Located off Vietnam’s sultry southwest coast, Phu Quoc’s unspoiled and largely undeveloped setting makes for one of Southeast Asia’s most captivating and laid-back getaways.
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No busy international airport, no touristy shops, and no gaudy bars. Just a handful of boutique resorts occupying private stretches of the island’s fringe of spectacular white sand beaches. In the northeast, Bai Thom’s coconut husk-strewn, palm frond-brushed beach and azure ocean backdrop provides an idyllic picnic setting. To the northwest, Bai Dai offers the perfect vantage point to enjoy Phu Quoc’s spectacular sunsets. Bai Truong (better known as Long Beach) is the most developed part of the island, stretching 20km along the eastern side of the island from Duong Dong almost to An Thoi port in the south, and it’s here that you’ll find a cluster of upscale bungalow- style accommodation with everything from beachfront comfort food to fine-dining restaurants, open-air cocktail bars and even a handful of water sports options.
The locals have always made their living off the land and ocean – even when the island was an infamous penal centre during French colonial rule and the Vietnam war – and today Phu Quoc is renowned for its bountiful fishing grounds, black pepper trees and high-quality nuoc mam (fish sauce). Mats covered with fish drying in the sun can be seen (and smelled) at rustic fishing hamlets all over the island, and a visit to a local fish sauce factory makes for an interesting sensory excursion. Other potential daytrips include a visit to the local pearl farm, day and nighttime fishing trips, and treks through 37,000 ha of lowland evergreen forest to discover enchanting streams, waterfalls and hidden lakes. Or you can just kick back and soak up the sand, sea and sun, hassle-free.
Need to Know
Do: indulge in a live shrimp, crab and grouper coal barbeque on Bai Sao (‘star’ beach) or Bai Khem (‘cream’ beach), the islands most stunning swathes of superfine white sand.
Don't: leave without doing your part for the island’s conservation. The surrounding waters are home to the endangered dugong and Leatherback and Hawksbill turtles, as well as a range of tropical fish endemic to Vietnamese waters. Snorkelling and diving help ensure that the aquatic environment is protected.
Couples will love: an evening curled up on the cosy, low-slung cotton canvas couches at eco-friendly Mango Bay resort.
Wine and dine: Pepper Tree restaurant at La Veranda resort is ideal for a romantic candlelit evening dinner.
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