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Vietnam: Mui Ne – The Most Beautiful Sand Dunes in Southeast Asia – VIDEO
I have always longed to see a large desert with sand dunes. However, neither in Europe nor in Southeast Asia (the places where I spend most of my time) is one. Once I first saw pictures of Mui Ne, Vietnam I knew for sure that I want to go there. Okay, it is not a desert per se but sand dunes there are huge.
4.40! I want to turn the alarm clock off and forget I have even decided to wake up so early. And I paid for this. No, this is the actual reason I am here – the sunrise at sand dunes . Get off the bed quickly, brush the teeth, take both cameras and hurry into the jeep that is waiting for us.
Shy half an hour later of traveling in wasteland we get at a small car park. Several jeeps similar to ours are parked there and some more have been coming. It is starting to be daylight therefore we set off for the majestic dunes. It is not easy to walk in the sand. My legs sink into the sand which hurts my insteps. But I don’t care. I don’t want to miss the sunrise.
A group of about 40 people stands on the top. I arrive last. But still on time. Strange purple-ish morning sky makes the entire scenery to look like in some fairy tale. The heart of the photographer is in thrill. The fireball of a sun rises above the sea bit later and it casts its rays over the dunes. Too bad the Vietnamese have been driving tourists around on noisy four-wheelers.
Had the driver kept me waiting I would have stayed for couple of hours watching the beautiful vista. MY desire to see true deset became even stronger. I think I will travel across Africa when going home from Asia…
On our way back to the city we made a stop at red dunes. And then we made another stop at fishermen’s village. It seems that morning hustle is about to end and people are about to get back home. Our plan states that we have about 10 minutes before moving on. However, I want to stay and thoroughly explore the village, which reminds me of another reason why I hate organized tours. Moreover, I am becoming hungry. It takes me several minutes to somehow explain the driver I am not coming with them. Thus, with my friend I stay in the village. We can easily get to the hostel as a bus drives through every half an hour.
My intuition was not mistaken. Everybody are stopping by for couple of minutes. Villagers are not accustomed to tourists. We have delicious Pho Bo for breakfast. Meanwhile kids are taking pictures of us with their mobile phones. Indeed, we are taking pictures of them as well. Bit later we drink coffee and observe Vietnamese playing highly popular Chinese variation of chess - Xiangqi.
I am fascinated by boats which look like bowls. Fishermen use them to get to their fishing boas and back. I can’t comprehend how such a “round” boat can sail straight and not turn endlessly around. It seems they know some special trick of sorts.
We hop into the bus which is headed to the river called Fairy Stream. We get off our shoes and jump in shallow, warm water. Then we enter the canyon similar, yet smaller, to the one in Arizona. I try to climb one sand dune but my feet hurt from heat so much that at the middle section I return back to the stream. A small waterfall is at the mouth of the canyon. There is also a lake where fish swim and bite legs of passersby. After this short pedicure we return back to the start. On the beach we enjoy the amazing view of kite surfers propelled by the wind and on surfs hopping on the waves.
Luxurious grilled oysters and mussels, salad with raw fish and fresh coconut. Amazing orgy for your taste buds at cost of several crowns. I want this to happen more often. Where else can you buy a kilo of quality oysters for less than hundred crowns?
At sundown we return to the fishermen’s village. This time we travel off the main road. There we are a true amusement. Locals can’t understand what are we doing there. A small boy demonstrates how he catches sand crabs and a group of small children is constantly asking us to take pictures of them. Meanwhile, fishermen have been taking seats in their round boats to hunt the food at night …
Omnipresent honking, grandmas pulling bikes with flowers, Vietnamese sitting on small chairs, food, bikes, wires, bikes, French cafes, bikes with food, bikes with chairs, bike transporting part of another bike… Welcome to Hanoi! It is a city crazy beyond believe. You either love it or you hate it eternally.
Cat Ba is an island southeast of Vietnam. It was very difficult to get there until recently. In September, a new road featuring a bridge made it easier to travel to the island. Hence, Cat Ba is a popular tourist resort. You may buy a ticket to Cat Ba town in Hanoi and Ninh Binhu zakoupit. It takes 4 hours to get there from Ninh Binhu and 3 hours from Hanoi.
Do you think which destination is the right one for you? Where is something interesting and unusual? Where you can find beautiful landscape, excellent cuisine, and pleasant locals? Well, I know where to go. My favorite place is... Vietnam and I will try to convince you in the next few articles that even for you this is the right choice.
We imagined the visit to the lake as relaxing time after quite a busy day. The reality was seriously different from our expectations. I have remembered the first impression until today. With my daughter and son, we dodged through the local traffic and it was not really easy. The flood of motorcycles was not to stop. We naively thought that someone might slow down or even stop. Don't expect that. Just walk to the other end of the road. And be brave.
The very first day in Asia went very quickly, and in the evening we moved to a cozy family hotel. The environment is friendly, staff gives advice with a smile, they recommend you meals, trips, help with transportation or you can buy the fruit you want. At least first, before you get by, you will certainly appreciate the help.
