Sunday, 13 May 2012

A Hot and Sunny Weekend in Mui Ne

A few weeks ago, we had a very wet and windy weekend in Mui Ne which you can read about here.  While we were there, we booked ourselves a luxury weekend for the end of April and crossed our fingers that the weather would be kind to us!!

So it was that we checked into a hotel near Saigon's railway station on the Thursday night, ready for our early morning train to Phan Thiet the next day. We had just put our bags down in our room when the heavens opened and for the next two hours we sat and listened to a real humdinger of a storm, wondering if we could expect more of the same over the weekend and regretting our decision to splash out on a high-end resort!!  However, as it turned out, that was the only rain we would see during the five days we were away.  The rest of the time was hot and sunny - perfect weather to enjoy the relaxing activities we'd planned!!

The train journey to Phan Thiet was slow - five and a half hours instead of the scheduled four - mainly due to the fact that it is single track for most of the way so we had to keep waiting in sidings for oncoming trains to pass.  Once in Phan Thiet, it's a 300,000 VND taxi fare to Mui Ne, so, on balance I think we would recommend getting there by tourist bus rather than by train.  Many operators ply the route, picking you up in the Pham Ngu Lau area of Saigon and taking you right to the door of your hotel. 

We chose to stay at a new resort, Villa Aria, and from check-in to check-out we really enjoyed our stay!  Our garden room was extremely comfortable with quality furnishings both inside and outside on our terrace.  The bathroom was luxurious and we were supplied with quality natural toiletries to use.  The resort grounds were landscaped beautifully with meticulous attention to detail.  A nice touch was a large terracotta pot filled with water outside each room containing a coconut ladle so that you could wash your feet rather than trail sand indoors!  The infinity pool was lovely and we made full use of it during our stay.  The restaurant was open to the beach with nicely decked areas where guests could sit and enjoy the seaview.  Breakfast was extremely good.  We were disappointed by the lunch that we had on the second day.  Maybe we were unlucky, but we decided not to eat at the resort again, other than for breakfast.  This wasn't a problem as there is such a wide choice of eating places in close proximity to the resort.

We spent our days in and around the pool and beach, reading and listening to music.  The purpose of the weekend was to relax and unwind so that is exactly what we did!  We did venture out a couple of times.  We went on an excursion to nearby Mount Takou which you can read about here.  We also went to see the fishing village in Phan Thiet.  We were there at the wrong time of day to see the buying and selling activity, but we did see the brightly coloured fleet in the harbour and the squid laid out on racks to dry in the sun.  On our way to and from the fishing village, we drove through acres and acres of dragon fruit farms.  The area around Mui Ne produces most of Vietnam's dragon fruit and this is the time of year when most of it is harvested.  I hadn't given a thought to how it grew before and was fascinated to see it.  The farmers begin by sinking one metre high concrete posts into the ground.  Two small dragon fruit plants are planted at the base of each post and trained to grow up and around it.  The plant looks like a cactus and the striking-looking fruits appear at the end of the leaves of the succulent.

We ate some very good food during our time in Mui Ne.  We had very cheap local food one night and very expensive Western food another, but the culinary highlight had to be the pizza we had at Good Morning Vietnam Pizzeria!!  We had eaten here during our previous stay in Mui Ne and were not disappointed by our second visit!  The pizzas were the best we have eaten outside of Italy with delicious thin crusts cooked in an authentic wood-burning pizza oven.  The accompanying insalata mista was pretty good, too!!

For a chilled-out weekend we loved Mui Ne and will definitely be back!!

See more of our photos here.

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