The Ultimate Guide To Phu Quoc Island

Phu Quoc Island, nicknamed the “Emerald Island” is truly a green gem on the Vietnamese crown. It is actually one big island surrounded by several smaller islets. Being the biggest island of the Gulf of Thailand, and Vietnam too, with approx. 1320 sq km (119198 sq feet) it has something to offer to everyone. From backpackers on Ông Lang beach to clients of the most luxurious hotel of the island located on Khem beach, Phu Quoc Island is a paradise for swimmers, beachgoers, tan lovers, divers, lovers of lush green sceneries and foodies.

To paint a picture on how popular it is becoming: according to the district People’s Committee, this year (2019) 72,500 tourists, including 7,950 foreigners came here just during the five-day holiday of National Reunification Day (April 30) and International Labor Day (May 1). Compared to the previous year, numbers went up by a significant 45 per cent and 39 per cent year-on-year, respectively!

We mentioned the location. Never heard of Gulf of Thailand or Siam? It is surrounded in the north, west and southwest by Thailand, and on the northeast by Cambodia and Vietnam. You might have heard of, or visited, some of the “Ko” Islands: Ko Samui, Ko Lang, Ko Tao… It is about time you get to know Phu Quoc Island (pronounced “foo kwok”).

It is undergoing a transformation and experiences a boom of visitors. However, still stays serene, wild and calm, with local “mascots”, Phu Quoc Ridgebacks, tamed by humans for hunting, now being the friendliest dogs, just wandering around or chilling in the shade.

Phu Quoc island guide dog
Credit: @TanRock

Are you visiting Ho Chi Minh city? Why not escape the traffic and experience the paradise that is just a 55-minute flight away!

Phu Quoc Island guide

When to visit Phu Quoc?

Climate and weather

Phu Quoc is amazing all year round, however, there are rainy (April to November) and dry season (December to March). Our go-to time is from November to March. You will enjoy the sun and a clear blue sky. Careful in the hottest months of May, April, and June though. Wear a hat and use a cream with higher SPF. As there is a lot of greenery (hence the nickname Emerald island) and humidity, pack a mosquito repellent too.

How to get there?



Since Phu Quoc International Airport opened in 2012 there are regular domestic and international flights. It is also a good getaway from another Vietnamese city (with companies VietJet, Jetstar, Vietnam airlines, Bamboo airways) or if you are in Kuala Lumpur or Bangkok. Flight from Saigon lasts less than an hour and costs around 40-140 dollars for one way, depending on the company, when you book and when you travel (the prices skyrocket during Tet holiday)



Ha Tien bus takes 8 to 9 hours and costs 170 to 200 000 VND (7-9 dollars) and a ferry takes 1,5 hour and will cost you about 230 to 400 000 VND (9-17 dollars).

Rach Bia is a cheaper and faster choice. The bus takes 6-7 hours and costs 150 000 to 200 000 VND (6-9 dollars), then 2,5 hours on a ferry for about 230 000 to 300 000 VND (7-13 dollars)

You can book your tickets via Baolau.



You can arrive by boat too but we do not recommend it in the rainy season, as the weather is more unpredictable. You can pick a fast ferry or slow ferry. If you have more time to spend but less money, combine the use of both the bus and a ferry. The ferry leaves from Saigon and arrives in Ha Tien or Rach Gia.

You can check the following companies: Phu Quoc Express or Superdong.


How to get around?



There are more and more quality roads being built. Hence, so as to properly explore the island, we recommend you rent a motorbike. However, in order to drive a motorbike, unless it is below 150cc, foreigners have to apply for an International Driving Permit. It applies to all of Vietnam but people often overlook it. Biggest problems occur if there is an accident or an insurance company needs to step in. On Phu Quoc, strict rules came to effect after a motorbike accident involving a tourist and prominent local in 2014. Hence, it is your choice, but better be safe than sorry. Also, always wear a helmet. Daily rent is $7 – $14.


Local taxi

There are also taxi companies you can use. The Grab application does not work here though. Centre is approx. 10 km from the airport. Be sure to agree on the price beforehand or request your hotel to arrange it for you.



Where to go in Phu Quoc?

Top Attractions

White-sand beaches, blue water, corals, and lush greenery. But this place was not always an Eden. It was also an Inferno, famous for being the largest camp for prisoners of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. And there are places that commemorate that.

Phu Quoc Prison was built by French colonists but it has become “famous” because of the Vietnam War era when over 40,000 soldiers were imprisoned, tortured and killed here. Gnarly objects in Phu Quoc Prison comprise of rows of tiger cages, made of barbed wire, where prisoners had to lie or sit in extreme heat or cold for a long time while being tortured.

Phu Quoc island guide prison

Few people escaped through tunnels. What happened to others is depicted through life-sized figurines scattered in the exhibiting area, which is way, way smaller than the real prison was. Not that it should be the No°1 on your list, but do not skip it. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  

Done with history? Let’s summarize other top attractions:

1. Beaches

With more than 10 big beaches there, it is hard to pick a winner but here are our favourites. You also have a small chance of seeing bioluminescent plankton or some endangered animal such as slow loris, small-clawed otter, yellow-headed temple turtle or dugong.

