Phú Quốc island and its beaches was voted to be “The Cleanest and Most Beautiful Beach of the World” by ABC News as from the end of February, 2008. Phú Quốc is a very mountainous and densely forested Island of 1320 sq km; it is 48 km in length from south to north and has a population of approx. 103,000 people (2012). Situated in the Gulf of Thailand 45 km west of Ha Tien on the Vietnamese mainland and 15 km south of the coast of Cambodia, Phú Quốc is ringed with some beautiful beaches in Vietnam, and offers the best seafood in the country.
The island is quite large (over 40 kilometers from north to south), and to get around it is much better to rent a moto (motor scooter) for about $10 per day. Otherwise you can rent a taxi for about $35 or $40 half-day or full day.
There is the Ganh Dau trail starting from the main road about 5 km east of Ganh Dau at the northwestern corner of Phú Quốc. The trailhead is marked, going south from the road, but the sign is in Vietnamese only. However, there are no other signs on that road, so the trail is difficult to miss. The trail itself is unmarked, but easy to follow (and some drive their scooter on the trail). The trail is a moderately interesting walk: you can hear birds and insects, but don’t expect to see much wildlife.
The roads going round the northwestern corner of the island are an interesting ride with a scooter (and also possible do with a car or taxi). The roads are quiet and safe, and also the unpaved roads are easy to ride (just be careful with soft loose sands in some places). You can stop for coffee or lunch at the Chez Carole Resort to see the views to the mouth of the Cua Can river. There are nice quiet beaches at the westernmost shores of the island, and the road east from Ganh Dau goes through dense forests. There are dozens of large colorful fishing boats in front of Ganh Dau in the afternoon.
At the southern tip of the island is the fishing town of An Thoi. There are some fishing boats to see. You can also hire a boat to take you to the small islands south of Phú Quốc. The prettiest beach on the island is Sao Beach at the southeastern corner of the island, a couple of kilometers north of An Thoi, with a restaurant/cafe and sun-bathing facilities. A couple of kilometers east of Dương Đông there is a path (slightly more than 1 km) through the forest to the Suoi Tranh waterfalls. This is a major attraction when it has been raining. There is barely any water during the dry season from November to April, but the rock exposed by the river is interesting, and you can hear the sounds of the forest. You can plunge into the pool under the 2 meter waterfall in the end of the path.
There are pearl farms on the western side of the island south of Dương Đông. The Phú Quốc Pearl Farm is about 10 kilometers away, and they have a cafe/restaurant and a shop selling pearl products. There are a couple of pepper farms that can be visited (shown on the tourist map.) The pepper plant is growing hanging from a long pole, with small green peppers in them. You can also buy pepper products to bring home as souvenirs, to impress your friends and relatives. Some of the fish sauce factories can be visited. Ham Ninh fishing village on the east coast across the island from Dương Đông may be worth a visit.
After dark – watch the chain of lights bobbing across the horizon as the local fishermen attach lamps to their boats to attract squid. There is also a special breed of dogs that live on the island. They are extremely similar to normal dogs except for the fact that they have 2 special markings on their back, where the fur goes in the other direction.
Night squid fishing tours, though run by many different operators, are relatively standardized throughout Phú Quốc. Boats leave at sunset, stop at a seafood barge (where you can buy fresh seafood that the crew will cook for you), and continue to just outside the harbor for ‘squid fishing‘ in which you drop a hook into the water (without bait) and hope for the best. Typically nobody but the captain catches anything, but at least the crew will prepare some squid congee for you (included in the tour price), along with steamed sea urchins. Treat it as a sunset boat ride with a small dinner, and you won’t be disappointed.
Snorkeling/fishing tours are also run by many different operators in a standardized fashion. All are combination snorkeling and fishing tours; there are none focusing exclusively on one or the other. There is the northern coastline or southern islands tour. The southern islands tour may include less time on water, but more time on land (e.g. at the various pearl, fish sauce, or souvenir shops) as well as popular tourist stops like Sao (Starfish) Beach and/or the former prisons. Each tour varies in the exact stops (which are not guaranteed anyhow) and the precise lunch menu. However, the tours generally begin with a stop at a floating seafood barge where you can buy something for them to cook; then continue on to 2-3 snorkeling or fishing spots. At some point they serve a freshly-made Vietnamese family style lunch– since these are large boats, the kitchen is big enough to cook a real meal. Try to get out on a boat one evening for some squid fishing yourself. Make a visit to Phú Quốc National Park and swim in a quiet pool.
Motorcycles are plentiful and cheap, hire one off a local and go cruising around the island. Be aware you need a vietnamese driving license. Petrol can usually be purchased around the island at petrol stations or served fresh in glass bottles.
Also Bicycles is a great way to observe the island. You can rent a mountain bike for around 50,000 VND per day at Saigon Phú Quốc Hotel or some local shops (be sure to write ‘xe dap’ because few Vietnameses here could speak English well).
Some beaches stretch for kilometres with overhanging palms, no one else in sight what more could you want?
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