Phu Quoc Island: Sun, Sea, Sand and Squid

Posted on May 26, 2013

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My views of Phu Quoc did a 180 degree turn in 24hours. Arriving to rain, I was disappointed with the accommodation after the rave reviews on Tripadvisor – it was incredibly basic – and surrounded by couples, as a lone traveller I wondered what on earth I had done flying down here.

But wow, a little sun, a day snorkelling on a boat trip, plentiful fresh seafood (try the giant prawns or quid) and coming home to the most relaxed bar/restaurant on the beach… Well, I grew to love the island. Or maybe I just relaxed into it.

Most hotels are situated on the aptly named Long Beach and in the evenings all the seafood is placed on ice to display, enticing people in for BBQ. Phuong Binh, the guesthouse I stayed in and was rated top on Trip Advisor was certainly the most relaxed and ambient of the bunch. Tables and chairs on the beach, lovely staff and music depending on the mood of a resident Canadian, it was a great place to hang out. bungalows there are basic but comfortable. Air con wasn’t necessary when I was there so rooms were $20/night (they provide mosquito nets),

The island reminds me very much of the Thai islands before they were overrun. Now there is an international airport so I’d advise a trip in the next few years before the inevitable overrunning happens. There are already signs of much trash around the edges of the beaches and in the sea and unless some serious conservation measures are taken, it’s going to get worse not better. Now the island is simply beautiful – long white sandy beaches and more than 70% of the island is covered by a national park which is explorable mainly by bike or foot.

Phu Quoc is nearer Cambodia but has been colonised by the Vietnamese for some time. I’ve been told that it’s an upcoming election issue in Cambodia and that the opposition are promising to get it back. We’ll see what happens.

Sao Beach

At some point make sure you stop at Sao beach which has the softest white sand I have seen for a very long time. I was told that the beach hut as you left past the jet ski hire is some of the best seafood on the island.

Be a little wary of the day trips – they are total tourist traps. The snorkelling was only $15 for the day and good fun but there were sacrifices that were made. En route to the boat we stopped at a ‘pearl farm’. We were one of a number of tour buses, doing a quick spiel on hoe pearls are grown and then you are (gently) encouraged to buy. Our guide was gracious enough to apologise and explained that he needed to get a slip signed otherwise he would get paid. It was a bearable 15 minute interlude but wouldn’t recommend the stop if you can avoid it. I suspect the same can be said for many of the ‘factories’  – especially for the other island speciality, fish sauce.

Jodie 129A trip to the night market for dinner is worth it as much for the spectacle of live fish as anything else. Pick your restaurant based on number of locals eating there and you usually can’t go wrong. Also Sakura has been highly recommended but was one I didn’t get to.

Jodie 136

Above all, take time to hang out on the beach eating the fresh fruit bought around all day. And maybe squeeze in a massage on the beach. A little piece of heaven.

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Posted in: Asia, Destinations