Phu Quoc – The Tropical Paradise of Vietnam

This post was last updated on February 20th, 2020 at 02:37 pm


Crystal clear water, waving palm trees and dining on the beach. Welcome to Phu Quoc! This beautiful island is located in the gulf of Thailand at about 45 kilometers from the Vietnamese mainland. Vietnam may have fewer islands than Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia, but it does have a few islands, like Phu Quoc, which make the words “tropical paradise” come true.

 

If you’re looking for a beach holiday and you want to enjoy the sun then you should go here. The range of resorts, restaurants and activities ensures that you will never be bored.

 

Phu Quoc has something for every tourist. Whether you are looking for a budget accommodation or a luxury resort. Go hiking in the national park, snorkel around the An Thoi islands, explore the island by scooter or just relax all day on one of the beautiful beaches.

 

The Tropical Paradise of Vietnam

Phu Quoc is located in the Gulf of Thailand just 15 kilometers from the coast of Cambodia. With a length of 48 kilometers and an area of ​​574 square kilometers, it is the largest island in Vietnam. It is just as big as Singapore. By the way, there is a small riot going on about Phu Quoc. Cambodia also claims the island and calls it Koh Tral. This immediately explains the military base of the Vietnamese in the north.

 

TIP – Are you tired of hanging around on the beach? Try visiting the Phu Quoc National Park!

 

Apart from the developed area at Long Beach, Phu Quoc is still fairly quiet. You can drive a scooter and come across the most beautiful places. You can dive between beautiful coral reefs, kayak in beautiful bays, eat delicious fresh seafood, or just relax on one of the snow-white beaches.

 

Drive on quiet roads with your scooter and you will find many beautiful places
Drive on quiet roads with your scooter and you will find many beautiful places

 

Why Go to Phu Quoc?

Surrounded by white sandy beaches and largely covered with dense, tropical jungle, Phu Quoc is one of the most popular destinations in Vietnam. It used to be a sleepy fishing island but it has changed quite a bit in recent years into a must-see island.

 

You will not be the only tourist but there is so much to see and do that you can avoid most tourists. How about kayaking in the bays, eating in back-road restaurants, cruising around with a scooter, or just lazing on the beach and enjoying an occasional massage? Every traveler is fascinated by Phu Quoc.

 

Best Things to Do in Phu Quoc

Most travelers come here for the beautiful beaches to relax for a few days. There are some other things you can do on or around Phu Quoc. We have listed the main reasons tourists are coming here.

 

1. Visit Phu Quoc National Park

Suoi Tranh Waterfall in Phu Quoc

Phu Quoc consists of 40% national park. The island has even gained a place on the UNESCO World Heritage List because it owns this beautiful nature park. You will find a great diversity of flora and fauna in the park, more than 200 species of animals, and the highest mountain of the island, Mount Chua.

 

The mountain is more than 600 meters high. If you fancy a nice walk through nature, then this is the place for you. The park has mapped out dozens of walking tours ranging from light to heavy.

 

TIP – A guide is often required during such a walk.

 

2. Visit the Coconut Tree Prison

Whether it is an absolute must is left to you. The fact remains that the prison is an important part of the history of Phu Quoc. During the Vietnam War, North Vietnamese soldiers and civilians were imprisoned in this prison.

 

Life in prison was tough. Punishments were unprecedentedly harsh and many prisoners were tortured during their stay (often to death). Because of the lifelike portrayal of all torture techniques that were used there, it is not immediately a sight that is suitable for children or people with a weak stomach. We found it to be very impressive in multiple ways and recommend taking a look.

 

TIP – Admission to the Coconut Tree Prison museum is free.

 

Coconut Tree Prison on Phu Quoc Island in Vietnam
The Coconut Tree Prison will leave a lasting impression

 

3. Go to the An Thoi Islands

In the south of Phu Quoc, you will find these 15 small islands. You can visit them by renting a boat. You can fish, swim, dive, and snorkel there. Hon Thom is the largest island (Pineapple Island). Other islands are Hon Dua, Hoi Roi, Hon May Rut, and Hon Dams.

 

There is almost no man-made development on these islands. Most boats depart from An Thoi.

 

Try renting a scooter and drive to the Suoi Tranh & Suoi Da Ben waterfall (entrance – 3,000 Dong).

