Many visitors to Ho Chi Minh City do a one-day tour of the Cu Chi Tunnels and the Cao Dai temple and a two-, three-or four-day excursion to the Mekong Delta as part of an organized tour arranged through a travel agency. Betel Hamlets is situated in Hoc Mon District, about 10 kilometers from the center of Ho Chi Minh City. It is known for its betel gardens and lush and green foliage.

There is also Black Lady Mountain (Ba Den, 16 kilometers from Tay Ninh), a 2,900-foot-peak that rises out of nowhere above rice paddies; Vung Tau, (130 kilometers, 2 hours from Saigon), a developed resort area with reasonably clear water, and reasonably nice beaches; and Long Hai Beach (20 miles from Vung Tau), a beach that is less developed than Vung Tau.

Traveling and Transportation in Vietnam: The easiest way to get most anywhere in Vietnam is through a tour organized in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City or another major tourist town. Usually you can work out something with the staff of your hotel. If you want to shop around there are plenty of tour agencies on the streets of the tourist areas or on the Internet. For long distances you are best taking a flight. Air Asia serves many places but the flights often originate in Kuala Lumpur. Vietnam Airlines, budget carrier VietJet Air and Jetstar Pacific Airlines, a unit of Vietnam Airlines, all operate domestic routes. The trains are okay but the destinations they service are limited. It is possible to take local buses and minibuses but traveling that way is hassle and time-consuming: you have to deal with language issues, scheduling, locating where the buses leave and often crowded, hot conditions on the buses.

Vam Sat Salt-Marsh Forest Ecological Tourist Zone

(50 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City) contains beautiful forests of Can Gio which is one of the world's only salt-marsh biosphere preserve. Situated between the of Vam Sat and Long Tau River, Vam Sat Salt-Marsh Forest Ecological Tourist Zone occupies land had been damaged by toxic chemicals and thanks to the hard work of people, the forest has gradually recovered, and its beauty and magnificence feature have been returned.

With total area of 75,740 hectares, Can Gio forest is is home to wide variety of fauna and flora. Bat Swamp is one tourist point. Going into the swamp, tourists will see groups of flying foxes hanging themselves behind the foliages of high mangroves. The most interesting activity in Bat Swamp is crab angling. There is also a crocodile farm with several dozen crocodiles. Here tourists can try fishing for crocodiles a special boat made of composite plastic surrounded by high metal fence. Anglers only need to drop their baits and wait for the crocodile to take their baits.

Tourists can also check out a unique swimming pool with water that has a salt concentration 10 times higher than that of the ocean. Hence, tourists will always float on top. They can swim anyway that they like, even you can read newspaper while swimming. Aming the restaurant specialties are dishes made from local shrimps, crabs, fishes, shellfishes and even mudskippers. There is also a 100-hectare bird sanctuary which visitors can explore by boat. Wild animals include deer, wild pig, python and snakes. Getting There: Vam Sat Eco-Tourist Area can be reached by boat from Hanoi. The journey starts from Bach Dang Wharf in the early morning when Saigon is not yet awake. Boat Representative Office: Address: 03 Hoa Binh Str., Ward 3, District 11, Ho Chi Minh City. Tel: 3963 2760 / Fax: 3963 2751. Vam Sat Eco-Tourist Area: Ly Nhon commune, Can Gio District, Ho Chi Minh City. Tel: (84-8) 38876169/ 38894008

Can Gio Biosphere

Can Gio Biosphere (50 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City) is situated on a swampy island with a beach located where the Saigon River meets the sea in an area that saw some fighting in the Vietnam War. The area covers over 70,000 hectares, of which 35,000 hectares is salt-watered forest. Can Gio has been recognized as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO for its coastal mangrove forest. So far nearly 40,000 ha of forest and land have been restored. According to the Can Gio Forest Managing Board, at present more than 600 households with 1,500 people reside in this area. They live on reforestation, forest protection and aquatic production.

