Phu Quoc Island (Part 2)

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Suoi Tranh & Suoi Da Ban WATERFALL
(admission 3000d, motorbike 1000d) Compared with the waterlogged Mekong Delta, Phu Quoc has very little surface moisture, but there are a lot of springs originating in the hills. The most accessible of these is Suoi Tranh; search for the entrance sign and concrete tree from the Duong Dong–Vong Beach road. It takes you 10 minutes to walk through the forest to the falls from the ticket counter.

Suoi Da Ban (admission 3000d, motorbike 1000d) is a white-water creek tumbling across some attractive large granite boulders. There are deep pools and it’s fine enough for a dip. Bring plenty of mosquito repellent.
The best time for you to visit are between May and September for both of these falls – by the end of the dry season there’s little more than a trickle.

Nha Tu Phu Quoc MONUMENT
(7.30-11am & 1.30-4pm) Worth a visit when visiting Sao Beach in the south of the island, Phu Quoc’s notorious old prison, founded by the French in the late 1940s, consists of a little museum that narrates the gruesome history of the jail. A war memorial stands south of the prison on the far side of the road.

An Thoi Islands ISLAND
(Quan Dao An Thoi) Visitors can visit these 15 islands and islets just off the southern tip of Phu Quoc by chartered boat. It’s a fine area for sightseeing, fishing, swimming and snorkelling. Hon Thom (Pineapple Island) is nearly 3km in length and is the biggest island in the group.

Other islands here include Hon Dua (Coconut Island), Hon Roi (Lamp Island), Hon Vang (Echo Island), Hon May Rut (Cold Cloud Island), the Hon Dams (Shadow Islands), Chan Qui (Yellow Tortoise) and Hon Mong Tay (Short Gun Island). As yet, there is no real development on the islands, but expect some movement in future.

Most boats depart from An Thoi on Phu Quoc, but visitors can make arrangements through hotels and resorts on Long Beach. Also enquire at the dive operators, as they have boats heading down there regularly for diving. Boat trips are seasonal and generally do not run during the rainy season.

 ITINERARY PLANNING

A popular round journey between HCMC and Phu Quoc is to travel overland through the Mekong Delta, take a ferry to the island from Rach Gia or Ha Tien and, tanned and rested, take the short one-hour flight back to HCMC. With the Vietnam–Cambodia border at Xa Xia–Prek Chak, it’s also convenient to visit Phu Quoc as part of a loop through the Mekong Delta and the south coast of Cambodia.

 Activities

Diving & Snorkelling
Though Nha Trang is arguably the best all-round dive site in Vietnam, Phu Quoc also has plenty of underwater action, but only during the dry months (from November to May). Two fun dives cost from US$40 to US$80 depending on the location and operator; four-day PADI Open Water courses hover between US$320 and US$360; snorkelling trips are US$20 to US$30.

Rainbow Divers DIVING, SNORKELLING
(0913 400 964; www.divevietnam.com; 11 Ð Tran Hung Dao; 9am-6pm) This reputable PADI outfit was the first to set up shop on the island and provides a wide range of diving and snorkelling trips. As well as the walk-in office, it’s well represented at resorts on Long Beach.

Flipper Diving Club DIVING
(www.flipperdiving.com; 60 Ɖ Tran Hung Dao; 9am-9pm) Centrally located (by the Coco Bar), multilingual PADI dive centre for everything from novice dive trips to full instructor courses.

Searama DIVING, SNORKELLING
(0126 479 1922; www.searama.com; 98B Ð Tran Hung Dao) French- and English-speaking operators; tends to be a little bit cheaper than the competition.

Vietnam Explorer DIVING
(077-384 6372; 36 Ð Tran Hung Dao) Well-known outfit, also operating out of Nha Trang.

Kayaking
There are several places to rent kayaks along Sao Beach, and its protected, fairly calm waters make for a smooth ride. Besides locals who hire out boats, you can ask at the beachside restaurants. The going rate is about 60,000d per hour.

 Tours

Your best bet for booking tours is through your hotel or resort, as there’s no government-run tourist office in Duong Dong. Squid fishing at night is popular, and you’ll spot the lights of boats (to lure the cephalopods to the surface) on the evening horizon.

Specialised companies and individuals offering boat excursions and fishing trips include the following:

Anh Tu’s Tours BOAT TOUR
(077-399 6009; anhtupq@yahoo.com) Snorkelling, squid fishing, island tours, plus motorbike rental.
Jerry’s Jungle & Beach Tours BOAT TOUR, HIKING

(0938 226 021; jerrysjungletours@gmail.com; day trips from US$25) Archipelago explorations by boat, snorkelling, fishing, day and multiday trips to islands, motorbike tours, bouldering, bird-watching, hiking and cultural tours around Phu Quoc.

John’s Tours BOAT TOUR
(0919 107 086; www.johnsislandtours.com; 4 Ð Tran Hung Dao) Well represented at hotels and resorts; cruises include snorkelling, island-hopping and squid-fishing trips.

 Sleeping

Accommodation prices on Phu Quoc yo-yo depending on the season and number of tourists . Changes are more extreme than anywhere else in Vietnam, but tend to affect budget and midrange places more than the high-end resorts. Some places will treble their prices for the peak season of December and January, when bookings are crucial. Across all of the budget categories, you’ll get less for your money than you’d expect for the price.

Duong Dong
Most tourists like staying at the beach, but Duong Dong has some guesthouses if the beach is bursting at the seams. Prices are more acceptable here.

