Discover Phu Quoc, Vietnam

attractions - Vietnam: Nov. 1, 2013

Travel to Phu Quoc, Vietnam

Phu Quoc is Vietnam’s largest island and is surrounded by 40km of white sand beaches and turquoise seas. This tear-shaped island in the Gulf of Thailand has been compared to Koh Samui and Phuket before the tourist hordes invaded. The establishment of Phu Quoc National Park ensures that almost 70% of the island is environmentally protected. Pearls are harvested locally and fish sauce is made on the island.

Major development plans, however, are in the pipeline and Phu Quoc is expected to be an increasingly popular destination, perhaps receiving overflow tourists from Phuket and Bali as those locales become saturated with increasing numbers of Chinese and Russian tourists. International developers have plans to build more upmarket resorts, some with attached golf courses. However, delays with land clearance and the provincial government’s indecision regarding development mean that commercialisation is slow to say the least -- good news for locals and tourists content to enjoy the island’s laid back feel. Now is definitely the time to go.

As well as relaxing and soaking up the natural scenery, you can go river swimming, cave navigating or island exploring by motorbike. If that sounds like too much effort, take a dip in the ocean, and then enjoy some deliciously fresh seafood at the night market followed by a cocktail or two at one of the many beachside bars.

Of the island’s unique sights and smells, the many racks of drying anchovies and squid are the most potent. Anchovies are the special ingredient used to make Phu Quoc’s pungent fish sauce, an important part of the Vietnamese diet. Many of the fish sauce factories are open to visitors, but be warned that the aroma can be overpowering. Also, make sure you take it back via boat as it’s currently not allowed on flights departing from the island.

Phu Quoc also has some of the best pepper gardens in the country, attracting visitors to enjoy the vast green and bring back the handpicked spice for family and friends. For a more romantic souvenir idea, head off to Phu Quoc’s pearl farms, and get your own pick on the island’s world-famous quality jewel.

Deemed as among the two safest destinations in Vietnam – the other being Con Dao – you can travel in Phu Quoc without the slightest fear that your belongings will be lost or stolen.  Of course, this is not to say bad things do not happen. If you keep your wits and be mindful, this island is truly a place to relax, to forget your worries for a while.

The rainy season is from July to November, but the temperature is hot all year round. Phu Quoc is only an hour’s flight from Ho Chi Minh City so book tickets and accommodation well in advance during peak periods. You can also reach Phu Quoc by fast boat from Rach Gia and Ha Tien. The best time to travel by sea is during the dry season (late October to May) when the seas are calmer. There are several boat operators and the cost will run from VND130,000 – VND190,000.