Started as a remote fishing enclave off the coast of the southern province Kien Giang, Phu Quoc has grown into a very popular destination for beach-goers in the region as well as worldwide. Come take a look at top 5 reasons why Vietnam’s largest island is proclaimed the new Phuket in the Gulf of Thailand.
Surely Phu Quoc is developing fast, but it’s still quite easy to find empty beaches unmarred by mass tourism along the southwest coast of the island. Rent a scooter and venture south of the capital town Duong Dong to explore the elongated stretch that is appropriately named Bai Dai, or Long Beach. The whole shore is occupied by lots of resorts, but not to worry: the beach is fully accessible to the public so feel free to frolic about on all that sandy goodness. Also, Phu Quoc is one of the few places in Vietnam where sunset can be observed over the sea (and not inland like most destinations elsewhere in the country, where the shoreline faces the east), so make full use of this on your trip. A heads up for all of you shutterbugs, the Dinh Cau Coastal Temple area is a really good destination for your sunset photog escapade.
At the extreme south end of Phu Quoc lies the mostly uninhabited An Thoi Archipelago, where the wilderness is mere metres away from the tideline. Bring along your snorkeling gear and dive right into that inviting blue water to explore Vietnam’s richest and most diverse underwater ecosystem, join the offshore fishing fleets at night to do some squid fishing or just simply lay your head down and drift along that clear blue current. Beach-bumming would never feel the same way again.
Along the eastern shore of Phu Quoc lies Ham Ninh commune, a small fishing village that has been on the island since time immemorial. Get a glimpse of the day-to-day life of fishermen, unwind at the local jetties or traverse through the local wet market for the freshest catch – poached flower crab, chargrilled sea urchin and raw sardines salad are must-try. Fun fact: Phu Quoc is very well known for its anchovies, whose main use is to be made into fish sauce a.k.a. the amazing caramel-coloured relish that is the source of flavour in virtually all of Vietnam’s delicacies. Now you know!
Flora & Fauna
Besides its spectacular beaches, Phu Quoc is also home to a national park, which is located northeast of the island. Trek through the forest and immerse yourself in the joy of slow travel among lush tropical greens, crisp fresh air and nothing but the sounds of nature. For those keen on exploring, the little-known Da Ngon waterfall is also found hidden deep inside the nature reserve, whose raw beauty and multiple cascades would certainly be rewarding enough to justify all the steep ascend and obscure dirt paths you would have to take to get there.
On that same note about waterfalls, what about those who aren’t so keen on trekking and all that? Fortunately, the island is blessed with a myriad of attractions of all kinds, including not just one but four waterfalls, and the other three – Tranh, Suoi Tien and Da Ban falls – are much more accessible and would certainly suffice. Not that much of a nature lover? Well the island got your back as well, with the recent opening of Vinpearl Resort Complex, completed with theme park and safari zoo among many other family-friendly fares. More of a history geek? Brush up on your war knowledge with a visit to the Phu Quoc Prison Museum after hours lazing on the south-side beach certainly wouldn’t hurt. Whatever you want, this island just has it all!