Before the construction of a 20 km-long road linking Binh Khanh wharf to Can Thanh, which runs along Can Gio to beach, Can Gio was a remote area whose residents lived on catching crabs and mussels. Now it is an interesting eco-tourist site attracting many people from Ho Chi Minh City and other places. The Saigon Tourism Company and Phu Tho Tourism Company have established eco-tours to this area. Visiting Can Gio, you will see crocodiles lying in the swamp and hundreds of monkeys that come from mangrove clumps to the walk-ways of Lam Vien ecological site, to welcome the visitors. They catch sugarcane the visitors give them, and eat them with delight. On holidays, there were averages of 2,000 visitors a day to Can Gio. At peak times there were over 6,000 visitors a day. Visitors could stay at the residential quarter April 30, adjacent to the beach or at Actmang quarter in the 2,100 hectares Lam Vien area with countless mangrove trees. Quite a few people like to hire hammocks and umbrellas to rest under the canopy of the trees.

In the future the war zone in the shrub forest, which was home to 800 commando soldiers in wartime, will be restored. It will become a 3,000 square meter preservation sites with 14 houses-on-stilts, roofed with date palm trunks and water-coconut leaves. When this project is completed, Can Gio will have another traditional tourist site, attracting not only young people, but also those who want to know more about the struggle of the fighters in the shrub forest in the past. The area can be reached in a boat ride on the big Dong Nai and Long Tau Rivers or on the smaller Vam Sac, Dong Thanh and Soai Rap Rivers, which run through Can Gio, and the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City.

Dong Nai Province

Dong Nai Province (30 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City) covers 5,903.4 square kilometers and is home to 2,569,400 people (2010). The largest ethnic groups in the province are the Viet (Kinh), Hoa, Xtieng, Cho Ro and Cham. The traditional culture of local ethnic groups includes music created by Da's dan da, bamboo flute, copper gongs, cymbals and pan-pipe, Tam Pot sings of Ma group in Dinh Quan Dist. The capital is Bien Hoa City. Administrative divisions: Town: Long Khanh; Districts: Tan Phu, Dinh Quan, Vinh Cuu, Thong Nhat, Xuan Loc, Long Thanh, Nhon Trach, Cam My, Trang Bom.

Dong Nai is surrounded by Lam Dong in the north, Binh Thuan in the east, Ba Ria-Vung Tau in the south, Binh Duong, Binh Phuoc and Ho Chi Minh City in the west.The topography includes some valleys, lowland, hill. The main kinds of land are bazan, alluvial soil. Therefore, it is good condition for industrial plants (rubber, coffee), and orchard. There are two seasons: the rainy season lasts from May to October and the dry season lasts from November to April next year. The annual average temperature varies between 25.4 and 27.2 degrees C.

Dong Nai has a developing industry. There are many big industrial zones, factories, handicraft village (Tan Van pottery village, skilful stone carving of Hoa group). Dong Nai's pottery has well-known beauty. The province own immense coffee, rubber farms and Nam Cat Tien National Park. Coming here, tourists have ecological tours in forests and orchads in My Quoi, Thanh Hoi, Tan Trieu, Pho, Ong islets. The province is proud of many interesting sites such as Dong Nai River, Long An Lake, Suoi Tre Culture Site, Tri An Waterfall, Ma Da and Sac forests. Getting There: Bien Hoa City is 30 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City, 1,684 kilometers from Hanoi following National Highway No.1A. It also is 278 kilometers from Dalat, 95 kilometers from Vung Tau, 198 kilometers from Cantho. The Thong Nhat Express Train connecting Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, stops at Bien Hoa.

Cat Tien National Park

Cat Tien National Park (150 kilometers north of Chi Minh City) is located in three provinces—Dong Nai, Lam Dong and Binh Phuoc—and has a diversified topography with hills along the banks, plains and sloping flows. In 1978, the South Cat Tien and North Cat Tien parks were put under the State's protection. In 1992, the Cat Loc Park was listed in the programme for the protection of natural wild animals and flora. In December 1998, these three parks joined together to become the Cat Tien National Park, under the management of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. To get to the park take National Highway 20 from Ho Chi Minh City to Dalat, turn left about 24 kilometers at Milestone No.174 at the Tan Phu cross-road, head to Cat Tien National Park.

Covering an area of 74,319 hectares, the Cat Tien National Park has preserved its original natural soil with a diverse ecological system and many rare and valuable species of animals listed in the Red Book of Endangered Animals. The landscape surrounding the Park is magnificent, and the local people have maintained practising customs and habits full of national cultural identities.

