Tips for first time visitors

Tips for first time visitors
UPDATED: 16 Mar 2015 5 Views

Phu Quoc has some of the finest beaches in Vietnam and is rapidly becoming a top destination of SE Asia. Here are a few tips that should help first-time visitors to the island:

Book ahead. When I was there, the island had more visitors than rooms. Booking ahead also would be an easier way to shop around for a better rate and, knowing where you want to go, will make it much easier to get a taxi or minivan from the airport or the boat dock. Just shout out the name of the place and take the best offer shouted back. Everything on the island is more expensive than on the mainland. Accommodation ranges from US$20-40 and up. I stayed less than a hundred yards off the beach for $20 a night. Food and beer is quite reasonable.

[caption id="attachment_2958" align="alignnone" width="640"]Phu Quoc Phu Quoc[/caption]

If you are coming from Saigon - fly. The island is only an hour away and a round-trip should cost about US$100. Book the ticket directly with Vietnam Air - or at least check their price first before going through a travel agent. Flying will save a full day's travel each way. The Phu Quoc Airport is in Duong Dong, just a 5-10 minute ride from the beach resorts and bungalows.

If you are coming from Cambodia, the High Speed Boat DOES leave from Ha Tien at 8:00 a.m. every day (weather permitting). Moto taxi drivers will try to tell you the boat leaves from a different port or is cancelled altogether but don't believe them. The boat ticket is $10 and takes about an hour-and-a-half. The Cashin High Speed Boat ticket office is close to the dock - just up the street from the nearby Hoa Mai Hotel (same side). For $20, you can leave Kampot at 6:00 a.m., make the border crossing, and reach Ha Tien in plenty of time for the boat - they will bring you right to the dock (boat ticket included). From the island dock, it cost me 40,000VND for the 15-20km taxi (motorbike) ride to the beaches which are on the opposite side of the island.

Plan at least two days for renting a motorbike and touring the island. The north and south halves each have mile after mile of secluded beach and several fishing villages and ports to explore. Traffic is very light and the riding easy though most roads are dirt. Shop around for a better deal. The going price was 100,000 but I paid 80,000VND per day (still much more than on the mainland but well worth it). Carry a map - some places have them for free.

Pack a flashlight and put on long pants at night. Finally, however long you plan to stay, double it - this is one tropical paradise that you will not want to leave!