Home > Asia, Photography, Travel Photography > Vietnam Trip Photo Report #2: Mũi Né and Nha Trang

Vietnam Trip Photo Report #2: Mũi Né and Nha Trang

Update, July 12 2011
Thanks to WordPress.com featuring this on their “Freshly Pressed” section on July 11th, 2011, this photo report post has had a tremendous amount of traffic, thanks entirely to you lovely folks who have chosen to bestow your click-favours. I might add in an oh-so-cheeky way that more of my photographic travel delights can be found in the Travel Photography posts section (let’s be honest, the most interesting part of this blog for blogger and reader alike)…

Also, for your delectation, I have other Vietnam photo posts as well:

Original post
After the hectic experience of Saigon, desirous of some sun and fun, we headed north out of the city towards the southern coastal resorts of Mũi Né and Nha Trang. Never ones to sit around on the beach, we did a fair bit of exploration in each place, seeing how the people in both towns were getting to grips with combining their traditional lifestyles (fishing, mostly) with increasing numbers of tourists and their various demands and proclivities.

Mũi Né
We knew that Mũi Né was going to be our first stop as we headed north, because it was a pretty manageable five-hour bus ride from Saigon. Having investigated a bit and determined that the main strip of Mũi Né looked like a catastrophic mix of Russian, German and Australian package tour hellholes, we booked a bungalow in the private resort Pandanus just outside the main strip. As the man in Indiana Jones said, we chose…. wisely. We hired some bicycles the first afternoon and toddled down into the fishing village north of the resort strip, where we were lucky enough to see the fishing harbour just as dusk approached. It was our first encounter with the curious rattan “bathtub” dinghies that are such a feature of waterfront life in south Vietnam.

Fishing Harbour, Mui Ne Village

Fishing Harbour, Mui Ne Village

Fishing Harbour, Mui Ne Village

The next day we hired scooters, and took to them like ducks to water. Riding around a relatively low-population area like Mũi Né was the perfect way to start driving in Vietnam – not sure I would have wanted to kick things off in Saigon, for instance. Happily we carried on through the main resort strip and south to Phan Thiết, the main fishing town near Mui Ne, where we knew we’d be able to see some Cham temples, and also look into a fishing harbour I had seen from the bus the day before.

First stop was the Cham temples on a hilltop overlooking the town: leftovers of the old religions of the Cham people, who are still around in greatly reduced numbers and greatly reduced influence. The only other visitors to this temple complex were a bridal couple and their photographers, who were happy to pose for us in between having their love committed to digital eternity….

Cham Temples, Phan Thiet

Cham Temples and Graveyard, Phan Thiet

Bridal Couple at Cham Temples, Phan Thiet

After the Cham temples we continued on down to the main fishing section of Phan Thiết and, after struggling to work out how to get to the actual quay-side from the main street, we eventually just did as the locals did and drove our scooters into a warren of tiny rutted alleyways, somehow managing not to scrape ourselves or our bikes down the sides of people’s houses, till eventually we popped out on the quay and got to see some of the fishing boats and dinghies at close quarters, and to see what conditions the fishermen lived in when they weren’t out casting for squid and scallops…

Phan Tiet Fishing Harbour

Phan Tiet Fishing Harbour

Phan Tiet Fishing Harbour

We were tempted to keep going around a headland as we saw a beach on the other side that looked like it needed investigating. However, the pavement and packed earth had run out and in between us and the beach was the motorcycle’s bane: sand. We were about to turn around and give up when a toothless grandmother laughed at us and pointed through the sand. Shamed, we duly attempted and conquered the sand challenge. When we came to the beach we dismounted and walked down to observe some scallop fishermen freshly arrived and disgorging their catch via the dinghies to women waiting on shore, who were busily shucking the scallops and discarding the shells onto the beach in great mounds (there were countless thousands of old shells about). It was a fascinating scene, and they were very surprised that we as tourists had made it around to see them. They were friendly enough, though, and we felt we were well off the trail.

