Archived News: Mui Ne-Binh Thuan Tourism
Illegal Fishing Nets Post Safety Threat to Tourists
26.10.11 Some resorts in Mui Ne are complaining of illegal fishing close to the shore. According to management, the fishing nets compromise the safety of tourist by being within 100ft of the water's edge, right in front of the major established hotels. The nets are extended 50ft from surface to bottom and run for over 1000 meters. The fishing is for small baby prawns which fishermen are capturing using mosquito net sized netting. The prawns are then sold to farms where they can be cultivated. The nets are left in the area for four to six months at a time.
Last year there were reportedly two near-drownings when kiteboarders became entangled within the nets. Within the first five days of the start of the season witnesses have noted at least six entanglements of tourists, each requiring a rescue. These have happened in light wind with little swell. Serious accidents are expected once the wind picks up. All of the watersports outfit up and down the beach are concerned for the safety of tourists. Some have expressed serious implications for the tourist industry if something is not done about the nets.
23.06.11 This week Suoi Cat began offering a new golf cart transportation service around Mui Ne. The route will drive along the beach from Thap Po Shanu Cham temple to the Red Sand Dunes. We presume this is the same company that currently runs the bus lines through Mui Ne. This new golf cart service offers the substantial benefit of no noise or pollution (the carts are electric) and drive at slower speeds than taxis and motorbikes. At a time when traffic-related deaths and severe accidents are an epidemic in the city, this is a welcome alternative. Tickets are priced at 10,000, 20,000, and 30,000, depending upon length of travel. Currently the line has nine units, each with 12 seats, including driver. The local establishment is calling the operation a 'tram line,' which unfortunately will probably create some confusion in the local tourism industry.
18.12.10 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.
Russian Expelled From Vietnam
For Mui Ne Accident
20.01.11 Makhov Valadimir Vladimirovich, who last year killed a corn vender in Mui ne in a gruesome car accident, has been deported from Vietnam and sent to his home country of Russia. Last year on 14 April, he and his wife were driving from Swiss Village Resort to Vuon Nho at about 20km/hr when his jeep struck the vendor. Vladimirovich, age 44, paid the victim's family a sum of 100 million VND (about US$5000) and appealed the sentence, which was remitted, and was hence expelled from the country.
The incident caused an uproar among expatriates living in Mui ne, during the bloodiest season of road accidents since Mui ne's first tourism boom 16 years ago.
Tourists Killed in Illegal Fishing Operation
23.12.10 Two foreign tourists who died while snorkelling in at Cao Island, off Ca Na Beach, may have been killed in a blast caused by fishing explosives, police told reporters today.
Frenchman Philippe Bousseau, 47, died along with a Russian tourist, Alexander Nikolav, 42, on Monday in waters off Eastern Binh Thuan Province.
A third man with them from Russia, Pavel, was found by fishermen off Cu Lao Cau Beach in Tuy Phong District. He was pulled ashore for first aid. He told investigators that he heard an explosion before losing consciousness. He told fishermen that the other two were underwater, but by the time the fishermen reached them, they were already dead.
The three had been staying in different hotels in Mui Ne, about 110 km away.
"According to our initial information, it is probable that certain people threw explosives for fishing into the water," said Phan The Nam, an officer with the provincial police.
Despite being illegal, fishermen widely use explosives in Vietnam, which has lead to widespread destruction of coral reefs in places like Nha Trang and Ca Na. Coral pieces are then sold openly on the highway.
Nam said the victims were not snorkelling in a designated area and the investigation into the deaths was continuing. However, Cu Lao Cau is a marine protected area and fishing there supposed to be is restricted.
"We haven't yet determined the cause of their death. We are examining their bodies and the accident scene," he said.
The bodies were sent to the Binh Thuan General Hospital. Autopsies will be conducted today in the presence of consular officials.The surviving Russian was examined at the provincial hospital and released.
Update: Vietnam Post & Telecommunications is reporting the incident as an accidental drowning, "because they were not familiar with the local sea currents, combined with large waves and strong winds."
18.03.11 Update: We are happy to note that Blue Ocean has reached out to us and we intend to visit the property soon.
15.03.11 Yesterday we tried to visit 12 of some of the top resorts in Mui Ne. Our purpose was to collect the names and contact information of the 12 respective General Managers as part of our research for this website as well as the many guidebooks which we write (20 internationally-published books to date).
