Great Vietnam Sites to Visit – Phu Quoc
If you love beaches you will love Phu Quoc Island. Its beaches are beautiful and unspoiled. Many are still fairly remote and seldom visited. In fact the island has just started to become a tourist site in the past couple years. And most of the tourists stay close to the few large resorts leaving the rest of the island to the more adventurous types.
Where is it? It is off Vietnam’s southeast coast, right next to the Cambodian border. The nearest mainland cities are Ha Tien and Rach Gia. You can get a direct flight from Ho Chi Minh City, but check the return flight schedule before you go. There is also a hydrofoil ferry between the island and a relatively remote location near Ha Tien.
Doung Dong, the main town, is located next to the only airport on the island but it is a very small and dusty place (in the dry season). If you want to go scuba diving this is the place to stay. The other town, An Thoi, is on the southern tip of the island and is a good location if you want to go fishing or exploring the small islands off the southern tip.
Although the island is very rustic there are plenty of activities for the adventurous. I went to go diving with the Rainbow Divers, a PADI 5 Star IDC and National Geographic Dive Centre, in Duong Dong town (11 Tran Hung Dao Street). They are the dive group I always use in Vietnam as they are very accommodating and safety conscious.
Trekking is popular with the younger and hardier tourist crowd. The northern third of the island is quite mountainous, uninhabited and very beautiful. Over 77,000 acres (31,422 ha) have been preserved as Phu Quoc National Park. The highest point, Mount Chua, is 1980 feet high (603 m). But most of the terrain is hilly rather steep mountainside. The park has a rich ecosystem because it is home to Malaysian, Burmese and Himalayan species. Hiking and camping are encouraged in the Park.
Getting around the island is easy if you rent a motorcycle. They are available through all the hotels and tourist/travel shops. I rented one across from the Rainbow Dive shop for around $8-$10 a day. Renting one is a very informal arrangement; no insurance or paperwork. If it breaks down or is stolen you negotiate to make it right. This may not seem like the safest means of transport but if you know how to drive a motorcycle safely it is a good option.
I stayed at the Thanh Kieu Beach Resort. It is about a mile outside of town, making a motorcycle a necessity. I had a small one-room bungalow with bath for about $25 a day. I went diving in the mornings and the afternoon and evening I spent on the beach at the La Veranda Resort, closer in to town. The evening outdoor buffet is delicious. There is an Evening Market in the town that has all kinds of souvenirs and many little kiosks to eat.