Phu Quoc – Great tropical island getaway

My husband and I travelled to Phu Quoc for 3 nights in May and had a pretty good experience about the island.

Accessible by plane and just about two and a half hour direct flight from Hanoi, Phu Quoc is the great tropical island getaway. With 50km long and 20km wide Phu Quoc is the biggest island in Vietnam, located in the Gulf of Thailand. As it is a mountainous and densely forested island, local people mostly live and work along the coast. Years ago, it was famous for its world class fish sauce production, exceptional quality peppercorns and also for its pearls. These days, local authority has invested and turned Phu Quoc into a new tourist attraction destination of Vietnam. The most developed place is Duong Dong with Dinh Cau night market, Phu Quoc airport, dozens of 4-star resort by the beach and offer many tourist-entertaining service such as spa, tours, ect. We stayed in a 3-star resort named Arcadia. The resort’s service and location was fine enough for what we paid. Loving to have an adventure by ourselves, we decided to discover Phu Quoc by motorbike. The resort offered us a good Yamaha Nouvo with the rental price of 150.000 VND/ day, including two helmets and full fuel.

We firstly traveled to the South, heading to Sao Beach which is introduced in fliers as one of the most beautiful beaches on the island. My husband and I decided to ride along the coast side in order to have closer view to the coast instead of the normal way that local people often use and it was our worst decision ever. The coast way was incredibly rocky, wild and deserted. We met only 2 or 3 people during more than 45 km and had no place to have a drink. On the way back, we chose the more usual way to Duong Dong, however, all the roads were under construction, still unpaved and terribly dusty and rough. Sao beach, in our opinion is a beautiful beach but has been commercialized and polluted by resorts and restaurants there, particularly My Lan group. Foods and drinks were expensive. They offered plenty of beach activities such as snorkeling, fishing, water motorbike, kayak,etc. Sao beach was a safe place for family with children as it was gentle, seems not to have any wave and steep. As I was 2 month pregnant, we only chose to go snorkel on the surface and did not have chance to see the lively colorful coral in deep water. However, this underwater world is visually impressive from above and below. The sun was shining and the sea was calm, sparkling light brought us a great time to enjoy its natural tranquility along with colorful tropical fishes and some kind of weird coral. We then went fishing and took a rest on a floating house at a fish farm. Our lunch was great with fresh seafood in the middle of the sea and specially, a small dish of fishes and sea snails captured by us. Enjoy the achievements from the fishing is the unforgettable experience you should have at least once in your lifetime. If you could, you should try to squid-fishing in An Thoi islands at night. Local people said that in moonless night, we only need a light and go fishing, no need bait at all, stupid squids would follow the light and easily be captured. It was a pity for me that the activities was advised to be too dangerous for pregnant women as it is night activity and I do not know how to swim.

The second day we headed to the North. The scenery of the North is particularly striking when combined with mountains, rainforest and deserted beaches. The roads here is better than the South but still need to be improved. The specific trait of geography of the North is the richness of basalt soil; therefore, it is a favorable environment for high-quality pepper gardens can be grown. A visit to any one of the farms on the Island is well worth to stock up some tasty inexpensive black or white pepper as souvenir for your friends and family. On the northwest of Phu Quoc is Cua Can and Long Beach which are recognized as the world top 10 wild and beautiful beaches by BBC. The beach offered many secluded bays, magnificently clear waters and wonderful white sandy beach. However, there was a damper on floating in the warm turquoise waters in Long Beach. Sea lice and jellyfish there made me feel itchy and my leg turned red because of accidently touch them. This did not stop us to enjoy the swimming but I suggested being careful as jellyfishes are nearly transparent and look like a plastic bag floating. Further to the north is the intimate rainforest where a lot of nature mushroom grows. It is recommended to visit the National park in the rain season to enjoy a picnic or a stroll by waterfalls falling from the mountains. The weather here is very comfortable; you would feel like you can touch the cool breath of nature.

At night, we went around and had dinner at Dinh Cau night market. This is a great place to see all kinds of giant seafood captured from Phu Quoc sea. Many of them I have never seen before in my life. Having dinner here is fine with “tourist price” which is twice or third time more expensive than fresh food we ate on floating house. It is also a great feeling to lying on the beach, put your favourite music on and look to the west for the sunset to finish a full of activities day.

What made me really surprised was the security in Phu Quoc. At night, the streets are dark as electricity supply is limited and it is hard to find any police in the island. However, this place is completely safe. You can put your motorbike anywhere without worry of being stolen. Local people even do not lock their doors at night and when you enter a small shop, sometimes you cannot find the shop owner as she is cooking in kitchen or washing clothes at back courtyard. As an advantage of a small island surrounded by the sea, Phu Quoc residents seem to trust all of their neighbours they Know.

In general, Phu Quoc has potential, but isn’t ready to be ‘tropical island paradise’ yet. Young active people will be very disappointed by the lack of infrastructure, tourist facilities and things to do at night. It is advisable for elders to stick around town or travel by car around the island due to the unfavourable situation of roads. The island was somewhere in between up and coming destination and fully discovered. However, if you are a beach person, you will have much fun in discovering remote and stunning nature in Phu Quoc.

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