Top 5 Most Charming Sand Dunes To Visit In Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia is not only famous for its culture but also attracts tourists, photographers, and adventurers coming here to see the magnificent and alluring sight of the vast sand dunes.


A dune is a landform composed of wind- or water-driven sand. It typically takes the form of a mound, ridge, or hill. An area with dunes is called a dune system or a dune complex. A large dune complex is called a dune field, while broad, flat regions covered with wind-swept sand or dunes with little or no vegetation are called ergs or sand seas. Dunes occur in different shapes and sizes, but most kinds of dunes are longer on the stoss (upflow) side, where the sand is pushed up the dune, and have a shorter slip face in the lee side. The valley or trough between dunes is called a dune slack.

Imagine the sand dunes moving constantly in strong winds, constantly changing in forms and shades depending on the sunlight. You may believe that this scene is only in the Middle Eastern desert. In fact, Southeast Asia also has such beautiful sand dunes. Take a look at these magnificent sand dunes in Southeast Asia.

1. Paoay Sand Dunes, Ilocos Norte, Philippines

Photo:  Travel Philippines App
Photo: Travel Philippines App

While the Philippines is world-famous for its white-sand beaches, Ilocos Norte puts a twist on the white-sand experience with its sprawling sand dunes. Spanning hundreds of square kilometers across Ilocos Norte, these sand dunes are a favorite of adventurous tourists who want to feel the rush!

There are two popular destinations in Ilocos Norte for those looking for sand dune adventures. One is the La Paz Sand Dunes, which is located in the capital city of Laoag, while the other is the Paoay Sand Dunes in the nearby municipality of Paoay.

No matter which one you visit, you can expect a thrilling experience only Ilocos Norte could offer! Once you get to the sand dunes, you go on board a 4×4 vehicle with a professional driver, the uneven terrain of the dunes being an amusement park for the vehicle. In the middle of the ride, many tourists also try their hand at sandboarding, which is exactly what you think it is–riding down the sandy cliffs like you would ride the ocean’s waves!

When you visit Ilocos Norte, make sure you add these sand dunes to your itinerary. They provide a unique experience you won’t find anywhere else!

The La Paz Sand Dunes are already within Laoag City, and you can get there within 10-15 minutes from the city proper. Meanwhile, the Paoay Sand Dunes are a half-hour trip if you’re coming from Laoag.

2. Red Sand Dunes, Mui Ne, Vietnam

Photo:  exploratrip -
Photo: exploratrip –

Red Sand Dunes stretches along the sand strip of Binh Thuan. The scenery here is painted with a red-pink color under the influence of monsoon seasons all year round. These sand dunes appeal to both domestic and international tourists.

Mui Ne – Phan Thiet is not just famous for marvelous beaches with turquoise water and azure sky near luxury resorts, but also an enormous sand area stretching to Ninh Thuan. The nature here bestows wonderful scenery in these sand dunes. Mui Ne Red Sand Dunes is located in the North of Mui Ne Village, about 20 km from Phan Thiet City. Without outstanding scenery like White Sand Dunes, Red Sand Dunes fascinates tourists with its convenient resorts and beautiful beach view.

Hiking in these sand dunes will make you imagine enormous deserts in the Middle East or Africa. Somewhere around this area, there are children enjoying such entertainment as sand sliding, while photographers are trying to record splendid moments of Nature. Experiencing in Red Sand Dunes is one of the unforgettable memories in Mui Ne.

From these sand dunes, an amazing scene will appear in front of your eyes. Flurries will throw the top layer of sand and create various and unique shapes. By dint of this, Red Sand Dunes becomes more beautiful. Coming to Red Sand Dunes, tourists have a chance to admire this “natural wonder” which changes day by day and hour by hour in the harmony with beautiful sunlight. Red Sand Dunes in Mui Ne are so special. The color of sand changes constantly from yellow to white, pink and red, depending on the sunlight.

