Phu Quoc Island
Phú Qu?c is the largest island in Vietnam located off the coast of Cambodia. It’s been described as the jewel in Vietnam’s crown. This peaceful tropical paradise, floats in the warm turquoise waters in the Gulf of Thailand, 50kms from the mainland and a 50 minute flight from Ho Chi Minh City. It's known for white-sand beaches and resorts, most of which are along the palm-lined southwest coast. More than half of the island is part of Phú Qu?c National Park, which features mountains, dense tropical jungle, hiking trails and wildlife.
Phu Quoc – Photo by huynhloc
Phu Quoc is open year round with a peak season from November to March and is well known for its stunning beaches, untouched natural environment, the easy going and relaxed atmosphere, friendly locals, and fantastic scuba diving and snorkelling. Duong Dong is the largest town, with day and night markets selling crafts, produce and fish.
Biet Thu Premier Village Kem Resort Phu Quoc Photo by nhadatvideo
Phu Quoc Island, has a history with numerous nations occupying the island over the past centuries including Vietnam, Cambodia, France and America. In the late 1980’s the island was in a dispute between Vietnam and Cambodia. Today, Phu Quoc Island forms part of Vietnam and is the next big eco tourist destination.
Up to the mid 1750’s Phu Quoc was famous for its sea cucumbers. The local people make a living off fishing the rich waters surrounding the island and harvesting and trading of sea cucumbers. From the 1760s through to the 1780s, the French missionary Pigneau de Behaine was based on Phu Quoc and it was during this time that he sheltered Prince Nguyen Anh when he was hunted by Tay Son rebels. From 1782 to 1786, Phu Quoc became a stronghold of Lord Nguyen Anh, who later recaptured the mainland from the Tay Son rebels and become Emperor Gia Long in 1802. During the mid 1800’s, records show a total of 12 villages on the island of Phu Quoc some of which still exist today, including Duong Dong, Ganh Dau and Cua Can. In 1869, Phu Quoc was occupied by the French and came under the administration of the Governor of Cochinchine. During this time the French set up rubber and coconut plantations on the island, though population records advise that less than 1000 people resided on Phu Quoc approaching the late 19th and early 20th century, of which most of these people inhabited remote fishing villages.
Today, Phu Quoc Island is using its potential as the next tourist destination, with plans for an international airport by 2010, development of modern infrastructure and extensive tourist resort facilities by the year 2020 with an expected 3 million tourists annually.
Water Taxis at An Thoi Harbour Photo by Frank Fox
biet thu premier village kem resort phu quoc Photo by nhadatvideo
Phu Quoc National Park
Phu Quoc National Park is mostly situated on the Northeast part of the island which comprises more than half of the northern region. The natural attraction spans more than 314, 000 hectares of forest, mountains and unique flora and fauna. While most areas of the Park is strictly protected for research purposes, visitors can explore the park via Ganh Dau Village as it’s accessible for camping, hiking, bird-watching, and photography. Some rare wildlife such as long-tailed macaques, silver langurs, slow lories, otters, and hornbills can also be spotted.
The best way to get to Phu Quoc National Park is by booking a day tour or renting a motorcycle. If you’d like to experience the National Park, you might consider booking a tour through one of Travel Service Providers.
Dinh Cau Rock (Cau Temple)
Dinh Cau Rock or Dinh Cau Temple is located at the mouth of the Duong Dong River in Duong Dong Town. It is a combination of a Buddhist temple and a lighthouse that was built in 1937 as a dedication to Thien Hau (the Goddess of the sea) who provides protection for the fisherman and vessels that head out to the open waters. Climbing the steps offers a better view of the many fishing boats navigating the narrow river opening, as well as views along the coast. The beachfront here also is a good place to view the sunset and local life in the evenings. There are views of a small lighthouse in the distance and the beaches of the townspeople.
