Phu Quoc - Vietnam's pearl
It might sound as a paradox, but although Phu Quoc is the biggest Vietnam's island it is almost unknown destination to Vietnamese thanks to its position. The good news is that you won't find massive tourism here which makes it a perfect choice. Although temperatures don't vary much year around the best time to visit the island is during the dry season from April to November.
Take one hour flight from Ho Chi Minh city, formerly Saigon, and there you are, in the middle of the tropical heaven which can be described in a few words: mountains and snow-white sandy beaches. Add to that island's delicious food and untouched nature, and you have everything you need for an easy vacation.
Duong Dong is the island's biggest town and the place of your landing. It is the most vivid place on the island with always lively local market and fishermen constantly coming and going to the sea to catch new fish. Exotic food, shells, fresh fruits and vegetables, even turtles and live chickens can be found there, while small charming shops will call you to explore them. So enter a shop and buy the traditional comfortable Vietnamese long blouse or pants or, why not, buy them both. They will serve you well while hiking on the island and they can be a useful souvenir when you return home.
Long Beach, as the name suggests, is the biggest beach on the island, a kind of hotels' reservoir because most of the hotels are situated along it. It is also the only place from where you can enjoy golden sunsets and take some of the most beautiful photos. When on vacation probably the most challenging thing of all is where to eat well because poor food can make even the best vacation on Earth a complete disaster.
You won't spend much time searching for some good restaurant on Phu Quoc because all the restaurants offer excellent food by reasonable prices. For the full experience choose one of those situated on a beach with solid tables and torches on the sand and enjoy the calm atmosphere of the desert island.
While on Phu Quoc the best suggestion one can give you is to rent a vehicle and take enough water with you and that equipped start to explore the island. On the island's east side there are Bai Dan and Bai Sao, the most famous and unbelievably white-sand beaches while other, not less beautiful, you can find on secluded places. After you find the beach you can be sure that you will spend the day without seeing a single human being. But no matter the beauty of the beach you certainly won't spend the day lying down when you are surrounded by beautiful untouched nature.
Phu Quoc National park covers more than 50 percent of the island and walk is a pleasant way to escape the heat. There are several temples and pagodas scattered across the island to be seen while rain forest hosts a few waterfalls like Da Ngon, the most beautiful waterfall of Phu Quoc, where you can enjoy its unique natural Jacuzzi. So make a plan one day earlier and take a guided tour to visit it. While talking about guided tours, ask in your hotel for river cruising, boat trips, snorkelling and fishing tours and you will spend an active vacation and see more than beaches.
Nearest villages are worth of visiting, firstly because of friendly people who will wish you a warm welcome, and secondly because of South Sea pearls which they sell. The second option is to visit Duong To town situated some 9km from Duong Dong town and search for New Zealand's company "Treasures from the Deep" specializing in pearl jewellery. They will also welcome you but for some other reasons. But at the end of the day, it's quite appropriate to bring home pearls from the Vietnam's pearl. ■