Fishermen on Phan Thiet Beach

Fishermen on Phan Thiet Beach

Fishermen on Phan Thiet Beach

I don’t want to over-romanticise this experience though; the beach was filthy, very different to the sanitised versions at the resorts nearby which were cleaned obsessively. This beach was an environmental disaster of discarded shells, rubbish, excrement, and a recently-dead dog. The entire place smelled like three-day-old shit, and we made our excuses. Getting back off the beach involved driving through someone’s patio (seriously) and driving through a family of four eating their dinners on either side of an alleyway, who only pulled their dishes and drinks away at the last moment. We continued back into the main resort strip and found a place for lunch, where we remarked that the three-day-old shit smell seemed to pervade the town. It was only a few minutes later that we discovered to our horror that I had trod in some of the three-day-old shit and was tracking it around. This was special stuff, probably banned under the Geneva convention, and suffice it to say that after multiple cleaning attempts and an overnight soak I was forced to throw this set of beloved sandals away. That’s some serious shit.

The next morning we got up early and walked down the road from our resort to climb the red sand dunes, a famous local attraction which is probably best explored using a jeep, and the main idea is to do sand-surfing – or at least that’s what all the touts would have you do. Of course I skipped the sand-surfing and went photo-surfing instead….

Red Sand Dunes, Mui Ne

Red Sand Dunes, Mui Ne

Red Sand Dunes, Mui Ne

Red Sand Dunes, Mui Ne

Of course, we didn’t spend all of our time sightseeing. There was a beach to play in, as well, and we did. But nobody wants to see other people’s beach pictures, so I’ll suffice with this one:

Beach near Mui Ne

Nha Trang
After three days and two nights in Mũi Né we decided to push up the coast to Hoi An, with a one-night stopover in Nha Trang, another beach resort, to break up what would otherwise be an 18-hour bus journey. As it happened, the five hours to Nha Trang did us in, as we had inadvertently booked a sleeper bus – for an afternoon journey. It was fairly hellish, let’s just leave it there. Once in Nha Trang we agreed that we needed to find some other way to continue on to Hoi An the next day. As it happens the urgency of this decision was removed from us by some dodgy shellfish and an ensuing everything-must-go bout of food poisoning. So we ended up spending two nights in Nha Trang, recuperating and preparing for the next journey. As it happened we lodged in the Sheraton on the main strip, so this was not what you would call a hardship to extend our stay. We checked out the town, but it was roasting hot during the day so we mostly explored at night (somehow seeming to end up at the Sailing Club each night) or during the early mornings.

The view from our hotel’s rooftop terrace was pretty striking at night, watching untold thousands of scooters cruising up and down the strip, and the otherworldly construction side next door:

Nha Trang Beach Road from the Sheraton roof bar

Nha Trang Beach Road from the Sheraton roof bar

Marriot under construction, from the Sheraton rooftop bar, Nha Trang

Of course we did manage to get out onto the beach here, and because it was the start of a bank holiday weekend there, there were genuine Vietnamese tourists visiting the beach in droves:

Nha Trang Beach

Bathing her best friend, Nha Trang Beach

Early on the final morning in Nha Trang we went up to the fishing marina and saw the fishermen getting about their work. We carried on around the bay to another set of Cham temples on a hill overlooking the harbour.

Nha Trang Fishing Harbour

Nha Trang Fishing Harbour

Nha Trang Fishing Harbour

Cham Temples, Nha Trang

Cham Temples, Nha Trang

Cham Temples, Nha Trang

Cham Temples, Nha Trang

That was it for Nha Trang, and we headed out to catch our chosen “cheating” transportation up to Hoi An: Vietnam Airlines.

You can see more photos of Mũi Né and Nha Trang in my Flickr set here.

Next time: A photo report from the charming old colonial town of Hoi An. Reports from Hue, Saigon, Sapa, and Ha Long Bay will follow…

  1. July 11, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    These are absolutely breathtaking. Thank you for sharing pix of a region I am likely never to see — but definitely feel I’ve seen now!


  2. July 11, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    awesome pics! love them! and your camera is…?

  3. July 11, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    Wow, cool pictures, makes me what to go there, since I’m so close. Have a great journey from http://allansjourney.wordpress.com

  4. Suong Nguyen
    July 11, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    How beautiful Nha Trang is!

  5. July 11, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    How wondrous! Thank you for sharing your beautiful photographs!

  6. July 11, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    How AMAZING is this! I simply cannot wait to travel one day. Thanks for sharing.

  7. muralfanatic
    July 11, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    Thanks for the great pics!

