phu quoc island guide

The Phu Quoc Island Guide

It was not so many years ago that the Vietnamese island of Phu Quoc was a relatively unknown retreat that travelers used to keep secret. Today, Phu Quoc has become a tourist island that is growing in popularity and there are now many new resorts around the island, but this is primarily because it is truly a unique place, this island of red dirt and seafood. Located just 15 kilometers from the coast of Cambodia in the Gulf of Thailand and 40 kilometers from the closest coastal town in Vietnam, Ha Tien.   It’s an excellent laidback getaway – and here’s our Phu Quoc Island Guide.

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The idyllic island of Phu Quoc covers 574 kilometers and has a population of just under 103,000. It is the perfect place to enjoy a relaxing yet there is plenty to do on Phu Quoc. You’ll find top attractions and other activities on Phu Quoc Island and still be able to relax on its beautiful beaches.  Ready?  Let’s go explore Phu Quoc.

The Best Things to do in Phu Quoc

We first visited Phu Quoc in 2014 and things have changed quite a lot since then.  The island is busier, but the spots in the north of the island are still pretty quiet and isolated.    The first thing you’ll want to do on Phu Quoc is to get out and explore the island.

Explore the Island

Although Phu Quoc is busier now than it was in 2014, there’s still plenty of room to explore and escape the sometimes crowded waters, You can dive the reefs, kayak through the bays, and ride a motorbike along the backroads. You must visit this beautiful island to enjoy the many things it offers to locals and visitors.  There are several ways to get around, but you’ll have the most independence by renting a motorbike or scooter to get around.  You’ll want to stick to 40 kph and keep your helmet on, some of the roads are a little rough!  You’ll find our map of things to do on Phu Quoc later in this article.

Rent a motorbike in Vietnam from a trusted and reliable source. Get the best prices and options for Vietnam motorbike rental, plus read reviews from other customers. We use and recommend BikesBooking for Scooter and Motorbike rental in Vietnam.  You can get a price and reserve a bike here.

Renting Bikes

We explored the whole island on bikes and had a blast.  Our hotel was in Duong Dong and we decided to explore the north of the island.  We completely underestimated the amount of time it would take us to get there. We wanted lunch at the Ganh Dau beach.  There are great roads as far as Ham Ninh (on the east coast). As you turn north and ride up the east coast of the island, that’s where the great stopped. It was pretty bumpy. Pretty red. And pretty dirty.

A stop for coconuts was required.   This was paradise.

Beaches and Coconuts on Phu Quoc

Getting back on the bikes was hard work, pillion isn’t fun when it’s a bumpy ride.  And it got bumpier.

And then there was just no road, so we went off-road.  And then there was an off bike experience, which resulted in a little gravel rash, but no serious injuries.

Finally, finally, what seemed like hours later (oh, it was hours later), we found tarmac again.  And Ganh Dau beach.

The beach at the top of the island was still though on the agenda, we calculated we had just enough time to get there and return the bikes before sunset. Actually, we didn’t have quite enough time, so we just went faster. I do believe we bounced off every rock on the small road from when we left the tarmac to the beach.

And the same ones on the way back.  It’s a blast. Do it!

Rent a motorbike in Vietnam from a trusted and reliable source. Get the best prices and options for Vietnam motorbike rental, plus read reviews from other customers. We use and recommend BikesBooking for Scooter and Motorbike rental in Vietnam.  You can get a price and reserve a bike here.

Biking round Phu Quoc

Find the Best Beaches on Phu Quoc

Phu Quoc is known as the “Emerald Island” and is known for white-sand beaches and gloriously blue seawater, here are some of the best beaches on Phu Quoc.

Long Beach, Phu Quoc

Long Beach is located south of Duong Dong, the largest town on the island. It is 20km long, with resorts, restaurants, and hotels backing onto much of it.

Beaches on Phu Quoc

Sao Beach, Phu Quoc

Sao Beach is situated in an alcove on the eastern side of the southern tip. It is just a short drive away from the Phu Quoc Prison, which’s now a fascinating and famous museum – there’s more on this shortly.

Thom Beach, Phu Quoc

Thom beach is widely known as one of the most beautiful and pristine beaches in Phu Quoc. It is an excellent place for chilling out and snorkeling. This beach is a must-see when you visit Phu Quoc.

Ganh Dau Beach, Phu Quoc

Ganh Dau, a picturesque spot, is surrounded by nature and warm water. This beach is a great place to relax and although it is moderately developed, there are still some places where you can relax and enjoy a peaceful time.