One day trip to the Bach Ma National Park, approximately 40 kilometers from Hue, was one of our best days in Vietnam. The park was founded in 1991 and its name means a white horse. It covers an area of 220 square kilometers.
Nha Trang is practically the most famous tourist resort in Vietnam, not so much for some landmarks, this coastal city of Khanh Hoa province is famous for its seven kilometers long sandy beach with adjacent islands. The city of approximately 392,000 inhabitants and this number is growing steadily.
After a tough night-train trip, we arrive early in the morning to Da Nang City, where we do not stay very much. First we head to perhaps the most beautiful Vietnamese city - the Hoi An lantern, from which we go for a trip to the Marble Mountains, Vietnamese Ngũ Hành Sơn.
In the evening we arrive at the airport in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon). We are already busy only to lodge for a quick dinner in the busy streets of this largest Vietnamese city and sleep. The next day a very exciting war trip is waiting for us - we go to the Cu Chi tunnels.
Today we are about to enjoy our last amazing trip in Vietnam, we originally intended to visit the Ba Vi National Park, but for time constraints we had to change our program because we need to reserve at least two days for this park. So we had a hotel counseling and planned a trip to a place that was not even mentioned in our book guide, although it is very popular for tourists (even for local people). Today, we go to visit the largest Vietnamese pagoda Bai Dinh and then explore the beautiful complex Trang An.
Da Nang (a city almost in the geographic center of Vietnam) is largely unknown. Which is unfortunate. An average tourist usually passes by there in a taxi on his way from the airport to his favorite Hoi An hotel…. I spent three weeks in Da Nang. And the city got on the list of my favorite places in Southeast Asia (right next to Chiang Mai). In Top Gear, Jeremy Clarkson called the old road to Hue as the “abandoned fragment of perfection.” I absolutely agree.
The end of my stay in Vietnam was neigh. There was one more place to see, a must-see place. The Caodaistic temple. Caodaismus (Đạo Cao Đài) is a young, syncretic religion established by a bureaucrat from South Vietnam in the 1920s.
Upon an hour of waiting for a visa I was free to explore the capital of the country I really looked forward to exploring. First of all, I somehow let a cab driver to make a 300 crown rip off. Sometimes things like this happen. But honestly – this happens in Prague as well. Aboard the airplane I could see streets where millions of bikes stream in all directions. And “down” here the traffic is even more crazy. If I compare Ho Chi Minh city to Bangkok, a city of comparable size, in the former there are much less traffic jams. One must add that there is no subway, or rail that would go above the ground. It seems that high taxes on car is working.
As much as I hate to travel by bus, I would repeat the ride from Nha Trang and Da Lat. The former is the city of two hundred thousand. It is the most popular spot to spend honeymoon at in Vietnam. It is situated at 1500 meters in the Central Highlands. You can enjoy a number of great views while on the road. And it gets even better on bike …
In the region of Sa Pa, northwestern Vietnam, the best means of transport is a bike. You don’t have to worry about missing your bus, of taxi not coming, or that your taxi cab driver would be someone who drives illegally. Therefore, we rented us a bike in Sa Pa. It cost only a few crowns. Then we planned our trip.
Someone loves it. Someone swears to not to come again. There is nothing in between. I am with the first group. From the first day on in Saigon, a hectic city, and I turned into a side street. We are about to introduce you to a new series where we tell you about interesting places in the city and the country. First of all, let’s talk some important facts about the country.
When someone in Prague says “Sapa” everybody recalls the famous marketplace in Prague. However, once you dig into where the name originates you soon find the mysterious area of Sa Pa in Vietnam’s northwest (near the borderline with China).
The last day was before us in Hue, the picturesque imperial city. In the early morning we hit the streets and just roamed around in the city. Indeed, we saw one of the most distinctive sights in the city - the Trường Tiền bridge across the Perfume River.
Even though the title suggest some offensive connotations we were did not intend to disgrace royal tombs as if we were in an action movie. A rented bike, however, solved our problems. The tombs around Hue are scattered along vast area. Before relying on public transportation it is better to pay couple of crowns to rent a bike.
We reached Hanoi (Hà Nội in Vietnamese) by train, again. Friends had been waiting for us at the train station already. Hospitable as they were they took us on their bikes to their place. Founded in the 11th century, Hanoi’s original name was Thăng Long – Soaring Dragon. The legend says the emperor saw a dragon soaring at this place so he founded the city there.
Every time I have the feeling I know something more about something I come to realization which tells me the opposite. I spent one year of studying and travelling in China. Bit arrogantly I had felt Asia couldn’t surprise me much more. Fortunately, I hadn’t boarded a plane to the Czech Republic, instead I boarded a plane to Vietnam.
On the following day we set off to Hoi An (Hội An . It was during the daylight and also it didn’t rain. The sun was pleasantly shining and warm. We reached the historical center by foot and were ready for some great sightseeing (even the one in the night had its atmosphere).