PHU QUOC

A Rapidly Growing Tourist Destination…

Phú Quốc is the largest island in Vietnam. Situated on the west side of the country and closer to Cambodia than the mainland. Once a sleepy fishing island with a relaxed vibe, is now a rapidly growing tourism destination with an international airport. The island is expanding and in the last year, many large hotel chains have moved in and huge resorts are being built and there are many to come. Within the next few years, this island will look completely different.

The island has a few different areas to see and visit. It takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes to drive from the north to the south and 15-20 minutes across (scooter speed).

The main town Dương Đông is very busy with crazy amounts of traffic and lots going on. The night market, which is the busiest area, comes to life when the sun sets, and there’s plenty of restaurants and shops.

Phu Quoc is famous for its fish sauce and black peppercorns. Both items really are of good quality and are great items to buy and bring home with you. You can also visit a fish sauce factory or a peppercorn farm too, and they are scattered throughout the island.

Another popular item to shop for when in Phu Quoc is pearls. They have been farming these gems here for a few decades and its a big business on the island. You will find many various places selling these and they come in all sorts of colors, shapes, and quality.

Vietnam is not as cheap as you might expect unless you live like a local. Gone are the days of living like a king for £10/day. Expect to pay £3/beer, £7/small glass wine, and £7/noodle dish and around £15 for larger meat or seafood plates.

The food is very much seafood driven, with lots of various shellfish and you will find both weird and wonderful things like snails, grilled sea urchin with peanuts and razor clams. There are also plenty of noodle dishes and classic papaya salads. Food is not as spicy and flavorsome as in the neighboring country Thailand, but the veggies are very fresh and tasty and are always a safe option. Also expect to find the usual tropical fruits, like jack fruit (durian), longan and mangosteen. The best restaurants are scattered all over the island but are mainly in or near the larger resorts.

There are a few beaches to see and visit. You have Starfish beach in the north, Bãi Dài beach, Vung Bau beach and Ông Lang beach in the northwest. You have the popular Bãi Biển Bà Kèo beach area that stretches from the main town Dương Đông down towards the airport in the central west and further south for a few miles. At the very far south near the town of An Thoi you have the nicest beaches on the island such as Sao beach and Khem beach.

I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list…

“Susan Sontag”

When visiting Phu Quoc it is a must to explore one of the 15 or so islands and islets located at the south of An Thoi. The area has many spots for snorkeling and some picturesque beaches. Fingernail island being the most famous and most photographed of them all in this archipelago.

Our top tip is to hire a private speedboat for yourself or your group. By doing this you will have the flexibility to visit whatever island, whenever you want. The boat tours use the exact same route at the exact same time so many places will be extremely crowded during peak hours and almost empty in between. This gives you the option to avoid busy periods and have a better experience.

It might cost you double what the tours operators charge you, but it is well worth it!

There are a few other things to see and do around the island.
You have the Ho Quoc Pagoda with its beautiful temples and buildings but do visit very early, before all the organized bus tour turns up, as it will be crowded.

The Phú Quốc National Park is in the northeast part of the island. It is your best and only chance to spot any wildlife and is worth a visit.

There’s also Suoi Tranh waterfall to see although we didn’t think it was anything special (might have been offseason).
We definitely weren’t impressed with how commercialized it was, it feels as though it takes away from the natural beauty of the spot.

This island is struggling to deal with the demand placed on it by a booming tourist industry. Business is booming, but all of that footfall takes a toll on an infrastructure that is underprepared. It has been said that the aim is to become the next Phuket or Bali. We personally don’t think this is something to necessarily strive for, keeping a sense of the natural beauty of the island would be preferable. That said, an increase in tourism brings revenue to an area that can’t afford to turn it away.

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