Visiting Phu Quoc Island in Vietnam as a couple or family is simple, straightfoward and safe. Find out what we did and where we stayed.
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Phú Quốc is a Vietnamese island off the coast of Cambodia in the Gulf of Thailand. If you look at a map it looks like it is closer to Cambodia than Vietnam – but that is a whole other story. We visited Phu Quoc Island in late December. While we had been to Vietnam several times before we had never ventured to this lovely little island. We chose Phu Quoc we had heard great things about the beaches, and we wanted to take some time out before heading to Ho Chi Minh City. This post outlines why we loved Phu Quoc and would head back if we got the chance.
Why visit Phu Quoc Island?
You will find this information in this article
Phu Quoc is known for its beautiful beaches and resorts. A large proportion of the island is covered by the Phu Quoc National Park which includes tropical jungle, mountains and hiking trails. Duong Dong is the largest town on Phu Quoc, with day and night markets selling crafts, produce and fish. It is easy to get to and feels a world away from the busy cities in Cambodia and Vietnam. There does appear to be a lot of development happening on the Island, and I suspect the Phu Quoc we enjoyed may not be around for much longer.
Phu Quoc Island was a lovely surprise. While we have been to Vietnam several times, we had never made it to Phu Quoc. We were excited, although a bit nervous as our last hotel had advised us it was a good time to be heading to Phu Quoc as there was a week-long dance party about to kick off – with thousands of people. I suspect our wee group of seven – with a 10 and 15-year-old – were probably not the target market for said party. We were hoping for a quiet time relaxing – and we were not disappointed at all. And there was no sign of the dance party either.
The weather in December is pleasant and stays around 30c. We had days and days of beautiful clear days.
How much money will you need on Phu Quoc? We budgeted $100NZD/$70USD a day for our time in Phu Quoc. This covered expenses and accommodation for two. Our breakfasts were included with our hotel room so we didn’t have to pay additional. This budget was more than sufficient and enabled us to go snorkelling, get massages, get a load of washing done, and partake in lovely happy hour cocktails.
Quick Tip: Book accommodation that includes breakfast. Breakfasts at Vietnamese hotels are generous and generally include fresh fruit, eggs, toast and cereal. Plus copious amounts of strong coffee.
Getting to Phu Quoc
Border Crossing from Cambodia
After two weeks in Cambodia, we made the trek across the border to Vietnam on New Years Eve. We booked a bus from Kep right through to the ferry at Ha Tien. When I say bus, what actually turned up was a minivan. We were happy with the van – until we realised that our party of seven were not the last ones to be collected. Once we added several more bodies – and packs into the mix it was a snug journey to the border.
The border crossing itself was fairly straightforward. Passports get checked as you leave Cambodia. You fill in forms to enter Vietnam, pay a small fee, and hop in the van on the other side. Except this van appeared smaller, so we were really jammed in this time. All part of the adventure – and for $10 – well, you can’t really complain.
Quick Tip: Ensure you have some small US bills. There is a small charge at the border for having your photo taken.
Once you get through the border the difference between Cambodia and Vietnam is immediately noticeable. The roads are wider, there are fewer potholes, there is more traffic. To get to Phu Quoc we took the ferry from Ha Tien to Phu Quoc. They run regularly and you can buy your tickets in Ha Tien. The ferry to phu quoc from Ha Tien to Phu Quoc was super efficient, cheap, departed on time – so no complaints from us. Everyone received a bottle of water and a wet wipe, plus a comfy seat – a nice added touch.
Flying to Phu Quoc
Phu Quoc Island has an international airport which makes flying there very easy and quick. There are a range of budget and other airlines which operate from this airport. We flew from Phu Quoc to Ho Chi Minh City and found the airport really easy (and quick to get through security) to navigate and use. We use Kayak to book flights as it lets you compare prices over several dates. Check out flights to Phu Quoc here.