Sea Breeze HOTEL $
(Gio Bien; 077-399 4920; www.seabreezephuquoc.com; 62A Ð Tran Hung Dao; r with fan from US$15, r with air-con US$25-40) A curvaceous hotel with clean, modern and attractive rooms. Accommodation road-side is noisier and rooms can get very bright in the morning – fine for early risers, not for late sleepers.

Hiep Phong Hotel GUEST HOUSE $
(077-384 6057; nguyet_1305@yahoo.com; 17 Ð Nguyen Trai; r US$15-20) A very friendly family-run minihotel in the middle of town. The rooms include satellite TV, fridge and hot water – something you won’t find on the beach at this price.

My Linh Hotel GUEST HOUSE $
(077-384 8674; 9 Ð Nguyen Trai; r US$10-15) Just a few doors down from Hiep Phong, this minihotel offers a similar sort of deal, with solid wooden beds and some balconies. English-speaking staff.

Long Beach
There are now several dozen resorts stretched in a continuous line along the sands of Long Beach. Some hotels offer free transport to and from the airport; enquire when making a booking. Most can reach Ð Tran Hung Dao.

Mushrooms GUEST HOUSE $
(0126 471 4249; 170 Ɖ Tran Hung Dao; dm US$6, d US$10-15) There are spic-and-span six- and four-bed dorms with spruce, clean and colourful outfit on the far side of the road, and a couple of decent doubles, one sans shower.

Lien Hiep Thanh Hotel RESORT HOTEL $
(077-384 7583; lienhiepthanh2007@yahoo.com.vn; 118/12 Ɖ Tran Hung Dao; r with fan US$15-20, r with air-con US$30-60) This friendly place has simple rooms and bungalows amid trees and a great strip of beach. Beachfront rooms consist of air-con and hot water, and there’s a small restaurant.

A74 Hotel HOTEL $
(077-398 2772; www.a74hotel.com; 74 Ð Tran Hung Dao; r US$10-25) On the main drag near Long Beach, this friendly overspill option has basic and rather musty rooms, some with sea views.

Moon Resort RESORT HOTEL $
(077-399 4520; www.moonresort.vn; 82 Ð Tran Hung Dao; bungalows with fan $15-25, with air-con US$25-49) These rustic, woven rattan bungalows, set in a beautiful garden, are good value and right on the beach.

Mai House RESORT HOTEL $$
(077-384 7003; maihouseresort@yahoo.com; 118 Ð Tran Hung Dao; r with fan US$75, r with air-con US$95-240) Dappled with palm shade, Mai House serves one of the most attractive settings on Long Beach, nailing the whole tropical-paradise vibe with its well-tended gardens, open-sided restaurant and loungers shaded by rattan umbrellas. Scattered on the lawns, the bungalows are pretty and clean, although the back ones are much more tightly spaced than the front couple of rows. The food is delicious and the beach is gorgeous.

Sea Star Resort RESORT HOTEL $$
(077-398 2161; www.seastarresort.com; r US$36-46, bungalows US$60-85) It’s a friendly destination for travellers to stay, inluding 37 rooms and bungalows, many fronting on to a manicured stretch of sand with sea-view balconies. There are cheapest rooms which are conjoined in a block and prices decrease by about 20% in the low season.

Beach Club RESORT HOTEL $$
(077-398 0998; www.beachclubvietnam.com; Ap Cua Lap, Xa Duong To; r US$30-40) This club which is run by an English-Vietnamese couple is a great escape from the main-drag bustle, with tightly grouped and well-kept rooms and bungalows on a small plot, plus a breezy beachside restaurant.

Paris Beach RESORT HOTEL $$
(077-399 4548; www.phuquocparisbeach.com; Cau Ba Phong, Cua Lap, Duong To; r US$32-150) Along with many pretty rooms facing the sea , this French- Vietnamese run resort hotel is next to Beach Club. It has a brand-new swimming pool and bright and spacious bungalows, with a tiled terrace at which delicious food is served by the congenial hosts.

Thanh Kieu Beach Resort RESORT HOTEL $$
(077-384 8394; www.thanhkieuresort.com; 100C/14 Ð Tran Hung Dao; r US$39-49) On a nice beachfront, the excellent brick bungalows are set in a leafy garden dotted with swaying palms and clumps of bamboo. Rooms are well furnished and the popular Rainbow Bar is situated here on the beach.

Phuong Binh House RESORT HOTEL $$
(http://phuongbinhhouse.com; 118 Ð Tran Hung Dao; r US$30-65) With clean but rather characterless cookie-cutter seaside accommodation, this small 17-room, nice place is buried away at the end of the road to the beach.

Nhat Lan GUEST HOUSE $$
(077-384 7663; nhanghinhatlan@yahoo.com; 118/13 Ð Tran Hung Dao; bungalows with fan/air-con US$25/60) The last in a string of affordable beachfront guesthouses, this destination has rooms in a shady garden and six new, swish, glass-fronted beach-side bungalows.

La Veranda RESORT HOTEL $$$
(077-398 2988; www.laverandaresort.com; 118/9 Ð Tran Hung Dao; r US$275-375) This is the most excellent destination for visitors to stay on the island with grounds shaded by palms, designed in colonial style and small enough to remain intimate, with only 44 rooms. It has a stunning cobalt-blue pool with a kiddies’ area, a well-designed spa and all rooms are equipped with large beds and nice bathrooms. There is a great beach and travellers can choose food between a cafe on the lawn and the Pepper Tree Restaurant upstairs, when drinking at Le Bar round off the day well .