The heat in Vietnam can be punishing at times, especially when you’ve been out in the sun all day and the humidity starts to seep through your very pores.
For that reason, picking a comfortable home base for exploring the East Sea coast, where you’re able to unwind and recharge your batteries, is paramount.
Traveling the country for a month and having saved up quite a lot of money staying in two-star hotels and backpacker hostels prior to arriving in the province, I knew it was time to kick back and treat myself to something a little more upscale.
Mui Ne is an up-and-coming coastal destination best known for its fishing villages, ancient Cham monuments, and laid-back atmosphere, and there is no other way to do it justice and experience it in a truly meaningful way than checking yourself into a wellness retreat on the riviera.
After doing some research and being taken aback by how costly resorts in the area can be, I decided on a new five-star listing that’s just opened its doors to the wider public recently, not only because the pricing is fairly reasonable, but because it has been touted as one of the top-rated wellness retreats on the Vietnamese coast.
Welcome To The Anam Mui Ne
Kept almost completely out of sight by the clump of palm trees that encircles it, the Anam Mui Ne is a boutique luxury hotel located right on the Phan Thiet Riviera, tucked away in a quieter section of Mui Ne Town’s high street.
Sharing the coastline with humble houses and family-owned corner shops, it is very much a part of the village, employing locals, bringing visitors closer to the community, and directly contributing to its development.
Other than the unusual location for a five-star hotel, the architecture is what stood out to me the most. Walking through the ornate front doors through to the reception, I was mesmerized by the classy nod to the bygone French Indochina era.
Pending lights emulating typical Asian paper lanterns are carefully arranged into a chandelier hanging from the center of the hall, giving the wooden surfaces of the timeless memorabilia and the intricately-patterned black-and-white tiles an amber glow.
While I wouldn’t have minded taking my time absorbing every detail and decorative motif, my couch time may not have been longer than a minute, as I was immediately welcomed by smiling staff and handed a welcome refresher to help me cool down from the external heat.
None of the usual questionnaires, bureaucratic hurdles, or time-filling small talk:
A quick glance at my passport was all they needed to pull up my booking code and confirm my identity ahead of handing me the key to the chambers, and off I went.
To my delight, the same Indochine architectural style is extended to every room in the Anam, whether it’s the more modest yet still luxurious Deluxe rooms or the extravagant Presidential suite, boasting a kitchenette, private indoor dining service, and a balcony commanding a dreamy panorama of the coastline.
Speaking from personal experience, luxury suites are either defined by their minimalism and washed-out color palette or excessively-ornate decor screaming pomposity.
The Private Pool Suite where I stayed sits somewhere in between, feeling super cozy while still exuding charm.
A commodious 142 m2-wide refuge about as large as my own flat in central Paris, it is distinctive for its dark teak wood furniture, originating from Vietnam’s northernmost peaks. They contrast beautifully against the cream-colored cushions and the white bed linen set.
One thing I love about this room is how integrated it is.
The bedchamber is sundered from the seating area by a free-standing wooden partition, which the TV set facing the large king-size bed leans against.
The feature lighting and smart use of daylight is another noteworthy aspect of this suite.
The dimmable wall grazers help accentuate the rustic atmosphere, while the glass doors running along the extension of the suite offer glimpses of the outdoors, where a pool and sun loungers await you.
This private swimming spot is shielded from spying eyes by a curtain of green foliage, and it provided me with both the freedom and solitude I so craved.
I pondered whether doors that slide as opposed to opening up would have been a wiser pick, as the disposition of the sun loungers and their accompanying tables already take up a lot of space in the small terrace, but I was still able to move around just fine.
Back inside the room, I was pleased to find a smooth, elegantly-cut wooden desk with international power sockets and USB chargers on one of the corners.
It would prove useful to me during my late-night writes.
The bathroom was another highlight.
Featuring two individual vanities, a free-standing bathtub nestling in a cozy nook with an enclosed garden view, and a separate walk-in shower and toilet seat sitting on opposite ends of the spacious layout, it is the epitome of French Indochina chic.
Other than the world-class amenities, I particularly enjoyed those extra special touches, such as the bowl of fresh fruit resting on the table as I entered, the complimentary bottle of DeBortoli sparkling wine, and the French tea available – still keeping it within the colonial theme.
Despite being a compact boutique hotel, the Anam has a surprisingly wide range of amenities and activities on-site to keep guests entertained over the course of a long weekend, from a well-equipped fitness center to sunrise yoga and instructor-assisted kitesurfing.
While the short public beach stretch is not appropriate for swimming, mainly due to the agitated seas and the piling rubbish washing ashore – Southeast Asia has a reputation for mismanaging waste, particularly in touristy areas – the pools are crystal clear.
If you’re like me and you’ve traveled to Phan Thiet-Mui Ne for utter relaxation, you’ll be glad to know this property hosts two stunning infinity pools cascading down to the beach, one of which is a saltwater pool, and an oasis-like spa specializing in holistic, Southeast Asian techniques.
Suffering from ‘tech neck’ myself – that chronic pain from constantly looking down at your phone and working on computers – I could not wait to try the full body massage, a non-clinical treatment promising a 60-minute progressive muscle relaxation.
It did not disappoint: between the gentle rubs and rhythmical digging into flesh, I was barely awake for most of the session, soothed by the calming music and engulfed by the sweet-scented oil I hand-picked ahead of being led to the massage table.
After your treatment, you’re free to extend your relaxation by sauna bathing or simply unwinding in the indoor jacuzzi. Rest assured, you’ll feel brand new once you step back out in the sun.
