest-growing tourist destinations in the country and sheltered it from the depressed world economy that has caused tourism slumps in other parts of Vietnam.
While the beach is certain splendid, the kiteboarding is heart-pounding, and watching Russians frolicking in their unusual beach attire can be amusing, these things have all distracted visitors from the treasures beyond the beach. Mui Ne's greatest assets include its culinary delights, ancient temples, ethnic minorities, historical monuments and other very literal "hidden gems."
It's easy to assume, as one stands along Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street and gazes from resort to resort, that the area is void of any indigenous culture. While tourism development has certainly pushed much of the original community to the periphery, numerous villages inhabited by a variety of ethnic minorities are located within one and a half hours drive from Mui Ne.
The 8th century Thap Poshanu Cham Towers in Phu Hai Ward overlook Phan Thiet City, serving both as a southern boundary marker for the ancient Champa kingdom, and a symbol of the modern local Cham community. These are not the only vestiges of the Champa Kingdom in the area however. Somewhere buried in the famous White Sand Dunes north of Mui Ne is a legendary temple that once stood on the shores of Bau Trang, or White Lake.
The Forest Restaurant was the first venue to capitalize on the wealth of Cham heritage in the area, offering nightly live music and dance shows with Cham performers. Now some resorts also offer similar shows. While Cham history and culture is an amazing treasure well worth the attention, it's surprising that the local hill tribes, particularly K'ho, Churu, and Jarai (all living in the foothills north of Phan Thiet) have been entirely overlooked.
Cham temples are not the only notable architecture in the area. Phan Thiet is home to the Van Thuy Thu Temple, devoted to a whale-worshipping cult followed by fisherman all along Vietnam's southern coast. Van Thuy Thu is the oldest remaining temple in the religion, built in 1762, and houses a whale skeleton measuring 22 meters long, along with more than 100 other whale and dolphin specimens worshipped by local fishermen.
Phan Thiet also has a few monuments with national political significance. Ho Chi Minh himself taught at the Duc Thanh School by the central market in 1910, before "finding the road to national salvation." Across the Ca Ty River, the Phan Thiet Water Tower, symbol of the city, was built by the "Red Prince" Souphanouvong of Laos in the 1930's. He later became the first president of Laos under the present communist government.
A true measure of a modern, thriving culture, however, is undoubtedly its food rather than historic architecture. Before the onslaught of tourism development, locals who didn't subsist on fishing instead raised goats. For that reason, goat hot pot (lau de), and even more delicious—grilled goat (de nuong) dipped in stinky tofu sauce, are local specialties. A number of restaurants serving these dished are located East of Rang Market in Mui Ne. Another local specialty, banh canh, is a tasty soup served with thick rice noodles bathed in a light broth and topped off with sliced, fried fish patties and boiled quail eggs. It's a dish normally sold on the curbsides of rural neighborhoods in the evenings.
Within Phan Thiet, it's no surprise that seafood is popular, particularly grilled clams with onions and pork rinds, grilled shrimp on skewers, and lau hai san (seafood hotpot). Tuyen Quang Street is national famous for its banh xeo restaurants, serving seafood pancakes in a tasty broth of nuoc cham. Phan Thiet is famous for its food products: dragon fruit, nuoc mam (fish sauce), and plentiful seafood.
Next time you come to Mui Ne, by all means—enjoy the glorious beach. But if you have some extra time to break away from the area's luxurious resorts, you'll discover why Mui Ne and the greater Phan Thiet city deserves to be included among Vietnam's truly great destinations.
Whales, Embezzlement, Marxist-Leninism, Death & Balloons
22.03.12 A 15-meter-long sperm whale skeleton has been assembled and preserved at Van An Thanh whale temple on Binh Thuan's Phu Quy Island. The project cost US$86,000 and was conducted by researchers at Nha Trang's Institute of Oceanography. Its unclear why assembling a pile of old bones on a metal frame would cost as much as the total yearly salary of 70 island residents, but at that cost it must be a spectacular presentation.