  8. poetrixx
    July 11, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    I was in Nha Trang couple of years ago. Its the best holyday resort in Vietnam in my opinion … but it doesnt say much. It cant compete with any of the top destiations in Thailand. But the hotels are really CHEAP!

    I have come across three places with very cheap hotels in south-east Asia… that is Danau Toba on Sumatra, which is a spectacular place, Nha Trang and Vang Vieng in laos … which is also very beautiful.

  9. July 11, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    Amazing pictures! Looks like a fun trip!

  10. July 11, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    Thanks for making my memories of those beautiful places alive again. It’s been a while since I visited Phan Thiet and Nha Trang.

  11. July 11, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    My partner and I lived in Vietnam for a year and took the train the length of the country–Saigon to Hanoi and back several times, so we could travel with our dog. That was an amazing expereince, but you are brave to do the trip by bus! I will come back with a link to the post I did about my Maltese’s adventures in Vietnam. Thanks for these lovely photos of a place I miss very much!

  12. July 11, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    The postI did about my dog’s adventures in Vietnam is called “Canines in Conical Hats: Lucy does Vietnam.”


    It has fun photo of my little dog wearing a miniature conical hat!


  13. July 11, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    Absolutely stunning photos. This was like taking a trip without leaving my home. Very very cool. : )

  14. July 11, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    Wow! This really touched me. I am a photographer as well and my father is from Vietnam. I have yet to experience this place and you did a beautiful job capturing it. : )

  15. July 11, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    Amazing , wish i were there :p

  16. July 11, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    great photos! love the ones of the sand dunes and Nha Trang night view. hoping to go back to Vietnam someday. i was born there, left when i was six and haven’t been back since.

  17. July 11, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    Beautiful pics – sounds like you had a few adventures on your travels – that is the part of the experience you will remember the most. Great post with some humor added it – love it. Congrats on being FP.

  18. cyber7unk
    July 11, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    beautiful, it is similar to indonesia, swear !

  19. faithquest75
    July 11, 2011 at 6:16 pm


  20. July 11, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    What a beautiful place. Your photos are amazing. Not sure what that woman’s doing with the dog, but it made me chuckle. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed.

  21. July 11, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    great collection of images..very fluid..story telling..!

  22. July 11, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    My country is amazingly beautiful, right? I’ve been to Nha Trang twice and have not been bored a bit. I’m persuading my family to travel to Mui Ne next summer.
    Btw, nice pictures!

  23. July 11, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    Thanks guys for all the comments, I am truly flattered by the attention.

    @plainsteamrice, my camera body is a Canon 7D and I mostly use the 24-105mm F4L and 17-40 F4L lenses, though a few shots in this trip I also did with the 50mm F1.8

  24. July 11, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    Congrats on freshly pressed, for the most part these are really colourful images.

    Really like the boats and the beach pics.


  25. July 11, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    I like this blog very much. I am creating a new travel-blog. Its name is voyagehunter.wordpress.com . Will be in English in a few days (now it’s only in Catalan and Spanish). I will post all my travels with every detail, data, photos and videos and I will be opened to every person who wanted to share his/her travel and didn’t have blog. See you soon!

  26. July 11, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    This is awesome photograph man, look so natural 🙂

  27. July 11, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    Quite interesting! I spend about 6 months a year in Vietnam. Love that country. Please have a look on my 2 sites, there are picture of Nha Trang and Muine too…


    thank you in advance for your visit…

  28. July 11, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    Very beautiful pictures. I am looking forward to your next posts about Vietnam. 😀

  29. July 11, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    Thanks for sharing your adventure with beautiful pictures of my country.

  30. thebigbookofdating
    July 11, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    These photos are really really amazing! I want to travel! (:

  31. July 11, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    Nice beach and monument and… is there a desert?! http://calogeromiratraveland.wordpress.com

  32. July 11, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    i feel delighted! great shots, bright colours 🙂

  33. July 11, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    Beautiful post.

  34. July 11, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    Great pictures!, thanx for sharing! amazing!

  35. July 11, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    I read about Nha Trang from a book I read Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried. The photos are absolutely gorgeous. Was about to ask you about the type of camera u used but I saw your response @plainsteamrice. Keep up the good work. ~ from http://fashionlifeja.wordpress.com/

  36. July 11, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    Nice pictures and beautiful country ! Necer been there but i should !!