In November 1998, in Phu My Village, Nam Cat Tien Commune, an ancient village dating back 2,500-3,000 years was discovered. This is a complex of relics, including temples and towers and many artifacts, which proved the mixture of the Chan Lap civilization of the south and the Cham Pa civilization of the north. Among the artifacts, there are several statues which were for worshiping, such as the Linga-Yoni (sacred worshiping items representing the human sexual organs). There is a Linga, 2.1 meter high, which is the biggest of this kind in the world. Many other vestiges showed that Cat Tien was the Holy Land of the ancient Phu Nam Kingdom built about 2,000 years ago.

Cat Tien National Park was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2006. It covers 719 square kilometers in South of Cat Tien (Dong Nai province), 396 square kilometers in Cat Loc (Lam Dong province) and 278.5 square kilometers west of Cat Tien (Binh Phuoc province). According to a report submitted to UNESCO: Cat Tien National Park is part of the wet tropical forest complex and one of the specious natural forests remaining in Vietnam. That is why this area is significant not only in Vietnam but in the world as well. The diversity of the Park has been recognized by WWF when this international organization selected the Park as one of 200 global ecological zones including the land and its water area with its wellknown biological diversity. In 2001 Cat Tien National Park has been listed by UNESCO as the 411th biosphere Reserve Zone in the world. Cat Tien National Park is also specially significant to the socio-economy of the region as its ecosystem takes an active part in the control of flood, at the same time it is also forest protecting for the water source of Tri An Hydro electrical Power Plant, a freshwater source supplied for Dong Nai province, Ho Chi Minh city and Ba Ria-Vung Tau province.[Source: Ministry of Culture and Information of Vietnam]

Cat Tien National Park is geologically in the transiting area from the Southern- Central Highland to the Southern plain. Including typical geological features of the end of Truong Son mountain range and South East of Vietnam, with 5 following major terrain types: 1) High mountain with slope side: It mainly locates in the North of Cat Tien National Park. The elevation (from the sea level) is 200m-GCOm, slope 15-200 with some over 300. The topography is lope at the rnountain sides, the area in the centre of river, stream and at the top are flat. The division grade is complex and be the beginning of small streams flowing into Dong Nai river. 2) Medium high mountain with slope side: Locating at the West South of Cat Tien National Park with elevation of 200m-300m, slope 150-200, high division. Big streams as Dac Lua, Da Tapok are formed by this hilly midland and finally pour into Dong Nai river. 3) Low and flat hill: Locating at the East South of Cat Tien National Park with elevation of 130m-150m, slope of 50-70, little division.

4) Dong Nai river bench and hill connecting to the swamp: At the West South of Cat Tien National Park, with mean elevation of 130m. 5) Stream bench mixed with lake and swamp: This type of terrain includes small streams, scattering flooded lands, lakes and ponds in the branch of Dac Lua stream and the central area in the north of the Park. It is often in lack of water in the dry season but flooded in rainy season. In the dry season;, the water exists only in big swampy areas such as Bau Sau, Bau Chim, Bau Co, ... The elevation of this area is less than 130m.

Animals and Plants in Cat Tien National Park

Cat Tien National Park is where rare Javan rhinoceros was discovered in 1999 and killed not long afterwards. The Park grades is down from the north to the south and west to east from an elevation of 626 meters in Loc Bac and 115 meters and located in the middle of two biogeologies: the Truong Son highland to Southern plain. It has abundant diversity of fauna and flora typical for ecosystem of wet tropical forest.

The Dong Nai River is a natural boundary that embraces three sides of Cat Tien Park. On the left bank, villages and gardens are built close to the water, and on the right bank are wild forests with primitive green canopies. Numerous species of birds built their nests in the canopies. Inside the primitive forest, there are various kinds of fauna typical for the low land of the eastern Truong Son and the Central Highlands. So far, in Cat Tien Park, 1,362 kinds of flora have been classified, many of them listed in the Red Book. According to surveys made by the Park's Management Board, there are 77 kinds of animals belonging to 28 families and 10 species; 326 kinds of bird in 62 families and 18 species; 37 kinds of reptiles in 18 families and 3 species; 133 kinds of fish in 28 families, and a wide range of insects.

