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Sahara Desert: Vietnam Style

Tuy Phong District in the Binh Thuan Province is characterized by its long periods of dry season and in fact “highest speeds of desertification.” But instead of being a disadvantage, it has in fact turned this harsh weather condition into something positive, even a tourism attraction. The government became creative and made giant sand dunes, creating a “Sahara Desert” that is uniquely Vietnamese.

89,995 hectares or 11.3 percent of the total land area of the South Central province, particularly in the North Eastern districts of Tuy Phong and Bac Ninh, experience desertification But the dunes now make for an awesome playing ground not only for the children but for the adults as well where they can slide down and even race against each other. Groves are also planted at the area primarily to stop the desertification process, but also double as great picnic and relaxing sites.

While the dunes were initially a kind of a secret oasis of the local people, the public eventually got wind of the place and started coming in droves to see and experience the excitement for themselves. With the sun and wind naturally sculpting the sand into different shapes, sizes and even into 18 amazing colours, it’s only a matter of time that tourists find out about the place and make it a subject not only for entertainment, but for photography and art in general.

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The sand dunes at Mui Ne, Fairy Stream and Bau Trang have become famous tourist destinations because of their naturally spectacular sight. The Mui Ne Flying San Dune offers sand boarding wherein guests slide down on a thin sheet of plastic from the top of the dunes. Located 22 kilometres North East of Phan Thiet City, it has turned into an international sport and even rated second among the top 11 san boarding sites in the world by “WonderList” of the United States. Especially that the road has been asphalted 26 kilometres long and 45-50 wide along the dunes and the beaches, the place is now even more accessible to everyone.

Moreover, food is also something that the locals are proud of, one which is different but truly worth trying. The dong is a kind of a lizard which lives in holes they dig in the sand dunes. Its meat is chewy and in fact healthy. Several kinds if dishes can be made out of it like salad, soup and grill. To make a salad, the dong meat is minced, seasoned with salt, pepper and onions and then mixed with vegetables. To make dong soup, it is mixed a special type of melon, red melon. Grilled dong meat is a simple but always a best seller meal among local and foreign diners alike.

In fact, dong meat has become so popular that dong breeding farms have grown in the area through time, specifically in the Tuy Phong and Bac Binh districts. Thus, instead of being an obstacle, the sand dunes have instead helped significantly in adding a source of livelihood for the local residents, increasing their personal income and improving the overall tourism environment of the province in general.




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