Phan Thiet and Mui Ne
Phan Thiet and Mui Ne are neighbouring coastal fishing villages, around 200 kilometres from Ho Chi Minh City in southern Vietnam. On the surface, this area is simply a beach destination, however there are some defining features which make it more unique than just sun, sea and sand. Mui Ne boasts Vietnam's only sand dunes, and strong coastal winds offer excellent kitesurfing and windsurfing.
Despite a growing number of hotels, restaurants and bars, Phan Thiet and Mui Ne have retained a laid-back vibe. The area has some lovely beaches as well as an appealing local feel, with traditional industries such as fishing and the production of fish sauce (used in most Vietnamese cuisine) still firmly in place.
As you might expect from a coastal area, there is plenty of delicious seafood to sample here, and the variety that can be found across the villages is rather impressive. It is worth heading to Phan Thiet Central Market to try local specialities and to take in the buzzing atmosphere, sites, sounds and smells as vendors and buyers haggle over the fresh produce.
Mui Ne's steep red and gold sand dunes are only a few kilometres from the village. Indulge your inner-child and enjoy an exhilarating sled-ride down the dunes, and take a quiet moment at sunset to sit back and watch the changing colours and expanding shadows.
For those seeking even more action, this stretch of the coast is the best place in Vietnam for wind-based watersports such as kitesurfing and windsurfing. The strong winds also create large enough swells to attract surfers, and as these are fairly gentle waves, it is a good location to learn the sport.
This area was once part of the Champa Kingdom, an empire which ruled much of Vietnam from the 2nd to 15th century. Whilst not much of the history remains, it is possible to visit the Po Shanu Cham Towers which sit on a hillside outside Mui Ne and date back to the 9th century.