It was a whirlwind vacation that will stay etched in our memories for a very long time.
Boasting spectacular mountain scenery, friendly, laid-back locals and arguably the country's best beaches, Phu Quoc is Vietnam's very own tropical paradise. Located in the Gulf of Thailand, 45km from Vietnam and just 15km from Cambodia, the island is home to a growing number of luxury resorts and welcoming an increasing number of visitors, while retaining much of its sleepy rural charm.
Capital Duong Dong is home to most of the resorts as well as some superb seafood restaurants, a lively night market and what passes for the island's nightlife; elsewhere you'll find deserted beaches, dirt roads, rainforests, and fishing villages exhibiting a way of life unchanged for centuries. Local specialities include black pepper from the island's many plantations and Phu Quoc fish sauce, claimed by many to be the world's finest. It's a short flight from Ho Chi Minh City or an even shorter one from Can Tho for those who want to combine a few days' relaxing on the beach with a visit to the fascinating Mekong Delta.
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Phu Quoc is famous both for its black pepper and for the quality of its pearls. Visit one of the island's many scenic pepper plantations and sample peppercorns at all stages of growth, and then visit a local pearl farm to learn more about pearl farming and purchase pearl jewellery.
The Wild Northwest
The northwest of the island offers quiet coves, charming fishing villages, rainforest treks and views of the Cambodian coastline. Tour the area by private car or for real adventure, go by motorbike.
Bai Sao Beach
Rated by many as the best beach in Vietnam, Bai Sao boasts turquoise waters, white sand, palm trees and fresh seafood. It's inaccessibility - it's located on the island's east coast down a narrow dirt track - and a lack of beachfront resorts means it attracts relatively few visitors.
Duong Dong Town
The island's capital is a fascinating place to spend a few hours. Photograph the colourful fishing boats in the harbour; dive into the chaotic wet market and shop for local pepper, seafood and fish sauce; visit the night market; and eat at one of the town's many excellent and inexpensive seafood restaurants.
The waters off Phu Quoc are rich in squid and various fish species. Charter a private boat and hop between the small offshore islands, fishing as you go, and cook your catch on the onboard barbecue.
Not many are aware of Vietnam’s beautiful beaches and countryside. Come in on the secret as you make your way from Phu Quoc island, to Can Tho in the Mekong Delta, taking a scenic boat ride in Ben Tre, and making your way on a scenic bicycle ride back to Saigon, while staying at some of Vietnam’s best hotels.
This seaside boutique resort has an intimate, romantic feel that’s ideal for couples. Its 70 well-appointed rooms and villas feature cozy interiors and upscale amenities. A stroll through the resort’s tropical gardens will bring guests to one of the four fine restaurants on-site: The Pepper Tree, the hotel’s signature restaurant; Le Jardin, which serves authentic Italian-style cuisine; BBQ on the Beach, where freshly-grilled meats are served up seaside; and Le Bar, where a wide range of spirits, beers, and wines flow freely in an intimate atmosphere. Guests can also enjoy a private barbeque dinner on the beach. Cooking classes are available for those who’d like to learn some of the chef’s culinary secrets, and the on-site spa offers a host of indulgent treatments. For those who’d like some retail therapy without leaving the grounds, the hotel’s shop sells linens and resort wear. Meeting and event facilities are also provided for special and important occasions.
Salinda Phu Quoc Island Resort and Spa
Set on the idyllic oceanfront of Phu Quoc, off the coast of Cambodia, Salinda is the first five star resort on this Vietnamese island. Just a short flight from Ho Chi Minh City sees guests landing at the island’s international airport, just a 10 minute drive from paradise. Here, on Long Beach, the resort languishes in manicured gardens, offering tranquility and shade. The infinity pool and jacuzzi offer views of the sun setting over the ocean and the Salinda Spa boasts a team of therapists from Thailand. The restaurant, lounge and bar serve delicious refreshments, from international cuisine to carefully crafted cocktails. Guests can retreat to their room or suite, all of which feature a private balcony and are finished to a high standard with accents of local style.