Phu Quoc

Phu Quoc lies off the coast of Cambodia and sovereignty of the island has been a source of tension between the two nations in the past. It is the largest of Vietnam’s islands and home to some of the country’s finest deserted stretches of sand.

Although famed for its fish sauce, with numerous factories producing the pungent product, it is the sublime seafood that will appeal more to the average visitor, with everything from street-side stalls to elegant beachfront restaurants serving up the catch of the day.

The island’s coast is ringed with fantastic beaches, with the quiet, white sands of the southern tip rewarding those who make the trip with serenity and outrageously beautiful sunsets. Particularly stunning is Sao Beach which is hard to locate, but well worth the effort.

Inland, Phu Quoc offers dense jungle, waterfalls and cool springs that are ideal for a refreshing dip. Offshore, a boat trip around the An Thoi islands makes for a fantastic day out exploring an uninhabited archipelago with warm waters that offer excellent snorkelling and diving sites.

Not without its quirks, Phu Quoc is also known for its whale dedication temples. Worship of these majestic sea creatures stretches back to the Cham civilisation that once ruled here.

The opening of Phu Quoc International Airport looks set to pave the way for significant development in Phu Quoc, with Vietnam’s tourism authorities hoping for a Phuket-like tourism boom. This makes now a great time to visit, before the face of this still quiet island changes forever.

When to go

The best weather is from November to March, when temperatures are warm and rain is limited. July to September is monsoon season. April to May is the hottest period of year, but for those who don’t mind the heat this is a good time to visit as the island is less crowded than in peak season.

Visa requirements

Singaporeans and citizens of other ASEAN member states can visit Vietnam for 30 days without a visa. Phu Quoc also offers 30 days visa-free entry to citizens of other nations if arriving directly at its international airport.

Money

Vietnam Dong (VND). ATMs and foreign currency exchange counters can be found at the airport and at various spots in Duong Dong town. Most hotels also offer an exchange service, albeit at less attractive rates.

Transport

It is best to arrange a transfer direct with your hotel. For travel around the island, the brave can opt for either a motorcyle with a driver (xe om) or a self-drive motorbike. Otherwise, taxis are available in Duong Dong town or you can easily arrange full-day car or jeep hire via any hotel or travel agent.

Health and safety tips

Phu Quoc remains very safe and reports of crime against tourists are rare. The main danger is travel by motorbike, particularly for the uninitiated. Make sure the driver has an extra helmet for you to wear.

Emergency details

The nearest Singapore embassy is in Hanoi (tel: 84 4 3848 9168).

The emergency number for the police is 113.

Basic greetings
English Vietnamese
Hello Sin chao
How are you? Moi vi-uhk te nao?
Fine, thanks Van tot, kam urn
Goodbye Tam bi-uht
Excuse-me! (to get attention, to get past) Sin choo i!
Thank you Kam urn
Yes Ko
No Kog
OK Tot
What’s your name? Ten ban la ji?
My name is… Ten toi la…
Pleased to meet you Rat voo-i dew-urk lam kwen
Are you on Facebook/Twitter? Ban ko Facebook/Twitter kog?
Where is there an internet café? Internet cafe ur doh?
Where can I get a taxi? Toi ko tei goi se taxi ur doh?
Where is the bus/train station? Tram se boo-yit/tram se lur-a ur doh?
A one-way/return ticket to… Mot ve mot chi-yoh/koor hoi den…
Do you have a room for one/two? Ban ko fog kog cho mot/hai gew-ur-i?
What time is check out? Ki nao tra fog?
Can you recommend a good restaurant/bar? Ban ko te jur-i ti-yoh mot na hag/kwan rew-uru gon kog?
A table for two, please Sin cho mot ban cho hai
A menu, please Cho sem tur-k dur-n
The bill, please Voo-i log cho sem hwa durn
Where’s the toilet? Na vei shin ur doh?
Help! Kur-ew toi vur-i!

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An Thoi Islands

Off the south coast of Phu Quoc

The unspoilt An Thoi Islands offer good diving and snorkelling opportunities. Boats can be chartered at the port, via hotels or through tour operators, to cruise through this small archipelago of vibrant green islets.

Dai Beach

Northern Phu Quoc

Another spectacular stretch of sand at the northern end of the island. Dai Beach is a great spot to enjoy sunset with fresh, low-priced seafood.

Sao Beach

Southeast Phu Quoc

Sao Beach is easily the most beautiful of the island’s beaches. Turn left as you hit the beach to enjoy some supreme isolation; turn right and you’ll find a couple of restaurants crowded with local tourists.

Suoi Tranh

Outside Duong Dong town

Signposted just a short taxi ride from town, a very pleasant path leads off the main road to Suoi Tranh, a beautiful spring set in the jungle. From May to September, water flows over glistening rocks into pools which make an ideal place for a cooling dip in the summer heat.

Shop

Duong Dong Market

Along the river

For a local shopping experience, browse the stalls that line the river in the middle of Duong Dong town. Everything from conical hats to fishing gear is on offer in Duong Dong Market, meaning this is a good spot to pick up a quirky gift.

