Making an itinerary for a three-week Vietnam trip solely based on online research is extremely difficult. Everyone has different suggestions and no one can seem to agree on the right amount of time to actually spend there. Some manage to see all the highlights in a week while others claim that even two months isn’t enough.
Our 20-day trip seemed to be the ideal length but could have been better planned. The first thing we would have done differently is flying less. We should have flown into Ho Chi Minh and back out of Hanoi, plus taken the bus from Da Lat up to Hanoi (with a few stops along the way). The second big thing would have been cutting our time in Mui Ne and spending it in Hoi An instead.
We spent three days in Mui Ne because we wanted to relax on the beach. We didn’t know that it wouldn’t be possible to enjoy the beach because the water was shallow, it was too hot, there was zero shade on the beach and the sand flies are the devil’s spawn. It just wasn’t the right time of the year to be there.
In addition to the crazy heat and bugs, we didn’t like getting constantly harassed about buying stuff or given motorcycle rides. We couldn’t get a moment of peace outside our hostel. It was also quite hard to get around the city without a motorcycle, which is technically illegal for tourists and the police do give out fines in Mui Ne especially. There’s taxis that are overpriced and a cheap bus that’s too hot to wait for.
The one time we ventured out on our own to explore and look for rum to put in our coconuts, we found a market. Before I complain about the sanitary conditions, keep in mind that I live in China. Where children poop into egg cartons in the middle of aisles at food markets. This market still managed to shock me with it’s grossness…
Most of the food was displayed on towels on the ground. The ground was wet and sticky with blood and juices from fish, rotting fruit and who knows what else. Just outside the market we saw a woman with a motorcycle full of chickens (like 30.) Hung upside down by their feet, squawking in pain as she yanked their wings to rearrange them. I was still a meat eater at this point but was appalled by the unnecessary cruelty.
Not everything in Mui Ne is horrible. The hostel we stayed at, Long Son Mui Ne Campground was an awesome place perfect for both party people and families. They organized a tour to four of the cool sights in the city, which were also great.
The Fairy Stream looked like something from a beautiful alien planet. The other top places were the smelly but cool fisherman village and the sand dunes. But you can visit all of these places in just a few hours… so that’s why I would recommend only staying a maximum of 36 hours. This would also give you enough time to visit the Czech Restaurant.