Ganh Dua Beach

Bai Dai Beach, Phu Quoc

Bai Dai is one of the best beaches in Asia. The coastline here stretches almost seventeen kilometers and the beach is of delicate golden sand. Please keep in mind that this beautiful gem is undeveloped and lacks infrastructure – perfect for a little quiet time!

Take a Cable Car Trip and see Phu Quoc from Above

The longest cable car line in the world is the one that runs from Phu Quoc, Vietnam, to Pineapple Island. The ride is approximately 8km long and takes about 15 minutes each way. The views are breathtaking. As you soar above the green islands, you can see the forests, coral reefs, and bright turquoise ocean below. Buy discounted tickets for the Phu Quoc Cable Car here.

Phu Quoc Cable Car
  • Address of the Cable Car: 22G4+RWP, An Thới, Phú Quốc, Kiên Giang, Vietnam
  • Opening Hours of the Cable Car: The Cable car opens at 0800 and the last trip is 16:45.
  • Entrance Fees for the Cable Car: 300,000 VND, or you can buy discounted tickets for the Phu Quoc Cable car here.

Go diving in Phu Quoc

The calm, warm, and shallow waters of Phu Quoc are ideal for diving and there are some great places to discover the island’s vibrant reefs and marine life.  A full-day diving trip will take you to the south of the island. You can also chill out on board the boat and enjoy traditional Vietnamese cuisine.  It is important to pre-book this activity and reserve your spot as there’s usually high demand.

Visit a Fish Sauce Factory in Phu Quoc

 Many fish sauce factories are located on Phu Quoc Island and are open to the public. Most of them can be found in An Thoi and Duong Dong towns along the river. When visiting the factory, you will have the chance to hear the story about how fish sauce is made, and you will also see the storage where the sauce flows into smaller containers and plastic containers for bottling. Some factories also have a shop that sells their products.

Here are some fish sauce factories you should not miss during your stay in Phu Quoc:

  • Khai Hoan factory: Hung Vuong Street, Duong Dong Town
  • Phung Hung factory: Nguyen Truong To Street, An Thoi Town
  • Hung Thanh factory: Ngo Quyen Street, Duong Dong Town

Go to the Honey and Pepper Farms on Phu Quoc

This is a standard place to visit now on Phu Quoc, and you’ll see it included in many of the tours of Phu Quoc.  You don’t need a tour, though, as fortunately, a few honeybee farms on Phu Quoc Island are free to visit.  You can learn about bees’ life cycle and ecological role at these farms and of course, buy some honey products.  Phu Quoc pepper is famous for its peel, hard seeds, spicy, and has a strong taste and peppers here have a fragrant and tangy taste.   Pepper is harvested from November until the end of February.

The pepper here is made into two local specialties – sugar pepper, which is a tasty sticky sauce and pink pepper salt a seasoning made from simple ingredients like pepper, garlic, pink salt, and spices.

Here are two of the addresses and details of Phu Quoc honey farms.

  • Address of Phu Quoc Bee farm: 8W7R+WF2, ấp 2, Phú Quốc, Kiên Giang, Vietnam
  • Opening Hours of Phu Quoc Bee farm: Daily open from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Entrance Fees for Phu Quoc Bee farm: Free
  • Address of Phu Quoc Honey: 8W7R+WF2, ấp 2, Phú Quốc, Kiên Giang, Vietnam
  • Opening Hours of Phu Quoc Honey: Daily open from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Entrance Fees for Phu Quoc Honey: Free

Visit a Pearl Farm on Phu Quoc

Many of the “pearl farms” and factories are little more than glorified shop fronts, but it’s an interesting experience, and shopping at a Phu Quoc Pearl Farm can be a fun experience. You’ll find a wide range of pearl accessories and a short guided tour will give you some insight into pearl production.  You can visit one of the Pearl Farms on this tour of Phu Quoc, which also includes a ride on the Cable Car.

  • Address of Ngoc Hien Pearl Farm: 5XCC+32F, Dương Tơ, Tp. Phú Quốc, Kiên Giang,
  • Opening Hours of Ngoc Hien Pearl Farm: Daily open from 05:00 AM – 06:00 PM
  • Entrance Fees for Ngoc Hien Pearl Farm: Free

Go to the National Park on Phu Quoc

 Phu Quoc National Park has been designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve since 2010 and it’s a perfect place to enjoy tranquility, some delicious food and there are interesting eco-activities in the park, which covers more than 70% of the landmass of the island!   There are walking trails here that will take you deep into the park, if you’re of a mind to do it, there is a trail that goes from one side of the National Park to the other, it’s 90 kilometers long!  If you’re here in the wet season, or at least not the middle of the dry season, then there are heaps of waterfalls and streams and the water is usually crystal clear.  The Da Ngon stream flowers year-round. The national park extends underwater too – and this snorkeling tour will take you to the best parts of the reef.