The 12 mentioned resorts are: Saigon-Mui Ne Resort, Sea Links Resort, L'Anmien Resort, Blue Ocean Resort (Life Resorts), Terra Cotta Resort, Alezboo Resort, Sea Lion Resort, The Beach Resort, Victoria Resort, White Sands Resort, Phu Hai Resort, and Romana Resort.
We were therefore shocked when the reception or security at all 12 resorts not only refused to provide the contact information for the General Managers, but also refused to even tell us their names! Further, the security at several resorts, namely Sea Links, Phu Hai and Victoria, refused to even allow us to meet the receptionist at the front desk to collect a brochure or hotel card. One particularly cocky security guard (if you know Mui Ne, I'm sure you can guess for which property) told us "We don't need guidebooks or websites and we don't need to do any marketing. We are a big, powerful company and can do everything ourselves."
Our question to these resorts is, what are you hiding? Why are you so afraid for the public to know who your management is? And what on earth are your guests supposed to do when they have a serious problem or emergency and your staff refuses to let them speak with the management?
Sadly this is not the first time we've had trouble getting through to management. We recall a particularly poignant experience, when in 2005, we visit nearly every resort and hotel from Khe Ga (South of Phan Thiet) to Suoi Nuoc (North of Mui Ne). During this exercise, we were horrified to find that not a single resort which we visited had any sort of onsite management, whatsoever. Explanations from receptionists ranged from "Our GM went for coffee this morning and we don't know if he will come back today" to "Our GM went to Saigon today and we don't know when he's coming back or how to reach him."
In fairness we should mention some stellar exceptions. A few resorts, namely Coco Beach, Pandanus, Full Moon, Sailing Club and Novotel have always made their management accessible. From experience, we feel confident that if we walked into any of these resorts at this moment, not only would there be senior management on-site, but they would also be more than willing to meet with us. What a pity that there are so few.
We welcome responses from the Resorts on this matter. We'd like to also make the point that without the ability to inspect your properties or meet your management, your resort runs the risk of not only getting de-listed from this website, but also being dropped from the many guidebooks which we write.
15.03.11 Update: Signs in Vietnamese have begun appearing in Phan Thiet today (2 days before the event), announcing the festival. Its unclear whether it will actually have all the events listed in the press releases however, including the focal activity: the yacht race.
13.03.11 Once again the press releases go out and Vietnam's newspapers and other international boating publications are announcing an "International Sailing Festival"... well, now its a "Boat Racing Festival." Yet residents, expats and business owners in Mui Ne are all left scratching their heads again. There's no sign of a festival--no local advertisements in Mui Ne, no announcement, no information available locally, and no sign of any preparation. We checked the website at www.internationalsailingfestival.com and it sure looks like it's still planned though...
In our estimation this is the fourth date that this festival has been scheduled for since 2010. Its been postponed three times already for a variety of reasons. Don't get us wrong, we think its a great idea, and we welcome an international event, but wouldn't it be a good idea to involve the local businesses and community if this is supposed to "benefit tourism" in said community?
Further, it's a bit insulting, in our opinion, that none of the coastal scenery photos on the website seem to actually be of Mui Ne--or even Binh Thuan Province.
If we are going to start planning successful events, we need to all be involved, all show initiative, and take a little more pride in our own wonderful province.
24.12.10 According to an email recently circulated from Mr Mai Quoc Viet, General Director Danhan Company and sponsor of the event, the International Sailing Festival scheduled in Mui Ne from January 15th-18th will be postponed to March 17th-20th, 2011. Viet said that the event is being postponed due to the sudden announcement of the official dates for the National Congress of the Vietnam Communist Party. A large portion of the government comes up for election during the event and would make it impossible for the many government guests invited to attend. This is the third time that the event has been rescheduled.
The Sailing Festival is advertised to include yacht teams from 20 countries, 4 nights of international music shows, industry confrences and a wide range of entertainment activities. Locations for the events include Sealinks, Diamond Park Hotel, Siva Resort, and the Hon Rom cove.
In the weeks leading up to the event, local residents and expats expressed some confusion over it all, as there had been no local promotion or any visible signs of preparation. There have also been no press conferences or briefings to local press, resort and restaurant owners, despite heavy involvement by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture & Sports. Likewise, when asked about the event, the Australian Embassy, who is listed on the official website as the introducer of an Australian band called "Super Massive," said that they were not involved with the event, though they had received an invitation to attend earlier in the year.
