The Island of Phu Quoc

Peppercorn Beach Resort, Phu Quoc

If you dream of a tropical island floating amid blissfully warm turquoise waters fringed with golden beaches and untouched forest, then Phu Quoc may, or may not, be the place for you.

Situated in the very of south of Vietnam, in the Bay of Thailand and a short flight from Ho Chi Minh City, this small island is an up and coming destination for sun worshippers, drawn to its beaches, resorts and warm sea. The interior of the island is still mostly covered with primary jungle, although much of the wildlife has been poached out, and there are a number of pepper farms scattered across the countryside.

As yet, this isn’t a party island, it’s a much more chilled out affair with beachside bars, secluded resorts, rustic villages and two quiet towns. We stayed at a low-key B&B within walking distance of Duong Dong, near the centre of the island and across the road from Long Beach.

We had added Phu Quoc to our itinerary so that we could meet up with Joe, an old friend from back home, and we flew in from HCMC on VietJet for a three night stay. Beers on the beach the first night may have resulted in a very chilled out day following it.

Fun on the beach, Phu Quoc

For our final full day on Pho Quoc we hired a motorbike and explored the north of the island, riding to begin with on a virtually empty brand new road past pretty peppercorn farms with row upon row of vertical vines towards Thom Beach. A dirt road branched off to the left and we bumped along it through deep jungle.

Phu Quoc

About half way along we came to a Forest Trail, we’d read about it so were keeping our eyes peeled to see the sign. With the bike parked up we followed the easy path through the trees until it opened out then turned back. It was good to get off the bike for a bit and stretch our legs but there was little to see other than foliage and the odd invertebrate.

Phu Quoc

The road terminated at the north-western tip of the island where there are a few small dusty villages. We caught glimpses of palm fringed beaches as we negotiated the rough dirt road then a smart, low-key resort, Peppercorn Beach, appeared which opened onto the ocean. A couple of refreshing, and much-needed, cold drinks later and we were paddling barefoot in the lapping turquoise sea, marvelling in the idyllic location.

Phu Quoc

It was a much busier road that took us down the west coast back to Duong Dong but the views across the ocean were wonderful.

That night we walked into town and visited the Dinh Cao night market where seafood was the main draw for most of the tourists. There were many food stalls as well as jewellery and handicrafts.

Night MarketPearls are harvested from the sea around the island and there are many on sale in the market, how many of those are locally sourced is hard to discern though.

Phu Quoc is famed for its nuoc mam, fish sauce, considered the very best in Vietnam, and this sauce infuses many dishes sold on the market. As a none-fish-eating vegetarian I can’t comment further but the food certainly looked very pretty!

 

We booked a combined ticket to leave the island, next stop Cambodia {who incidentally consider Phu Quoc to be theirs, unfairly given to Vietnam by the French in 1954, they call it Koh Tral}. A minibus picked us up from our hotel and took us to the ferry port on the east coast at An Thoi, along with a bunch of other backpackers.

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It was a long stroll with our bags down the pier to the boat and the crossing was rather rough. I managed to keep seasickness as bay, but only just, many others didn’t fare so well and the fans were soon blowing vomit-scented air around the cabin. Copious amounts of Tiger Balm on my forehead certainly helped and once the smell became too unpleasant to ignore I also rubbed it around my nostrils to mask the odour, that worked a treat.

The boat took us to Ha Tien, the border town back on the mainland. We were deposited at a restaurant where we filled out visa applications for Cambodia. From what I remember, we paid an extra $5 for them to get our visas. In hindsight we could have refused and demanded to get the visas ourselves, for all the waiting we had to do at the border anyway, but $5 wasn’t too much of a scam.

We managed to not lose more dollars by having our medical cards to hand showing our vaccinations, there was a scam at the border that you needed a vaccine card, or a $1 bribe for a Health Screening Form. We smugly had the cards.

The group was then divided into minibuses depending on where in Cambodia we were going, we were taken to Kampot, an hours drive away …..

I liked what I saw of Phu Quoc and I would have liked to have biked to the south of the island, and gone snorkelling. It’s a shame there is no wildlife in the jungles and there was an disappointing amount of litter lining the roads leading out from the towns, this detracts from the beauty and certainly means the island isn’t a pristine idyll, but that is the unfortunate result of tourism and progress.

Keep travelling:

Kampot, Cambodia Blissful retreating, canoeing along the backwaters, heaven!

Phong Nha Caves: The Best Thing We Did In Vietnam this quiet corner in mid Vietnam is incredible! Huge caves and perfect cycling!

Historic Hoi An For Tet (Vietnamese New Year) Hoi An is even prettier at new year!

Is That A Crocodile? Cat Tien National Park. Jungle adventures in Vietnam with crocs and gibbons aplenty!

Tra Vinh: Khmer Culture In The Mekong Delta A corner of Vietnam that feels more like Cambodia!

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6 Responses

  1. davegct says:

    We hard a lot about Phu Quoc during our Vietnam visit but didn’t make it ourselves. I really love island paradises, and the best ones I’ve seen were in southern Thailand – clear warm waters, friendly people and cheap prices. Makes me want to go back! How about mosquitoes / dengue fever in Phu Quoc, was that a concern? And what about your friend Joe, does he live there full time?

    • I’m not so much of a tropical island girl, I like the idea but they rarely live up to it!
      No, I got mozzied on the beach the night we were drinking, dropped my guard! I didn’t hear any dengue concerns when we were there, I think the cities are more of an issue as the populations are denser. As for malaria, we were taking Doxi.
      Joe was just living there for a couple of months, he’s an artist, back home in the UK now.

  2. bakearama says:

    I had a bad ferry experience in SE Asia as well – hope it hasn’t detracted from your amazing looking trip though!

  3. cvail says:

    Those clam/scallop shells with greenery look amazing. I would definitely eat that. Phu Quoc looks like an amazing trip destination!

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