Phu Quoc – Photo by huynhloc
Suoi Tranh Waterfall
Suoi Tranh waterfall is a four-metre-tall waterfall within the Ham Ninh Mountains surrounded by lush greenery, natural caves, and rock pools. It is located 10-minute drive from Duong Dong. This natural attraction is ideal for those looking to escape the bustling town centre. Nature-lovers can enjoy recreational activities such as picnicking, camping and bird-watching, with small walking paths available for those who prefer a leisurely hike through the jungle. Various flora and fauna such as wild orchids, exotic mushrooms and varieties of moss and lichens can be found here. You can also find freshwater shrimps and small fishes when you look into the stream.
Ham Ninh fishing village
Located 20km northeast of Duong Dong town, Ham Ninh village is famous for its natural scenery and experience the daily life of local fishermen as well as authentic regional dishes at affordable prices. Widely known as one of the oldest villages on Phu Quoc Island, its residents’ main sources of income include diving for pearls and sea cucumbers, fishing and, in recent years, selling handmade souvenirs and seafood to tourists. In the evenings, travellers can also enjoy relaxing sunset views of colourful fishing boats, Ham Ninh Mountain range and coastline, and the Hai Tac Archipelago during their visit here.
Ham Ninh Fishing Village is 30-minute drive from Duong Dong Town and is renowned for its unique seafood delicacies. Be sure to visit the Ham Ninh Market to enjoy sea cucumber soup, tram mushroom, and boiled flower crab as well as medicinal drinks made with seaweed, ginseng, seahorse, and rice wine.
Sunset at Ham Ninh fishing village Photo by nguyenqcdt<
Diving at Phu Quoc
For divers the true treasures around Phu Quoc Island are hidden under the sea. The warm, nutrient rich water draws vast schools of tropical fish and colourful corals. The calm and warm waters around Phu Quoc also make for a relaxing adventure for the experienced or taking diver courses. The best time for a dive is between October and May in the dry season, however scuba diving is still available all year. Scuba diving in Phu Quoc was introduced in 2002, so it is relatively new therefore divers have the unique opportunity of discovering the marine life around the island for the first time, with many areas around the island still largely unexplored.
Motorbike riding is probably the best and most interesting way of exploring Phu Quoc. Some of the best off the beaten track places will be found on the up north, including around Bai Dai Beach and Ganh Dau headlands in the top northwest and riding back through the national park area. The even more remote Bai Thom Beach Area at the top of the island, with lots of sandy tracks leading to the beaches through cashew nut plantations. Riding around the old bridges of Cua Can Village is an interesting experience, just watch out for on coming traffic. Motorbike rental is widely available.
National Park Walk
Phu Quoc is heaven for nature lovers and hikers. There are a couple of basic walking tracks in the national park. Ganh Dau Trail, Phu Quoc National Park Trail and Rach Tram Trail are a few easy trail rating. However if you're thinking of attempting any unmarked trail through the thick jungle and up the mountain, please make sure you're very prepared. You can choose to explore on your own or with a tour guide.
Visit Pearl Farm
Visit the pearl farm to discover how pearls are cultivated. The cultured pearl industry officially began on Phu Quoc Island some 18 years ago when an Australian-Vietnamese joint venture company was established. Some large Vietnamese farms were also set up at that time. There are several pearl farms on Phu Quoc raising different varieties of oysters. 2.2km down the road, Phu Quoc Pearl Farm raises Australian stock and is now managed by Ngoc Hien who uses Japanese technology. The Pearl Farm cafe and showroom were damaged by a recent storm and reconstruction is due for November.
One of the ways to enjoy the ocean view, to explore parts of the island and other beaches is through kayaking. Phu Quoc provides ideal weather conditions and calm waters during most times of the year for kayaking. Some resorts provide either free or rental kayaks for guests.