Read more about Sports in Binh Thuan Province.
13.06.10 A group of more than 100 tourists was hospitalized with food poisoning in Phan Thiet on June 10. The Tam Phuc, An Phuoc, and Binh Thuan Province general hospitals were inundated early that morning as the patients checked in with severe diarrhea, stomach aches and vomiting. The Vietnamese tourists were traveling on a tour organized by Vietmart Company. On June 9, the tourists ate at a food fair organized by Suoi Cat Company in their theme park on the edge of town. Afterwards, they dined at Doi Duong Restaurant. At midnight, many of them became gravely ill and took taxis to the hospital. Agencies in the province are investigating the cause of the food poisoning. Nguyen Van Son, general director of Suoi Cat Company, said than on June 10 the Food Fair had been inspected by the provincial Department of Food, Hygiene and Safety. The deputy director of Binh Thuan Province Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism also attended the fair that night, that it is unclear whether he also fell ill.
01.05.09 The Docking Bar, Mui Ne's newest nightlife attraction, has opened just in time for the long holiday weekend. The atmospheric bar is located between the Forest Restaurant, Forester Spa, and a new mini golf course also set to open next month.
Docking Bar has a unique design, blending exotic wooden sculpture with a traditional mud-home, and tieing it all together with colorful accented designs painted floor to ceiling. The inside has the feeling of a funky grotto with plenty of dancefloor room, and cozy nooks for conversation. Outdoors is a family atmosphere with stylish wooden picnic tables. A large range of drinks are availabe--as well as some great food offerings, including bacon cheese burgers, fish and chips, and fried cheese.
30.12.08 Earlier this year we reported that attendants at the Petrolimex on the hill in Phu Hai, between Phan Thiet and Ham Tien (Mui Ne Beach), was systematically cheating foreigners (going all the way back to it's opening more than 4 years ago). Attendants routinely fail to set the meter to zero when they service foreign customers (so as to confuse them on the amount of gas they are receiving) and then fail to give the correct change (typically in amounts of 10,000-50,000VND, but larger amounts are possible). As complaints continue to be voiced, we recommend visitors avoid the Petrolimex and instead head to one of the 2 gas stations down the hill in Phan Thiet, just past the Phu Hai bridge. Both have a good reputation for treating customers (local and foreign) fairly, although customers should always watch meters and count their change judiciously at any petrol station.
If you feel you've been cheated by any businesses in Mui Ne or Phan Thiet, we invite you to send us your complaints so that we can look into the matter.
The Party at Pogo
01.11.08 Bars around Mui Ne hosted parties for Halloween last night. Wax had great music, festive decorations and professional fire dancers. Pogo had the largest gathering with a wild dance party and great food. The only disappointment was that the free food and drinks advertised by many venues around the beach didn't appear to be forthcoming. Overall, the nightlife in Mui Ne appears to be looking up. See more photos on the Mui Ne Blog, The Fish Egg Tree.
Festivities at Wax
09.08.06 Suoi Nuoc Resort Co., Ltd. claims to have sold at least 60% of the residences at the Aquaba Resort on Mui Ne Beach, despite breaking ground only three months ago. Foreign and local companies as well as individuals have purchased 50 year leases on the property.
The Aquaba residences cost nearly US$60,000 for a fully-furnished one-bedroom apartment and nearly US$600,000 for one of the 6, four-bedroom villas overlooking the beach. Buyers can in turn rent their flats to visitors of the resort. According to Aquaba, owners who rent their property to guests will pay roughly 30% of their annual income from their property for management and maintenance costs. It's unclear what percentage of profit must also be paid for taxes and government fees.
The company is allegedly spending around US$10million to develop Aquaba at the site of Long Son Suoi Nuoi in Mui Ne.
Property ownership for foreigners in Vietnam has many restrictions. Foreigners my lease land for a maximum of 50 years. Permanent ownership is not available. Property held by foreign interests may not be re-sold or transferred to a third party. When the lease term expires, the property is appropriated by the government. Foreign occupant must abide by the same regulations as hotel guests--and must regularly renew visas (which are not guaranteed) and frequently re-register with the local police. Unmarried mixed couple of foreigners and vietnamese citizens may not sleep under the same roof. If you are considering leasing property in Vietnam, you should seek the advice of a lawyer familiar with Vietnamese property laws who can explain current regulations.
