48 Hours: In Phu Quoc, Vietnam

Once known as a prison island, Phu Quoc is set to be the next big resort destination in Southeast Asia

By Nicole-Marie Ng

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Phu Quoc is an undiscovered paradise. (Photo: Shutterstock)

If you’re sick of tourist packed beaches filled with touts trying to hawk their wares, head over to the sleepy island of Phu Quoc, Vietnam, instead. With large untouched beaches filled with powdery white sand, Phu Quoc is an undiscovered island paradise every beach-goer will love.

The 574sqkm island used to be known as a prison-island, as French colonists had built a jail to house and torture political prisoners in the 1950s. This continued till after the Vietnam War.

The island only recently opened up to tourists when its domestic airport was built in Dec 2012. Currently, the fastest route to Phu Quoc from Singapore is by Vietjet, a low cost carrier that began operating in Vietnam four years ago. The flight will take you to Phu Quoc via Ho Chi Minh.


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Day 1

10:00 Fly from Ho Chi Minh to Phu Quoc by Vietjet.

11:00 Arrive in Phu Quoc and check in to Novotel Phu Quoc Resort.

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Take your pick from the wide variety of beachfront restaurants. (Photo: Nicole-Marie Ng)

12:00 Head to Ham Ninh Fishing Village for a seafood feast. Be sure to try their steamed crabs served with a traditional dipping sauce made from lime juice, salt and Phu Quoc pepper.

13:00 Explore the picturesque fishing village. Walk to the pier to enjoy panoramic views of the mountains and coastline.

14:00 Buy souvenirs and be wowed by the variety of seafood available at Ham Ninh Market.

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Take a dip beneath Suoi Tranh Waterfall. (Photo: Nicole-Marie Ng)

16:00 Trek up to Suoi Tranh Waterfall. A popular spot among locals, the one-tiered waterfall only flows during Phu Quoc’s rainy season. The rocky path to get the waterfall can be slippery and dangerous so be sure to choose proper footwear.

17:00 After taking a refreshing dip in the main pool at the waterfall, set up a campfire near one of the streams. Do as the locals do and barbeque some seafood and vegetables.

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Catch a spectacular sunset on the private beach of Novotel Phu Quoc Resort. (Photo: Nicole-Marie Ng)

19:00 Head back to the resort before dark to catch a spectacular sunset over the private beach.

20:00 Spend the night stargazing on the beach, enjoying a cocktail or two at the poolside bar.


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Day 2

10:00 After breakfast, head out for a day of exciting excursions. Visit Phu Quoc Prison, known as Coconut Tree Prison to the locals. Learn more about the island’s dark past and how prisoners were tortured in gruesome ways.

11:00 Head over to the Phu Quoc Pepper Plantation to see how the island’s famous pepper mix is made. We couldn’t resist buying a bag of spicy red peppers to cook with back home.

12:00 Time to unwind at Sao Beach, a 7km stretch of pristine white sand and clear blue water. Grab a coconut and watch the world pass you by.

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Enjoy lovely views from the village pier. (Photo: Shutterstock)

13:00 Feeling hungry? Walk over to the southern coast and take your pick of any one of the beachfront restaurants.

14:00 Once your stomach has settled, rent a jetski at 450,000 dong ($27) for a ten-minutes, or opt for a less strenuous kayak tour.

19:00 After a day of lazing in the sun, it’s time to head to Dinh Cau Night Market for dinner. The market is split into two zones. On the right you’ll find typical souvenirs like jewellery, t-shirts and art but on the left, you’ll find a dizzying array of food stalls selling roasted peanuts, ice cream rolls and live seafood that is barbequed once you order.

21:00 Return to the resort and prepare for an early departure back to Singapore, transiting in Ho Chi Minh in the morning.

Weekender would like to thank Vietjet for hosting us on this trip.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of Weekender, Issue 156, July 8 – July 21, 2016, with the headline ’48 Hours in Phu Quoc’.

 

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