 

Over the An Thoi Archipelago in cable car to Pineapple Island.
You can even take the cable car to Pineapple Island!

 

4. Relax at the Beaches

Phu Quoc is an island and it is not lacking in beautiful beaches. The best-known beach is Long Beach, where you will also find the most accommodations. You can walk to Long Beach from Duong Dong, the largest village on the island.

 

Other well-known beaches are Sao, Dam, and Vong Beach. They are a few kilometers away from An Thoi. Other than these there’s also Cua Can and Ong Lang beach, and Vung Bau, Bai, and Thom Beach.

 

Sunbeds under tropical palms on beautiful Bai Sao beach
The beautiful Bai Sao beach

 

5. Diving and Snorkeling

Nha Trang is without a doubt the best location in Vietnam for diving and/or snorkeling, but Phu Quoc is also a great location for diving enthusiasts. The best months for diving are November to May.

 

TIP – A diving session costs around $40 to $80. For a PADI course, you quickly pay around $350 to $400. A day of snorkeling will cost you around $25.

 

Beautiful tropical beach in Phu Quoc
The color of the water is very beautiful here!

 

6. Visit the Duong Dong Lighthouse

This authentic lighthouse from 1937 is in the port of Duong Dong. Strangely enough, it is a combination of a Buddhist temple and a lighthouse. The combination is also called Dinh Cau Rock.

 

It is also one of the most visited sights of Phu Quoc. The best time to visit the lighthouse is in the evening. Due to the setting sun, the view from the lighthouse yields beautiful photos at this time.

 

TIP – You can also spend the night at the hotel that is located in the lighthouse.

 

7. Shopping at the local day market

If you like authentic markets, then the day market of Duong Dong is an absolute must-see. You will find the market under the bridge in Duong Dong, where the fishermen stand and shout behind the market stalls with the catch of the day.

 

There is always fresh fish. You can also go there for fresh fruit, meat and lots of nice clothes. Great for the travelers who love to wander around local markets.

 

TIP – A nice route to follow is the from Ho Chi Minh City to Phu Quoc through the Mekong Delta via Rach Gia and Ha Tien. You then travel through the Mekong. Ask about this in Ho Chi Minh City at your accommodation or tour operator.

 

Fresh seafood for sale at the Phu Quoc Night Market
Fresh seafood for sale at the Night Market, very delicious!

 

Phu Quoc Fish Sauce (Nuoc Mam)

Phu Quoc is located in the region of the Mekong Delta but does not really belong here. A lot of rice production is found in the Mekong, but on Phu Quoc, it is mainly the black pepper and the fish that the locals live on. In addition, the island is also known for its famous fish sauce, also called nuoc mam. The main ingredient is anchovy and if the wind is favorable you can smell this delicious sauce everywhere!

 

Another well-known resident of Phu Quoc are the dogs. It is said that these dogs can smell their owner from more than 1 kilometer away (probably because they eat a lot of fish sauce). They can swim and run well and are used as hunting dogs. Unfortunately, this does not benefit the flora and fauna on the island.

 

Colorful fishing boats in the harbor of Phu Quoc
Colorful fishing boats in the harbor

 

Best Beaches in Phu Quoc

Visitors mainly come here to enjoy the many beautiful beaches. It is possible to explore the island on your own and visit one of the deserted beaches. However, most tourists choose one of the beaches described below, with good reason!

 

Bai Truong, Long Beach

View of Long Beach From the Water

This is the most famous beach of Phu Quoc. Long Beach is located on the west coast just south of Duong Dong. Here you will find most hotels, resorts and guesthouses. The majority of tourists settle here and with the choice of restaurants, bars and accommodations this is the perfect place for your vacation.

 

The sand here has a beautiful yellow color and the water is blue green. The water is calm and this makes the beach extremely suitable for children to play safely in the water. At the end of the day on Long Beach you can enjoy the most beautiful sunset Vietnam has to offer. You can view it while enjoying a dinner on the beach or a cocktail at one of the beach bars.

 

Bai Sao, Star Beach

White Sandy Bai Sao Beach in Phu Quoc

Even though long beach is the most popular beach, it is not the most beautiful. That honor goes to Bai Sao in the south-east. Bai Sao is, in our opinion, the most beautiful beach in Vietnam and perhaps in the entire region. Here you will find a beach as beautiful as the pictures in many travel guides. White sand, light blue clear water and waving palms.

