Phu Quoc is an island in Vietnam that's a true tropical paradise located within the Gulf of Thailand, and close to the border of Cambodia. In addition to the watersports and diving, the island is alive with history, shopping, spa treatments, and scenic views.
Forget about paying an outrageous price for an island destination, Vietnam's Phu Quoc Island can give you just about anything a watersport or sun-loving person could ask for, all without breaking the bank. What's even better is there's also historical sites, cooking classes, and shopping to boot.
The most popular time to come to Phu Quoc is from November to March when the least amount of rain falls on the island, situated in the Gulf of Thailand--not even 20km from Kampot, Cambodia. July brings on the heaviest of the monsoon rains, washing away many of the unpaved roads.
Despite the rains, the weather in Phu Quoc is pretty constant all year round--averaging a balmy 82-degrees Fahrenheit. It can get a bit sticky, mostly at 80-percent humidity. Yeah, sounds hot--but all the better to enjoy the beaches, I would say.
You could just choose to sit on Phu Quoc's sandy beaches with a good book, or you could try SCUBA diving--and for those of you who aren't certified you can still try to SCUBA as there is a diving experience that'll let you give it a go.
Dive sites around Phu Quoc include places like the An Thoi Archipelago and Turtle Island; two of the most popular of the area's diving areas.
We can't live by diving alone, so thankfully Phu Quoc's got snorkeling, kayaking, kite surfing, jet skiing, and beach volleyball. For something that doesn't involve sand and surf, you can also go visit one of the island's little towns or villages.
Duong Dong is the largest of them all, but is still a small town with lots of local flavor. An Thoi is really popular, and a bicycle rental to see it all will only cost you about $1 a day. Sorry, no renting a car to get around in Phu Quoc, you have to have a Vietnamese driver's license.
Seafood lovers will no doubt love Ham Ninh, a fishing village that serves up the freshest ingredients from the sea. Better yet, buy it here and take it on a picnic over to the quietest and least developed of Phu Quoc's towns--Rach Vem.
One of the best ways to get from village to village is by motorbike. Its affordable (haggle over the price to get it even cheaper (avg. $7-$15 a week), its easy, and its fun--just remember to wear a helmet.
And you didn't come all this way to leave after a few hours, right? Well, what's really great is the price of accommodations won't cost an arm and leg. Your choice if you're willing to spend an average of $80-$335 a night on luxury accommodations (at places like La Veranda) that offer spas and all that jazz, or if you want mid-range accommodation (averaging $30-$50 a night) in small guesthouses or bugalows. Budget accommodation can cost as little as $6 a night (the Viet Thanh Resort), but you won't be beachside.
Wait--you rented a bike, right? So, no big deal if you're a few blocks away. All the better to stop at one of Phu Quoc's markets. You can find all kinds of exotic and delicious items at one of these places, right down to farmed pearls.
Which, by the way, is another you can do here--take a pearl farming tour. You can also visit the Coconut Tree Prison, or go see one of the many pagodas on the island--like the Sung Hung Pagoda. Too much sightseeing? Take a Vietnamese cooking class instead.
The squid and anchovy 'drying" tour is a once in a lifetime occurance--informative and educational, if you can get over the smell of all the fish.
Don't worry, you'll have forgotten all about the smell once you've seen some of Phu Quoc's scenic vistas, like the Suoi Da Ban Waterfall or overlooking the pepper plantations or any one of the island's 99 mountains.
Yeah, on top of everything, the island can even boast it has a mountain landscape. How do you put a price on this kind of experience? I don't know--but I'm so glad that it doesn't cost all that much, this way everyone can enjoy it. Nevermind, let's keep this just between us.
Photo by Tony Pham