Phu Quoc Island

Lying off the west coast of Vietnam's Mekong Delta, the mountainous and forested Phu Quoc is a splendid tropical getaway set with beautiful white-sand beaches and quaint fishing villages.

A visit to Phu Quoc is a good, affordable opportunity to relax, spend time on the beach, kayak its quiet inlets, scuba dive or snorkel the coral reefs, or simply have a great seafood meal followed by a cocktail on the beach. With its five-star resorts and elegant family-run bungalows, Phu Quoc is one of Vietnam’s star attractions in its own right. 
                           
Phu Quoc is called the island of pearls from the wealth bestowed to it by nature and its rich tourism potential. The island has many beautiful beaches. Visitors to Phu Quoc can swim, hike, visit the caves, go jungle trekking, and more.

Like Vietnam itself, Phu Quoc Island has a varied history with numerous nations occupying the island over the past couple of centuries, including Vietnam, Cambodia, France and America. Phu Quoc Island forms part of Vietnam, and even though the island was an area of dispute between Vietnam and Cambodia as recently as the late 1980’s, Vietnam today is nurturing the island as the next big eco tourist destination.

Up to the mid 1750’s Phu Quoc island was sparsely populated with the local population making a living off fishing the rich waters surrounding the island and harvesting and trading of sea cucumbers. Phu Quoc was famous for its sea cucumbers, shipped by Chinese merchant junks from Phu Quoc to the even the Emperor of China for many years.
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.
The temple on Diau Cau rock was built in 1937, and by the end of the Second World War in the 1940’s the population of Phu Quoc was still less than 5,000. There is evidence even today that the population during this time was centered around Duong Dong Town where the French commenced trading activities during their occupation of the island. In 1949, the French enacted a law passing the island of Phu Quoc from the administration of the French to the Vietnamese.

Lying off the west coast of Vietnam's Mekong Delta, the mountainous and forested Phu Quoc is a splendid tropical getaway set with beautiful white-sand beaches and quaint fishing villages.

A visit to Phu Quoc is a good, affordable opportunity to relax, spend time on the beach, kayak its quiet inlets, scuba dive or snorkel the coral reefs, or simply have a great seafood meal followed by a cocktail on the beach. With its five-star resorts and elegant family-run bungalows, Phu Quoc is one of Vietnam’s star attractions in its own right. 
                           
Phu Quoc is called the island of pearls from the wealth bestowed to it by nature and its rich tourism potential. The island has many beautiful beaches. Visitors to Phu Quoc can swim, hike, visit the caves, go jungle trekking, and more.

HISTORY 

Like Vietnam itself, Phu Quoc Island has a varied history with numerous nations occupying the island over the past couple of centuries, including Vietnam, Cambodia, France and America. Phu Quoc Island forms part of Vietnam, and even though the island was an area of dispute between Vietnam and Cambodia as recently as the late 1980’s, Vietnam today is nurturing the island as the next big eco tourist destination.
Up to the mid 1750’s Phu Quoc island was sparsely populated with the local population making a living off fishing the rich waters surrounding the island and harvesting and trading of sea cucumbers. Phu Quoc was famous for its sea cucumbers, shipped by Chinese merchant junks from Phu Quoc to the even the Emperor of China for many years.
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.
The temple on Diau Cau rock was built in 1937, and by the end of the Second World War in the 1940’s the population of Phu Quoc was still less than 5,000. There is evidence even today that the population during this time was centered around Duong Dong Town where the French commenced trading activities during their occupation of the island. In 1949, the French enacted a law passing the island of Phu Quoc from the administration of the French to the Vietnamese.
During the time of the American war the local population had increased to around 15,000. The Americans had taken over where the French left off and expanded Coconut Tree Prison (Cay Dua Prison) near An Thoi Town, to an area covering 400 hectares and housing 40,000 P.O.Ws, most of which were repatriated to the mainland at the end of the American War in 1975. Coconut Tree Prison remains one of the most visible historical places on Phu Quoc, and still operates as a prison today.
On May 1, 1975, Khmer Rouge soldiers raided and took Phu Quoc Island, however, Vietnam soon retook the island and the Vietnam-Cambodian War had begun. While this war missed the headlines, the Vietnamese forces eventually captured Phnom Penh in 1979, bringing about the downfall of Pol Pot.  During this time, Phu Quoc became a stronghold of over 50,000 military personnel based mostly in the north of Phu Quoc Island. The discord faded when Vietnam withdrew its troops in the late 1980s.
Today, Phu Quoc Island is harnessing its remarkable 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.

