As I begin to write this, I wonder how I can possibly put into words just how incredible Phu Quoc was. Nothing will fully capture the feeling of being on this island, the undeveloped natural beauty and the experience as whole. What I can easily say is that I am confident we picked the best location for the majority of our honeymoon in Vietnam!
After 2 Days in Ho Chi Minh City and 3 Days in Hoi An, we were ready for some beachside relaxation. We booked our stay in a seaside bungalow at Thanh Kieu Beach Resort. I absolutely recommend this location to anybody traveling to Phu Quoc and wanting to feel like you are spending the big bucks without actually doing so!
Our flight from Da Nang arrived just in time for us to get settled in and enjoy our first sunset in Phu Quoc.
We had a couple of drinks at our resort’s beachfront bar and went for a walk along Long Beach to scope out our options for the following evenings.
Long Beach is definitely the place to stay in Phu Quoc. The beach is lined with resorts, restaurants and bars (including our favorite, Rory’s Beach Bar). We walked past some delicious looking fresh seafood displays and promised the staff we would return the following day for dinner.
We found a spot to chill at Rory’s Beach Bar and instantly fell in love with the place. Owned by an Australian man and his wife, this spot is the go-to bar for tourists and Westerners in Phu Quoc. The staff were friendly, the music was great and the drinks were delicious! Over the course of our six-day stay in Phu Quoc, we came to Rory’s for lunch, dinner or drinks at least six or seven times. We loved ending each night here, especially since it was only a five-minute walk on the beach back to our hotel.
Note: As of September 2018, Rory’s Bar is now located on the east side of Phu Quoc. Check their Facebook page for more information.
On our second day in Phu Quoc, we rented a motorbike from the front desk for $8 per day. We explored the north side of the island to include Ganh Dau cape, where you can see Cambodia in the distance, and Bai Thom island, which is connected to shore by a tiny bridge made of tree branches.
Phu Quoc is big! It took us about an hour to reach these northern destinations. Riding the motorbike was quite the adventure. We would not have dared to do it in HCMC or Hoi An, because traffic flow is absolutely nuts. Phu Quoc is much more laid back, though still an adventure as only certain roads are paved. I was hot and uncomfortable sitting on the back the whole time, but we had to do it for the experience! When in Vietnam, right?
That evening, as promised, we returned to the fresh seafood display we had walked past the night before for dinner. It was a lovely restaurant called Lien Hiep Thanh. We chose from a boat full of fresh seafood which pieces we wanted and they were grilled to our preference on the spot.
We dined right next to the water with our toes in the sand. It was in this moment that Phu Quoc stole my heart.
An Thoi Islands
Our third day in Phu Quoc began with riding our motorbike to An Thoi harbor, where we joined another couple to split the cost of a private boat tour.
This was a bit more frustrating than we thought it would be! We were approached by several pushy people trying to rip us off, but we had an idea of how much it should cost after researching online. Eventually we found someone willing to take us for 400,000 vnd each (approx. $17), so we went for it.
Our guide spent all day taking us to three of the An Thoi islands, including stops for fishing and snorkeling. He didn’t speak English, so there were some lost in translation moments, but it was such a fun experience.
The An Thoi islands were stunning. We had lunch prepared for us by the locals on one of the islands, which at first seemed a bit unsettling because they prepared the food in a shack with no running water, no electricity and trash everywhere, but it tasted great and we didn’t get sick.
Dinh Cau Night Market
After our lovely boat tour, we rode back to the resort to freshen up, then called a taxi to bring us to the Dinh Cau Night Market (only a five-minute drive from the resort).
The Night Market is awesome! Live seafood on display for several blocks, including all types of fish, squid, octopus, lobster, crab, even shark. You get to pick from the tank exactly which one you want them to throw on the grill for you. I couldn’t handle that part so I told Ben what I wanted to eat and then took a seat in the dining area and tried not to think about it!
Not to be missed at the Night Market is the Thailand Ice Cream Rolls! These are super delicious — you get to pick your flavor and mix-ins from a large variety of delicious fruits and sweets.
Eat some seafood, wash it down with a fresh ginger beer, satisfy your sweet tooth with the ice cream rolls and bring home a carton of the amazingly flavored Phu Quoc peanuts.
Our fourth day in Phu Quoc was all about relaxation.
We claimed some lounge chairs at the beach and stayed there all day. We enjoyed lunch and drinks from the beach restaurant, swam in the warm water, took naps in the gorgeous weather and enjoyed our surroundings. We stayed in the shade as much as possible because we both had major sunburns from the six-hour boat tour the day before.
I was really happy with Long Beach because the vendors weren’t bad at all. Every now and then, a sweet lady would approach us to ask if we wanted some fresh coconut, mango, passion fruit, etc. If we said no, she kindly said good-bye and moved on. Do her a favor and buy some fruit though, you will not regret it!
Day turned to night, and we enjoyed a front-row view of the sunset before heading over to Rory’s once again for dinner and drinks.
Our fifth day in Phu Quoc was a busy one!
We decided to visit Sao Beach (supposedly the most beautiful beach on Phu Quoc), the Coconut Prison and the Suoi Tranh Waterfall.
