If you read our last blog, you would’ve seen that unfortunately we had a bit of a culture shock in Ho Chi Minh. This was not what we had hoped for when we set out on our adventure of a lifetime. But, it allowed us to look at other possible places in Vietnam that we could visit. Through some research, we found out about an island that is situated near Southern Vietnam and Cambodia (but is Vietnamese) and decided to go there for a few days. We ended up staying in Phu Quoc for five nights, and we loved it
Phu Quoc is definitely for the more, relaxed, sleepy, beach-y types of people. It had two main beaches, Long beach and South beach. If you’ve ever been to Vietnam, you would have noticed their issue with rubbish. It is everywhere. Unfortunately, the beaches are littered with it too. South beach is a lot cleaner than Long beach, including the sea due to locals keeping it clean as it’s the main tourist beach.
We stayed at a newer hostel called Antinho and we had the best time! The staff were amazing and adorable with good English! The room we stayed in had two large double beds (for four of us) an en-suite, a wardrobe and a little table and chairs, for around $5 a night each! The hostel is situated down a little alleyway, about five minutes from Long beach. Across from Antonio’s is a bar/restaurant called Pineapple, which is ran by a lovely lady called Tre (who is a part time DJ at the local nightclub less than a minutes walk away).
Everyday we had breakfast at the hostel (not free but very cheap and delicious) and then had dinner at one of the many side street cafes. Like we have said before, the best food places are full of locals with smaller menus. There’s one place pretty much across the road from the alleyway that is fantastic, especially if you enjoy fish! Another good food place is a street of food vendors that is located near the Night Market. If you walk down towards the Night Market you will see it, straight in front of the huge traffic lights.
There is a lot to do on Phu Quoc. It is not a small island by any means, about the size of Singapore. You could spend a lazy day at the beach, explore various shops, or wander around the island. There are Vietnamese women who walk up and down Long beach selling coconuts with a straw to sip in the sun or fresh fruit cut to order. There are many massage places on Long beach, including hair threading!
If you fancy something a little more adventurous, you can book a tour with the local travel agency (right next door to Antinho’s if you decide to stay there, you’ll get a discount if you do!) that will take you out for the day doing various activities. Due to us being in Phu Quoc in the low season (monsoon season) the tours were limited but we did find one that took our fancy.
Our day trip was a mixed bag!
We decided to go visit the pearl farm, which is a 2-minute demonstration of the opening of an oyster and then a large shop trying to sell you some pearls. We then went on to South beach, which was a lovely beach with crystal clear water and got a boat out onto the ocean. There we did some fishing (we didn’t catch anything!), had a huge buffet lunch of fish and rice, shared with a lovely Vietnamese family and then we went snorkelling.
Be warned, coral is sharp so watch where you are swimming! We saw a lot of beautiful tropical fish and even an octopus! Unfortunately, we were one of the last people in the water, so we had about half an hour to snorkel. If you want a longer time in the water, get food first or skip the buffet! The boat then took us back to South beach, where we got about 15 minutes to have a dip in the sea or soak up some sun before we got back on the bus.
Our tour guide was a lovely Vietnamese man who spoke very good English, and he decided to take us to a few extra places. We visited the prison, where during the Vietnam War, America did some atrocious things to the Vietnamese people. We then went to a fish sauce factory (again mainly a place where they will try and sell their products rather than show you anything interesting). Our final stop was a winery, where the wine is made from the fruit of a myrtle tree instead of grapes. This is also mainly a shop to sell wine, but they do have a taster section where you can sample their wines. Most of them are delicious!
Phu Quoc’s Night Market
Another place to visit in Phu Quoc is the Night Market. Night Markets are huge in South East Asia and are filled with all sorts of trinkets, ranging from clothes and jewelry to live shellfish! If you do visit the Night Market, make sure you get there later rather than earlier. We went when it had just opened are there wasn’t much there. We decided to have some dinner near by and go later to see if it was any busier. And it was! You had to elbow your way through the crowd and you could hardly hear yourself speak over the vendors shouting at you to buy their products or by customers haggling their prices. It was fantastic!
Be sure to buy an ice cream roll from the Night Market, they are delicious! If you don’t know what an ice cream roll is, you basically pick an ingredient from their list (I chose mango and Tamara chose Nutella) and they pour ice cream mixture onto a pan which then flash freezes it. They then pour on your ingredient and chop it up and flatten it over and over until it is completely frozen. Finally, they roll it up and put it in a little bowl with a cinnamon swirl and some nuts sprinkled on top. Delicious!
We were very sad to leave Phu Quoc and wished we could’ve stayed there longer, just because it was such a relaxing place to be. The staff were amazing everywhere we went. The people of Phu Quoc were very friendly and always tried to help you if you seemed lost or confused (especially regarding their money!) The area, although quite a bit more littered than the West, was lovely. They are currently constructing a lot of new hotels, hostels and things to do. The weather, although it was technically monsoon season, was beautiful. There were only two downpours whilst we were there, one lasted about half an hour and the other was in the evening!
So if you are travelling to Vietnam, be sure to visit Phu Quoc, it would definitely be worth it! You can get there by flying or, like us, we spent $25 each and travelled by taxi > sleeper bus >taxi >ferry >taxi! Either way go and enjoy yourself. Have cocktails on the beach and visit the Night Market. Eat some local food and go out for a day trip. Take some beautiful photos of the beaches and the sunsets. Take your go pro and video yourself snorkeling. Either way make sure you go, it would be a shame for anyone to miss going to this beautiful island.