Budget $

Nuoc Mam Hung Thanh Factory

Duong Dong Street

At the Nuoc Mam Hung Thanh Factory you can buy the fish sauce that the island is famed for direct from the producers.

Budget $

Coi Nguon

Duong Dong Street

A well stocked shop selling a wide variety of wares using pearls, conch shells and driftwood. Coi Nguon also houses a museum.

Budget $$

Treasures from the Deep

Long Beach

New Zealand jeweller Treasures from the Deep is the most reputable place on Phu Quoc to buy the pearls the island is known for. Also sells some interesting designs made with shells.

Budget $$

Dine

Buddy's Ice Cream

Nguyen Trai Street

Buddy’s is a long-time favourite with the traveller crowd thanks to its Kiwi ice creams, delectable shakes, classic burgers and strong Lavazza brews. Friendly staff and great seating for kicking back.

Budget $

Duong Dong Night Market (Dinh Cau)

Vo Thi Sau Street

The Duong Dong Night Market is rammed every night with locals out to get their fill of fresh seafood at the best prices in town. Follow your nose or follow the crowds.

Budget $

The Spice House

Cassia Cottage, Ba Keo Beach

With its lovely garden setting, The Spice House has gained a solid reputation for its excellent barbecued seafood, as well as curry dishes. A good place to bring the kids who can enjoy playing on the grass.

Budget $$

The Pepper Tree

La Veranda Resort, Tran Hung Dao

Perhaps the best place to eat on the island, The Pepper Tree offers fine dining in a refined seafront setting with meticulous service. An elegant spot, this is ideal for a special romantic meal. Try the pork with locally produced pepper sauce.

Budget $$$

Stay

Bo Resort

Ong Lang Beach

Lying on the same beach as the Mango Bay Resort, Bo Resort is a far less manicured affair. The stilt bungalows have plenty of character and guests can expect to share them with plenty of geckos. Word of mouth has made this a hugely popular spot to get away from it all and enjoy nature, good food and warm hospitality.

Budget $$

Mango Bay Resort

Ong Lang Beach

Trading on its eco credentials, Mango Bay Resort features rammed earth rooms with bamboo furnishings and coconut door handles, lending a back-to-nature feel. This is an extremely homely beach resort, with excellent service and a fantastic location, just a stone’s throw from pepper farms.

Budget $$

Chen Sea Resort and Spa

Ong Lang Beach

The Chen Sea Resort and Spa offers a selection of sublime, chic bungalows along it's own private beach. Facing the sea, the sunken bathtubs on the private verandas provide a true taste of luxury escapism. The beautiful infinity pool is a great place for a sunset cocktail. Superior buffet breakfast provided.

Budget $$$

Mai House Resort

Long Beach

Set on the island’s main beach, Mai House Resort is run by the welcoming and charming Ms Tuyet Mai and her French husband. Tuyet Mai has personally shaped every aspect of the resort, from the sharp rooms with four poster beds, to the lush tropical landscaped gardens. A range of wonderful bungalows are available and the kitchen serves excellent local and Western fare.

Budget $$$

Christmas

25 December

The island’s beach resorts are hugely popular with Vietnam’s expats over the festive and New Year period. Many offer excellent value deals.


Mid-Autumn Festival

September / October

Second only to Tet, the Mid-Autumn festival, or Moon Festival, is largely geared towards kids. Expect to see plenty of activity around the Old Quarter’s toy streets and dragon dances across the city.


Phu Quoc Half Marathon

May / June

A half-marathon and 10km race along the coastal roads.


Tet – Lunar New Year

January / February

The Lunar Year is like Christmas and New Year rolled into one. For weeks leading up to it the Old Quarter is in a shopping frenzy, then everything closes for a week. An impressive fireworks display takes place at Hoan Kiem lake on New Year's Eve.


Romantic Getaway

Rise early and hire a driver to take you south of Duong Dong town along the coastal road that hugs Long Beach. If you’re in the mood for shopping, ask to be dropped at the Treasures from the Deep store, where the staff will show you how pearls are extracted from their shells before being treated and used to create one-off jewellery designs.

Continuing further south, take the time to stop and find your very own stretch of the Long Beach sand in this little-visited part of the island.

Next, head for the southern tip of Phu Quoc and seek out Sao Beach, the island’s most gorgeous beach and a definite contender for Southeast Asia’s finest. Think bright blue waters and a sweeping crescent of white sand lined with palm trees. Grab a spot and order up fresh seafood and cold drinks from one of the simple vendor stalls.

After lunch, either enjoy the rest of the afternoon right here or head for An Thoi town and charter a boat to take you out to the picturesque, uninhabited An Thoi Islands. Finish off your day of romance with an evening at the island’s most atmospheric and elegant dining venue, The Pepper Tree. Book ahead to ensure a table overlooking the ocean and enjoy a fine dining experience accompanied by an ocean breeze and the sound of rolling waves.

Places to visit:
Treasures from the Deep, Long Beach, Sao Beach, An Thoi Islands, The Pepper Tree