    I show you my travel photo blog !


    Enjoy !

  37. July 11, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    Great pictures which stirred up a lot of memories… My mom took pretty similar ones when we went to these exact same spots. Beaches are indeed different from what we’re used to in the West; I remember seeing a few of these red, bony Asian cows walk across our resort’s beach… That was surprising! 🙂

    I hope to visit the North of Vietnam next time I get to go there (even my mom, who is Vietnamese, has never been there… it’s a pretty big country in length!).

  38. July 11, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    Love the photos. Especially the night shots.

  39. B. J. Parker
    July 11, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    Gorgeous pictures!

  40. July 11, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    Beautiful photography. Where did you aqquire such a marvelous piece of machinery?

  41. July 11, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    amazing photographs! very colorful. vibrant. thanks for sharing!

  42. Thomas
    July 11, 2011 at 10:35 pm

    Thanks for sharing these great photos. You make me want to visit. I would like to visit the beaches that are cleaned obsessively and the those that are not just to see what life is like there.

  43. July 11, 2011 at 11:00 pm

    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed. I was married to a Viet Nam vet for many years. He had been a helicopter pilot and had taken pictures of the inland jungles. I never saw pictures of the coast before. The bathtub boats, temples and sand dunes were so interesting. Thank you for sharing.

  44. July 11, 2011 at 11:43 pm

    Your photos are impressive. I feel like they belong in a guide book. Excellent clarity, composition and color. Really, really enjoyed them.

  45. Noel Tendick
    July 11, 2011 at 11:48 pm

    Great inhabitation of place, from soft light on stone to blur of city light to harsh light shining on the shit on your sandals. Well done.

  46. July 12, 2011 at 12:13 am

    Jízda za podělanými sandály?

  47. July 12, 2011 at 12:42 am

    Beautiful photos.

  48. July 12, 2011 at 2:01 am

    Love your photographs. Absolutely amazing! Would love to go to Vietnam…

  49. July 12, 2011 at 2:48 am

    Your pictures are incredible. I just got back from Vietnam a few days ago, myself. Sounds like you enjoyed it as much as I did. Great shots!

  50. July 12, 2011 at 2:55 am

    wow, cityscapes look amazing!! Expecially during the night!

  51. July 12, 2011 at 3:12 am

    Great post, love your photography. I visited Nha Trang about 3 years ago and I really think Vietnam is a place more Americans should visit. Thanks for the great write up, I encourage you to check out my posts on a recent trip to China 🙂

  52. TL
    July 12, 2011 at 3:22 am

    Beautiful photos. Congratulations on being freshly pressed!!!

  53. July 12, 2011 at 3:28 am

    thanks for sharing the pretty and the real parts of Vietnam.

  54. July 12, 2011 at 4:10 am

    Hope you are enjoying your travel in Vietnam 🙂

  55. July 12, 2011 at 4:11 am

    Awesome post!!!

  56. smogprod
    July 12, 2011 at 4:20 am

    Nicely done!! each photo tells me a little something about where you were! I almost didn’t need to read what was written. I love it.

  57. adimase
    July 12, 2011 at 4:30 am

    Beutiful cuntry..
    I like this, I have social bookmark in http://www.beritabaris.com
    I like if you visit my web.

  58. July 12, 2011 at 4:37 am


  59. July 12, 2011 at 5:02 am

    Nice pictures and beautiful country .

  60. July 12, 2011 at 5:24 am

    What a beautiful country and people – love the colorful boats, the little round boats, the wedding couple, and the woman at the beach with her dog in the water. Also, the night pix and sand dunes. Quite exceptional, all! Congratulations!

  61. amy
    July 12, 2011 at 5:51 am

    So beautiful,may be someday i will dewell here.

  62. Shan Lu
    July 12, 2011 at 6:02 am

    Amazing place! thank you for sharing all the great photos, such a variety of things in such small area, love it!

  63. nanseesays
    July 12, 2011 at 7:12 am

    I visited Mui Ne and Nha Trang just last summer and it was beautiful! It was my first time to Mui Ne out of my past 5 trips to Vietnam. I love the relaxing atmosphere that the region brings and the people were absolutely kind. Nha Trang is the same thing. If anyone is planning to travel to Nha Trang, try to find local people in the region to help you out with places to eat and places to go. We were ripped off by a couple of restaurants near by our motel (the tourist areas).