Red Sand Dunes are seen as the most magical paradise, which is found nowhere. In spring, a running race is held in Red Sand Dunes. In this contest, hundreds of young people run for hours in these sand hills to express their tenacity, willpower, and human strength. Otherwise, tourists can participate in motor-racing contest. In Mui Ne, many luxury five-star resorts and a golf course are built near sand dunes. Sandy golf courses are unique tourism product – “green” tourism products in the near future. Near Red Sand Dunes, you can choose to stay at Pandanus Resort near Hong Spring tourist site. In addition, you have the opportunity to visit Phan Thiet Red Mountain in the northeast of Red Sand Dunes, or Mui Ne Market in the southwest. All of these interesting games and activities in these sand dunes will bring unforgettable experiences to tourists, according to Alotrip.

3. White Sand Dunes, Mui Ne, Vietnam

Photo: Culture Trip
Photo: Culture Trip

Tiptoeing along White Sand Dunes in Mui Ne is one of the should-not-miss things to do in Mui Ne, apart from enjoying a great time in cool seawater. Such sand dunes make Mui Ne more attractive and a unique spot in Binh Thuan as well as in a tropical country like Vietnam. Sand dunes stretch from Binh Thuan to Ninh Thuan. The most beautiful sand dunes area is in Mui Ne. Mui Ne Sand Dunes is about 20 km from Phan Thiet City to the northeast. Sand dunes in Mui Ne have different colors: white, yellow, red, and pink… These sand dunes are becoming one of the top things to see in Phan Thiet. Here is the paradise of sun, wind, and sand. Sand appears everywhere: beaches, sandy springs, and sand dunes.

White Sand Dunes are the second-to-none place in Vietnam. These sand dunes are formed by ancient iron mines existing for hundreds of years. Iridescent sand spreads like wild deserts with different shapes owing to the wind blowing. In addition, the intrusion of sand creates many interesting scenes in these sand dunes. It seems to be endless when strolling on the sand dunes. White Sand Dunes is stretching in the area of Mui Ne sandy hills. The name of White Sand Dunes originates from its sand’s color. The white sandhills are also named Bau Trang (White Lake). It is about 62km from Phan Thiet City to White Sand Dunes to the northeast and about 30km from Mui Ne. White Sand Dunes is located in Hong Lam Hamlet, Hoa Thang Commune. Mui Ne White Sand Dunes is more interesting during the northeast monsoon season. By virtue of this monsoon, wind creates outstanding scenes in this area. Therefore, White Sand Dunes is also known as “flying” sandhills.

One of the most exciting tourism services in Mui Ne is riding a Jeep to conquer these sandhills. This is one of should-not-miss sports games when popping in White Sand Dunes. The feeling of riding on Jeeps seemingly brings a sense of conquering and enjoyability. Many races are held by tourists as small contests to relax and entertain. The most wonderful feeling is that you can ride alone along sandhills, contemplate the scene and take some photos. These wonderful “roads” will make you more cheerful or inferior to Nature.

4. Gumuk Pasir, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Photo: Yoursay -
Photo: Yoursay –

Just 30 kilometers from downtown Yogyakarta, Gumuk Pasir is a unique desert in Parangkusumo, Bantul, Yogyakarta. The gray sand dunes form a wavy pattern on the sand surface due to the site’s strong winds. What makes it more beautiful is the array of colors it reflects during sunrise and sunset. Gumuk Pasir is also the home of a natural laboratory for geological research.

5. Ban Nam Phu Sand Dune, Chumphon, Thailand

Photo: Medium
Photo: Medium

Thailand’s Chumphon is a great beach destination. Besides the beach, however, you’ll find yourself surrounded by sand dunes in different sizes and shapes. You’ll know you’re in the right place especially when you come across a sign that read, “The most prominent sand dune in Thailand.” The sand dune however isn’t pure sand but mixed with vines, shrubs, and grass. Moreover, stepping stones are provided to make sure that no one can harm the dunes’ fragile system. Set your eyes on the beautiful scenery with limestone mountains, sea pines, and the seashore as the background.

Charlotte Pho