If your Vietnam itinerary includes a stop in seaside Mui Ne, you’ll likely find yourself at the yellow sand dunes, where street children rent out plastic sleds to tourists. It’s easy to to let the third-world “charm” of the kids overwhelm you (and they will lay it on thick), but don’t be fooled — the kids are actually very cunning.
Follow these tips if you want to enjoy your visit to the dunes:
- Set the price before you slide. The going rate is 5,000 VND per slide. If you don’t quote the kids before you slide, they’ll charge you an exorbitant amount and attempt any or all of the following.
- Stay close to other tourists. This is a given if you go with a tour guide. However, if you arrive on a rented motorbike, you’ll be swarmed by eager juvenile salesmen. The plan is to take you to a remote spot where a group of kids can surround you and squeeze more money out of you. This can get nasty.
- Don’t let the kids hold any of your belongings. One of the kids will offer to take pictures. This is okay, but if you give the kids your sandals, a helmet, etc., they may hold them as collateral and demand you give them more money.
- The kids work together. If you pay just one of the children, the others may feign being ripped off, claiming the kid you paid isn’t with them. The truth is that any of the kids that accompany you to the dunes work together. Best advice: arrive with small money.