Located just off the coast of Cambodia, in the Gulf of Thailand - Phu Quoc is Vietnam's largest island. Although Vietnam isn't famed for its beaches, Phu Quoc is a welcome anomaly. It boasts beautiful white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and an abundance of tropical fish - you can see why we wanted to visit. The dry/high season is between November & March, perfect for us as we were heading there for Christmas.
We spent a total of 8 nights on the tropical island, 3 in a hostel to save our pennies, and 5 in a posh hotel for Christmas.
Many people fly to Phu Quoc; there are regular flights from Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) which take about 1 hour and cost as little as £50.
You can get a ferry from Ha Tien; the closest ferry port on the Vietnamese mainland. Tickets cost between 185,000VND (£6.60) for the slow ferry, and 230,000VND (£8.20) for the fast ferry.
You can also get a ferry from Rach Gia (this is what we did) which is the closest ferry port to the Mekong Delta. The SuperDong runs 4 boats a day to Phu Quoc and costs 350,000VND (£12.50). We managed to get an introductory rate on a different boat (sorry, we can't remember/find the name) for 250,000VNDpp (£8.90).
Find out more about ferry prices and schedule here.
We've heard ferry tickets can sell out in high season, but we had no problem rocking up to the ferry port about 40 minutes before the boat was due to leave to buy our tickets, and this was ultra high season.
Phu Quoc on a Budget
We got to see both sides of Phu Quoc as we arrived three days early for our fancy Christmas booking. Naturally we wanted to keep it cheap, so we did three nights in Antinho Hostel for £13 a night, which seemed relatively cheap for a private room on the island. The location was amazing, just south of the main town Duong Dong, and only 100m from Long Beach. This beach boasts white sand, calm & clear waters and chilled beach bars. Our favourite place to lay back and relax with a cold one was Rory's Beach Bar, which is a must visit in the day or night time; great vibes with paddle boards and kayaks to rent. Watch out though, drinks aren't cheap so what you save on accommodation you may end up spending at Rory's!
As well as Long Beach, we also went to check out Sao Beach (or Bai Sao in Vietnamese). We hired a moped to get there for 100,000VND (£3.50) from our hostel. Sao Beach is stunning. It is said to be the most beautiful beach on the island, we definitely agree.
Restaurants are plentiful around both areas, although there's an abundance of cheaper ones by Antinho Hostel.
Phu Quoc for Ballers
If you you're looking for something a bit special - the beautiful hotel with the gorgeous pool and all the trimmings - head a little further up the coast to Ong Lang Beach. It's a little quieter than Long Beach and a bit more refined. Here we spent closer to £65 a night (it was Christmas after all!). We stayed in an absolutely fabulous hotel called Cottage Village. It was stunning; the pool divine, the breakfasts delicious and the staff were super duper nice. It was about 400m from Ong Lang Beach and was surrounded by numerous restaurants and a couple of bars.
Up here, however, everything was just that bit more expensive - and not necessarily any higher quality. You pay more for hiring a moped, more for food & drinks, but it's no different to the cheaper areas.
Having said that Ong Lang beach is super nice, a little quieter than the beach by Rory's and there's certainly alot more fish - so snorkeling is much better here, although still not world class like Thailand or the Red Sea.
Christmas day selfie on Ong Lang Beach
Mike tackling a BBQ Mackerel
Oh dear Mike took control of the music on Christmas Eve
He's very proud of his 'Sandman'
An actual care package from my mum arrived :D
Diving & Snorkeling
The snorkeling on Phu Quoc is just OK. On the day we took a snorkeling tour the sun was shining all day and yet the visibility still wasn't that great. We did see a large number of beautiful smaller fish, but Phu Quoc doesn't have anything large, and the coral is in a pretty sorry state. A scuba-diver on our boat had very little positive to say also.
We went with one of the scuba-dive boats after hearing horror stories about the cheaper snorkeling boats; who sound as if they have little or no respect for reef from which they make a living. It will cost you about $10 more to go snorkeling with a dive boat, but they anchor to buoys rather than directly to the reef, they also warn their customers not to touch and walk over the reef, damaging it indefinitely. You can't put a price on protecting the environment!
Free diving with the fishes
Fingernail Island - Plenty of small fish under that pier!
A cheeky bit of snorkeling
Discovering our new surroundings
Phu Quoc paradise island is a must see part of Vietnam! It's beautiful beaches and crystal warm waters are hard not to fall in love with. If you are a keen diver/snorkeler then don't have too higher expectations, snorkeling is probably the best way to see the most of the marine wildlife. You can do it on the cheap or living the life of luxury. It's up to you.