Backpackers on the banana pancake trail and those just looking for an inexpensive island getaway have probably heard of Phú Quốc Island which is actually off the coast of Cambodia. This island was largely used for fishing and farming until visitors realized what a hidden gem it was which has brought a lot of much-needed income into its local economy. The island is characterized by red sandy roads, waving palm trees, and long swathes of relatively untouched beaches depending on where you go. You won’t find the hordes of tourists often associated with the Thai Islands here but instead, calm white sand inlets with little beach bars to while away the time at.
What To Do
If lazing around by the beach is your idea of the perfect vacation then Khem Beach and Sao Beach are where you will want to spend a lot of your time. To see something truly special go to Rach Vem Beach where the ‘secret’ area called Starfish Beach exists. You will see a plethora of these little and large red guys just hanging out. Snorkeling is also a popular activity because hawksbill and green turtles are found in the reefs that surround the island. And what makes it even more unique is that half of the island is within the Kien Giang Biosphere Reserve which is working to preserve the natural habitats that its wildlife so desperately needs.
Where To Stay
The West side of the island is where the more affordable hotels are but if you are looking to splurge the southern tip has some of the finest beaches. The JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort and Spa is like staying in an Indochine paradise with modern furniture and classic finishing. It is right on Khem Beach and provides the viewpoint for some pretty magnificent sunsets. A good budget option is the 9 Station Hostel which is in the main center of Duong Dong and is adults only which make for a quieter atmosphere.
What To Eat
Hopefully, you enjoy seafood if you are coming to this island because one of the biggest exports is the fish sauce. Phú Quốc has 85 companies that make their own unique brand and it has even been given the seal of approval by the European Union with a “Protected Designation of Origin Status.” You can find the regular Vietnamese dishes such as pho and banh mi sandwiches but the real treat is the Ca Phe Sua Da which is iced coffee mixed with condensed milk. The WoodHouse Coffee has some of the best.
The easiest way to get here is by flying and with low cost carriers such as Jetstar and VietJet air you can expect to find flights for around $100 round trip from Ho Chi Minh City. Just hop on one and treat yourself to a little bit of R&R!