Phu Quoc Island
Phu Quoc Island is situated in the Gulf of Thailand. Located off the southern coast of Vietnam and Cambodia, Phu Quoc is the largest island in Vietnam. Phu Quoc Island forms a triangular shape and to the west of it is the Long Beach, the longest beach of the island. Today Phu Quoc Island is known as one of the major Vietnam popular destinations.
During the colonial rule of the French and the war with America, Phu Quoc Island was used as a prison. Ruins of the prison are visible even today. After Vietnam gained independence in 1975 this island was used as a re-education camp.
Nearly half the island lets you view the unspoilt beauty of nature. Phu Quoc Island is covered with forests and the beaches are deserted, creating an enchanting environment in the island. It provides a spectacular view with the perfect fusion of its blue waters, sandy beaches, and beautiful landscapes. In a visit to Phu Quoc Island, do not forget to view the magical sunset from the beach. The famous beaches in the island, other than the Long Beach, are Bai Dan and Bai Sao. Away from the beaches are the pepper fields, the rain forest, and the Da Ban Stream with its waterfalls. All create a perfect picture of Phu Quoc Island’s beauty.
BEST TIME TO GO
Anytime of year really is the best time to go to this beautiful Island though the more consistently drier hot weather is from December to April, so If you are coming here to enjoy the beach, sea or dive that is certainly the best time.
You can fly from Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) on one of four or five daily Vietnam Airlines flights or from Rach Gia which has two flights per day.
There are ferries and hydrofoils between Phu Quoc to Rach Gia, Ha Tien and Hon Chong. You may be told by tour agents that the fast boats are full, but if you go to the dock where the boats depart you may have the opportunity to buy tickets from street sellers.
Depending on the season, you may not find taxis on arrival in Phu Quoc, though there will likely be a few motos. Minibus ply to the two main towns, but tickets are sold on the boat and sell out before arrival. Transfer can also be arranged through your hotel.
THINGS TO SEE & DO
BEACHES OF PHU QUOC
Coming to Vietnam, tourists shouldn’t miss Phu Quoc – one of the most beautiful islands – and undoubtedly the largest one in Vietnam. Phu Quoc belong to the administrative division of Kien Giang province and is located in the Gulf of Thailand. Phu Quoc is probably most famous for its pristine beaches with white sands, calm sea, warm water, bright sunny paradise and other mysteries of nature. All are waiting for you to discover.
Phu Quoc beaches that lie along the shore from North to South. You may wonder which one is your favorite destination? Below are some for you to choose from:
Truong beach: an attractive beach of Phu Quoc island with white sandy beach lying 20km from Dinh Cau to Tau Ru beach. Various kind of seafood is an ideal condition for fishermen to do their fishing near beach. Tourists will have a chance to watch them doing their work and try raw seafood from nature.
Ganh Dau beach: is in the North of Phu Quoc island and near the territory of Cambodia. Going from Duong Dong town to the North and across Phu Quoc National Forest, you will see a beautiful beach before your eyes: deep blue ocean and white sand. Standing at Ganh Dau beach, you can see Ta Lon mountain of Cambodia. Don’t forget to try seafood paradise.
Sao beach: is in the South near An Thoi harbor and 30 km from Duong Dong town. This beach is very calm. There are just few vendors; so tourist can enjoy their vacation fully. The service quality here is very good with restaurants and basic utilities such as the beach umbrella and chair…
Vung Bau beach: an idyllic beach in the North of island and near Dai beach. It’s 40km from Duong Dong town and suitable for those who want to discover ecological beach.
Bai Thom beach: an uninhabited beach in the North East of Phu Quoc. It takes you 35km from Dong Duong town to get there. This beach is quite sparse and remote make it an ideal place for adventurous people.
Bai Vong beach: It’s 8km from Duong Dong town. Bai Vong beach is a broad and shallow beach with white sand and a long line of palm. Tourist can enjoy sunny beach and try local food. Remember to bring sunglasses and sun cream to protect your skin if you don’t want to get burnt. It is also a good place to shoot best photos.
SUNG HUNG PAGODA
Located in Duong Dong Town, visitors will experience the peaceful ambience under the old banyan tree at Sung Hung pagoda. Built in the early 20th century, this pagoda is surrounded by huge old trees. The main entrance conforms to a three-gate style (called Tam Quan).
The statue of the Goddess Quan Am Bo Tat overlooks the centre of the courtyard over a small lotus pond. In the main hall, Tam The Buddha is placed on the highest altar. On the wall is a painting depicting Monk Duong Tang’s journey to the West. Behind this is the shrine that worships Gautama Buddha’s ascendancy to Heaven.
THE COCONUT TREE PRISON
The coconut tree prison which is also known as “Phu Quoc Prison” is located in An Thoi Village, Phu Quoc. The name “coconut tree” originated from the Indochina War; when French colony was dominating Vietnam and the resistant war against French becomes very strong. At this time, the prison had four areas named “A”, “B”, “C” and “D”; which was believed to keep over 14,000 prisoners.
However, when the Indochina War finished, most of the prisoners returned to their families according to the Geneva Accords. The Coconut Tree prison is the living evidence for the war crime. There are plenty of exhibits presented in the prison for visitors to learn more about the war. There are still some torture tools that was used in the past on prisoners.
