Riding an ATV in Vietnam – White Sand Dunes, Mui Ne

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When we set off on our $5 tour of Mui Ne, we did not expect that we’d be driving an ATV or to almost drive off a sand cliff. But our Vietnam trip was full of surprises! After visiting the Fairy Stream and Fishing Village, we were off to the white sand dunes.

Mui Ne is very geographically diverse despite it’s small size and is known for having both white and red dunes. Although I was more excited to see the red sand dunes, the white dunes took my breath away. Unlike most deserts with yellowish sand, this large area was completely covered in light sand comparable to the white sand beaches of Hawaii!

Since we were on a backpacking style trip, our goal was to spend as little as possible. When we were offered a 600,000 Dong (around $30) ATV ride, we immediately refused and starting walking up the slippery sandy hill on foot. At the top of the hill we saw beautiful views, a far away lake and lots of ATVs zooming by. My husband and I looked at each other wordlessly and turned back to get that ride.

We saw this as a once in a lifetime opportunity and were perfectly willing to spend those $30 but my husband has lived in China long enough to know that the price can always be negotiated. After all, he managed to get our visa fee down significantly just by asking nicely… so a few minutes later we were on an ATV for just $15.

It was fast, bumpy and quite terrifying. On top of everything, the breaks weren’t working and you could only go forwards. If you’ve ever driven, or even walked a long sand dunes, you’ll know that what you see ahead of you isn’t always clear. We were driving full speed ahead when we went over a small hill and were about to drive down another.

It took a very sharp turn to keep us from rolling down a very steep and dangerous sand cliff. I was quite hysterical and there was lots of yelling and complicated maneuvering to get us safely away from the edge of the cliff. From that moment we drove a little slower and got to see the lake that we wouldn’t have had the time to walk to since we were only given 40 minutes.

Although I was absolutely terrified, once we found a flat area, I gave ATV driving a change and it was pretty amazing! Don’t believe me? Watch my ATV driving YouTube video, I apologize in advance for the shakiness, the dunes are bumpy!


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