If Saigon is the enfant terrible of Vietnam’s nightlife scene and Hanoi its significantly more reserved elder sibling, then Mui Ne falls somewhere between the two stools. In truth, it would actually be more accurate to draw comparisons with the country’s other main beach enclave, Nha Trang.
Personal taste, of course, counts for a lot when you are assessing a town’s options for after-hours action and, for some, Nha Trang’s numerous late-opening, late-closing backpacker bars and pronounced edge of sleaze win it bonus points over Mui Ne.
In our experience, however, the formula of laid-back beach bars with a smattering of options for more prolonged debauchery gives Mui Ne a unique vibe that ranks up there among the best in the country.
Indeed, its eclecticism really counts in Mui Ne’s favour. On my first visit to the resort in February of 2010, my first port of call was Sangkara, where I was to ease the relative pain of a fairly mixed round at Ocean Dunes with several expertly mixed Mojitos. On that occasion, I left with the impression that I had stumbled upon Vietnam’s Ibiza – an easy mistake to make having spent the night supping cocktails in smart, comfortably upholstered booths while listening to Balearic beats and watching lithe, tanned bodies get into the party spirit in the venue’s swimming pool.
Sangkara, however, is only part of the story here. Of course, the presence of booming backpacker and kiteboarding scenes means that opportunities to join the party are myriad. For unabashed liveliness, the current favourites are Wax and Pogo. The former enjoys a prime beachfront location on the main strip and could be best described as the trashy ying to Sangkara’s opulent yang, while the latter is a little more bohemian with pool tables, bean bags and great drink deals making it an ideal hangout after another gilded day.
One of my personal favourites is Joe’s Art Café. Normally you’d expect a place that prides itself on never closing to be full of dead-eyed party animals. Not so here. Vermont native Joe and his Vietnamese wife Thao have converted a crumbling old villa into a place where good live music, good food and good times are served up in ample portions.
There are many more strings to Mui Ne’s nightlife bow that the venues I have selected here. Why not try Hoa Vien for some authentic Czech microbrews or Jibes for a leisurely drink with the kitesurfing crowd? There’s no lack of options or variety and there’s certainly no need to take an early night.