Friday, October 1, 2010

Phu Quoc Island

I have not had much time within the last month to make any posts; I have been rather busy here with work, travel, and learning Vietnamese. Sorry. 

I returned earlier this week from a 5 day trip in Phu Quoc Island.  PQ is the largest island in Vietnam (nearly 600 km2) and is actually closer to Cambodia than to Vietnam.  The island is in the process of building an international airport and soon will be able to accomodate large intercontenential airplanes.  However, now PQ has an airport of the same size as Con Dao Island and thus can only handle twin turboprops (a typical example is seen below at the Saigon International Airport).

I stayed at a little hotel about 7km away from the airport.  The motorbike taxis at the airport were fast and cheap (~30.000vnd or 1.50us).  The hotel name was "Beach Club" and rooms could be found for 15usd per night with private bungalows for 20usd daily (each rate goes up by 5usd during the high season, i.e. after the monsoon).  The hotel is run by a English expat named Mike and his Vietnamese wife and has been there for over 6 years.  The staff was helpful and friendly, the location was beautiful, and the food was good.  I would definitely recommend anyone coming to Phu Quoc to spend at least a few nights at the Beach Club.  

Phu Quoc is an island whose inhabitants are fishers and farmers.  The main town (Yuong Dong) has many different things to do; there are several good restaurants and bars (for example, Oasis Restaurant and Bar is a great place for a drink and some food run by an English expat named Stephan).  The main town also has a wonderful night market and many places to buy fresh fish (fishing boats at the center of town seen below).  The main town has other sites of interest such as a Cao Dai pagoda, a bustling city market, several unique coffee shops and snack stands on the water, and even a nightclub.  From Yuong Dong, you can travel north, south or east on the island.  The best beaches are to be found in the South, though.  On your way down south, stop in at Phu Quoc Pearls, a large company where pearls are farmed in the ocean.  The company is under the direction of a friendly kiwi named Grant and his assistant Jerry.  They also plan to have bungalows available for the night soon. 

The roads in Phu Quoc are a bit tricky to navigate with the majority of roads currently unsealed (see below for an example).  Also, the roads can be a bit of a maze.  If you are unfamiliar with driving in Vietnam or do not speak enough Vietnamese to figure out directions, I would recommend having a guide to show you around.  They can be hired on the island very cheaply and should be able to help navigate around easily.

1 comment:

  1. The island looks nice... I actually wanted to go there but time didn't permit.. =\


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