Enjoy Sunset and Night Squid Fishing
Join a guided boat tour and cruise along the Long Beach for a panoramic sunset view of the town and the heading out to sea to experience the traditional method of “Night Squid Fishing”
Photo by snowflakegirl
Visit Vinpearl Land
Connected by the world’s longest oversea cable car, Vinpearl Land Amusement Park is a massive entertainment place that contains several sections, including an outdoor water park, outdoor and indoor arcade centres, an aquarium, and shopping street. Vinpearl Land provides the best family friendly entertainment centre on the Island. Accessible within a 20-minute drive from Ong Lang Beach, Vinpearl Land also offers spectacular displays of lights, music, and water acrobatics at the amphitheatre, and its indoor games centre features 120 arcades such as horse racing, motor-racing, and shooting. Open daily from 9:00 – 21:30
Getting There By Air
Phu Quoc International airport (PQC) is Vietnam’s 5th largest airport that has a passenger capacity of approximately 5 million people annually. It is located about 5 kilometers from Duong Dong town and within 10 minutes to Long Beach (Bai Truong), the island’s most popular beach. Currently, China Southern Airlines offers direct flights from Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Hangzhou and KunMing to Phu Quoc Island (as of 2017).
Transfer from Airport
There is a wide variety of transport options available on arrival, the majority of resorts have organised airport transfer services as these are located south of Duong Dong Town following Long Beach, and for others, taxi’s or motorbikes are available or some guest houses and hotels will offer free transport to their place.
To get around on Phu Quoc Island, there are a few options. You can go by taxi, bus, boat, bicycle or motorbike. Renting a motorbike may be the best way to travel the island’s roads. However some roads may not be in a good condition where you have to ride on red dirt roads and potholes, especially when you are travelling to find the beautiful sites and landmarks of Phu Quoc Island. Here are your options for getting around.
When you arrive and exited the airport, you may already have a several taxi offers which you can pick from. Taxis are available anywhere near bigger resorts in Duong Dong or anywhere where there are tourists. For getting from the airport to the resort, do pick one of the silver coloured “Reasonable Price” taxis available at the terminal exit.
It is not difficult to call a taxi in Duong Dong town and An Thoi town, but for places like Ham Ninh fishing village or the North of the island you may need to book a taxi in advance.
For budget travelling, the basic bus service that runs between An Thoi and Duong Dong runs every couple of hours, especially when a ferry arrives at An Thoi. You will find the signs of bus stops at the roadside of the main streets on Phu Quoc Island.
Renting a Motorbike
Riding a motorbike may be the best way to get around on Phu Quoc Island. Especially when you are scouting the area for beautiful beaches and hidden treasures, you will appreciate the mobility of your rented bike. Motorbike rentals are available almost everywhere and you can rent one from either hotel or resort or a dedicated motorbike rental shop. You can even hire a motorcycle taxi. The prices for renting a motorbike are between VND 120,000 and VND 250,000 per day. It depends on whether you want to rent an old manual machine, a stylish vintage motorbike or a modern automatic.
Often hotels and resorts offer bicycles for their guests. I would definitely recommend that option for riding shorter distances. Always pay attention and lock your bicycle when you leave it behind to explore the one or another interesting sight on Phu Quoc Island.
Travellers from China are eligible for up to 30 days visa on arrival in Phu Quoc Island. However you must meet the following requirements:
- Your passport must be valid for 6 months since your arrival date;
- You must have a round trip air ticket to and from Phu Quoc. The onward destination after Phu Quoc can be any other destination except Vietnam. Flights can be either direct to Phu Quoc or transiting through one Vietnam’s other international airports with the final destination being Phu Quoc.
- Your stay on the island must be less than 30 days.
In case you plan to visit other parts of Vietnam after Phu Quoc, you will require a Vietnam visa. And in this case, you may:
- Obtain a Vietnam visa for your whole trip in Vietnam; OR
- Travel to Phu Quoc island with Vietnam visa exemption and then contact the Vietnam Immigration Officers there to obtain Vietnam visa.
If you are on Phu Quoc Island and need to extend your Vietnam Visa, most travel agencies will do this for you for a fee and the process will take approximately 12 business days.
The currency of Vietnam is "Dong" (abbreviated "d" or VND). Bank coins are 200d, 500d, 1000d, 5000d. Bank notes are 1,000d; 2,000d; 5,000d; 10,000d; 20,000d; 50,000d, 100,000d, 200,000d and 500,000d. The US Dollar is widely accepted.
The ATM network in Vietnam is growing rapidly and most towns now have ATM’s at various banks throughout the country.
