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Kite U.S. Forums _ Travel _ Vietnam Report

Posted by: skysurfr Mar 18 2004, 06:27 PM

Vietnam Report- Mui Ne

January 2004

Mike Urban
Naish Midwest Team

Vietnam, a country with a youthful population, 80% of which is under 30 years old, has miles of un-kited coastline. This report covers only one area, Mui Ne, just outside Phan Thiet.

Getting in and out: Saigon or Ho Chi Minh City is the closest major international airport. Most major air carriers fly to and from Saigon. We arrived on a Lufthansa flight which was a continuation of the Frankfurt-Bangkok route. Other carriers serving the Bangkok –Saigon route include Air France, Air Vietnam , and Thai Airways. There is no direct or non-stop service to the United States, you must connect in another Asian hub city. The fare from/to Bangkok was $200 US round trip.

Despite having a giant surfing article in their inflight magazine, Lufthansa gave us MAJOR hassles with the small amount of equipment we were carrying. They tried to charge us $100 each for the board bags After protesting, comparing our bags to the heavier golf bags which were allowed free, snowboards which were free, and other GIANT rolling bags people were checking, the agent waved the fees for us as well. We had small board bags, NSI 5’5” holding one board and two kites. . I would avoid Lufthansa and try one of the other carriers. Thai has a good reputation for allowing a sport bag.

Tourist Visas: Most citizens of other countries need to have a Tourist VISA attached into their passport prior to arriving in Vietnam. We applied for ours and received it with in 24 hours at the Vietnamese Embassy in Bangkok. The sooner you apply the better, we were lucky to receive it so quickly. Remember to dress for visiting an Embassy, not like you are going to a beach party. The cost of the visa is $70 US. The VISA will only be good for the original duration of your intended stay. I tried to get an extra week beyond my ticked reservation dates and was denied. You will need exact dates and it helps to have tickets in hand with reservations. Check with the Vietnamese Embassy website or location in your home country.

LINK: http://www.vietnamembassy-usa.org/

Mui Ne-

Mui Ne is a resort area located 3-4 hours north of Saigon off Highway 1. The resort area is located just past the main city of Phan Thiet. We had the resort arrange for a van to meet our flight and take us to the Mui Ne. This service cost $50 each way. You could probably get up to 4 people and gear in the van. Other options include a taxi to a bus stop in the center of town, and then finding the tourist bus to Mui Ne. The bus costs apx. $6 per person. Expect this to take a very long time and have a plan once the taxi drops you in the middle of a traffic circle. Someone will need to stay with the gear, someone will need to go look for the bus.. etc…We arrived late in the evening and this option would have been impossible.

Driving in Vietnam should not be tried on your own, unless you are an experienced third world driver. Motorbikes swarm around every intersection, streets are not clearly marked, and the highway is one lane in each direction, sometimes with four trucks across! We were run off the road by a truck at least once. Most of the ex-pats hire drivers for the day.

Accommodation in Mui Ne.

There are plenty of places to stay in Mui Ne. Government run resorts dominate the center of this very sleepy village. There are several backpacker choices to the north of the center, and several mid-range places to the south of the center. It takes 20-30 min to walk the whole town or the beach which runs behind the hotels.

We stayed in The Sailing Club, Mui Ne. This hotel is owned by it’s cousin, The Sailing Club Bar in Nha Trang. For $15 each, we split a double room. We had two single beds, fan, mosquito nets, hot shower and full western bathroom facilities and Satellite TV. I would give this place 3 Stars. A new resort, tasteful decorations, beautiful gardens, great pool, with a full cooked breakfast, and located right on the beach. Rooms from $30 up to $100 bungalows were available. The Airwaves Kiteboarding school is located at this resort.

LINK: http://www.wotif.com/Mui-Ne-Sailing-Club-Resort.html

Kite Scene-

The beach at Mui Ne is miles long, running in a giant crescent from north to south. The beach is all soft sand, and there is no reef. The winds crank side to side-on shore almost every day. The tropical little resort town is backed up with a giant dessert area of sand dunes. This combination means it’s dry and windy most of the time. We were on 12 and 16M kites most of the time, and were told that we hit a bit of a light air period. 12/10 was a more often used combination. There was a bit of a shore break when the wind was stronger than 18 knots, but it wasn’t really bad. The wind and current moving in the same direction did detract a bit from the wind speed as measured from the beach. There were some nice ramps to be found, and some nice little breaking waves which we were able to ride.

Airwaves Kiteboarding an IKO school and rental center is located at The Sailing Club Resort. Campbell, the owner and manager, has a small pavilion on the beach and a large gear room. He and his very friendly staff of three kite assistants are ready to help where ever possible. Slingshot gear is available along with a small supply of other products. The kite assistants are always there to help you… actually they rig your kites, get your boards, land, and pack away your gear when your finished for the day. Trips to other flat water spots can be arranged in an old US Army jeep. Fresh water shower, resort pool, fantastic resort food are all available beachside. Campbell and the guys went out of their way to make our stay enjoyable. I’m looking forward to my next visit.