Most worthy of note are the animals listed in the Red Book of Endangered Animals such as Ban ten bull, Gaur bull, tiger, bear, black-foot monkey, peacock, white-neck crane, and crocodile. In particular, there is a group of seven to eight one-tusk rhinoceros, which has attracted attention from both domestic and foreign scientists. Images of Javan rhinoceros living there were captured n May 1999 using an automatic set of cameras. See Rhinos Under Animals.

According to a report submitted to UNESCO: The major component is Dipterocarpaceas, Fabaceae and Lythraceae. Until now, it has been confirmed in Cat Tien Natiofial Park that there are 1 610 species, 724 branches, 162 families, and 75 groups in which: Big trees: 176 species; small trees: 335 species; Mini plants: 345 species, floristic composition: 311 species; vine: 238 species; Epiphyte, phytoparasite plants: 143 species; Semi-plant: 62 species. Specious plants: 38 species of 13 families such as: Afzelia Xylocarpa, Dalbergia sp., Pterocarpus macrocarpus, Sindora siamensis, Dispyros martima, Xylia xylocarpa, ... that have listed in Vietnamese Red Book. The endemic gene and local endemic trees: 22 species of 12 families such as Thien Thien Dong Nai, Ve Tuyen Ngot of Thien Ly family. [Source: Ministry of Culture and Information of Vietnam]

Cat Tien National Park is divided into 5 types of forest as follows: 1) Often green big leaves forest: The majority is trees of Dipterocarpaceae such as: Dipterocarpus alatus, Dipterocarps intri catus, Dalbergia alatus, Dalbergia mammosa, Afzelia xylocarpa, pterocargus macrocarpus, 2) Ofteil green leaves with half fallen forest: Mainly are trees with fallen leaves in dry season as Lagerstoemia calyculata, Tetrameles nudiflora, Anogissus acminata, 3) Trees mixed with bamboo forest: This is affected by the human beings, the forest often green with half of which have leaves fafallen by forest fire, toxic chemicals, the forest canopy is opened and bamboos have occupied. Popular trees are Mesua sp., Eagerstoernia calyculata, Xylia xylocarpa, two main bamboos are Bambusa procera and Giagarrtochloa sp. 4) Burely bzmboo forest: This is also affected by human beings. After the rice fields made by destroying the forest and be ignored creating fravorable condition for the growing of bamboos. The two popular bamboos are Bambusa procera and Giarochloa sp. Forming big parts of forest; There is only La Nga bamboo exists in flooded area. 5) Flooded plantation bench: Cat Tien National Park has big area of swamp with water resources not polluted yet. In the rainy season, the river water flooded an area of 2,500ha. It is the deepest area among Bau Sau, Bau Chim, Bau Co, ... Flooded plantation area is favorable iocatioil for Crocodylus siamensis, aquatic plants and animals, water birds, freshwater grasses. Big animals such as Sus scrofa, Cerws unicolor, Box gaurus, ... often gather here in dry season. The popular water trees are: Dai phong tu, Loc vling, Sang do mixed with lau, lach, co de ...

The fauna zone of Cat Tien National Park has typical features similar to the fauna zone in East Truong Son plain, closely related with Tay Nguyen, most outstandingly is the set of hoofs with 6 popular species as Sris scrofa, traguliis javanicus, Cems unicolor, muntiacus rnuntak, Bos gaurus, Box javanicus, Cervus unicolor. Cat Tien is one of very few forests in Vietnam which wild animals can be observed. 1) Birds: It includes 348 species of 64 families and 18 sets in which 31 specious and rare species have been discovered and listed in Vietnamese Red Book such as Ciconia episcopus, Pavo muticus imoerator, Leptoptilos javanicus, Pseudibis Davisoni, Cairina sctulata, Arborophila davidi is a rare and specious species of chicken in Vietnam that have not been appeared for years. Scienlists think that they have been extinct until 1997 this species was discovered in Cat Tien National Park. 2) Reptile: including 79 species of 17 families, 4 sets in which 23 iisted in Vietnamese Red Book as: Crocodylus siamensis, Python reticulatus, Python molurus,...