 

Bai Sao is not very developed yet. There are a few restaurants and the roads are not paved. This is good news for those who want to experience the topical paradise feeling. To get here you can take a taxi from Duong Dong. This costs around 500,000 VND (US $21.50).

 

Another possibility is to rent a scooter and drive there on your own.

 

Take the road to Ham Ninh but head south for the Ham Ninh exit. After a while you will see a sandy path with the sign Sao Beach. Up to here the roads are in excellent condition. However, the last piece can be annoying to traverse. This is a sandy path full of pits and pieces of rock. Drive slowly and you will be rewarded with the most beautiful beach in Vietnam.

 

Bai Ong Lang, Ong Lang Beach

Bai Ong Lang is a beautiful beach north of Duong Dong. Here you will find some luxury resorts. It is quite remote so this is the location for real beach lovers who want to do little else. A ride to the town, where all the nightlife takes place, is about 20 minutes.

 

Bai Cua Can

Adjacent to Ong Lang Beach is the beautiful beach of Cua Can. The water has a beautiful deep green color and the sand is golden yellow. The beach is a popular stop for tour boats sailing the north of the island, but in general it is nice and quiet here.

 

Bai Khem

Waving Palm Trees on Bai Khem Beach

Bai Khem is located just south of Bai Sao. Here you will also find a beautiful white beach and light blue sea. For a long time there were only a few huts here, but the beach is now reasonably developed. The ultra-luxurious JW Marriot Resort opened in January 2017, making this beach a good option for travelers who enjoy luxury.

 

Diving and Snorkeling in Phu Quoc

For experienced divers the island is not the most interesting place in Southeast Asia but it has enough to offer for everyone who wants to enjoy the underwater life. The best diving and snorkeling spots can be found around the An Thoi islands in the south. These islands are blessed with beautiful deserted beaches and beautiful coral reefs.

 

If you want to explore these islands, there are two options. You can book a tour at a travel agency or you can go to the port of An Thoi yourself to rent a long-tail boat with captain for the day. Organized tours can be booked for 400,000 Vietnamese Dong (US $17) per person. Renting your own long-tail boat costs around VND 1,200,000 (US $52) for the day. Depending on the number of people in your travel group, this could be the cheaper option.

 

Our preference is to explore the islands by long-tail boat in order to leave early in the morning. This way you can be the first to set foot on the beautiful deserted beaches.

 

Best Phu Quoc Hotels, Hostels & Homestays

Best Budget Hostels & Homestays

 

Best Medium Range Hotels

 

Best High End Resorts

 

Best Time to Visit Phu Quoc

The rainy season starts in the north (March to September) and ends earlier than in the south (May to October). The best time to visit Phu Quoc is from December to February. The temperature and humidity are relatively low and that is something to take into account because Phu Quoc can become very hot.

 

Phu Quoc has a tropical climate which means that there is a dry and a wet season.

 

Dry Season – November to May

The dry season is the best time to visit Phu Quoc. The sky is blue, the sea is calm and there is almost no rain. The prices of hotels are somewhat higher during this period so we advise booking rooms in advance. The busiest time of the year is during the TET festival (Vietnamese New Year).

 

Rainy Season – June to October

During the rainy season, the east side of the island is a lot wilder. Bai Sao is a lot less beautiful but in general it is not too bad. Most days there is a heavy rain shower after which the sky clears up again. A glance at the weather forecast, just before you want to go to the island, is usually enough.

 

Another beach destination during the rainy season could be Nha Trang which, due to its own microclimate, has much less rain during the rainy season.

 

Average temperature and rainfall in Phu Quoc, Vietnam

Average temperature and rainfall in Phu Quoc, Vietnam

 

Phu Quoc Location

The island is located in the Gulf of Thailand. 45 kilometers from the Vietnamese mainland and 4 kilometers from Cambodia. At just a 50-minute flight from Ho Chi Minh City, the island is easy to reach for travelers. The closest towns on the mainland are Ha Tien and Rach Gia. Travelers can take the boat from these cities.

