Phu Quock island - Vietnam
After a week in Hanoi we headed to Phu Quoc island using a flight from with Vietnam airlines.
When we arrived at the airport the weather was really bad, with heavy storms and rains causing all flights to be delayed. The lack of things to do in the small airport were not as concerning as the fact that there was a high chance we would not take off and we would need to make other travel and booking arrangements. But this is probably an ordinary day in Vietnam during the monsoon season, so after two hours waiting we were able to board the plane ready and depart. I’ve never been so scared in my life. You could of feel every turbulence in the cloudy sky all around you. To our surprise, we reached our destination without any problems and quickly forgot all about the turbulent flight.
Waiting can be boring
The AirBnB place
A complimentary taxi arranged by our host was waiting for us at the airport. We had some trouble placing all of the suitcases due to the limited space of the vehicle, but still managed to fill everything in the car. Our house was small and located at the beach on the the north side of the island. Location wise, it was 10-15 minutes ride by a car to the capitol Duong Dong.
The house was amazing, a work of art, which someone obviously put their hearts in to, and looked like a house from a architectural design catalogue. It had a few aquariums, one of which was running through the house, lots of greenery, and a palm tree in the backyard.
But the disparity between the front and the backyard view of our house was stunning. On one side you are greeted with a long stretched beach with white sand and tall coconut trees, while on the other there is a muddy road, with small, packed fishermen houses, with lots of curious locals wanting to take a peek inside, and us feeling like caged circus animals at times, considering the huge interest we managed to entice.
View behind the house
We spent 7 days on the island during what is their low season. The weather was actually not all bad, even though it would be raining almost every day, there were periods of sun. The high waves were making it almost impossible to swim on the north side of the island during the low season, but the south side is calm and nice. On the bright side, if you’re a surfer, you’ll probably enjoy the north side and the waves!
That’s why Sao Beach is a must do! Splendid view of the white beach and palm trees, calm bright water. The scenery will have everyone envious of your vacation photos. The kids were amazed, they had never seen sand so white and crystal clear turquoise water before.
Our host recommended the Paradiso beach as not so crowded. We found it very clean with all necessities provided if you choose to dine/drink at the restaurant, or just pay for the for the sun beds. We chose a table on the terrace and had a meal and drinks. Take your time to absorb all of the scenery, swim in the warm waters, do some snorkeling, and just let it sink in that you’re sitting in what I think is probably one of the best beaches in the world. We were there off season, so it was quite empty which helped add to the magic of the moment.
Organized transport with a taxi is available for 500.000 vnd which includes for 4 hours (the driver waits for you) for a family of four. They charge 50.000 vnd for every additional our of waiting. It is worth of every penny.
During the summer months (May to October), the sea at Bai Sao is calmer as the winds have shifted to the western side of the island. During the winter months (Late October to early May), the winds return and the sea in this area will have more waves, especially during mid-day. Some of the guesthouses and resorts rent beach loungers, kayaks, jet skis, sailboards, masks and snorkel. Showers are also available.
The biggest town in Phu Quock is Duong Dong, which is actually not that big. You can replenish your diner supplies, find a pharmacy or enjoy the night life. The Dinh Cau Night Market, which is often referred to as the “Phu Quoc Night Market” is a street that is 500m in length with stalls selling seafood, snacks, drinks, and souvenirs. It is located behind Dinh Cau Beach on Vo Thi Sau street near the Dinh Cau Temple. The night market is opened daily from 5pm until midnight, regardless of the weather conditions. Many people come at Dinh Cau Beach to watch the sunset near the temple and have a drink by the water. At the market you can buy: sea urchins, sea snakes, various sized conch, blood cockles, oysters, scallops, abalone, various species of shrimp, sting ray, shark, octopus, squid, giant clam, sea snails, grouper, razor mussels, sea perch, tuna, red snapper, king fish, cobia, lobster, crab parrot fish, sheep-head fish, and other types of marine creatures here. If it moves or crawls or swims, they will have it here.
The local site https://www.phuquocislandguide.com/ was very helpful while staying in Phu Quock especially the part where they explain how to choose fresh seafood. They also made us aware that the cheap pearls sold at the night market are fake pearls imported from China. Not that I am pearl person but is good to know these things.
There are good restaurants at Duong Dong. As you walk about the small city, take a peak in each one, and just go in the ones that look more decent. Very few people on the island speak english so be prepared to use your hands to mime, which can result in hilarious misinterpretations.
Vinpearl amusement park
The big waves ruined our plans for swimming again, so we decided to go to the Vinpearl amusement park. Our host Trung bought us tickets with local discounts and arranged a transport to the bus stop where the Vinterperl bus has a stop. The taxi driver took us to the wrong place and we had a wonderful time where for about 30 minutes people were coming to help us with Google translate and more tools, only to give up. The translations we got were out of this world, I feel like we would have had a better chance of figuring out dog language. But they were all very friendly and willing to help, so you cant hold that against them. At the end our host saved the day after we sent him a message and he came to show us the right way. It is really tricky when you don’t recognize the alphabet and you are unable to pronounce it.
Vinpearl amusement park has a water park, amusement park, aquarium, indoor games and as a cherry on top – the fountain show at 7 pm (which is also when the park closes). There’s not many places where there’s shade, not too much choices to eat (the few restaurants they have are targeting the local cuisine), but it’s good for a day of fun.
While we were there, some of the rides were still under construction. They have big slides but for some of them you need to have a group of four people, so we couldn’t try them. Not that I insisted, I feel better with the small ones. The aquarium was surprisingly nice, they even had penguins.
Inside a shark's mouth
We found Nemo
Under the sea...
For the best view, get on that ride
Lots of rides were under construction
View from the top
The fountain show to end the day
It’s clear that the island itself is still undergoing a development phase, as most of it rural and they are just discovering tourism as a source of income.
The people in the village were very nice, the kids were excited to see us and greeting us all the time.
We tried talking with some older ladies at the village using mime, which turned out great! What we managed to interpret was how they net fishing nets and how many grand kids they have. But they were super happy that they interacted with us.
The road to our house
Things that went wrong
At Vinpearl Land we had a very bad experience. The kids were hungry when we arrived so we start searching for a food they will like. We skipped the Vietnamese restaurants, and found a simple hot dog place. They wanted a hot dog, but the ordinary ones were sold out, so they only had hot dogs wrapped in bacon. Now Vietnam is not a place where they have very good products like bacon. It was so hard to chew at one moment we realized that Luka is choking and losing oxygen due to the blue color on his face. We called for help but the restaurant was empty and the girls working there were stunned by the situation, so we had to deal the situation ourselves. We provoked him to throw up the piece of bacon that was stuck, which allowed him to breathe again. He sat down and he continued to eat like nothing happened while Ognen and I were shaking for the rest of the day.
After the close impact with a flying cockroach in Hanoi, Ognen had no problem dealing with them on the island. As you can imagine, I was waiting outside during the process. But we had two small lizards at home living with us, getting rid of all the bugs, which I didn’t mind.
As a final note, please be aware that the CDC has confirmed that both the Dengue and Zika Virus are prevalent in Phu Quoc. The best protection is applying a pharmaceutical grade mosquito repellent which is readily available everywhere except Vietnam.