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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The nearest Singapore embassy is in Hanoi (tel: 84 4 3848 9168).
The emergency number for the police is 113.
|How are you?||Moi vi-uhk te nao?|
|Fine, thanks||Van tot, kam urn|
|Excuse-me! (to get attention, to get past)||Sin choo i!|
|Thank you||Kam urn|
|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
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Treasures from the Deep, Long Beach, Sao Beach, An Thoi Islands, The Pepper Tree