Phu Quoc

A couple of angels

I had the opportunity to spend a few days in Phu Quoc with
some of my friends from Saigon. I had not yet
been there and some commenter’s from the Trip Advisor website had me thinking
that it was a beach destination not to be missed. I have had some time to
reflect upon return and here is my honest opinion of Phu Quoc as a beach
destination. Because I am from Nha Trang (Vietnams #1 beach destination) I
may be a bit biased, so please understand that the following is my opinion
only.

Let me start by saying I did not have the opportunity to
visit any of the resorts in the North West
such as Mango Bay. I have heard that the beaches and
location are very nice.

 

On the drive through the Mekong

Xeo Quit

to our destination, we stopped as a former military base in the jungle that is
now a tourist attraction that not a lot of travelers see. Xeo Quit was an
interesting boat ride through some very wet and thick jungle. It is no wonder
the base is still there. It would be a difficult place to take. (lots of bomb
holes though) I will let the pictures speak of the sights.

A wet place

Our group reached Rach Gia via bus and with almost no
effort, was able to catch a morning ferry to the island. We boarded the Savanna
into a theatre like seating arrangement for the 2.5 hour trip. It was a bit
crowded but not too unpleasant. The boat docked at Ham Ninh and was met by a
bus that was to take us to our first beach destination. Wow!! What a ride…. We
bounced and pitched rolling this way and that over some very bad roads much in
need of rebuilding. (To their credit, a person could see road building signs
everywhere, but nobody working) We arrived at Bai Sao beach at around
lunchtime. As is common in Vietnam,

Ferry times.. prices about 295000 dong

there was a restaurant facility in close proximity. The sand was white and
powdery and the grade gentle. The water was very warm and gentle being
sheltered on the South East side of the
island. It is a very nice place to spend some beach relaxing time, but there
was no Resort to be seen. We would have to travel elsewhere for that. In the
afternoon we departed and travelled over heaving broken roads until we finally
reached long beach
and followed it up the coast to where our resort awaited. Along the way there
were a number of pearl sales shops (it seems Phu Quoc is the place for your
pearl shopping). I was quite surprised at how narrow long beach was. It is more a yellow sand with the beach water to tree line or patio being about 5-15 meters. I know I was

Ferry

there off season (August) but I now understand some of the comments I have read
about swimming and snorkeling. The water was way to rough for either of these
activities, and some of what I saw floating up to the beach took away any
temptation to put my feet in the water. The resort we stayed at was just south
of Duong Dong. It was adequate, but not posh in any way. Just up the street
that led to the resort was a bar called the Dog, run by an Australian who has
lived there for 17 years. I liked the place. It was one of the only pub like
experiences I have found in Vietnam.
As is part of my routine in and destination I go, I rented a motorcycle (easy
to do in Phu Quoc) and spent some time touring the town and getting a feel for
the place. There are signs of expat activities and in fact boasts a number of
restaurants that serve decent food from what I was told. Burgers and pizza are
easily found. There is also an Australian expat running Buddy’s Ice Cream that
offers travel advice on the island http://www.visitphuquoc.info/

South East beach

. You can visit his site for things to see and do. The town itself has a ways
to go before the people understand the importance of tourism and start tidying
up the streets, but perhaps that is part of the experience.

The next day we bounced over hellish roads to north of the
island to a very small beach (Ganh Dau) where a person could see Cambodia and be
pelted with loud songs sung by a restaurant owner and his modified guitar. I
might have even appreciated his talent had the volume not driven me running a
fair distance away. From there drove again over bad roads to Bai Thom where we
had lunch on a stilted restaurant perched over a very littered beach and water.

From another angle

Being from Nha Trang, I found the seafood way overpriced and not as fresh as it
could be, but most of the people from Saigon
that I was travelling with enjoyed the meal. From there it was back to the
resort for a free afternoon. Some of us went to shoot some pool before dinner
while others decided to go for a dip in the resort pool (the ocean was out of
the question) Again I had to quickly escape, this time the pool hall as soon as
they had customers… the booming music was turned on. The air-conditioning was
turned off and the unhelpful employee insisted it was on and working, so deal
with it…. I did… I left! (Everybody in our group were commenting on the total
lack of customer service) The evening found the group of 20 that I was with
sitting down in the local small night market for another seafood dinner. The
price was a bit more reasonable and the food was decent. We finished the
evening by a few of us having some cold ones at the Dog bar. The next day it
was on to a 2 pm flight back toSaigon.

Long Beach road

My general conclusion is that Phu Quoc cannot be compared to
Nha Trang. They are totally different beach destinations. Firstly, if it is
rainy season in Nha Trang it is not in Phu Quoc and vise versa. Even though the
South East beaches were larger, most of the beaches on Phu Quoc are quite
narrow…. Again, I cannot comment on the more Northern resorts. The owner of the

Seafood restaurant

 

Dog Bar was telling me of how the locals have been cutting up the coral reefs
to sell as souvenirs and that the diving industry had suffered because of the
lack of places to dive. If true, that is unfortunate. There is a lot of
construction going on in Phu Quoc and in a few years it will most likely be a
totally different place. With some beach grooming, and some clean-up, Phu Quoc
could someday become a more popular destination. Until then, I think Nha Trang
is the best beach destination. (my opinion only)

A happy family

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Owee

Tour designer and Guide specializing in off the beaten track tours of Vietnam

7 thoughts on “Phu Quoc

  1. NO, thai people usualy put a resort on the beach. Vietnamese instead build an highway with no way of crossing it 🙁 There are no beach destination in Vietnam…at least not the kind european people expect. Mui Ne with a beach without sand is another example. That is sad, i’m going back to Thailand and the prices are going up…

    1. Phu Quoc does have beaches and resorts on the beach… Furthermore, at least Phu Quoc does NOT have the “Rental Chairs” all over the beach like Thailand which you do NOT have any spaces on the beach to enjoy and relax on the sands and the water….

      1. No Woee!! I just want to reply to Maurizio about “Vietnamese instead build an highway with no way of crossing it. There are no beach destination in Vietnam…” which compare with Thailand… That’s my point! Best Regards! Thanks!

  2. The beach pictures look like the tipical beaches of Thailand…nice sand, warm waters and calm. Whats not to like?
    Being that it is in the gulf of Thailand I expect it would be very similar to the islands I have visited there.

  3. I hope not either Chiqui, it all depends on inflation and operating cost. Also, Hotels are not allowed to raise pricee without approval from the government.

  4. I wasn’t even considering a beach destination in Vietnam until I started reading your blog. The pictures of your hotel room and prices were a great drawing point. I hope your prices don’t jack up when we visit next year.

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