I was tired of riding the motorbike around in the blazing sun, so we talked to the front desk about hiring a driver for the day and it only cost $50. That’s expensive for Vietnam, but it was worth it for us to have someone take us wherever we requested in an air-conditioned vehicle.
Our first stop was Sao Beach, where we stayed for about three hours. Reviews for this beach are mixed, and I quickly understood why. It’s a breathtaking location — white sand, clear water, palm trees and a sandbar that extends far into the water. However, the trash is a big issue.
Depending where you are on the beach, the sand is covered in garbage. We walked down the beach until we reached Paradiso Restaurant and this area was very clean due to someone constantly picking up any trash coming to shore. We rented lounge chairs for a couple dollars and enjoyed lunch and drinks — good menu here!
After eating, drinking and digesting, we spent some time in the water. This water was so clear compared to the water on the Long Beach side. Absolutely stunning.
After Sao Beach, we had our driver take us to Coconut Prison. This prison served as a place for prisoners of war during the Vietnam War, or the American War as they call it. It was interesting to see.
Similar to the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City, it was quite slanted with a lot of anti-American/pro-North propaganda. It is awful to see and read about the atrocities committed at the prison. It definitely paints a negative picture for Americans and the Southern Vietnam forces, who are referred to as the American Puppet Administration throughout the exhibit.
We were approached by several non-American visitors who wanted to take photos with us at the exhibit, and that was tremendously awkward. We did not stay very long because the hot sun was unbearable. I still enjoyed visiting this attraction, though. Very eye-opening.
Suoi Tranh Waterfall
After the Coconut Prison, we went to Suoi Tranh Waterfall. This waterfall is probably lovely in the wet season. However, it is almost totally dry during the dry season.
We hiked for about 20 minutes, which was enjoyable because it was shaded under the trees. The hike is full of bizarre fake animals scattered throughout the woods — giraffes, bears, lions, tigers, monkeys, etc. It makes for an interesting time. When we reached the waterfall, it was a mere trickle. It was okay though. It was a nice walk, good exercise and an escape from the hot sun.
Dinh Cau Temple
We were done at the waterfall by 5 p.m., just in time to catch the sunset somewhere nice. We had our driver take us to Dinh Cau Temple, which was a beautiful setting for the sunset. This combined temple and lighthouse perched on a rock at the edge of the harbor provides a lovely view over the water.
After the sunset, we went back to the resort to freshen up and then back out again for another round of the Night Market.
We enjoyed all of the cute Night Market dogs. They roam the restaurants and come right up to your table looking for scraps, but they do not beg or care to be pet like the domesticated dogs we are used to. They are very friendly, though. We really fell in love with a couple of them and found it hard to leave them behind.
While on the topic of dogs, I must include a tidbit about the two little rascals we really fell for in Phu Quoc. This dynamic duo, who we nicknamed “The Troublemakers,” were a big part of our stay. We met them on the beach during our first night in Phu Quoc and continued to run into them day after day in various locations up and down Long Beach.
One day, they joined us for breakfast at Thanh Kieu. We spent time petting them and loving them, and they were so incredibly sweet. Anyone who knows me knows that dogs melt my heart. I became incredibly attached to these two, and miss them horribly when I look back at these photos. Hope you are doing well and continuing your shenanigans, little troublemakers!
Sadly, our sixth day was our final full-day in Phu Quoc. We spent it on the beach, at Rory’s for lunch, at our favorite restaurant Lien Hiep Thanh for dinner and back to Rory’s for post-dinner drinks.
We also enjoyed some jet-skiing a bit further down the beach. This was one of the most expensive things we did in Vietnam, but we wanted to splurge and have some fun! We paid about $35 for 20 minutes.
Our final night in Phu Quoc was heartbreaking. I truly fell in love with this place.
I highly recommend Thanh Kieu Beach Resort to anyone who visits Phu Quoc. The location is stunning, the price is fair and the staff are so friendly. There is also a market within a five-minute walk up the road that provides all of your essentials — sunscreen, aloe, alcohol, postcards and snacks.
Also, the beach was clean! Garbage is a major issue in Vietnam. The most beautiful locations are completely full of trash, which is so disappointing. For the first five days of our stay, the beach in front of Thanh Kieu was spotless. Unfortunately, on the sixth day, we had a lot of wind overnight and the waves brought in a ton of trash. I am not sure why the resort did not have someone clean on this day, but since the other five days were great, I am hoping it was just a mishap.
If you want a relaxing beach vacation at a fraction of the cost compared to other destinations, come to Phu Quoc. Come before the tourists discover it! Though we did see some other Westerners on the island, it is very much untouched by tourism compared to other locations. Not for long, though.
Just try not to expect a ton coming to this island. The locals have a different standard of living than we are privileged to enjoy. You will pass by neighborhoods that are nothing but shacks with no running water or electricity. You will see multiple stray dogs every day (they are so sweet, though!). You will run into a language barrier almost everywhere you go. You will encounter things you are not used to — litter everywhere, trash in the ocean, not being able to flush toilet paper anywhere, restrooms being pretty gross in general, etc.
Phu Quoc, and Vietnam as a whole, is still developing. Its natural beauty is stunning and unparalleled, and I promise you will have the absolute time of your life if you come into it with an open mind. I know we did. I left a piece of my heart in Phu Quoc, and I cannot wait to return.