It’s 2015 and I’m in Phu Quoc! Great, now what do I do? Tips for those travelling to Phu Quoc, Vietnam 6


One of the small islands off Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam

One of the small islands off Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam

Here are some ideas that could be useful to persons travelling to Phu Quoc Island in Vietnam. Having been there in 2007 and now in 2015, the difference is amazing, not really a good thing as I prefer the less-developed version with its small airport in the main town of the island. Things have changed as you will now fly in through the international airport, see a big amusement park (near Vinpearl Resort) and experience prices that are way too high to be reasonable in Vietnam. Wow, for an expat living in Saigon, prices will amaze you in comparison with the rest of Vietnam, foreign tourists however, might not notice it if they continue to convert local prices to euros, dollars, pounds, etc.

View from the restaurant at the port of Ganh Dau, North of Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam

View from the restaurant at the port of Ganh Dau, North of Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam

1. Dinh Cau Night Market

Though it sounded like the typical tourist trap, we had fun visiting the place, a simple 200-300 meter aller with sea-food vendors on one side and restaurants in the other. I guess the kids had the best time as they could marvel at the different sea-creatures on display, from sharks to sea-snakes, almost every living animal in the surrounding seas is on display and you can get them cooked in the restaurants across the street.

We chose to just order from the menu and that is when you realize that the prices here are aiming for the tourist (as you will discover much cheaper places to eat elsewhere on the island, see below). To get a reference, let’s say that any dish with shrimp (grilled, fried, with tamarind, etc.) cost the lump sum of 250.000 VND. When you see the size of the shrimp on the plate, that is definitely a mouth-watering experience, they are huge, you wouldn’t eat those in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) without spending a fortune. It is better to go for the simple dishes (grilled, boiled or fried) and avoid noodles with beef or other more elaborate ones.

Dinh Cau Night Market

Dinh Cau Night Market in Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam

Phu Quoc Vietnam, big frogs (toads) on sale at the night market

Wow, even my French friends were impressed by these humongous toads!

Trip to Phu Quoc Vietnam, night market

A great place for kids to see sealife, albeit on sale and about to be eaten, still great entertainment!

 2. Pepper farms and the famous Phu Quoc pepper

Our friends were on a mission, to buy the local grown pepper that had been requested by their pals back home. Phu Quoc pepper is quite famous and you will find many small farms along the main road going from North to South of Phu Quoc island. One handy thing to know is that the very first pepper farms sell theirs 20% more expensive than the ones you will find further along the road (going South), so, if you are impatient and purchase immediately, you will end up paying 100.000 VND instead of the 80.000 VND (medium-sized jar) you would pay just a few hundred meters further down the road. You can also purchase local coffee at around 100.000 VND for 250 grams.

Worker watering the pepper stalks on Phu Quoc Island

Worker watering the pepper stalks on Phu Quoc Island

Pepper farm Phu Quoc Vietnam

Pepper farm in Phu Quoc Vietnam

Pepper farm, Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam

Pepper farm, Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam

 3. Sao Beach, South of Phu Quoc Island

Definitely a winner if you have to choose one beach to go to, I recommend you look for the restaurant My Len next to the Beach House (or is it Beach Club) restaurant. This beach is famous for its white sand and turquoise water, the best for the kids being that the shore is really shallow so they can run around with just a bit of water so they feel safe while playing in the sand.

Prices are a bit lower than at the night market but you still end up paying 215.000 VND for a plate of shrimps, once more, they are huge and delicious! A cocktail like a Piña Colada or a Long Island Ice Tea will set you back 90.000 VND. At the Beach House next door, you can have pizzas and some more western fare if you are looking for it. They also have two nice rooms for rent, all wooden with new and elegant bathrooms, for 60 USD/night. Honestly, the days of finding a room for 30-40 USD seem to be long-gone on this island. At the resort further down after those two, they have nice and new bungalows right on the beach front, 1.500.000 VND/night for one double bed and 1.800.000 VND/night (around 85-90 USD) for a bigger room with two double beds. Be careful as it seems they are constructing behind the front-line of beach bungalows and apparently from 9 am, the hammers and other construction noises will be merciless.

By the way, “Sao Beach” means “Star Beach”, it is very close to the remains of the old French prison (also called Phu Quoc prison, Coconut prison, Coconut tree prison) that was used to hold dissidents during the Indochina colonial period but also during the Vietnam war when North Vietnam fighters were imprisoned and tortured there (called Nhà tù Phú Quốc or Nha Lao Cay Dua Prison in Vietnamese).

Sao Beach, Phu Quoc Island

Sao Beach, Phu Quoc Island

4. North-West of Phu Quoc island and the best seafood restaurant of all

It is quite far from where we were staying (Duong Dong, the main town in the middle of the western coast) so getting there cost like 580.000 VND but it was well worth it. We had a terrific lunch of sea-food, not only did it cost almost half the price (700.000 VND) of all the other places we had eaten before (night market, Sao beach), this place serves a very particular “salt/pepper/lime” mixture, home-made and very different from other restaurants. I definitely recommend the grilled calamari and grilled shrimps in butter and garlic. At another table they were having fried and battered calamari, it looked pretty tempting too.

Here are some pics of the restaurant as well as the address:

Bien Hai Restaurant Phu Quoc Vietnam11

Bien Hai Restaurant Phu Quoc Vietnam11

Special salt/pepper/lime mixture for dipping!

Special salt/pepper/lime mixture for dipping!