Credit Cards and Travellers' Cheques are accepted at most hotels, resorts, restaurants and souvenir shops in major cities and holiday destinations. Visitors are recommended to some carry US Dollars in small notes. Travellers can change their money for Vietnamese Dong (VND) at banks, hotels and jewellery shops throughout the country.
Phu Quoc’s Weather and When to go
Phu Quoc Island’s tropical weather can best be described as dry or sunny or wet depending on the season and since it is a tropical island, you can visit anytime of the year. However if you want to avoid the rain and rough seas, the best time to go would be during the high season which between November and March. These months coincide with Christmas, New Year and Spring Break so do expect a crowd. The average temperature is 30 degree Celsius with clear skies and calm sea with high visibility. During this peak season, you may need to book your tours and hotel or resort in advance to avoid disappointment. Shoulder season between April to June is also a good time to visit since there are less crowds, cheaper and fairly good weather. Low season or the monsoon season is from July to October where the rain falls down hard, the water is rough and windy. The roads are muddy and flooded during this time where it’s difficult to travel around the island. On the bright side, waterfalls are the most beautiful during this season.
What to wear
Vietnamese have conservative dress codes, and it is only in larger cities that these codes are a little more relaxed. Do not wear revealing clothing. Generally, short pants are more appropriate near the beach or a farm, however tourists wearing shorts in the cities are becoming more acceptable, though long pants and jeans are generally more socially acceptable. Avoid wearing singlets, shorts, dresses or skirts, or tops with low-neck lines and bare shoulders to Temples and Pagodas. To do this is considered extremely rude and offensive. Dress modestly and appropriately when visiting local dwellings and religious sites, etc.
The usual voltage is between 220V and 240V, 50 cycles; but sometimes you encounter 110V, also at 50 cycles, just to confuse things. There are three main types of outlets in Vietnam: flat blade plug, two round pins, and two parallel flat pins with ground pin. The two-pin (ungrounded) plug is more popular than three-pin plug. If you have any devices needing a special outlet, it is advisable to bring an adapter, though top end hotels generally will have these available for use.
Tipping is not obligatory in Vietnam, however, if the level of service is very good or exceptional, a tip is always appreciated. A tip for good service might be about 5-10% of the bill.
Vietnamese is Vietnam's official language. There are six different tones that can be used, which change the definition and it often makes it difficult for foreigners to pick up the language. However it is considered common courtesy to learn at least one or two words. Even just the Vietnamese word for hello (xin chào, pronounced sin jow) will indicate your willingness to adapt to the cultures and customs.
Etiquette and Customs
Vietnamese society has a fair amount of public etiquette. The following are some of the more common do’s and don’t’s in Vietnam which are good to bear in mind.
- Take off your hats in reverence to the elderly or respected members of society, such as monks
- Pass items to others with both hands.
- Remove shoes when entering homes or temples
- Do not commit display of affection with or touch another person of the opposite sex in public
- Do not touch an adult’s head or shoulder as head is a symbolic part of the body in Asian culture
- Do not point with your finger - use your hand.
- Do not stand with your hands on your hips or cross your arms in the public.
- Do not pass anything over someone's head.
- Shorts should only be worn at the beach.
- - Always remember to take a hotel business card from the reception desk before venturing out from your hotel. This will make your return to the hotel in a taxi much easier.
- Bring a roll of toilet paper or a pack to tissue in your daypack on long excursions from your hotel. You never know when you might need it!
- Ask for permission when taking a photograph of someone, particularly in minority areas. If they indicate that they do not want you to, then abide by their wishes. DO NOT offer money or push the issue. Never take video cameras into an ethnic minority village. They are considered to be too intrusive by the local people.
- Avoid taking photographs of military installations or anything to do with the military. This can be seen as a breach of national security.
- Drink plenty of bottled water, particularly during the summer months. If you are not used to travelling in a tropical climate, you may not notice the dehydration. If you drink tea, coffee & alcohol you should increase you water intake accordingly as these will dehydrate you more.
- Do not drink from the tap water, especially after flooding!
- Avoid cyclo ride after dark
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