One of the many attractions in Phu Quoc Island is Dinh Cau Rock (Cau Temple), which is located at the mouth of the Dong Duong River. It is considered the symbol of Phu Quoc where sand, sea, sun, and stone blend in perfect harmony. Dinh Cau Rock is not only an odd-shaped scenic beauty but also a quaint sacred holy place. It is a combination of Buddhist temple and lighthouse that was built in 1937 as a dedication to Thien Hau (the Goddess of the sea) who provides protection for the fisherman and vessels that head out to the open waters.
The romantic steps take you to the top, where you can feel the gentle sea breeze, watch sunset over the eroded rock formation and enjoy a peaceful view of the Duong Dong River The temple’s main wooden door is carved 3 letters of Thach Son Dien and construction and restoring dates of July 14 1937 and July 14 1997. It has so far preserved many ancient architectures and precious artifacts that they indicate a closely attachment of traditional history of the islanders.
DA BAN STREAM
On Duong Dong route 1km north, turning right along a bendy road, tourists will arrive at Da Ban stream – a wonderful natural site. The weather here is as cool as that of Dalat and it is very quiet because there are not a lot of people here.
The stream rises from a high mountain range edging their way through big and flat stone slabs lying in series. It is so-called Da Ban stream. The stream is so poetic and reminds people a water-color painting with two gods playing chess on stone slabs Visiting the stream, tourists can also climb on stone slabs, deeply reach the upper origin to listen to the stream babbling and birds singing- like the music of forest – A kind of music that none of musical instrument can completely express its melodious rhythm.
LEGEND OF THE MAGIC WELL
It is said that when Prince Nguyen Anh was sheltering on Phu Quoc Island from the Tay Son rebels, he stamped his foot and pointed to the earth with his magic sword from where water erupted to provide to his thirsty force. This is where you will the royal or magic well as it’s known and you can even see the shoe prints in the stone.
To find the well, start from An Thoi Town, there a path heading east for about 2kms along the seaside, past crystal-clear sea before reaching a white sandy beach where there’s a small shrine on the rocky cliff and an armchair shaped stone.
PHU QUOC NATIONAL PARK
Situated in the North-East of Phu Quoc Island and having boundaries with the coastline, Phu Quoc National Park has recently become an ideal eco-tourist destination. It has special and unique biodiversity values compared to other national parks across the country.
Located on an island that has a mixture of continental and coastal climate, Phu Quoc National Park possesses a rich ecosystem of primeval, secondary and indigo forests. Its indigo forests are distributed in the wetlands or the lowlands that is flooded in the rainy season and sloping hills.
The topography of the national park is hilly, although not particularly steep with the highest point is Mount Chua, at 603 m. Being drained by numerous, mainly seasonal, streams, the only sizeable river on the island is the Rach Cua Can river, which drains the southern part of the national park, and flows into the sea on the west coast of the island.
DIVING IN PHU QUO
For divers the true treasures around Phu Quoc Island are hidden below the surface where the panorama bursts into a virtual array of colours and corals. The warm, nutrient rich water draws vast schools of tropical fish. The diverse underwater scenery, and abundant marine life combined with good visibility will delight underwater photographers, marine naturalists and holiday makers alike.
The calm and warm waters around Phu Quoc also make for a relaxing adventure for the experienced or first time diver and even people wishing to take advantage of the perfect snorkeling conditions.
PHU QUOC NIGHTLIFE
Night time in Phu Quoc Island is as relaxed as any other, the whole island is a place to just chill out and enjoy the scenery and after dark is no exception – the hypnotic lights from the squid boats at sea are so numerous they look like a galaxy. Nightlife invariably follows this pattern; cocktails at sunset, dinner at a beachside restaurant followed by a few drinks at a beach bar. It gets no more complicated than that.
The quintessential beach bar, complete with thatched roof and sand underfoot. This is the place to hang out in Phu Quoc. The owner is French which means he understands the need for drinks to be kept cold in the warm climate, this also guarantees a decent wine list and that the bottles have been stored properly. Popular with divers, expect the vis to be one of the main topics of conversation.
Pho Bo Café
The upper storey overlooks the Dinh Cau Rock temple and lighthouse, its a nice spot in town to have some drinks while watching the sunset. You can have a closer look at the temple afterwards.
Located in Charm Resort this is the closest to a night club there is in Phu Quoc. Its a good venue, however it often lacks enough people to create any atmosphere, as the island receives most tourists this is sure to become a popular hangout.
PHU QUOC SHOPPING
Where to Shop and What to Buy on Phu Quoc Island
Markets selling a wide range of fruit, vegetable and seafood are the main shopping venues in Phu Quoc, not necessarily what tourists want to buy but very interesting to see all the same. For tourists, shopping opportunities come in the form of handicrafts expertly made by locals and pearls which are farmed locally.
Local markets sell a colorful variety of fruit and vegetables of all shapes and sizes in addition to seafood and other foodstuff. Markets can be busy places but dont let that put you off. Some markets are one or two days a week however the main one in Duong Dong is a permanent fixture, you might want to avoid it when a cruise ship is in port though.
Dinh Cau Night Market
The night market is the palace to buy souvenirs; all kinds of crafts are on sale in addition to the usual fresh produce and seafood. This can be a good place to buy pearls… while the kids are occupied in the playground.
Duong Dong Shops
There are several shops that sell most basic items such as toothpaste, soap, beer, biscuits etc in Duong Dong, laundries are also here which are much cheaper than resort prices. There are a couple of pharmacies dotted around and the odd basic clothes shop, not high fashion obviously, but youll find the basics that you need.
High quality items featuring South Sea pearls can be purchased from one of the islands pearl shops – the price tags match the quality of the pieces. One such shop is Treasures from the Deep in Duong To which is run by a New Zealand company.