The former head of Binh Thuan Tourism, Vu Van Chap, was arrested on 9 March in Ho Chi Minh with more than US$100 million worth of fake Euro bank notes. Mr. Vu Van Chap is also accused of stealing government funds and selling fake land certificates and company stocks. Mr. Vu Van Chap follows in a long line of government officials who, only upon retirement (and loss of favour with the Communist Party), suddenly become recognized as criminals.
Binh Thuan Province's Party Chief of Propaganda (yes, they really do self-identify, without cracking up) recently returned from the 4th National Conference in Hanoi and told local papers, upon his return:
"The hostile reactionary forces frantically, fiercely oppose the [Communist] Party and our country. With all their tricks, these forces want to eliminate the socialist regime in Vietnam, remove the leadership of the Communist Party, remove Marxist-Leninism and Ho Chi Minh..."
Apparently he's a hard-core Commie. And we are not frantic.
On 16 March a Taiwanese woman was tragically run over by a dump truck in Binh Thuan Province. Our condolences to her family. The most reassuring thing we can say is that local dump trucks are very big and very heavy and she most certainly died instantly. You'd hope that dump-trucks rarely run over people here but actually its quite common, and messy.
The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism recently announced the First Binh Thuan International Balloon Festival, and will occur 26 April to 1 May. The event, which will have recorded music but live singers, will commemorate May Day (the Communist Labour holiday of 1 May), and Liberation Day, which is the day the Communists invaded and conquered Saigon. Phan Thiet fell to the Communists on the 19th as well so the government is getting an authentic Communist karaoke threesome at a real budget price. With all the hotels and resorts throwing in free beer, there won't be a single policeman sleeping at home all week.
The occasion is actually not the first hot-air balloon festival planned by the government here, and we are sure it will not be the last to come and go without any evidence of its passing whatsoever--except for the policemen carying crates of beer out the front entrances of all the hotels. They don't need any balloons for that.
25.03.12 Update: The Balloon Festival has been moved to the September 2 national holiday.
C2Sky Brings KTA Back to Mui Ne
Round two of the Asian Kiteboard Championship tour sees the KTA return to Mui Ne Vietnam for its third season from the 15th – 19th February 2012.
15.02.12 The Kiteboard Tour Asia (KTA) is pleased to announce the second round of the 2012 KTA Asia Kiteboard Tour, which features the C2Sky Freestyle Raid and Asian Old Skool Championships being held in Mui Ne Vietnam.
The Vietnamese crescent beach is well known for its great winds and is becoming a South East Asian mecca for kitesurfing and kiteboarding and has super conditions to stage the event.
This is a tour stop with a completely different flavour. Normally the KTA combines the Asian freestyle championship tour with kite racing but to take advantage of the conditions offered by the location in Vietnam this event will instead feature the big air jumping skills and 'airstyle' mastery of the Old Skool riding style that is one of the most spectacular competitions from the kiteboarding roster.
Jeff Newell - C2Sky: "C2Sky as one of Mui Ne's oldest and most established kite center's is all about unity and is proud to be have a major supportive role in bringing the KTA back to Vietnam and giving a chance for home grown local talent to be in the spotlight.
Toby Braeuer - Old Skool competitor: "With the current type of technically scored freestyle riding the sport has lost some of its big attraction for spectators and media which are key for any event, but with the Asian Old Skool Championship it can finally be demonstrated again. It's what kiteboarding is about: a show on the water!
It's the KTA tour stop with a big difference. There are no major sponsors for this one but everyone has agreed that the competition level in Vietnam is so exciting that we are holding it anyway. So this one is home grown, funded and delivered by not only the KTA but also by the riders, hangers on, local supporters and key to the whole event our local organisers and hosts in Mui Ne - C2Sky!
So it's back to the origins of the KTA, grassroots energy and lots of progression…..
This round of the Asian Tour will be all about competitors making the best use of the high wind and swell conditions of Mui Ne. No course racing this time as the Asian Course Race Championships are coming up in March in Thailand and the Mui Ne conditions do not offer the best for the racers, but for the big air guys flying high and the freestylers this spot is heaven!
As the event title suggests it's a freestyle raid on Vietnam, with new school freestyle being the main world ranking event, but also this time the tour will feature both Old Skool and Big Air, so a major feast whether you are a competitor or spectator as you witness the first ever Asian Old Skool Championships.
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