When Jetstar launched another promotional airfares to the region in December 2012, we immediately booked a trip to Ho Chi Min City for July 2013 for only $78 per person for a pair of return tickets. We only had time to get away for three nights this time. Since we had been to Ho Chi Min City a few times and had visited some places near this city, we decided to spend two nights in Mui Ne this time round.
However, travelling to Mui Ne was a little tricky. Private transfer cost from the airport to Mui Ne would be US$110 one way. Considering our return air tickets for both of us was only S$156, this transfer cost would not be justifiable. Travelling time would be between 4 and 6 hours depending on traffic conditions. We didn’t see the point of forking out hundred over dollars just to get to Mui Ne slightly earlier that same day.
Our next option would be either taking the train to Phan Thiet follow by a taxi ride to Mui Ne or by public bus direct to Mui Ne. But because our arrival to Ho Chi Min would be 2.55 pm, the train schedule would not be suitable.
So for public bus, we could either take a bus from Sinh Tourist or Phuong Trang. We had taken buses with Sinh Tourist to Nha Trang and Dalat before but this time we preferred to try out the service of Phuong Trang bus which had good reviews.
The only trouble was booking bus tickets from this company wasn’t so easy as their website was in Vietnamese and they would only take phone calls or walk in to book bus tickets. As such, we contacted a friend working in Ho Chi Min to help us reserve bus tickets from Ho Chi Min City to Mui Ne as well as return bus tickets to Ho Chi Min two days later. Cost for bus tickets was around US$5 per person per way, significantly lower than private transfer to Mui Ne.
For hotels, we booked Pandanus Resort and Spa for the first night in Mui Ne followed by Amaryllis Resort for the second night. We also booked Novotel Hotel for the final night in Ho Chi Min City. The hotel costs were around US$75, US$67 and US$64 respectively.
Our flight schedules were follows:
Singapore to Ho Chi Min City 1.45 pm to 2.55 pm
Ho Chi Min City to Singapore 3.35 pm to 6.30 pm.
Our itinerary would be as follows:
Fly into Ho Chi Min City.
Take a taxi to backpackers’ area at De Tham Street to collect bus tickets from the office of Phuong Trang Bus Company.
Take 5 pm bus to Mui Ne.
Hope to arrive Mui Ne by 10 pm.
Check into Pandanus Resort and Spa.
Enjoy the facilities of Pandanus Resort and Spa.
Visit the red sand dune outside the resort.
Enjoy lunch at the resort.
Take a bus to Phuong Trang Bus Company in the middle of Mui Ne to confirm return bus ticket to Ho Chi Min City.
Explore and shop at this tourist location.
Take a taxi to Amaryllis Resort.
Enjoy the facilities of this resort.
After breakfast, wait for bus outside main road of Amaryllis Resort.
Take bus to Ho Chi Min City.
Arrive office of bus company at backpackers’ area in De Tham Street.
Take a taxi to Novotel Hotel to check in.
Explore the city and do some shopping.
Enjoy the hotel facilities.
So with all the hotel reservations settled and bus tickets to Mui Ne and back to Ho Chi Min City reserved, we simply waited for the day to come for our short trip to South Vietnam. Not much packing was required for this short getaway and we were pleased with our planned itinerary and help from our friend in Vietnam to reserve bus tickets for us.
Day 1 – Singapore to Ho Chi Min onward to Mui Ne
Seven months since our flights booking, our departure date came so quickly. We left home mid morning and had lunch at the Changi Airport before our flight. As usual we cleared immigration, roamed about the airport for a while before boarding our flight to Ho Chi Min City.
Due to heavy ground traffic at the airport, took off time was delayed for about 15 minutes. We were a little anxious as our friend in Vietnam had requested one of his friends to meet us at the bus company to help collect our bus tickets and we didn’t wish to be late. Anyway, our flight was smooth and we touched down slightly after 3 pm.
It was the same immigration process having to queue for our turns to get through and we finally made it through and walked briskly out of the airport. Since we travelled light, we didn’t have to wait for our check in luggage at the belt area and we were soon out of the airport.
We waited for a Mai Linh taxi and were soon ushered into one and were on our way to De Tham Street in the city at the backpackers’ area. It was raining lightly as we travelled to town. In under 45 minutes, we arrived at the bus company.
So we started waiting as our contact texted us she would be late because she was held up in a meeting at her office. She eventually showed up at the office of Phuong Trang Bus Company before 5 pm.
We went up to the counter and she helped us speak with the staff in Vietnamese to get our bus tickets. Initially, when we approached the staff earlier before she arrived, we were told that there was no reservation made for us. So we were glad our friend’s friend helped us secure our bus tickets to Mui Ne otherwise we would be stranded with our hotels already booked for Mui Ne for that night.
After this, we thanked our friend and she went back to office while we waited for the bus to Mui Ne. Buses were coming and going to different destinations. It seemed our bus was arriving late. Eventually, our bus arrived and those of us heading to Mui Ne boarded the bus. The bus left closer to 5.40 pm.
It was very congested during peak hours in Ho Chi Min City. It took quite a long while before we reached the outskirts of the city. The bus stopped by a rest area with a restaurant for a break around 10 pm. Most passengers alighted to have a meal as there was nothing to do waiting in the bus. We needed to go for a toilet inspection anyway so might as well stretch our legs and eat something.
We then moved on again slowly towards the north. We tried to catch some sleep during the boring ride. Sometimes with incessant use of the horn on the road, it was hard to sleep.
It was already after 11 pm when we arrived at the city of Phan Thiet where we had to stop at the office of the bus company. Some of the passengers alighted to carry on with their journey to their intended destination.
About ten minutes later, we continued our journey to Mui Ne. We were travelling on roads that were not very well lit. However, there wasn’t much traffic this time of the night. The bus finally reached the office of the bus company in the middle of Mui Ne. We all had to alight and then wait for a smaller bus to bring us to our different hotels.
With all the arrangements finalized, a number of us boarded a smaller bus and were on our way again. The bus stopped at different hotels along the way and passengers got off the bus. Finally, we made it to Pandanus Resort and Spa at the end of Mui Ne Beach.
We walked into the hotel which was a little dark at this time after midnight. A security guard went to find a staff to assist with our check in process. We had emailed the resort to inform them of our late arrival but didn’t expect it to be so late. Check in was simple and he gave us the key to our room and showed us there.
So eventually we managed to get into our hotel room to rest for the night. Since we would arrive late at the resort, we booked a twin bed standard room, the cheapest room in the resort. We had requested before our arrival for the twin beds to be joined into one bed and they did a good job.
The room was a typical hotel room at a seaside resort. The room wasn’t luxurious. All the basic facilities were in the room. The room was however, clean and the bed comfortable.
After a quick shower, we were glad to head to bed for a good night sleep after the long and tiring bus journey. The first day was spent practically traveling all the way from Singapore to Mui Ne via Ho Chi Min City. In no time, we were fast asleep expecting to enjoy ourselves thoroughly the next day.
Continue to Day 2 …