When travelling to a country like Vietnam, a visit to a beautiful beach is a must on your itinerary. So we booked our tickets at Vietnam Airlines from HCMC to Phu Quoc and soon we landed on this gorgeous tropical island. Upon our arrival at Mai House Resort we were welcomed with a fresh watermelon juice. We happily cheered on a well deserved vacation in Phu Quoc island where we would stay for three days.
Phu Quoc Island is definitely worth a visit when you want to relax at the beach and eat lots of seafood. The tear-shaped island with a population of 93.000, is ringed with unspoiled beaches, has a National Park with plenty of possibilities for trekking in the forests or you can go kayaking on the Cua Can river. Did you know you can see the coast of Cambodia from the northern part of the island? Phu Quoc is actually claimed by Cambodia, but its governed as a district of Vietnam’s Kien Giang Provence.
Although there were many sightseeing spots and activities to do on the island, we decided to take a rest since we had quite an exhaustive schedule in HCMC. Our second day in Phu Quoc we planned for exploring the island by bicycle. We wanted to visit the southern part of Phu Quoc, go to the Coconut Tree Prison and pass by the pepper specialty gardens and some nice pagoda’s on our way. We were very excited for the bicycle tour, but unfortunately we could not easily find a place near Duong Dong where we could rent a bike. The five rentals we went to rented bikes which were in bad conditions: flat tires (and there was no working inflator at hand), buckled wheels, broken chains and more of this misery. We could have rented a motorcycle, but eventually we decided to just enjoy our luxurious resort (which was absolutely no punishment), put on our bathing suits and go for a long walk along the shores of the west coast. Along the way we would make some pit stops and relax at the many beach bars and restaurants of Long Beach. We sure enjoyed some delicious ice coffees, fresh coconuts, beers and tasted some great seafood.
The most remarkable thing Geerard and I did on the island was by far our visit to the Town Market in Duong Dong. We were actually looking for the fish factory where the famous Nuoc Mam (fish sauce) is produced, when we suddenly bumped into a fish market on the other side of a bridge. Before entering the actual town market, you could see the harbour where the fish boats were anchored. The boats are painted bright blue which makes this a very colourful place. People actually live on these boats.
As we entered the market, my attention was drawn by the sea creatures that were held in basins. I had never seen such a great variety of exotic fish, crabs, sea snakes, shelves, octopus, calamari, shrimps, lobsters… We followed the road on the map indicating the fish factory village. Then we arrived at a street where merchants sell a great variety of fresh products and ingredients to the local people who do their shopping on bicycles and motorcycles. It was a mad house but it was definitely one of my most coolest experiences. Vietnam at its most authentic.
Before entering the town market, pay attention to the ‘cinema’s’ where the locals watch television or movies. Another thing that caught our attention was a deserted amusement park for children with very basic rides. It was as if we had landed on Tsjernobyl, a completely deserted area where everything seemed not to have been used for a decade or so.
As I said before, Phu Quoc is a lovely island to relax and take it slow. Except for enjoying the beautiful beaches, eat lots of delicious seafood and drinking cocktails, there are some very nice places you can dot. These are some of the highlights:
Beaches and sunsets
Obviously taking a sun bath and swim at the beautiful beaches. At the south east part of the island there’s Sao Beach which has a beautiful white sand beach. Long Beach is where most of the resorts and beach bars/restaurants are located (great sunsets!). At the west coast there’s the beautiful Dai beach.
Snorkelling and fishing
For snorkelling you can visit the reefs of the An Thoi islands in the south. Take a boat trip excursion to these islands or sign in for squid diving to learn how to catch your own squid as the local fisherman do. Afterwards you learn how to season the squid and barbecue it.
Ham Ninh fishing village
Best time in the morning or late afternoon. The villagers live mainly on catching pearls, sea cucumbers and fishing. Ham Ninh is also known for its 2 km pier, beautiful beaches and fresh seafood (taste the boiled seacrab with lemon juice and pepper suace).
Duong Dong night market
You should at least once visit the night market. Although the fish barbecue is more expensive here compared to the local restaurants, it’s interesting to see the catch of the day, enjoy the atmosphere and buy some nice souvenirs like pearl necklaces and braceletes.
Coconut Tree Prison
One of Phu Quoc historical sites which is still partially in use.This place is the living evidence for the war crime in Vietnam. The prison was built by the French colonial administration before World War II and was later used by the Americans during the Vietnam War to house tens of thousands of prisoners.
The Pepper from Phu Quoc is reputedly one of the worlds finest. Get your stock of tasty inexpensive black or white pepper to take home!
Visiting Phu Quoc yourself? Here’s a nice website with more information about the island.
You can find more photo’s of Phu Quoc on my Flick Page.