THINGS TO DO

1. Snorkeling at Turtle Island
You should book a tour boat to Turtle Island. It only take 20 minutes to get to this tiny beautiful island. After snorkeling, grab some lunch aboard the boat where they serve super fresh seafood. Ask to try fishing as well! They’ll scale and cook the fish you catch for you.
 
2. Beautiful beaches
Phu Quoc is famous for its white sandy beaches and foamy blue-green sea. With the white sands and the green, clear water, Dai Beach and Sao Beach is the most beautiful and primitive beaches. Many large trees grow straightaway along to the coast. However, Bai Sao is relatively isolated with just few tourists or travelers. Lazily lying on the beach to enjoy the clear blue sky and sunshine, enjoying a local bottle of beer just can make your Phu Quoc holiday.   
 
3. Pepper farm
There are many pepper farms in Phu Quoc which you can visit. After walking amongst the tall stalks of pepper plant, you can buy some fresh made peppers as souvenirs 
 
4. Visit Dinh Cau Rock (Temple): Located at the south of the Duong Dong River,  Dinh Cau Rock or Dinh Cau Temple is one of the popular attractions in Phu Quoc.
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.
 
5. Discover Ganh Dau
Ganh Dau must be in the list of your trip to Phu Quoc. Situated in the northern part of Phu Quoc, Ganh Dau is the place whare the pristine forests, mountains, and seas remain intact. The most enjoyable activity when you visit Ganh Dau is just swimming and viewing the borderland between Vietnam and Cambodia. If you like exploring, you can rent boats to come to two islands offshore: Hon Ban and Hon Thay Boi.
 
6. Explore Phu Quoc National Park
Located on an island with mixed terrestrial and coastal climates, Phu Quoc National Park contains many forest types and landscapes, including mangroves and wetlands, sparse forested areas, coastal vegetation and forest on rocky mountains. Covering 50% area of the island, Phu Quoc National Park is home to a total of 208 animal species, including 28 mammals, 119 birds, 47 reptiles and 14 amphibians. Hire a motorbike on your own and explore the northerly parts of the island. The best areas and most forested parts can be found on the road toward Ganh Dau. To get there, take the road from Duong Dong towards Bai Thom and turn off toward Ganh Dau. The national park becomes more apparent the closer you get to Ganh Dau Village.
 
7. Visit Ham Ninh fishing village
Located 20km northeast of Duong Dong town, Phu Quoc district, Ham Ninh village is renowned for its breathtaking natural scenery and peaceful daily life of local fishermen.
In hot summer days, traveling to Ham Ninh, visitors are likely to leave their bustling life behind, and be lost in the picturesque scenery here.  Stunned by the turquoise sea, tourists are certainly tempted to immerse themselves into the cool water and contemplate small fishes swimming beside them, and seaweed floating in the blue water.
Visiting Ham Ninh, travelers have a golden chance to taste mouth-watering and healthful drinks and seafood like ginseng-seaweed water, “Tram” mushroom (a special kind of mushroom in the island), sea-horse soaking in the liquor and so on. And it is so great to lie on the sand, enjoy boiled flower crab meat and watch the stunning sunset on the beach. Before returning home, visitors can buy flower crabs, a bottle of sea-horse in liquor or some souvenirs made of shell as gifts for friends and family.
 
8. Learn about Phu Quoc Prison
Phu Quoc Prison was built in 1949-1950 by the French colonists to jail those considered especially dangerous to the colonist government. Many of the high ranking leaders of Vietnam were detained here in their earlier days. It is ranked as a special historical relic of national importance by the government of Vietnam. The most famous site in this prison is the "tiger cage". The prison covers an area of 40,000 square metres. It was closed after the country united and opened for visitors later.
 
9. Buy Phu Quoc fish sauce
There are over 100 fish sauce producers in Phu Quoc. Phu Quoc fish sauce is renowned for its traditional flavor that has been maintained for more than 100 years. You can buy fish sauce as gifts.
 