23.04.06 With great disappointment, we regret to announce that the Binh Thuan International Traditional Dragon Boat Racing Festival has been canceled this year. The festival is normally held on the Ca Ty river in downtown Phan Thiet. This year it was to be held April 26-27 (although apparently rescheduled to April 24-28 before it was canceled) in celebration of Vietnam National Reunification Day. The festival was apparently canceled due to team preparations for the 7th Asian Dragon Boat Championships to be held in Macao, and a lack of sign-ups for the festival locally this year. Read the announcement at www.bthuantraditionboat.com.vn.
26.03.06 Aquaba, a new five-star beach resort, is scheduled to open in Mui Ne in mid 2007. A total of 9.5 million USD will be invested to comprise two seven-storey apartment buildings and 39 villas (six with beach-front). Facilities will also include a thermal spa, several swimming pools, tennis court and a library. The rate is estimated to be about $200 USD per day for a villa and 40-50 USD per day for an apartment.
10.03.06 Binh Thuan province continues to grow. Officials have issued many preferential policies to call for investment in 62 new projects. The province has recently signed contracts with the Viet Nam-Korea Joint Stock Co. to build the Sweet Coconut Tourism Resort in Phan Thiet; with Hong Son Co. Ltd. to build Coral Tourism Resort in Mui Ne; and with Phong Phu Textile Co. to build the Cu Lao Cau Eco-tourism Resort in Tuy Phong district.
Development in Binh Thuan continues unabated despite bad weather that adversely effected tourism during the holiday season. After a severe drought in 2004 and 2005, heavy rains fell out of season this winter; causing coastal flooding and erosion. Sections of Mui Ne beachfront were washed out, causing difficulties at some resorts. Compounding the problem; winds arrived near the end of the normal kiteboarding season this year.
Binh Thuan contains the driest localities in South East Asia. The province is prone to drought over dry seasons, and flash flooding and extensive erosion in rainy season. Most resorts in the province are built in unstable dunes areas. It is becoming an increasing priority for resorts to consider environmental issues to to avoid problems in the future.
27.10.05 On October 24, the Sao Mai Mineral Mud Center broke ground for the construction of a 6.3 hectare resort. The tourist attraction will be built at a cost of over 50 billion VND (roughly 3.2 million USD). It will include a spa resort, a mineral water recreation centre, restaurants, and a 50-bed relaxation area. The first phase of the project will cover the construction of a mineral spa reservoir, a mud bath area, and swimming pools, and will be completed in late 2006.
Also on October 24, the Thai Binh Ltd. Co. officially opened facilities built in the first phase of the Rock Garden tourist attraction project in Thuan Quy, Ham Thuan Nam district. The first phase of the project cost 50 billion VND and covered the construction of a 150-bed relaxation area, a mud bath area, restaurants, a swimming pool, and mineral water spa resort. The site covers 40 hectares and extends along the Khe Ga beach.
Both sites would be the first resorts devoted entirely to Spa treatements at these two areas, although other resorts have spa facilities with varying degrees of service. There are no known natural mineral water sources in Mui Ne or Khe Ga, so it is likely the resources will need to be brought from other areas. There are however natural mineral springs in the NorthEast of the province at Vinh Hao (near Ca Na) and at the SouthWestern border of the province.
09.05 The first ‘Kung Fu tour” will be held in Phan Thiet over two days and one night. Leaving early from Saigon, tourists will see Ta Cu Mountain and Vietnam’s longest reclining Buddha statue before arriving at Phan Thiet at 12 noon.
After a short rest and lunch at the hotel, the group will visit Van Thuy Tu pagoda, built in 1762. They will see 100 enormous whale skeletons, and after visiting sand dunes in the afternoon, they will learn some defensive moves from Kung Fu master Ta Tan. In addition, they will be instructed in Qi Gong, which helps relieve stress.
The next morning, tourists will practice Kung Fu and Qi Gong at Phan Thiet Beach, and later visit Lau Ong Hoang ("The Prince’s House"), the Poshanu Cham Tower, the "Earth god Stone" and finally Phan Thiet market.
To book the tour, contact Ben Thanh Tourism Company: Tel: 8218989 -8215741 - 8212406, Fax: 8218340