Things to do on Phu Quoc Island
There is plenty to do on Phu Quoc – or you can do nothing. If you want to do more than lie by the pool, we suggest:
- heading to the Beach – we like Ong Lang. Good picnic areas, relatively clean, not too many people. We floated in the sea for ages. This beach was relatively clean and tidy although there was a bit of trash around.
- heading out to sea – we went snorkeling. There were quite a few boats out there, and there was plenty of rubbish on the sea floor BUT it was great to be able to see a different aspect of Phu Quoc. Plus you can see the huge hotel developments under way along the shoreline.
- checking out the Night Markets – don’t go too early. We ended up being there before everything was open. By the time we left at 7.30pm it was starting to liven up. Plenty of places to have a good seafood meal. Tourist prices.
- eat fresh BBQ seafood – we ended up at Noname BBQ several times – the food was ultra fresh and delicious, and you have to be quick as they ran out of some things early. This place is very busy, so get there early. Once you have had your BBQ (or if you can’t get in) head to Venus bar a couple of doors down – good food and they brew their own tasty beer.
- Day tours – there are plenty of day tours you can do which will take you to the key sites around the island. The best place to find out about the best tours in your area is to ask at your hotel.
- Visit the Ho Quoc Temple – beautiful pagoda close to the beach. Lovely and peaceful.
- Check out the sunset (and a cocktail or three) at the Sunset Sanato Beach Club. They also have some great sculptures which make great backdrops for photos.
Where to stay on Phu Quoc
There are plenty of Phu Quoc hotels to suit every budget – here are ones we like.
The La Veranda Resort Phu Quoc – MGallery by Sofitel is the place to stay on Phu Quoc for a special occasion. The big rooms and hotel are gorgeous – topped off by an amazing pool. The only problem is you probably won’t want to do anything but stay at the hotel! Check here for the latest rates and information.
Chen Sea Resort is a small, luxurious, intimate property located with 36 beautifully appointed rooms. There are plenty of family-friendly facilities too, including a kids pool and a kid friendly buffet. There are also plenty of things for the grown ups – including massage and spa facilities. It is located on a sandy beach a 20-minute drive from central Duong Dong. Find the best prices here.
As we were travelling as a family we were looking for a quiet hotel with a pool. Our hotel Ninila Fruit Farm was perfect for our budget and met our requirements. What a delight. Great service. Fabulous pool. Great staff. We loved it. Breakfast was included in the price and include fresh fruit, eggs, baguette, cereal…and the list goes on. Oh, and really good wi-fi throughout. Ninila is a functioning fruit farm – they give tours of the farm regularly.
Quick Tip: Remember to pack insect repellent and a head torch – check out our Packing List here
Ninila Fruit Farm was close enough to Ong Lang beach and a small village for our intrepid explorers to wander in search of excitement and dinner options. It was also quiet enough for those of us (that would be me) who fancied parking up by the pool and reading. We were regularly joined at the pool by some cows meandering through and ‘mowing’ the lawns. A wonderful small hotel that is well worth the visit. Did I mention they do a mean cocktail? Happy hour every day – our favourite was the passionfruit mojito – delicious. The rooms are really lovely with outdoor bathrooms and excellent wifi. Click here to see more information.
10 minutes walk away is a small village with several restaurants – serving fresh seafood bbq’s – pick of the bunch was Noname BBQ. Venus Bar a couple of doors down also brew their own tasty beer. There are also a couple of convenience stores and the ubiquitous massage places. On our last day our advance party of explorers found a great spot for lunch – delicious food and a cold beer. We then thought we would venture out for dinner – after talking to some of the other guests about good local places we ordered a cab to set off for the recommended restaurant – only to find we were delivered to the exact place we had had lunch! Well – at least we knew the food was going to be good. Best of all you can choose what you want to be cooked on the BBQ and they cook it right in front of you. Fantastic.
Phu Quoc – Thumbs up or down?
We definitely recommend Phu Quoc. It is a beautiful place with lots to do or you can do nothing. A word of caution though – there is lots of development going on. There appear to be giant hotel complexes, with adventure parks, being built right along the coastline. Recommend visiting sooner rather than later.
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