  • Address of Phu Quoc National Park: Huyện Phú Quốc, Kien Giang, Vietnam
  • Opening Hours of Phu Quoc National Park: Always open
  • Entrance Fees for Phu Quoc National Park: Free
National Park Phu Quoc

Take a Trip to the Islands Around Phu Quoc

A boat tour to Dam Ngang Island, Mai Rut Trong Island, and Buom Island will take you to a paradise for snorkelers and ocean lovers. You can relax, explore the area, and admire the impressive variety of coral and fish.   You can even have a go at fishing too.  These islands are the most scenic in the area and that means that there’s high demand for this tour, so do not forget to make your pre-book to secure your spot.

Visit the Dinh Cau Temple in Duong Dong.

The most prominent religious site in Duong Dong is Dinh Cau Temple. It is known for its impressive architecture and is also considered the symbol of Phu Quoc. Dinh Cau Temple is a must-see in Phu Quoc. It is not only famous for its 17th-century architecture, but also for its significant cultural value. The temple is dedicated to the goddess of the sea, who is believed to have been born in Meizhou Island, Fujian province, China.  As she grew up, she became a brilliant swimmer and, so the legend goes, she was often seen, wearing a red dress guiding boats to safety in severe weather conditions.

Annual festivals like Tet and Dinh Cau festival are when Dinh Cau temple becomes the liveliest place in town.

  • Address of Dinh Cau Temple: 6X84+WGX, Khu phố 2, Tp. Phú Quốc, Kiên Giang, Vietnam
  • Opening Hours of Dinh Cau Temple: Always open
  • Entrance Fees for Dinh Cau Temple: Free

Visit the Waterfalls around Phu Quoc

The best waterfalls in Phu Quoc are Suoi Tranh and Suoi Da Ban. Suoi Da Ban is located 6km east of Duong Dong Town and is an excellent place to swim, cool off in the many rock pools, and enjoy nature. Suoi Tranh, 7km from Duong Dong, is home to the island’s most extensive collection of waterfalls and rock pools, is also a great place to take a dip when the falls are running.

It will cost you 1000 VND per waterfall, per person to visit and there’s also a 1000 VND fee for motorbikes, although they don’t enforce this all the time.

Go Snorkeling on Phu Quoc

When visiting Phu Quoc, snorkeling to view fish and coral is a unique experience you shouldn’t miss. There are several beautiful coral reefs and a variety of snorkeling spots here.  These are some of the most diverse reefs in the area and the best spots are just off Finger Island, Dam Ngang, and May Rut Island.  You’ll need to take a boat or a tour to get to these areas. 

Visit Phu Quoc Prison

The prison on Phu Quoc was built to imprison Vietnamese by the French colonials.  It was known as the Coconut Tree prison and was rebuilt in 1967 by the government in Saigon to become the Phu Quoc communist prisoner prison.  At its peak, there were 40,000 communist soldiers held here and it was the largest war prison in the South of Vietnam.  It was a savage place to be imprisoned – and there is more on it here.   I’d recommend visiting in the heat of the day to get a sense of what the conditions must have been like. (and if you’re interested in the history of the Vietnam War, then our guide to visiting the Vietnam War sites is here) Today the prison is a museum and it has been a national historical monument since 1993.  Don’t miss seeing the Tiger Cages, they are particularly brutal.  Phu Quoc Prison is free to enter. If you don’t plan to rent a bike and tour around independently, then this tour takes you to the Phu Quoc Prison.

Phu Quoc Prison Camp
  • Address of Phu Quoc Prison: 350 Đ. Nguyễn Văn Cừ, An Thới, Phú Quốc, Kiên Giang 920000, Vietnam
  • Opening Hours of Phu Quoc Prison: daily open. 07:00AM – 05:00PM
  • Entrance Fees for Phu Quoc Prison: Free
Phu Quoc Prison Camp (2)

Fish for your dinner on Phu Quoc

There’s nothing quite like watching the sunset over the Gulf of Thailand from a local fishing boat while you’re on Phu Quoc Island. Even better is catching your own dinner.  And this opportunity to go night squid fishing on Phu Quoc is unique.   Pay attention to the demonstration you’ll get and then it’s your turn to fish for your dinner.   The crew will prepare any squid that you catch and serve it to you along with your dinner.  This is a really special thing to do on Phu Quoc and you can check the prices and availability here.

