When you think of Vietnam, you probably think of moody landscapes, thick jungles, and the hectic nature of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Very rarely do people think of tropical islands when considering a trip to Vietnam.
There are actually quite a few islands that tend to be less touristy than the mainland, because, well, not that many people know about them. I finally had my own tropical Vietnamese island experience this year on Phú Quốc.
About this island
Actually Phú Quốc Island is part of a larger archipelago, made up of 28 small islands, perfect for diving and snorkeling around. It’s so far to the southwest of the country that it’s basically in Cambodia.
You can get there by an inexpensive 45 minute flight from Ho Chi Minh City or the ferry that leaves from Ha Tien (1 hr 20 min) or Rach Gia (2 hr 20 min). I took a flight there and a ferry back to Rach Gia, so I experienced both.
The ferry will be the more inexpensive option, but for only US $30 for a one-way flight from Ho Chi Minh, it can be much more convenient to fly.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I arrived on Phú Quốc, just that I was ready for a laid back island experience after a week in Ho Chi Minh City. Phú Quốc is a fairly large island (it’s the largest island in Vietnam), so it’s not as relaxing as some islands I’ve been to in Asia, but you can still find your own peace and quiet depending on where you go.
And since it was such a big island, I didn’t even scratch the surface with what you can do on Phú Quốc. I still managed to have a wonderful time for the few days that I was there. I met up with two couples who I had met in Ho Chi Minh the week before, and we spent most of those days together.
This is why I think Phú Quốc is worth a visit if you’re after a different kind of experience in Vietnam.
You can’t brag about an island and not talk about the beaches. I actually only spent one day at the beach, because most of my time was spent snorkeling and diving around the other islands.
I visited Long Beach for an afternoon since it was near the hostel I was staying at. Most of the beach chairs along the coast are reserved for private hotel customers, but we managed to snag a group of chairs for the whole afternoon.
No one came up to tell us to move. I think it’s quite relaxed, and the worst they can do is ask you to leave, so it doesn’t hurt to just act like you belong there and enjoy a comfy chair on the beach.
And swimming at sunset was the best, although the many jelly fish in the water that kept giving us little stings wasn’t so fun.
I heard that Bai Sao Beach, on the southeast of the island, was even more beautiful than Long Beach with bright white sand and perfect blue tropical water. Other beach stops could include Vung Bao, Ong Lang, Ganh Dau, Rach Tram and Rach Vem, Thom, Cua Can, and Vong Beach.
Clearly, you have a lot of beach hopping to get to if you make it to Phú Quốc!