There are many reasons to visit Phu Quoc Island – not the least of which is the dazzling azure water tightly embracing its coastline!
A once little-known fixture on the budget-backpacker scene and an even lesser-known ex-prison camp from the Vietnam War – the luxury-travel Gods are finally taking a shining to this historical paradise, hoping to make the island an enticing destination for treasure-hunters!
Phu Quoc Island – How To Get There
A product of Vietnam, Phu Quoc (pronounced “foo-kwok”) is actually closer to the shores of Cambodia. But don’t be fooled into thinking you can easily get there from Sihanoukville or Ha Tien in the South, there are no direct ferries from Cambodia to Phu Quoc and all flights must go through Saigon. The easiest and most effective way to reach the island from Australia is to fly one of Vietnam Airlines daily routes from Sydney to HCMC/Saigon and then to take a short, one-hour flight.
But let’s not beat around the bush, before you plan to land smack-bang in the middle of this twenty-kilometre stretch of sunshine, sand and soil, there’s one thing you want to know, right: Is Phu Quoc worth a visit if you’re craving culture, curiosities and comfort? Well, dear readers, my answer is unequivocally ‘yes’.
6 Reasons to Visit Phu Quoc Island
Chic New Hotels Opening
Let’s be honest, even the hardiest travellers like a bit of luxury every now and then. And Phu Quoc doesn’t disappoint in the hotel stakes. If you’re craving some five-star relaxation and rejuvenation then Intercontinental Hotel Phu Quoc is going to be your jam. It’s no secret the Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG) have been orchestrating a ‘re-brand’ of sorts in recent years. Gone are the days of all-you-can-eat buffets and uninspiring room fit-outs, the new breed of designer Intercontinental Hotels are more life-‘styled’ than simple, and more bespoke than one-room-fits-all. They’re also much more environmentally-minded than yesteryear, so that kept a smile on my dial.
Opening their doors in July last year, this beautiful beachside resort offers 459 rooms, 115 of which are one, two and three-bedroom suites and villas, a state-of-the-art spa with overwater bungalow treatment rooms, and six restaurants and bars (yes you heard right – six), each offering a different gourmet menu and style. With Seafood, Modern Asian, Italian and Japanese cuisine covered, it’s safe to say you’ll eat extremely well here. To be honest you’ll probably never want to leave! And don’t even get me started on the rooms…
Phu Quoc Island Has Some of the Best Sunsets
When I say you may never want to leave the Intercontinental Phu Quoc I wasn’t kidding. Located on Long Beach, each room is perfectly situated to make the most of the strikingly beautiful sunsets the Island is blessed with. I’d be lying if I said I’d seen a sunset more breathtaking than the ones I witnessed in Phu Quoc. Many people (both outsiders and hotel guests) flock to Intercontinental’s rooftop bar “Ink” for a sundowner and to witness the perfectly mellow shade of tangerine that fills the sky at sunset.
Phu Quoc Island is Warm All Year Round
For a South-East Asian island located close to the notoriously balmy equator, the temperatures in Phu Quoc are relatively inoffensive most of the year. With the exception of April and May, the humidity during the day won’t make sweat cling to your clothes for dear life and in fact, for about 8 months of the year, you’ll want to pack a wrap to keep yourself comfortable in the evenings. It goes without saying temperatures may differ from those suggested above, and it is true that daily rain showers are prominent in June and July – but I can assure you with great gusto that the ocean is warm enough for swimming all year round!
You’ll Still Find Unpopulated Beaches in Phu Quoc
We all know stumbling upon an uncrowded beach anywhere in South-East Asia is becoming increasingly difficult. So, the notion of finding a beach with a whole bunch of starfish calmly going about their fishy-business NOT completely riddled with tourists is nearly unbelievable. However this is the situation at Starfish Beach (or Bãi Thơm as it’s known locally) in the North. While you’ll still have to deal with a few other inquisitive souls, as well as the odd-guided tour, the beach is pretty quiet for the most part. There’s also a quaint stilted village just up from Starfish Beach which is worth a look.
Another quiet stretch of sand is Ganh Dau Bay. Located at the North-West corner of the Island, within sight of the Cambodian mainland, it’s best accessed via rented motorbike or boat. If you’re partial to a day of sailing and island-hopping in Phu Quoc, you can charter a luxe-catamaran here.
Home of the Longest Cable Car in the World
Phu Quoc has the craziest cable car I’ve ever experienced, period. Having opened at the start of 2018, this state-of-the-art air-tram holds the Guiness World Record for the longest, non-stop over-water cable-car. Zipping between its Phu Quoc Station just south of the beach resort area of Bai Truong, all the way to Hon Thom Island (also known as Pineapple Island) in 15 minutes, revellers get a 360-degree aerial view of the An Thoi Archipelago.
Once you get over the idea you’re in a piece of partially-open-metal hovering a few hundred metres above the sea, the ride is a pretty mind-blowing experience! You’ll fly above thirteen lush islands, turquoise reefs and quaint fishing boats ready to offer their bounty to the local fish-sauce barons. Who needs a drone when this is such a unique way of witnessing the islands.
Phu Quoc Island is Steeped in History
If culture is what you value when traveling you can’t go past the eerie War Museum located in an old Prison. Dubbed the “Coconut Tree Prison Complex” in English, these grounds were built during the French colonial era and then later used by the Americans to house captured Vietnamese soldiers during the Vietnam/American War. Take a walk through the barb-wire maze and educate yourself on the prisoners’ sombre and confronting experiences. It might not be the most joyous activity but it’s certainly the most interesting.
On a lighter note, the local art scene in Phu Quoc is alive and thriving, in particular on Long Beach. Numerous art instillations created for the yearly “Epizode Music and Arts Festival” by contemporary Vietnamese Artists stand proudly on the sand and are enjoyed by locals and tourists alike.
So there you have it ladies and gents, 6 very solid reasons to visit Phu Quoc Island!
Stefanie was a guest of Intercontinental LongBeach Phu Quoc and Vietnam Airlines in March 2019. All opinions are her own.