Map of Things to do on Phu Quoc Island

You can find a copy of the map here too.

Map of Things to do in Phu Quoc

Where is Phu Quoc Island?

Located in the Gulf of Thailand, Phu Quoc is Vietnam’s largest island and a hidden paradise that keeps attracting visitors who want to relax and have an incredible holiday every year. It is situated just 15 kilometers away from the coast of Cambodia, and the ownership of the island is disputed by Cambodia who claim it as their own.

How to get to Phu Quoc Island

Flying is the best and fastest way to get to Phu Quoc. Many airlines fly from inland Vietnam to Phu Quoc Island every day at affordable prices and on varied schedules. However, it is recommended to book ahead of time, especially if you plan to travel with a budget airline as there’s high demand. This is a more comfortable option than the slower bus and boat ride.

An alternative route to Phu Quoc would be taking an 8-hour bus ride from Ho Chi Minh City to Ha Tien and then taking a 1.5-hour ferry ride from the port town to Phu Quoc Island. 

We opted to fly in (a US$30 flight) and got a transfer from the Phu Quoc airport to Duong Dong when we left we took the ferry from Phu Quoc to Ha Tien, and then a bus from Vietnam to Cambodia.  You can’t go direct to Cambodia from Phu Quoc overland/water.

Our full guide on all the options of how to get to Phu Quoc is here.

When to Visit Phu Quoc

Phu Quoc is known for its tropical climate, which means it is hot all year. However, you should be aware of the seasons if you plan on spending time on the stunning beaches. In general, the island has three seasons: high, shoulder, and low. The high season (November to March) is blessed with glorious weather, but the shoulder season (April to June) can also be an excellent time to visit this incredible paradise.

How to get around Phu Quoc

Public transportation is virtually non-existent in Phu Quoc. The majority of locals commute by motorbikes or cars. The island is still relatively underdeveloped. Roads outside of Duong Dong are simply red dirt and extremely bumpy (and sometimes very muddy) during monsoon season.

Transfers / Taxis

Transfers from Phu Quoc airport to Duong Dong are cheap and easy to book. Taxis are an excellent option if you want to travel further and see more sights. Although taxi prices in Phu Quoc may be higher than elsewhere in Vietnam, they are still relatively affordable.

Rent a bike on Phu Quoc

Renting a bike or motorbike is the best way to explore Phu Quoc. It is important to note that although the island is small, the roads aren’t great and the time to get between destinations can be quite long.   You can rent a bike from your hotel, or shops on the street.

Rent a motorbike in Vietnam from a trusted and reliable source. Get the best prices and options for Vietnam motorbike rental, plus read reviews from other customers. We use and recommend BikesBooking for Scooter and Motorbike rental in Vietnam.  You can get a price and reserve a bike here.

Roads on Phu Quocs East Coast

Walk around Duong Dong

You can walk around Duong Dong if you are up for some exercise and you can also easily walk from the Duong Dong night market location to the Dinh Cau Sea Temple.

Where to Eat on Phu Quoc Island

Phu Quoc Island’s culinary scenery is excellent, and I say that in a country with excellent food options! With fresh seafood straight from the boat, the food is affordable. Phu Quoc Island offers a variety of dining options, from traditional Vietnamese food, including street food stalls and luxury restaurants, and a host of expat-owned bistros that offer authentic Western cuisine. The most popular choices for visitors include Spice India, Khanh Ly Vegetarian Restaurant, and The Pepper Tree Restaurant.

However, for me, the best place to eat on Phu Quoc is the Duong Dong Night Market, the largest market on the island of Phu Quoc, and is a must-see for anyone traveling to the island. Duong Dong Market is located alongside Tran Phu Street; it is where fish boats line up to drop off the freshest seafood.

The Duong Dong night market is fabulous. Sure it was the place we threw down a cool million dong for dinner (including drinks), but wow what a feast. We picked a different restaurant in the night market but ate here for the three of the nights we were on the island.

Duong Dong Night Market

Travel Tips for Exploring Vietnam

Final words on the Phu Quoc Island Guide

Phu Quoc is a great spot to come, and although there are busy spots here, and some of the plastic trash on the beaches is awful, you can, as you can see find your own little piece of paradise and quiet.   Definitely rent a bike here to explore.  You can walk along the beautiful white sand beaches at Phu Quoc Island, relax here for weeks at a time in a hammock, and wait for your next coconut. 

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