View from the restaurant Phu Quoc Vietnam

View from the restaurant Phu Quoc Vietnam

Trip to Phu Quoc Vietnam10

We were not the only foreigners in on the secret, this restaurant is worth travelling all the way up North of Phu Quoc

After a delicious lunch, we headed for Dai Beach, not far from this small port and restaurant. Note that the taxi might leave at the very beginning of the Dai Beach, you might be a bit discouraged as, without shade or a proper place to sit down, the glaring sun can put you off, this is what we found at the beginning of the beach:

Old motorised workhorse Phu Quoc Vietnam

Old motorised workhorse Phu Quoc Vietnam

 

So, after some disappointment when we first arrived to the beach, we walked some 150 meters further and low and behold, paradise! A deserted beach-front restaurant with plenty of hammocks and straw-thatched roofs to lazily see off the day under.

Dai Beach Phu Quoc Vietnam13

Paradise can be as simple as this and just as enjoyable

Dai Beach Phu Quoc Vietnam

A whole deserted beach to ourselves with no other noise than the sea and the birds

DaiBeach Phu Quoc Vietnam 15

Relax, that’s just the sun setting with Turtle Island on the right

5. An Thoi port, South of Phu Quoc island

The second largest city in Phu Quoc, An Thoi has a more authentic touch to it as you will not see many tourists wandering around. It is a good place to buy the also famous Phu Quoc fish sauce. However, the main reason that will bring you to An Thoi is to get on one of the boats leaving from An Thoi port. This is definitely the major port in the island with its array of Vietnamese coast guard boats and rows of tourist sight-seeing boats (do not join the super cheap “snorkelling and island visiting” tours that will load up to 40 tourists on the same boat, these cost around 17 USD/person, go for the ones that are slightly more expensive, 20-25 USD/person and you will not be more than 12 people on the boat, double-check this when purchasing your ticket). If you don’t have a boat to get on to, not much to see at the the An Thoi port.

An Thoi port Phu Quoc Island Vietnam

Main building, An Thoi port Phu Quoc Island Vietnam

Main building, An Thoi port Phu Quoc Island Vietnam

An Thoi port Phu Quoc Island Vietnam

Freshly collected from the sea

An Thoi port Phu Quoc Island Vietnam 2

6. Other tips if you’re visiting Phu Quoc Island

6.1 Riding a motorbike in Phu Quoc Island

I ride a motorbike in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) so I’m used to Vietnamese traffic and road customs, this being said, riding a motorbike in Phu Quoc must never be taken lightly.

I have quite a few friends who are airline pilots doing the route HCMC-Phu Quoc, they tell me that most times when returning to Saigon (HCMC), they have a foreigner being attended to by medical personnel on the plane since he is being evacuated after having had a motorcycle accident in Phu Quoc. We saw ourselves two European girls being evacuated from their hotel after having had a bike accident in Phu Quoc. Some people don’t even know how to ride a motorbike and think that all is fun and games when doing so in Phu Quoc….if you are lucky you will just get “asphalt kiss”, if not your holidays are over…permanently.

As we were travelling with kids, we preferred to spend a fortune on taxis (you can pay 600.000 VND and they will take you on a round itinerary either to the North or the South of the island, they will wait for you at any stopping point like the beach, total time 4 hours, each hour after that, 100.000 VND). If you want to rent a motorbike, you will see signs everywhere, a normal motorbike (Yamaha Nouvo, full automatic) in non- pristine condition will set you back 150.000 VND, if it is in premium condition, you might have to pay 180.000 VND. If you rent over several days or you are renting more than one bike, haggle the prices down, that is the way it works!

6.2 Other places to go in Phu Quoc

I liked the Drunk’n Monkey Bar, friendly staff and patrons, the manager Steph

map of phu quoc vietnam

Map of Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam

an (UK) is great.

Le Bistrot, French restaurant is a nice place to go too, the “patronne”, Nhu, very friendly and nice too. They have a very reasonably priced menu (did not try it though).

And here is a simple map to get around the main parts of the Island

 

 


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6 thoughts on “It’s 2015 and I’m in Phu Quoc! Great, now what do I do? Tips for those travelling to Phu Quoc, Vietnam

  • Jenny Steele

    The animals in the bucket are called “ball cucumbers” and they are in demand by the chinese. Unfortunately the harvesting process is horrible!

    Great pics.

    • Dario Gonzalez Post author

      Hello Jenny! Thank you for telling us what was in the buckets, I had no idea 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the pics, if you do head over to Phu Quoc, have a great time.

  • Lisa humphry

    While holidaying in phu quo. We woke up one morning to hear a young Scottish tourist had just lost his life driving a motor bike early hours in the morning after drinking all night. Being in contact with his close friends and staying at the same hotel it was quite distressing the thought that a young man had just lost his life due to stupidity and the act of freedom. My hope is that Vietnam (Phu quoc) stops foreigners from renting motorcycles .

    • Clement Duboc

      Hey There Lisa, I couldn’t agree more with you. Every week I hear about foreigners getting into crazy traffic accidents. Drunk driving is sadly still common in Vietnam, even among the expat community. But you may also know how easy (and cheap) it is to get a motorbike in this country, and unfortunately, if you ever get stopped by the cops, most will simply ask for a bit of money and let you go without a fine or taking your license.

  • Jo M

    Hi! Can you let me know where exactly in Phu Quoc your first photo is please? It looks like Seychelles and would really love to see it when we visit the island next month! Thank you! Jo

    • Admin

      Hello Jo,
      Thank you for stopping by.
      That photo is actually from one of the smaller islands you can visit when doing a tour by boat around Phu Quoc. I’m sorry I can’t be more specific..
      Cheers and enjoy your visit.