9 reasons you need to visit Phu Quoc Island
It’s been described as the jewel in Vietnam’s crown.
Phu Quoc Island sits on the west coast of Vietnam and is rapidly cementing itself as one of South East Asia’s hottest holiday destinations.
It’s been popular with backpacker crowds for a while but couples – young and old – and even families are descending on the low-key island with its easy access, incredible coastline and laid back atmosphere.
While the likes of Hanoi, Halong Bay and Sa Pa offer loads to do in northern Vietnam, it’s down south where the weather is hot all year round that you can really soak up what Vietnam’s all about at a much slower pace.
Phu Quoc is home to some of the best beaches in Vietnam and here’s why you need to add it to your itinerary NOW.
Phu Quoc beach at dusk (Picture: Getty)
1. It’s the perfect place to relax
For many, Vietnam will be a total culture shock. While the country is outrageously beautiful and enchanting it’s also pretty hectic – the roads are chaotic, the language-barrier-struggle is real, and the heat is intense.
But Phu Quoc is a good place to unwind, relax and enjoy the simpler things in life.
Whether you’ve been trekking in Sa Pa or navigating Ben Thanh Market in Saigon, Phu Quoc is the antidote to more action-packed resorts with its remote beaches and chilled vibe.
Phu Quoc is cut out for tourists but still feels authentic (Picture: Emily Hewett)
2. The beaches
If you Google Vietnam beaches there’s some pretty impressive views to behold.
Phu Quoc will be among them.
Most hotels are on the island’s west coast on the island’s biggest beach, Long Beach.
Long Beach (Picture: Getty)
Make sure you stay in a hotel directly on the beach, though, as the beaches are private and you could get moved on if you settle down on somebody else’s turf.
Because the island is so small you can easily check out all the other beaches Phu Quoc has to offer and Sao beach in the south is a must.
Sao Beach in Phu Quoc (Picture: Getty)
3. Its accessibility
With a shiny new international airport now in place you can fly to Phu Quoc from Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Da Nang and Can Tho from as little as £20 each way.
However, it’s also great for people on an even tighter budget as there’s also a number of ferries that can take you 45km to mainland Vietnam or even Cambodia, which is just a stonesthrow away.
Phu Quoc harbour (Picture: Getty)
4. It’s a place to explore
The island is 90 per cent national park.
You can hire a scooter or a bicycle pretty much everywhere in Vietnam for mega cheap prices.
But the lovely thing in Phu Quoc is that because it’s so small – taking about an hour to scooter around the perimeter – there’s no chance you’ll get too lost.
Plus the roads are relatively quiet – unusual for Vietnam!
As with many places in SE Asia the snorkelling in Phu Quoc is on point. There’s also plenty of diving schools if you’re after a PADI certificate.
The biolumiscent plankton is beautiful (Picture: Phuquocislandguide.com)
6. Bioluminescent plankton
One of the things you just HAVE to do is experience the wonder that is bioluminescent plankton.
There’s a few places in the world where this exist but if you’re enjoying a nighttime stroll along the shore you’ll probably notice what appears to be the odd dot of ultraviolet sand.
Wait until all the lights go out – you’ll have to wait until the early hours of the morning for this – but if you go into the sea and wave your arms around the water around you will light up a brilliant shade of blue.
The plankton only turns blue when it’s disturbed and it’s a truly beautiful sight – think Leo in The Beach.
There’s also an old prison you can visit with creepy manikins acting out the torturous things that used to go on there, a fish sauce factory and a pearl farm if midnight skinny dipping isn’t your bag.
Squid fishing is a LOT of fun (Picture: Emily Hewett)
7. Squid fishing
If you’re hanging out on the beach in the evening (probably at Rory’s Bar where they light a fire each night) you’re bound to notice all the bright green lights on the horizon which signify that squid fishing is at play – and there’s plenty of sunset trips enabling you to experience it first hand.
OK, so on my trip I didn’t actually catch any squid, but it was a worthwhile experience nonetheless.
We also got to have a taste of the night’s catch and there was some squid porridge going around which I politely passed on, but you may be braver than I!
They don’t make pizzas like this anywhere else in Vietnam, I swear (Picture: Emily Hewett)
8. The food
If you’ve wandered off the beaten track during your stay in Vietnam it’s probably been a while since you enjoyed some hearty, wholesome food.
Luckily, Phu Quoc is a little more tailored to tourists than a lot of other places and there’s a tonne of food options on offer.
Of course there’s plenty of traditional cuisine to go around, including a bustling night market with fresh fish and ice-cream rolls.
9. The Salinda Hotel
The Salinda Hotel (Picture: Salinda)
I stayed at the Salinda Hotel on Long Beach, less than ten minutes from the airport.
In SE Asia you often find five-star hotels to be more like three-stars but the Salinda did not disappoint.
I was greeted with a cold flannel and a selection of drinks before being whisked off to my room.
Along with the biggest bed I had ever seen, the room had beautiful decor, gorgeous views, a flat screen TV, iPod docking station, a tonne of sweet-smelling toiletries, air conditioning, robes, slippers – the lot.
The Salinda Hotel’s pool (Picture: Salinda)
The poolside was impressive as the rooms.
An infinity pool backed onto the beach, separated by a row of palm trees.
There’s an abundance of staff on hand, the food was excellent, the service impeccable, and everywhere was clean and tidy.
Although the resort is pretty expensive in Vietnam terms, it’s very good compared to European prices for five star stays.