3) Animals: including 103 species of 29 fiirniiies, 11 sets in which 25 species listed in Vietnamese Red Book such as: Bos javanicus, Bas gaurus, Panthera tigris, Ursus malayanus, Ursus thibetanus, Lelephas maximus, pardofelis nebulosa, Catopuma temninckii, Cuon alpinus, Hylobates gabriellae, Petaurista philippenis, There still exists Rhinoceros sondaicus annamiticus as branch of Java Rhinoceros, with 5 to 7 ones that is threatened to be extinct. 5) Fish: including 133 species of 28 faxilies in which 1 species listed in IUCN Red Book (Mon fish or Dragon fish), 8 species listed in Vietnamese Red Book such as Lang bo, Co chai, Co king nha, co loc bong, Co rong, 6) Disomy: including 41 species of 6 families and 2 sets. 7) Insect: 751 species investigated including 457 species of butterflies. Some samples of other insect sets (Coleopterans, Lepidopterans, ...) have been collected but been defined yet as the lack of document and experts.

Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province

Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province (130 kilometers southeast of Ho Chi Minh City) covers 1,987.4 square kilometers and is home to 1,012 thousand 000 people (2010). The largest ethnic groups in the province are theViet (Kinh), Hoa, Cho Ro and Khmer. The capital is Vung Tau City. Administrative divisions: City: Ba Ria.Districts: Chau Duc, Xuyen Moc,Tan Thanh, Long Dien, Dat Do, Con Dao.Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province is located in southern Vietnam, to the northeast of the Mekong Delta. It shares its border with Dong Nai Province to the north and Binh Thuan Province to the east, Ho Chi Minh City to the west and The South China Sea to the south-east. There are two distinct seasons: the dry (from November to April) and the rainy (from May to December). The annual average temperature is 27 degrees C.

Ba Ria- Vung Tau Province is a large tourist center. It has over 100 kilometers of seashore with beautiful swimming beaches, as well as many lakes and thermal springs. The offshore shelf has oil and seafood. In Vung Tau City there are Thuy Van, Chi Linh, Back, Front, and Dau beaches; Long Dien District has Long Hai Beach; Xuyen Moc District has Ho Tram and Ho Coc beaches. On Con Dao Island, tourists are able to swim at Dam Trau, Hon Cau, and Hon Tre beaches. They can also climb in Thanh Gia Mountain, Nho Mountain. Binh Chau Hot Spring is known for its healthy 80 degrees C water. Other popular places include Communal House of Dao Ong Tran, Ben Da Church, Bach Dinh vestige, Long Phuoc Tunnels, Minh Dam Revolutionary Area. Among the hundred or Buddhist pagodas and temples are Niet Ban Monastery, Thang Tam Communal House, Linh Son Pagoda, Dinh Co Temple. Tourist can participate in some traditional festivals as Dinh Co Festival and Nghinh Ong Festival (Welcoming the Lord Whale Festival), play golf or watch dog racing in Lam Son stadium in Vung Tau City every Saturday.

Getting to Ba Ria- Vung Tau Province: Vung Tau is 129 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City, 95 kilometers from Bien Hoa (Dong Nai), 513 kilometers from Nha Trang (Khanh Hoa) Main roads in the province are: A) National Highway 56 to Dong Nai Province, B) National Highway 55 to Binh Thuan Province, C) National Highway 51 to Ho Chi Minh City. Express buses leave for Bien Hoa, Ho Chi Minh City, My Tho and some other places There are flights from Vung Tau to the Con Dao Islands. Vina Express operates hydrofoils from central Ho Chi Minh City to Vung Tau.

