Living in Ho Chi Minh City with the hustle and bustle of every day life can sometimes be a little too much. So, to change the scenery I took a few days out of the city and decided to visit the Island of Phu Quoc. Situated at the Southern tip of Vietnam, it’s become a popular holiday destination for foreigners and locals alike.
If you are short on time, you can catch a flight there straight from Tan Son Nhat airport and be on a beach in no time. But, if you are feeling a little more adventurous then you can always take the more scenic route on a sleeper bus. I decided for the latter and took an overnight bus to Ha Tien, a small town on the Vietnam/Cambodian border. I stayed one night there in hopes of sightseeing, but in reality this sleepy town didn’t have much to offer.
The next morning I took one of the first ferries from the port to Phu Quoc. This was where the fun times started. You get access to the outside deck and breathe in the cool morning air, but be warned it does get rather windy out there as the ferry is a basically a big speed boat. The journey took just over an hour and when we got off the ferry we were greeted by a mass of taxi drivers trying to garner your business for the short ride into town. Top tip: If you can bargain your price as the taxi drivers are hoping you don’t care and just want the convenience of a ride into town, some of the prices we were quoted were ridiculous! So, take your time and find the right driver, there are some offering fair prices. Your other option it to make the short walk down the harbour pier where there will be a wider choice of taxi drivers to choose from.
We headed straight for our hotel called Eco Lodge a few kilometres North of the centre of town. With a small sign and entrance, we didn’t know what to expect, only seeing a few photos on the booking website. But, as soon as we entered we knew we had hit the jackpot. The Manager walked out to greet us with a warm smile and helped us settle in. Eco Lodge is as the name suggests trying to lower its footprint on the environment. They have around 10 cabins dotted down a path which eventually reaches a small grassy area and decking, along with a small sandy camp fire pit.
We asked where the beach was and the Manager replied with, just over there, pointing over the lake. We were a little bemused and then he asked us, ‘Would you like to walk there? Or get a boat there?’ We were now even more taken back, what did he mean take a boat to get to the beach? Well it turns out the lake is actually filled by sea water and Eco Lodge is rather uniquely placed. We took up the boat option and one of the staff kindly rowed us over the lake and onto a sand dune. We walked about 50 metres and got to a deserted beach which was clean and perfect for those Instagram sunsets.
Want to Book Eco Lodge? Check out their Facebook page.
Earlier in the day, we hired a scooter from the hotel and set out to do some exploring around the island. We headed straight for the other side of the island in hopes of finding a secluded beach. The journey itself ended up being more enjoyable than the beach. When I say beach, I mean a small ledge with seats and a small hut selling cold beers, but hey you make the memories no matter how they unfold. We only stayed an hour, as there wasn’t anywhere to go, as you couldn’t really walk along the ‘beach’. We cut our losses and headed for the next beach back on the hotel side of the island. We approached the beach using Google Maps, but suddenly the road disappeared and we were left with a choice of a precarious dirt road or calling it a day. We decided to continue our adventure and just went for it. And we were so glad we did, we could hear the waves breaking and after a short walk from parking the scooter we were greeted with what we had been hoping for. Vung Bau Beach is long, empty and scenic. I even found a boulder to climb, but not prepping I had decided not to bring any climbing shoes with me on the trip. We got just what we wanted, but soon our fortune changed, the clouds came in and were hurrying back to the scooter to get back to shelter at our hotel.
If you want to find Vung Bau Beach, here’s a pin to follow.
On the final day we had just enough time to get to a small Pepper Farm further in the island, but only 10 minutes motorbike ride away. We had met the owner the night before at the restaurant and he invited us to have a tour of his farm. In the end it was rather a wonderful experience, even if the heat was close to unbearable. We got to walk amongst the pepper corn plants and learn about the farming process. They even had a small brewery onsite to make their own beer, which we tried when we got back to the main lodge of the farm.
We had always planned to not do the ‘touristy’ thing and go to hotel resort and stay close to town, but we were a little hesitant as we didn’t know what to expect. In the end, our 2 days in Phu Quoc turned out to be relaxing and fun all at the same time. A special mention has to go out to the people we met there, who were all so welcoming and friendly, that alone makes me want to go back there and take in a bit more of the ‘island life’ that Phu Quoc has to offer.