10. Go to Phu Quoc Market
The market is bustling from early morning with all kinds of boats providing fruit and seafood. The everyday life of ordinary people on the island can be seen from this market.
 
11. Enjoy seafood at Dinh Cau Night Market
The market opens daily from 18h to 23h in Duong Dong town, where you can freely select and taste the delicacies that are not to be missed, such as lobster, herring salad and snails.

ADVENTUROUS PHU QUOC

Looking for adventure on Phu Quoc Island or something that's a little different, then checkout and try some of our suggestions below for an interesting day out. 

Motor bike riding
This may not sound like the most adventurous activity on the planet, though once you get out on those Phu Quoc red dirt roads and find those out of the way places on the island, you'll understand why hiring a motorbike is an adventurous activity. We're not trying to turn the island into a motor cross rally of course, it's just probably the best and most interesting way of exploring Phu Quoc.
Of course you need to find the right places for adventure, so in the spirit of adventure it's best to find your own. However to give you a start, some of the best off the beaten track places will be found on the up north, including:
Riding 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.

Hiring your own boat
This is an island, and where there's an island there's fishing, and where's there's fishing there's boats. So find yourself a keen fisherman and hire him and his boat for the day or a couple of hours wherever you are. Half the adventure is bargaining a price, the other half is exploring what's out there, though no doubt the fisherman know some interesting places, otherwise, just go fishing! Here's a few places that might do the trick;
An Thoi Town: you can't really go wrong here, boats leave all the time to the islands down south, however why not hire you're own, they come in all sizes so find one that suits you. Plenty of fisherman here that would be keen to take you for a spin.
Duong Dong: Another good place to try just because of the large number of fishing boats, its not as close to some of the small islands around Phu Quoc, so you might end up fishing, though viewing the Duong Dong river is another interesting alternative.
Cua Can: Plenty of fishing boats, however it might be possible to find someone to take you around the scenic river around town, and there's a couple of small islands a little further north.
Vung Bau Beach is close to Turtle Island (Doi Moi) and you might be able to get across for a snorkel or a swim. The guy running the dive shop might be able to take you for a spin for a fee as well.

National Park walks
There are a couple of basic walking tracks in the national park, however if you're thinking of attempting any walk on your own through the thick jungle, please make sure you're very prepared (tell someone where you're going, take water, food etc). There are plans in the future for a walk to the highest point on the island at Mount Chua 603m with a viewpoint, though this is still someway off.
Of the National park walking tracks, one with the best access is found on the road to Ganh Dau Village (forest walk), see Visiting the National Park.Top of page

Jet skiing and water sports
Still new to Phu Quoc, though starting to appear are the usual variety of water sports including jet skiing, kayaking and wind sailing, with just a matter of time before water skiing takes off given the calm waters around the island during the high season. The best places to find these water sports include some of the resorts on Long Beach including Saigon Phu Quoc Resort and some Jet Skis and Kayaks are available on Bao Sao beach at My Lan Resort.

Squid fishing
May not sound too adventurous, though when was the last time you've been squid fishing at night? There's plenty of tours on offer, so head out for an evening of squid fishing and if you're lucky you'll have your own self caught dinner grilled on the spot.

Explore local markets
You're in Vietnam so what could be more fun than exploring the local Duong Dong Market early in the morning, see our Local Markets section for a little more information. For a few ideas;
Get off the main road into some of the sheds that sell fish, there's any amazing array of seafood for sale, or
Walk down to the other end of the market and visit places few tourists venture, there's more to town than the main roads, or
Checkout the variety of fruit and vegetables on offer, why not try a fruit you've never tried before, they could better than you think.

Find your own beach
Phu Quoc island is still undeveloped for the time being and even during the high session there are still plenty of remote and empty beaches. Of course it may take a little work trying to find these beaches, pack a lunch and towel, hit the road and venture out and see what you find. We're not giving away any secret locations, though you're best opportunities for empty sun drenched beaches under those coconut trees will be found around the northern part of the island. 