Vung Tau

Vung Tau City (129 kilometers southeast of Ho Chi Minh City) is an old port and the first Vietnamese area to be visited by vacationers and people seeking health treatment. Covering 110 square kilometers and boasting an average temperature of 28 degrees C, it has 20 kilometers of coastline with famous soft-sand beaches and calm waters. Beside beautiful beaches, Vung Tau also has many unique architectural sights such as Jesus Christ's Statue, White Villa, Sakyamuni Pagoda, Thang Tam'

Binh Chau-Phuoc Buu Nature Reserve—in Xuyen Moc District, Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province— is one of the few areas along the coastline of Vietnam to retain a significant cover of natural forest. Binh Chau Thermal Springs—in Bung Rieng Commune, Xuyen Moc District, Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province— is known for its 73 degrees C water pools used to cure skin diseases and rheumatism. Fairy Stream (Suoi Tien, 7kilometers northwest of Ba Ria Town originates from 500-meter-high Dinh Mountain. Fairy Stream is sometimes called "the second Dalat in Vietnam" for it beautiful natural landscape.

Con Dao Island (90 kilometers south of Vung Tau) is also famous for its nice beaches shaded with evergreen trees, fresh air, clear blue waters, and primitive forests. There are dense forest with rich flora and fauna in , which is Con Dao National Park. The sea in this area is home to various marine species. Tourists have a chance to watch turtles lay the eggs. It also used to host a convict prison during French colonial era, and later, during the American War. Getting There: Flights From Ho Chi Minh City to Con Dao : 14 flights/ week, Vietnam Airlines, 154, 248, 01h00'14 flights/ week, Air Mekong, 00h45'24 flights/ week, Vasco, 01h00'. Flights From Phu Quoc: Can Tho, 24 flights/ week, Vasco, 01h00'Ho Chi Minh City, 5 flights/ week, Vasco, 00h55'

Vung Tau Beaches

Vung Tau has five main beaches scattered over the peninsula. Bai Truoc, also called Front Beach, is located on the western side of Vung Tau and stands between Nho and Lon Mountains. Restaurants, kiosks, and hotels are close to the beach. Vong Nguyet, also called O Quan Beach, is a peaceful cove with good wind. Surfers particularly enjoy this area.

Bai Dua or Dua Beach is located approximately two kilometers from the center of the city. People who do not like crowded beaches particularly enjoy this quiet beach. Bai Sau, also called Back Beach, is the longest stretch of sand on the peninsula. It is located approximately two kilometers from town on the southeastern side of Vung Tau. It is exposed to The South China Sea wind and surfing there is excellent. Finally, Bai Dau Beach is located at the foot of Lon Mountain. It is a small quiet beach, three kilometers west of Vung Tau.

Back Beach (Thuy Van Beach) is one of the longest and most beautiful beaches in Vietnam. Located in southeast of Vung Tau City, Back Beach is over eight kilometers-long from the foot of Small Mountain to Cua Lap. Front Beach is located between Small and Large mountains in Vung Tau City. It is also called Tam Duong Beach which means "Finding the Sun." Ho Coc Beach is known for its turquoise water and primitive forests. Long Hai Beach (30 kilometers northeast of Vung Tau City) is a favourite beach for many people who find it quieter than those in Vung Tau.

Mulberry Beach (Bai Dau) lies at the west of Large Mountain in Vung Tau City. From Front Beach, going along Tran Phu Street and passing White Villa about three kilometers, tourists will reach the Mulberry BeachThe beach was formerly called Rattan Pond because there are many wild rattans here. Pineapple Beach is situated between Front Beach and Back Beach at the foot of Small Mountain, near Nghinh Phong Cape, Vung Tau City.There used to be numerous wild pineapples that grew on the rocky shore, which is why the beach is called the Pineapple Beach.

Mui Ne Beach, the Kiteboarding Capital of Asia

Mui Ne Beach (190 kilometers northeast of Ho Chi Minh City) is a beach and resort town of Mui Ne in Binh Thuan province that has become popular among Russian tourists in recent years. The area has 78 resorts ranging from three to five stars, most of them in private ownership. In the hills overlooking the sea are quaint cottages. Tourists can swim in the blue water of the sea, slide down sand dunes, relax in swimming pool of resorts or kiteboard and windsurf. The beach has the best conditions for water sports because it has strongest and most consistent cross-onshore winds in Asia and the lowest rainfall in Vietnam. There are currently about a dozen kiteboarding centers in Mui Ne and the competition is fierce. In addition, tourists can go shopping at the Mui Ne Market for types of fresh sea-food and local specialties.