Phu Quoc island guide beach
Credit: @fuatsea

Do you want to experience barefoot bliss on the popular ones? We recommend:

  • Star beach (Bai Sao), with its powdery sand and dreamy sunset. Why the name ‘Star’? Because it is covered with starfish (Do not touch, lift or disturb them since they die very easily)!
  • Long Beach (Bai Dai), perfect for snorkelling enthusiasts because Turtle island (Hon Doi Moi) is located here.

Eager to discover the less known ones? Go for:

  • Mui Ong Doi beach, the only place where you can watch both the sunrise and sunset.
  • Ganh Dau beach, the closest point from where you can see Cambodia.
  • Bai Rach Vem, an authentic beach with a rural village, 45 minutes by boat from Ganh Dau.

Travelling on a budget?

  • Try Ông Lang beach. West coast hides this series of small sandy beaches where you can escape to. Coconut trees, myrtle trees, cows and friendly dogs will be your silent company. You can visit nearby pepper plantations too. If you get hungry, head to “So True Restaurant” 

Want to be pampered at a luxurious resort?

  • Khem beach is where you should look for pleasure leisure. Also, you need to stay at one of the resorts there to access this beach. The most luxurious place of the island, J.W.Marriott is located here. It came as number 4 Asia’s top-rated hotel in Condé Nast Traveler rating.

2. Phu Quoc National Park

This park takes up 86% of the total island vegetation. Located in the north-east of the island, you can find a park that is hilly, although not particularly steep. Ideal for relaxing strolls or hikes (the highest point is Mount Chua at 603 m | 1978 feet). You’ll be able to discover more than 900 documented species of flora. To mention one unique thing: Melaleuca, the evergreen tree. To visit the park, you can either book a day tour or rent a bike.

Phu Quoc island guide forest
Credit: @AnCarine

3. Kien Giang Biosphere Reserve

is one of the largest Southeast Asian biosphere reserves that is home to a tropical rainforest, coral reefs and wetlands, more than 200 animal species, including 28 mammals and 199 birds, etc. Are you already reading this in your head in Sir David Attenboroughs voice?

Phu Quoc island guide birds
Credit: Cutural Magazin

4. Phu Quoc Night Market

At the heart of Dương Đông Town, you will find authentic stalls and fresh seafood and produce. Try sea urchins, grilled fish, oysters, squid, octopus or quail eggs. Finish with crepes for dessert and wash it down with a healthy palmyra juice or refreshing craft beer.

Phu Quoc island guide night market
Credit: Phu Quoc Night Market

5. Take the world’s longest oversea cable car!

Recognized by Guinness World Records, Hon Thom cable car is a ride of almost 8 km linking An Thoi Town and Hon Thom island. The view is truly amazing!

Phu Quoc island guide cable car
Credit: @ley_eryin

6. Vinpearl land and safari

Located in Long Beach area, it is the largest wildlife conservation park in Vietnam. The 380-hectare park is home to rare native and foreign species, from tiger to flamingo. Native species include langur, macaque, or lemur for example.

Phu Quoc island guide safiri
Credit: Safari Vinpearl Phu Quoc

7. Pagodas and temples

Pagodas and temples are a common destinations for travellers when visiting Vietnam. To mention two:

1. Ho Quoc Pagoda is great for serenity and watching the sunset too.

Added value: Bai Dam beach is right in front of it.

2. Dinh Cau Temple waits for your visit from 1937. Also known as Dinh Cau rock, it was constructed in 1937 to commemorate Thien Hau (the goddess of the sea). Local fishermen still come here and pray. If you happen to be here during annual festivities such as Tet (New Year) and Dinh Cau Festival (15–16 October), it will get more crowded. During the festival, after they pray and burn incense sticks, locals release ducks into the water and try to catch them. They also race on boats and play different games. Do not miss it.

Phu Quoc island guide pagoda
Credit: The Christina's Blog

8. Suoi Tranh tourism site

The magnificent scenery you never thought you needed to see. Listen to the best soundtrack: birds singing with a waterfall falling down.

Phu Quoc island guide waterfall
Credit: @Justgola

9. Ham Ninh fishing village

Witness authentic life of locals in Ham Ninh fishing village and try sea cucumber soup or tram mushroom. Do you think we had too much rice wine? Nah, both names are real! Believe even this: locals make wine infused with seahorses. It is called Simson. You can buy pearls too since the island is famous for them and it is dubbed “The Pearl Island.”

Phu Quoc island guide port
Credit: Origin Vietnam

What to do in Phu Quoc?