LINK: www.airwaveskitesurfing.com

Jibes, the original windsurfing school also offers kiteboarding. It is located north of the center of town. There is a full shop which stocks AirRush and several other brands. Instruction is also offered here. There is also a bar and restaurant located here.

LINK: http://www.windsurf-vietnam.com/Shops.htm

Food and Fun-

Mui Ne is a sleepy little resort town. If you come from Thailand, be prepared for “quiet shock”. You can walk the streets here without anyone bothering you. After 10pm, the place is mostly shutdown except for a few late bars and restaurants.

The Sailing Club- We enjoyed our breakfasts here and also lunches during our kiteboarding sessions. The food is fantastic and reasonable priced. Breakfast was included with our room and was a buffet with hot dishes made to order on the weekends. During the week, there was no buffet but we were able to order an extra banana pancake or two for no additional charge. The lunch menu consisted of a mixture of Vietnamese and Western food. Everything we tried was great and was of a better quality than could be found in the street. Lunch items in the $3-6 range were more expensive than outside the resort, but the quality of the food was worth the price. I love the Lamb Pita Wrap with mint sauce! A special thanks to the Chef from Hanoi who made me Bun Cha and took the time to write down the recipe for me.

The Hot Rock- A great place to get your MEAT fix. Slightly higher prices for the imported meats they offer, but nice portions and tasty dishes. The GIANT Rib platter was more than could be consumed in one sitting.

Hung Vu- Seafood Vietnamese style is the specialty here. $2-4 dishes make for some of the least expensive seafood you will ever find. We enjoyed whole grilled red snapper, crispy noodles with seafood, and some really nice hot-pots.

Other- There are many other restaurants in town. They include Italian wood fired pizza, backpacker cafes, hotel restaurants, upmarket Vietnamese, and street food.

Nightlife:

Jibes Restaurant and Bar area. Jibes, the original windsurfing center in town, is also the location for the surf bar in town. Cold beer, mixed drinks, fresh juices and shakes are all available. A pool table and a live monkey are also in the bar area. Check with the bar for special dinners and barbeques.

The Sailing Club- For a pre-dinner beer and a relaxing moment with some soft jazz and crashing waves, the Sailing Club offers a Happy Hour with half priced Beers and a nightly special drink. Appetizers are also available. Prices are higher than elsewhere, but the location and ambiance can’t be beat.


Essentials-

There is a bank in the center of town located in a hotel. There is NO ATM! You can get an advance against your card and will pay 3% commission. If this bothers you , then you must carry cash. The hotel offers a safebox for your valuables.

Washing- Several of the restaurants will do your wash for you. $2-3 for all you have.

Tours of the dunes can be arranged all over the place.

Phan Thiet is the nearest big city. For anything other than basic things you’ll need to go here. I was able to find Mini Digital Tape for our video camera, pharmaceuticals ( no prescription required), a tripod and some snack foods in one hour. Take a ride from a guy on a motorbike and pay $1 per hour you are away from Mui Ne. It’s a nice ride into and out of town.

Internet: There is a low speed internet center in town.

Annoyances:

Dry and infected eyes. With all the dust flying around and the salty sandy water, it’s easy to get irritated eyes. Remember to bring your favorite soothing eye drop. Consider carrying a small bottle of antibiotic eye drops in case they get worse.

Bring your favorite medicines with you. Most antibiotics are available in Phan Thiet. If you need specialty medicine, consider stocking up in Thailand before coming to Mui Ne. Also, knowing the generic name of your medicine will help the pharmacist find the correct medicine for you.

Mosquito’s can be bothersome and sometimes deadly. There was no reported Malaria when we visited. The mosquitoes were a little pesky at night after the winds quieted down a bit, and also in restaurants. I wore repellent that I carried in from Thailand that contained Deet. Check with the CDC or other reliable source for information concerning malaria and other health risks.

LINK http://www.cdc.gov/

Be careful on motorbikes. I prefer to hire a bike with a driver. When I tried driving myself, I smacked into three people in 15 minutes.

Watch for fisherman and their nets when kiteboarding. The fisherman will swim a long way out, with no lifejacket and carrying a drift net on their back. They will drift back in with the net. They can be difficult to see when the swells get bigger.

Save money for the departure tax to leave Vietnam. I forgot the amount, however it’s payable only in Vietnam Dong. Check your guidebook.

The Food in the airport is HORRIBLE and expensive. Consider a pre-airport stop at one of the restaurants in Saigon or pack a lunch before you leave.

Recommended Reading:

The Lonely Planet Guidebook: VIETNAM. The LP guides are some of the best on the market. I read several books before I depart. However, I only carry the Lonely Planet book. They also publish maps, phrase books etc. They are available at all better bookshops.

Links:

www.kiteboardingasia.com


NOTE: This is a report of my experiences. Yours may differ significantly. Use this information as you wish. You are responsible for your own travel decisions. No guarantees of accuracy implied or intended.


Mike Urban
Naish Midwest Team

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