Discover fabulous golden beaches and romantic hideaways on this beautiful island
Just off Vietnam’s south-west coast in the Gulf of Thailand, Phu Quoc is the country’s largest island and an increasingly popular destination thanks to its tropical climate with year-round warm temperatures. It has swathes of forests and hills to the north and east but its brilliant white-sand beaches are the main attraction, from buzzing tourist spots in the south to tranquil fishing villages along the relatively undiscovered northern coastline. The market in its capital Duong Dong is as frenetic as you’d expect from a South-East Asian town, but the island also has quieter spots with plenty of authentic Vietnamese charm including temples and pagodas. For an unforgettable bird’s-eye view over clear waters and swarms of fishing boats, hop on the newly built Hon Thom cable car — the longest non-stop cable car in the world. The island is easily accessible by boat and regular flights mean you can easily get from Phu Quoc to Ho Chi Minh City in under an hour; we’d recommend combining the two places for a unique blend of historic city and island retreat.
Phu Quoc holiday highlights
Phu Quoc has some of Vietnam’s loveliest beaches. Long Beach is south of the island’s capital Duong Dong and stretches for over 10 miles; it’s not the most private beach but it has plenty of restaurants and beautiful sunsets. Ganh Dau is a fishing village on the island’s north-western tip, with a smaller and quieter beach where you can see Cambodia just a few miles away. At the opposite end of the island lies Sao Beach, with white sands and lined with palm trees. It’s also one of the few places you can kitesurf in Phu Quoc, and you could even see starfish on the shores during the autumn months.
Phu Quoc National Park covers a considerable amount of the island, with clusters of forest across the north and the east – perfect for leisurely hikes and seeing natural wildlife including macaques. Head to the Ham Ninh Mountains for natural caves, rock pools, streams and waterfalls including the four-metre waterfall at Suoi Tranh, which is in full flow during the island’s wet season. Just 10 minutes’ drive from here is the capital Duong Dong —less pristine than other parts of Phu Quoc, but home to the island’s biggest and busiest outdoor market. We recommend going early to see the fleets arrive with freshly caught seafood including squid, eel and barracuda, as well as locals haggling for Nuoc Nam — the fish sauce which has become a staple condiment in Vietnamese cuisine.
Just next to Duong Dong fishing harbour you’ll find the Dinh Cau Rock Temple, part shrine and part colourful lighthouse where local fishermen go to pray before heading out to sea. Climb a series of winding stone steps to reach the rooftop terrace, and take in stunning sunset views over Dinh Cau Beach and nearby islets.
A 45-minute drive from Duong Dong is Phu Quoc Prison (also known as Coconut Tree Prison), believed to have detained over 40,000 Vietnamese prisoners before opening to the public in 1995. Now a war museum, it serves as a poignant reminder of Vietnam’s turbulent past and offers guided tours in English.
Head to Ho Quoc pagoda on the south-east coast; it has ornate wooden pillars, gold furnishing and panoramic ocean views. Hon Thom Cable Car was only recently constructed but has been verified as the world’s longest non-stop three-way cable car; climb aboard for a spectacular bird’s-eye view over turquoise waters, coral reefs and the islands below.