 

TIP – Combine a visit to Phu quoc with a trip through the Mekong Delta. Start in Ho Chi Minh City and head down to Can Tho to visit the famous floating market. Continue to Ha Tien or Rach Gia and take the boat there. Afterwards you can fly back to Ho Chi Minh City.

 

Phu Quoc Nightlife

Due to the rapid development of the island there are more and more nice places to spend the evening. The best place to watch the sunset while enjoying a drink and a snack is the brand new Xin Chao restaurant. From the terrace you have a beautiful view of the sea and the setting sun.

 

The popular Rory’s Beachbar also continues to attract a lot of people. It is one of the few places right on the beach that stays open until late. The Phu Quoc Night market is a very nice place for snacks and fish restaurants.

 

The nightlife on Phu Quoc is mainly found in Duong Dong, the most popular region in Phu Quoc. You will find backpacker bars, luxury lounges, rooftop bars and night clubs here.

 

Phu Quoc Night Market (Dinh Cao)

At the Phu Quoc Night Market you can find fresh food and products for a cheap price. The night market has more than 50 stalls selling fresh fish and shellfish, street snacks, local wines, Vietnamese coffee and fruit juices. The night market is open until midnight.

 

Best Beach Bars in Phu Quoc

  • La Veranda Beach Bar: A luxury resort in the heart of Long Beach. A great place to view the famous sunset of Long Beach in a chic setting.
  • Golden Sand Bar: Variety of drinks, a beautiful wooden beach terrace and many beach chairs.
  • Eden Beach Bar: It’s a great place to hang out during the day and enjoy the beach life.

 

Best Lounges in Phu Quoc

  • An Duong: Located just above the water. The food here is quite pricey, but the price for drinks is reasonable.
  • Xin Chao: A great place for beer, cocktails, socializing and people watching.

 

Best Clubs in Phu Quoc

  • Boba Club: A large dance club, a beer garden and a restaurant with live DJs and go-go dancers.

 

Best Bars in Phu Quoc

  • Coco Bar: Cozy bar with pool table, beer and various cocktails.
  • Beer Garden: Simple open-air bar which serves relatively cheap food and only serves draft beers brewed on the island.

 

How to Get to Phu Quoc

The island is easily reached with a domestic flight. Several flights depart daily from Ho Chi Minh City. If you come from the Mekong Delta, boats depart daily from the ports of Ha Tien and Rach Gia.

 

To Phu Quoc by Plane

You can fly to Phu Quoc from all over Vietnam. Phu Quoc also has an international airport so you can also fly to Vietnam from outside Vietnam. Air Mekong and Vietnam Airlines are the main airlines that fly here.

 

To Phu Quoc by Boat

Most boats depart from Ha Tien (1.5 hours sailing).

Two small boats go at 8:00 a.m. (180,000 Dong, $7.75) and at 1:00 p.m. (230,000 Dong, $9.90).

There are also large boats sailing between 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. You can take your scooter (or car) with you on this boat. A ticket will cost around 100,000 to 145,000 Dong ($4.30 to $6.25).

 

From Phu Quoc Airport to Your Resort or Hotel

Most travelers will stay in one of the hotels or resorts around Long Beach. The beach starts in Duong Dong and continues further south. From the airport you can reach your accommodation in 10 minutes. Taxis are more expensive here than on the mainland. Expect to pay around 150,000 Vietnamese Dong (US $6.45) for the ride.

Scooter taxis are a cheaper option. They can be found after arrival outside the airport.

 

Phu Quoc Ridgeback

Phu Quoc Ridgeback, Dog Breed

Not many people know that one special breed of dog was discovered on Phu Quoc. This breed was first discovered by western dog lovers in the 19th century when the island was colonized. To find out the exact origin of the Ridgeback, genetic material was used and research was mainly done into the “ridge”, the line of hair on the back of the dog that grows in the opposite direction.

 

The length and number of crowns in this line were considered. It turned out that the dogs that appeared in Thailand had the longest ridge with as many as 14 crests, while the dogs from Vietnam and Phu Quoc Island had fewer long ridges and fewer crests.

 

It was, therefore, assumed that the dogs from Thailand have developed for the longest time and Thailand was considered as the country of origin. This explains the name Thai Ridgeback (“Ridge” refers to the line on the back and “Thai” to the country of origin).

 

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