Mui Ne has long been considered the "Hawaii" of Vietnam. Its features are immense sand dunes meandering through kilometers of red, yellow and white, shady roads under coconut trees, beautiful rows of palm trees and cliffs battered by the waves of the sea. The beach is shallow and sloped, the water is clean and blue and the sun rarely hides behind clouds. The typical scenery of Mui Ne lies in the moving lines of golden sand caused by the wind and when they are seen from afar they look like moving waves. The scenery looks more fascinating at dawn, when young Cham girls in green dresses go to work. That's why no photographer fails to visit this area.

Mui Ne is located in Ham Tien Ward, Phan Thiet City, Binh Thuan Province, about 220 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City centre. From Ho Chi Minh City, take National Highway No.1A for 198 kilometers to Phan Thiet City and then take Route 706 for another 22 kilometers, until you reach Mui Ne Beach. Sights around Mui Ne include Suoi Tien (Fairy Spring) — deep and red canyons parted by twisting streams and echoed by the sounds of tropical birds— and Poshanu Cham Tower Complex.

Matt Gross wrote in the New York Times, “For decades, if not centuries, the wind has defined Mui Ne, a small fishing village in southern Vietnam's Binh Thuan province. Blowing in straight off the South China Sea, the wind molds and remolds the white and pink-gold sand dunes that surround Mui Ne and frustrates the fishermen, who eke out a living catching squid and tuna on the horizon. But in recent years, the wind has altered the landscape of Mui Ne in a different way-by luring to its 12 miles of gently arcing beach windsurfers and kitesurfers, part of a vanguard of vacationers eager to make the 120-mile trip northeast from Ho Chi Minh City in search of the next new, clean, unspoiled stretch of sand. [Source: Matt Gross, New York Times, August 21, 2005]

"This is one of the five top places for sailing in the world, and it's definitely the best in Asia," said Pascal Lefebvre, who maintains, a repository of wind data that appears to back up his claim. According to the Web site, which has data for the last five years, 2004 saw 246 days when the wind speed averaged greater than 14 miles per hour. Ground zero at Mui Ne is Jibe's Beach Club, 90 Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street, (84-62) 847-405. Damaged boards hang on the walls of this beachside bar and restaurant (owned by Mr. Lefebvre and his wife, Pham Thi Hong Phuong), and a projection screen displays windsurfing videos. Out back, however, is where the action is: an equipment-rental shop and launching pad for the day's wave-riding adventures.

The acolytes come around 10 a.m., when the wind picks up, and by 11:30 two dozen kites and sails will be crisscrossing the water. By 2 in the afternoon, the wind is at its strongest, and the nonsailing beachgoers start retreating to their resorts' sheltered swimming pools. Around 4, the wind turns gusty, launching sailors to greater heights. At night, when the wind has finally died down, visitors escape their hotels to eat-there's Vietnamese seafood at Dong Su, Kilometer 11, Ham Tien, (84-62) 847-310, and Italian seafood at Luna di Autunno, 51A Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street, (84-62) 847-591, among others-before returning to Jibe's or the Mui Ne Sailing Club, 24 Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street, (84-62) 847 440, to drink, play pool and recount the day's greatest airs and most calamitous slams.

The scene today is radically different from just 10 years ago, when the main drag, Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street, was a nameless sand track over which coconut palms formed a shady canopy and the pungent whiff of nuoc mam was the only thing floating in the air. Occasional visitors would explore the Fairy Stream, a small brook that has cut a long canyon into the red earth, or the vast, photogenic sand dunes.

Today, resorts line the beach side of Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street, from the upscale Victoria Phan Thiet to the Palmira. with its Russian onion dome ,to myriad smaller hotels whose names invariably include the words coconut, beach or Mui Ne. An international airport is in the works, and a $900 million resort complex-golf courses, casinos and a theme park — is being developed 25 miles north. For Marek Kanievska, a film director ("Less Than Zero") who spends about five months a year in Mui Ne, the beach is enough. "I am in a constant state of ecstasy," said Mr. Kanievska. "I get up at 5 a.m. and never run out of things to do till 11 at night."

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Vietnamtourism. com, Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, CIA World Factbook, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Global Viewpoint (Christian Science Monitor), Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, Fox News and various websites, books and other publications identified in the text.

Last updated August 2020

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