@vinigoesglobal The food supply is just endless! ???? ???? The Anam Mui Ne, Southern Vietnam #food #travel #asia #southeastasia #luxury ♬ Yummy – IFA
Vietnam has recently been added to a Top 20 compilation listing the best destinations for food lovers worldwide, and being a devoted foodie myself with previous knowledge of Mui Ne’s rich seafood heritage, I had high expectations checking into the Anam.
Needless to say, those were blown out of the water.
From the sumptuous breakfast spread in the Indochine Restaurant to the lavish dinners at the beachfront Lang Viet, every meal was a defining sensory experience, combining elements of Western cuisine, reflective of the property’s French colonial character and other delicacies native to the region.
The Pho served at Lang Viet became an instant favorite: a higher-end version of Vietnam’s national dish, a beef and noodle soup enriched with exotic spices and exploding in flavor, it was a step up from the average watery variations I had sampled previously in street corner restaurants in Saigon.
The Anam’s signature Australian beef burger, accompanied by crunchy, salted chips, was another strong culinary offer and a comfort meal of the sorts after spending close to a fortnight eating Vietnamese exclusively.
The breakfast spread deserves its own nod as well, with its ample selection of fruit, cakes, fresh noodles, French pastries that would give traditional boulangeries in the 9th arrondissement in Paris a run for their money, and of course, the usual eggs, sausage, and bacon combo bound to make less adventurous, homesick Americans happy.
As if I hadn’t been spoiled enough, I came to my room one evening to find an arrangement of amuse-bouches floating in a basket in my private pool, weighed down by yet another DeBortolli bottle.
Between the avocado on toast topped with lemon-sprayed prawns, the fruity tarts, fried calamari, and the miniature Anam beef burgers, it was hard to pick the top three best.
What To Do In Mui Ne Other Than Just Relaxing
While I wouldn’t have minded living it up in the Anam over the course of the long weekend, I was aware Mui Ne had a lot going for it in terms of culture and sightseeing.
Having once been a territory within the Cham kingdom, it is dotted with areas of outstanding natural beauty, historical sights dating back centuries, and quaint seaside villages known for their inestimable cultural wealth.
Getting to those off-path spots can be quite challenging when you’re traveling alone without a car, as public transport options are scarce, if not non-existent, and Google Maps cannot exactly be trusted in the rural hinterlands.
Luckily, the Anam Mui Ne has curated a list of excursions for guests, enabling them to explore the scenic coastline without having to worry about logistics, transportation, or safety risks.
Your only job is to relax, sink back into the leather seat, and admire the view as the AC-cooled van drives up the scenic coastal route.
You may also personalize your itinerary based on your own personal interests, guide availability, and of course, feasibility. As I had reserved a single morning for sightseeing, I focused on some of the main attractions, which included:
- The Po Sah Inu Towers, a duo of 8th-century Cham structures in moderately-good state of preservation perched on a hilltop overlooking the province
- The Fairy Stream, a small, walkable stream nestled in the Vietnamese wild lined with small cafes and animal sanctuaries*
- The Fish Sauce Museum, where you can learn about Mui Ne’s long-standing tradition of fish sauce-making and buy handicraft items
- The Thuy Thu Temple, an 18th-century Buddhist shrine in the neighboring town of Phan Thiet enclosing the 260-year old remains of a large whale
*Make sure you wear short shorts for walking the stream, as the water level reaches the knee in some sections
The Anam will provide you with enough water bottles, refreshers, small snacks, and wet towels to stand the weather, but when leaving the resort, make sure you wear light clothes and take sunblock and insect repellents with you – particularly if you’re walking the Fairy Stream, as the sun in this part of the world is rather unforgiving and pesky bugs are endemic.
How Much Will It Cost To Spend A Weekend At The Anam?
One of my favorite things about Vietnam is how hugely affordable it is, on top of being a fascinating destination. Even though this is a five-star hotel, fares for overnight stays at the Anam Mui Ne start at just USD $127 for upcoming dates on Booking.com.
Similar properties in Cancun or Punta Cana would easily average USD $400 or higher per night for a basic room, while at the Anam, a Private Pool Suite can cost as little as USD $309 with a Genius discount on the popular rental platform.
Learn how you can achieve Genius status on Booking.com clicking here.
How To Get Here
The Anam is located in Mui Ne, a coastal town in Southern Vietnam that is not served by an airport or railway links. The easiest way to get there is taking the train from Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) to Phan Thiet, which takes between 4 to 6 hours, and then arrange private transportation to cover the 14 miles of road linking Phan Thiet to Mui Ne.
The train costs on average USD $5 for a second-class seat, while the taxi fare ranges between USD $10 to USD $15. Alternatively, you may contact your concierge to inquire about transportation options, including private transfers.
The Anam Mui Ne is a true gem of the Vietnamese Riviera, offering high-end amenities while still offering an authentic experience.
As it is a small hotel, it feels a lot more exclusive than neighboring resorts, and I do appreciate the fact that it is not located in a remote setting reachable only by car and miles away from the nearest convenience store.
Whenever I fancied a taste of a ‘rougher Vietnam’, dining out in a local restaurant, or even shopping in local markets like the locals do, I could simply walk out the front door, and anything I needed was right on my doorstep.
The Anam is your little luxury enclave in the heart of it all.
It is also sustainable down to its core, and management seems to have come up with litter-reducing solutions to every environmental challenge facing the hospitality industry, whether it’s confecting their own edible, biodegradable rice straws, maximizing the use of solar power, or repurposing laundry water to keep the grass outside lush green.
From being welcomed by the friendly concierge to the well-trained waiters at the restaurant, who will promptly pinpoint the menu highlights when you can’t decide for yourself, and other attentive hotel staff who will do everything in their power to ensure your needs are seen to, and that you feel right at home, believe me, you will feel like royalty.
It is definitely somewhere I can see myself returning to whenever I need some pampering and that much-needed peace and quiet traveling Vietnam.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com