TOUR & VILLAGES

An Thoi Town
Phu Quoc Island in the district of the same name is the second largest town of Phu Quoc. An Thoi is where you will find the main ferry port for services from the mainland town of Rach Gia, and is also a jumping off point for visiting the group of An Thoi islands to the south.
An Thoi has many goods and services on offer, though the selection is limited compared to what you will find in Duong Dong. Many of the islands Villagesfish sauce factories are based here, along with the islands naval bases and second largest local market offering a decent selection of fruit, vegetables and fresh seafood and much more. There are some hotels here, limited banking facilities, some travel agents and a small hospital, however most people tend to stay along Long Beach or in Duong Dong half way up the island. One advantage of staying in An Thoi town is that you are closer to exploring the islands to the south and closer to Bai Sao and Bai Kem beaches with their pristine white sands. If arriving by boat, buses, taxis and motorbike taxis are generally available to take you to your desired destination on the island.

Cua Can Village
About 14kms north of Duong Dong town and a couple of kilometers north of Ong Lang beach is the interesting village of Cua Can which has a variety of old wooden bridges that allow only foot and motorbike traffic to pass. While the village is fairly small, it does have a couple of places that offer a chance to relax for a roadside drink before heading to the secluded beaches to the north of the island. There is also a petrol station at the southern end of the village.
If you are seeking a little more adventure, try convincing a local boat owner to take you along the Cua Can River, which offers an relaxing way to see life along the river and chance to see some of the larger fishing vessels returning from the sea. There is also a lovely but very isolated sand bar just north of the town, viewable from the coastal road heading north to Bai Dai and Ganh Dau.

Duong Dong Town
Located on the western edge of Phu Quoc in the centre of the island, Duong Dong is the largest town on Phu Quoc and is where you will find the best choice of goods and Fishing Boatsservices from hotels, restaurants, banks, tour and travel agents, to the large and lively local markets and shopping selections (see places of interest - shopping).
Phu Quoc Airport is located here at the north end of town along with one of the several ports where the larger cruise ships dock. Duong Dong river cuts through town and towards the entrance to the sea, you will find an abundance of blue fishing boats that head out each evening. The town is also the location for some the islands fish sauce factories, in case you’re wondering about that smell!
Duong Dong is also the administrative centre and it is here you will also find the islands hospital along with postal services, and most banking facilities.

Ganh Dau Village
Located in the north western coast of Phu Quoc, about 32km by road from Duong Dong town, the village of Ganh Dau is where you can clearly see the Cambodian coast line just a few kilometres away. Ganh Dau has some of the most peaceful and relaxing beaches on Phu Quoc Island, away from the all action down south, these beaches are no longer closed to tourist access as they were a few years ago. They include the scenic Ganh Dau beach and a few Kilometres to the east is Bai Dai beach.
Ganh Dau is a relatively small fishing village where you can get basic supplies along with petrol, water, some food items and also a haircut. Ganh Dau village will give you a taste of the lifestyle that was once the norm on Phu Quoc, where you’ll see anchovies drying out in the sun ready for the fish sauce factories, children playing and plenty of fishing boats in the harbour.
There are a couple of places where you can get a tasty lunch as well, you could try either “Gio Bien” following the road around for 1km past the village where you will find a lovely beach side restaurant serving a great range of seafood dishes (see restaurants). Otherwise turning left just before entering town brings to you the north easterly point of the island where you’ll find an interesting floating fish restaurant, though you’ll need to negotiate a ride on a local boat to get there.

Ham Ninh Village
Located around 14kms from Duong Dong Town on the east coast of Phu Quoc is the village of Ham Ninh where you will find a jetty that extends a couple hundred meters out to sea to allow for the shallow waters along the coast here. The village is predominantly involved in fishing and you will find some places in village that provide an excellent source of seafood, including a variety of crabs, lobsters, and local mussels. Take away or eat in, the seafood eaten here with pepper, salt and lime is fresh every day of the year.
Ham Ninh mountains to the west provide a scenic backdrop for the town, the mountain range running for 30kms along this side of the coast, which includes the highest peak on the island, Mount Chua at 603 meters. The waters off Ham Ninh contain the majority of the islands seaweed beds which provide a necessary source of food to the endangered Dugong, of which there are very few remaining.

Rach Vem Village
Located in the north of the island, Rach Vem is a relatively small and quiet village where you’ll find the Phong Lan Guesthouse near by. There are some remote sandy beaches along the coast here, however the area is destined for resort development with the approval of multi million dollar facilities. Current availability of good and services are fairly limited, so bring a packed lunch if you’re travelling to Rach Vem.


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