Just off the coast of Cambodia lies Phu Quoc, a Vietnamese island known for its idyllic beaches, stunning sunsets, and laid-back atmosphere. It was considered a relatively untouched island destination merely a decade ago but has since morphed into a fast-developing resort town with new hotels being built everywhere. Despite the development, there is still a lot of untouched nature on the island waiting to be discovered. To help you plan the best holiday, here is my guide to Phu Quoc.
A Guide to Phu Quoc
How to Get There
Travel to Phu Quoc between December and March to avoid the scorching heat and monsoon rain, the worst of the Phu Quoc weather. Getting out of Dương Đông airport and making the trip to the centre of town is a fuss-free affair. After passing through immigration, you’ll see a number of taxis waiting. A ride into Dương Đông town will cost between 100,000 to 150,000 VND including a 10,000 VND toll fee the driver will ask you to pay. Make sure the cab is running on the meter.
Where to Stay
From bungalows to resorts to villas, Phu Quoc hotels have it all. I highly recommend Gaia Hotel and Nesta Hotel located right in the heart of Dương Đông town, nestled amongst the best Phu Quoc restaurants and eateries. The rooms in both hotels are clean, stylish, and brightly lit, furnished with comfortable beds, air conditioning, mini-fridges, kettles, and spacious bathrooms. You can also cool off in the hotel pools. These two hotels tend to get fully booked towards December so make your travel plans in advance.
We had our fill of the complimentary buffet breakfast in the hotels’ restaurants, with a satisfying spread of pho, eggs, salad, fruits, fried noodles, stir-fried veggies, meat, and more.
How to Get Around
If you can ride a scooter or motorbike, rent one for about 180,000 VND per day from your hotel or the bike rentals around town. We rented one from a bike shop just a few hundred metres outside our hotel. It’s the most convenient way to cruise through the island and gave us the freedom to zip in and out of the town centre and explore more distant Phu Quoc attractions whenever we wanted.
Otherwise, you can get your hotel’s receptionist to call you a cab whenever you want to go out. The streets are lined with convenience stores and pharmacies so you’ll be able to get any basic necessities if needed.
Where to Go
Phu Quoc activities are limited to diving, swimming, and hiking. Coming from concrete jungles, we grabbed this rare chance to be one with nature and got up close with the wildlife at Phu Quoc National Park, which covers half of the island and lies within Ganh Dau, Bai Thom, Cua Duong, Cua Can, and Ham Ninh.
From Dương Đông town, we set off towards Starfish Beach. Riding north towards Ganh Dau, we passed through dirt roads, forests, and cows grazing in nature.
Upon reaching Starfish Beach, we saw starfishes lying on the shore and even in the water. The white sandy beach and a dip in the clear blue sea were extremely rewarding after a long ride.
Address: Rạch Vẹm, Phú Quốc, Kien Giang, Vietnam
For a glorious sunset closer to town, head to Sunset Sanato Beach Club where you can chill on the private beach, swim in the sea and have a refreshing cocktail at the bar. We were there for a 10-day music festival, and were lucky enough to witness the incredible sunrise and sunset that we couldn’t get enough of!
Address: Bắc Bãi Trường, Dương Tơ, Phú Quốc, Kiên Giang
Where to Eat
There’s an abundance of restaurants, eateries, and food stalls in Phu Quoc, but sniffing out the good ones takes some research and luck.
Phu Quoc Night Market is a good starting point for a first-time traveller to Phu Quoc to get a taste of Vietnam cuisine. There are live seafood eateries and several stalls selling street food and ice cream. However, we found the prices at this Phu Quoc market jacked up and we thought the food was mediocre at best.
Address: Khu 1, Phú Quốc, Kien Giang, Vietnam
Restaurants in Phu Quoc are notoriously slow and if you make the mistake of picking a tourist trap to dine in, you’d have to wait up to 30 minutes to be served your meal. That’s why your best bet is to eat at places that serve only one speciality. At Bun Cha Ha Noi, the food landed on our table within 5 minutes of ordering. The spring rolls were piping hot, crispy, and fragrant. Dip the noodles into the sweet broth filled with grilled meat and slurp it all up!
Address: 121 Tran Hung Dao Street | Hamlet 7, Duong To Commune, Near Winston’s Burgers & Beer, Phu Quoc Island 920000, Vietnam
This was our best discovery on Phu Quoc! For the best meals, head to Saigonese Eatery, a hip Asian-European fusion restaurant just a couple of doors down from Gaia Hotel. It opens for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Get there early, especially at 5:30pm just when dinner service begins or you’ll have to join a long queue from 7pm onwards. The fish carpaccio, confit duck noodles, duck breast, and fork-tender pork belly with brown rice are to die for. It was so good we dined there three times to try as many dishes on the menu as we could!
Address: 73 Đường Trần Hưng Đạo, TT. Dương Đông, Thành phố Phú Quốc, tỉnh Kiên Giang, Vietnam
Do try Bún Quậy, a Phu Quoc speciality comprising fish paste and squid caught from the waters off the island, and noodles in a light seafood broth. The fun part is getting to DIY a mix of spices for dipping or mixing into the broth for more flavour. Bún Quậy Kiến Xây offers an air-conditioned eatery and an alfresco dining area across the street. I suggest going to the alfresco one for a truly local dining experience.
Address: 28 Đường Bạch Đằng, Khu 1, tp. Phú Quốc, tỉnh Kiên Giang, Vietnam
For the best coffee on the island, Wood House Coffee Roasters is the place to be. Popular with tourists, it serves a variety of coffee, including Egg Coffee which originates from Hanoi. It’s like a cappuccino but instead of milk, the coffee is topped with a sweet foamy froth made of whisked egg yolks. I’m not a coffee drinker at all but had to make an exception for this surprisingly yummy cuppa joe.
Address: 51 Đường Trần Hưng Đạo, TT. Dương Đông, Phú Quốc, tỉnh Kiên Giang, Vietnam
Even though Phu Quoc is no longer a hidden gem, it’s still a beautiful oasis where you can escape the bustle of city life and dive into the clear blue ocean. On the island, we enjoyed all the comfort, quality food, and nature we could ask for without breaking the bank. If you’re looking for a romantic getaway in Asia, look no further!