Phu Quoc Island
Phu Quoc Island is the largest of all Vietnam islands, and an idyllic tropical paradise to rival Phuket Island in Thailand. It is located in the Gulf of Thailand off the southeast Mekong Delta coast and the border of Cambodia. The Phu Quoc Island beaches are famous as some of the most beautiful in the world.
The island’s district includes 21 smaller islets, and all are fringed with coral reefs. This means that one of the most popular things to do in Phu Quoc Island is diving. The sea is crystal clear, and the teeming underwater marine life is varied and colorful. The majority of the diving and snorkeling tours occur of the southern tip of the island from the town of An Hoi. There are twelve smaller islands right offshore, and there is often fishing here as well.
While diving is excellent here, it is the Phu Quoc Island beaches that draw the most visitors. They are stunning, with pure white powdery sand, accented against the turquoise waters and waving palm trees and lush green vegetation. Many are quite secluded, and some are virtually deserted. The longest of the Phu Quoc Island beaches is called, appropriately, Long Beach. It is on the western coast near the airport at Duong Dong (the island is only about a one-hour flight from Ho Chi Minh City) and this is where the majority of hotels and resorts are located. The island has only become a popular tourist destination since sometime during the 1990s, and more luxury hotels and resorts are being built elsewhere on the island.
While lounging on the beaches has great appeal, the other things to do in Phu Quoc Island are many and varied. There are several picturesque fishing villages on the island, and shopping in their bustling traditional markets is something most all visitors do at some point during their vacations.
A large portion of Phu Quoc Island is a protected national park marked by everything from marine waters and coastal ecosystem to mountain jungle and sparkling waterfalls. Quite accessible is Suoi Tranh Waterfall about four miles inland from Duong Dong and then an easy hike for ten to fifteen minutes. This waterfall is about fourteen feet high and has many rock pools suitable for swimming. A spectacular waterfall, Da Ngon, requires guided tours or an extremely good map, as it is quite deep in the jungle forests of the interior. Some of the pools are accessible from the dirt road. One way to get transportation to this remote part of the island is cycling or motorbikes.
Phu Quoc Island is known both for its commercial anchovy fishing as well as the cultivation of black pepper. Black pepper is cultivated in other parts of Vietnam, but the best quality comes from this island. There are large pepper plantations all over the northern and central parts of the island. There are daily tours to these plantations where you can learn the entire process from cultivation to harvest and production. If you’re dining on the cuisine of any of the many excellent restaurants, your chef is probably using black pepper grown right on the island. If there aren’t enough things to do in Phu Quoc Island during the day, you will find a pleasantly relaxed nightlife at some quintessential beach bars and a few clubs located in some of the resorts.
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