Phu Quoc (pronounced ‘foo kwok’), the biggest island nestled off the Cambodian coast in the Gulf of Thailand, is Vietnam’s best-kept secret. Surrounded by fine sand, crystal clear waters, unrivalled natural landscape, located just 50 km from Vietnam mainland, and a 40-minute flight from Ho Chi Minh City, the idyllic Phu Quoc is Vietnam's largest and most beautiful island paradise. After decades under the radar, this once-sleepy backwater rises to fame recently as a popular tourist destination. Still quieter than most island paradises in Southeast Asia and those well-blazed trails of Vietnam — Hanoi, Halong Bay, Hoi An, and Ho Chi Minh City — the time to discover Phu Quoc is now. Here are seven great reasons why.
Phu Quoc is made of 28 islands in total, most of which are uninhabited. With over 150 km of coast, Phu Quoc offers up a seemingly never-ending stretch of pillow-soft sandy beach that snakes its way along the transparent waters. Thatched umbrellas, beach huts and a smattering of bars are dotted over 20 postcard-perfect beaches, yet it retains a sense of calm due to its sheer length, including: Rach Vem Beach — the most secluded, serene, untouched, and scenically located; Ganh Dau Beach — famous for its cerulean waters, flour-white sand fringed by palm trees, and bounded to the east by high, densely jungled ridges; Bai Sao Beach — one of the most popular beaches on the island and famed of its arcing palm trees, snow-white sand, and distinctive blue-sapphire coloured water; and the Khem Beach — dubbed the most beautiful beach on the island, surrounded by lush tropical jungle and white-pink sand.
Scrumptious seafood and Vietnamese delicacies abound in this beach paradise of Phu Quoc. Head to Duong Dong town, you will find a night market where tourists come to taste the incredibly fresh seafood produce on offer — boiled crab, grilled octopus, barbecued amberjack, steamed sea snails, etc. With over 100 stalls to choose from, Duong Dong Night Market offers seafood lovers an amazing palate-pleasing experience.
Phu Quoc is an island filled with unexpected local charm and culture. With an economy still based around fishing and agriculture, the island is dotted with sleepy villages whose claim to fame is fish sauce, which is said to be the world's best. Popular throughout Southeast Asia, fish sauce is a crucial ingredient to many Vietnamese dishes. A short walk from Duong Dong Night Market is Nuoc Mam Hung Thanh distillery, the largest of Phu Quoc’s fish sauce makers. The island also boasts the best organic pepper, producing around 1,100 tonnes of it every year using traditional farming methods and sustainable agricultural technologies. Tourists can experience the local charm by joining tours to both the fish sauce factories and pepper farms for a closer look at local life.
Exciting and diverse, Vietnam is a country steeped in history that goes back more than a thousand years, from the Cochinchina Campaign with France and Spain to Vietnam War and later to its contention with Cambodia over the ownership of Phu Quoc. Today, all international conflicts are over, and Phu Quoc is filled with historical sites. One of the most harrowing memorials of the Vietnam War can be found at the Phu Quoc Prison, which was the largest prisoner camp once housed 40,000 Vietnam Communist prisoners during the Vietnam War. The Phu Quoc Prison, also known as the Coconut Tree Prison (Nha Lao Cay Dua), has been repurposed as a museum and memorial, built with fake prison quarters and mannequins depicting the prisoners' life and history of the camp.
Nature lovers will be pleased to know that Phu Quoc is listed as a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO’s MAB (Man and the Biosphere) programme in 2006. More than half of Phu Quoc is protected as a national park set within Vietnam's UNESCO-designated Kien Giang Biosphere Reserve, which fosters the conservation of its tropical rain forests featuring waterfalls, coral reefs, wetlands and other parts of the surrounding natural landscape. The park also consists of sea areas to protect oceanic species. Phu Quoc is one of the few places in Vietnam where wildlife enthusiasts can spot unique species like dugong, hawksbill turtles and green turtles. Hire a bike and head to the north of Phu Quoc to find this nature paradise.
Thanks to an abundance of kid-friendly activities, as well as a bevy of grown-up attractions, Phu Quoc is the perfect destination for a family holiday. Phu Quoc is not only home to unspoiled beaches and perfect waters to snorkel in, but also home to the Disneyland of Vietnam — Vinpearl Land. Getting to this massive amusement park is an experience on its own, as you will board the Phu Quoc Cable Car, which carries tourists to the island of Hon Thom via ‘the longest non-stop three-rope sea-crossing cable car’ in the world.
Phu Quoc International Airport (PQC) is located at the southern end of Long Beach, approximately nine kilometres from Duong Dong town. Opened in 2012, the new airport was built to accommodate larger aircraft and international flights. There are several flights a day from Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. Phu Quoc forms a calm base from the bustling parts of the country, such as Ho Chi Minh, which is just an hour’s flight from the island, while the capital Hanoi can be reached in just over two hours by plane. You can also fly direct to Phu Quoc from Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong with Air Asia. So, a paradise escapade to Phu Quoc is within easy reach for everyone.
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3D2N Phu Quoc Island + Sao Beach & Island Hopping (SIC)
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3D2N Phu Quoc Island + Vinpearl Safari (SIC)
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