Top activities

You can find yourself alone on the beach with white sand, spot unique species like dugong, the endangered hawksbill turtle or the green turtle. The northern part of the island is relatively untouched and you can visit a UNESCO-listed national park, climb hills, visit fish sauce factory, pepper farm, and even a pearl farm. The beauty of this place is that everyone finds something they like.

Moving further, the middle part is where Duong To lies. It is a popular area that offers traditional markets, festivals, food, visit a wine factory and a highly Instagrammable sunset. Going south, you will discover pagodas or the harbour of An Thoi, from where you can catch a boat to the Fingernail island. You reach Fingernail island by normal boat (in 75 minutes) or speed boat (in 25 minutes). You can find clear blue water and many food stalls here. Perfect for snorkelling.

Phu Quoc island guide bar
Credit: @homeiswhereourbagis

Are you already imagining yourself at one of the many beaches with white sand already? There is more… Phu Quoc is poised to be a unique smart island-city by 2020. Therefore, while chilling on that beach, you can soon connect to Wi-Fi for free! Sounds like a paradise? You do not even need Visa since there is a 30-day exemption for everyone that arrives by plane or on a cruise! There are direct flights from several Vietnamese cities, Guangzhou, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul or London.

Let us summarize the top activities:

1. “All things nature.”

Camping, hiking, swimming near a waterfall (Suoi Tranh), bird-watching, and photography – good that you are packin that efficient digital camera or smartphone! We guarantee you will willingly snap many portraits, selfies, sceneries and sunsets. Oh, the sunsets. We recommend previously mentioned Mui Ong Doi beach.

Phu Quoc island guide sunset
Credit: lyssunshine

2. See the sea

Diving, swimming, snorkelling, kayaking. Try the latter from the Ông Lang beach and you can reach the Fingernail Island. Remember to do these activities while showing respect to nature, not damaging corals and minimizing your impact (reduce-reuse-recycle-refuse whenever you can.)

Phu Quoc island guide diving
Credit: Blog Columbia

3. Nightlife

Vietnam’s top underground dance music festival called Epizode takes place here every December. Looking for a club? Try Boroda. Are you more of a bar or pub person? Try Rory’s Beach Bar with colourful furniture and feel the sand between your toes. Secret tip: Do not leave before the bonfire.

Phu Quoc island guide bar
Credit: @themistlounge

4. Quality foodie experience guaranteed

Read more about that in our next section.

What to eat in Phu Quoc?


Foodgasm is just a 55-minute flight away from Saigon. Sounds “plane tasty”, right?

Continue reading and prepare to start drooling.

Your stomach will most definitely not shrink on this biggest Vietnamese island. And it is a great place for shopping too.

While visiting, we strongly suggest you not to skip these 5 commodities of the island:

fish sauce, pepper, honey, coffee, and seafood.

Phu Quoc island guide fish sauce
Inside one of the fish sauce factories in Phu Quoc Island - Credit:

F is for flying, flavour, foodgasm, Pho, Phu Quoc and… Fish sauce (nước chấm). This trademarked traditional pride, unlike other fish sauces, is made out solely out of anchovies. It is being added to the most famous dishes, from signature raw herring salad (goi ca mai) to soup. Love spring rolls? Dip ’em in it!

However, due to the risk of breakage and the strong fumes some airlines have banned it altogether so check with yours before packing it.

Pepper, sold solo or in the mix with salt (careful, this combo is really addictive) is collected manually when ripe. Visit numerous plantations and bring it home. Best souvenirs are eatable. If you disagree, drinkable is also an option. Get yourself some Sim wine. It is a local wine made of myrtle tree fruit.

Phu Quoc island guide pepper farm
Credit: Phu Quoc City

In case you are more of a sweet tooth kinda person, visit a bee farm and try local honey.

Tired? Have a cup of Vietnamese coffee. There are numerous cafés waiting for you.

Hungry? Fish and seafood are immensely popular here. Barracudas, mackerels, anchovies, squids, shells live in local clean waters and if you order fish here, it will be as fresh as it gets. Explore layers of Bien Mai Scallop, the rich taste of Grilled Sea Urchin.. and let’s not forget about crabs. Size matters but with Phu Quoc’s crabs you want to aim for smaller ones. Good things come in small packages and local Ham Ninh Flower Crab is definitely a dish you should not skip. Ninh fishing village is one of the many places you can find them.

If you are thirsty for some more, try crab rice.

Courageous? Give crab blood a shot.

So, you know what to bring home as a souvenir, but where to dine?

  • Head to Kien Xay restaurant for homemade noodle dish called bun quay
  • 30/4 street in Duong Dong Town for chicken soup with tram mushrooms
  • An Thoi town for sea cucumbers. You can find it fried, in porridge or in a soup
  • Rach Vem village with floating restaurants for fish and seafood
  • Gop Gio Restaurant for shrimps and squid
  • Winston’s Burgers & Beer if you crave burgers, fries, and beer
  • Are you a vegetarian? Head to Khanh Ly

Sounds tantalizingly delicious, doesn’t it? A paradise called Phu Quoc Island awaits.

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