  64. July 12, 2011 at 7:27 am

    nice photos…

  65. July 12, 2011 at 7:39 am

    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed. These are wonderful photographs, I loved the boats… Nice to meet you Luke Robinson, Thank you, Greetings and Love, nia

  66. July 12, 2011 at 8:19 am

    lovely photos! breathtaking in their simplicity

  67. July 12, 2011 at 9:12 am

    Great pictures!
    Vietnam on to di list!

  68. July 12, 2011 at 9:19 am

    I love how your photo of squalor contrasts so deeply with the rest of the collection.

  69. July 12, 2011 at 9:27 am

    What a beautiful place!Definitely one of my dream destination

  70. July 12, 2011 at 9:48 am

    i just love those pics:)

  71. July 12, 2011 at 9:57 am

    What aBeutiful cuntry ..

  72. July 12, 2011 at 9:58 am


  73. Grahame Hall
    July 12, 2011 at 10:12 am

    Some stunning images accompanied by fascinating anecdotes. What more could one want? Thank you for sharing your experiences through words and pictures, and congrats on the Freshly Pressed.

  74. July 12, 2011 at 10:23 am

    Beautiful scenery

  75. Alex Llamas
    July 12, 2011 at 10:38 am

    The pictures are absolutely AMAZING. Love this photo post

  76. July 12, 2011 at 10:49 am

    Cool pictures and keep it up

  77. July 12, 2011 at 11:03 am

    Beautiful! 🙂

  78. July 12, 2011 at 11:29 am

    Wow, the beach does look filthy (shudder)!

  79. Jade
    July 12, 2011 at 11:39 am

    Great pictures! Makes me feel as if I went there!

  80. July 12, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    wow these photographs are just amazing!

  81. July 12, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    Been to Vietnam, but in the bustling city of Ho Chi Minh. I love the “nature” side of your snaps. Beautiful photos! I love most of them. Keep posting more of these.

  82. Lu
    July 12, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    Fantastic photos and a great story! Sorry to hear about your sandals – the perils of going off the beaten track, for sure 😉 Safe travels, and try and avoid any more dodgy seafood!

  83. July 12, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    waow,,,amazing this photos

  84. July 12, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    Congratulations on the ‘Freshly Pressed’! Your photos are BEAUTIFUL as is your eye for colour. Am looking forward to Hoi An.

    • July 12, 2011 at 1:00 pm

      Hi guys – thanks again for the overwhelming response!

      For your info there are other Vietnam photo posts from me that you can find either through clicking on the links in Recent Posts on the right hand side of this page, or by clicking on the Travel Photography category heading, also on the right. I have already put up the posts for Saigon, Hoi An, Hue, and Sapa in addition to this one, and of course I have other travel photography from all over the world linked within this category. So go have a look if you fancy seeing more of this kind of photography. Thanks again!

  85. July 12, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    lovely photos… thinking of going back Vietnam again…. thank you for the nice photos

  86. July 12, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    Wow! I love seeing those pictures.

  87. July 12, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    After looking at your photos…I really need to pay Vietnam another visit. Great work!

  88. FaridWajdi
    July 12, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    wow.. i love your work, i really need to learn from you..

  89. July 12, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    Love the night shots…great job!!

  90. July 12, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    Thanks for sharing. Is very good and very interesting.

  91. July 13, 2011 at 10:21 am

    Beautiful moment… 🙂

  92. July 14, 2011 at 1:26 am

    Great post. You really show the diversity of scene of Vietnam.
    I love the sand hills pictures

  93. July 14, 2011 at 6:31 am

    Wao, I’m from Vietnam. You got truly amazing photos there!

  94. July 14, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    Great shots. Looks like a great trip too.

  95. August 3, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    Thanks for posting. I visited Vietnam (only the north) for the first time last October, and not a day passes that I don’t think about those two weeks.

  1. July 11, 2011 at 4:46 pm
  2. July 11, 2011 at 9:02 pm
  3. July 11, 2011 at 9:40 pm
  4. July 11, 2011 at 11:00 pm
  5. July 12, 2011 at 8:04 am
  6. July 12, 2011 at 8:48 am
  7. July 12, 2011 at 11:34 am
  8. December 26, 2011 at 8:12 pm

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