We absolutely adore beach holidays in South East Asia. We have visited the beaches of Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia multiple times but recently, we discovered one of the most beautiful beach destinations in South East Asia – Phu Quoc Island.
We spent 5 days here after a few weeks travelling through Vietnam and just fell in love with the place. Laying around for hours on stunning beaches, followed by a dip in the warm ocean, a massage, and a few cocktails as the sun goes, down followed a delicious dinner on the beach.
What I absolutely love about Phu Quoc compared to other South East Asian beach destinations is the lack of chaos. Whilst there are beach and street vendors, they are not trying to convince you to buy something every five seconds and there is no crazy traffic that one comes to expect from travelling in South East Asia. All of this makes it the ideal location to come and totally relax and chill out.
If I haven’t yet convinced you to come to Phu Quoc Island, here are a few more reasons to start planning your seaside getaway to Vietnam.
Things to do on Phu Quoc Island
Explore Phu Quoc’s Stunning Beaches
I don’t think I have ever visited an island with so many different stunning beaches. Seriously Phu Quoc Island has some of the best beaches in the world. The beaches have soft fine white sand and are fringed by coconut trees – yes right out of a postcard. Some beaches have warm, crystal clear and calm waters, whilst others have soft waves. Some beaches are so isolated that there is no one else there but you!
My favourite beaches by far are Long Beach and Ong Lang Beach – both very similar in that the ocean is calm here, resembling a warm swimming pool which is my kind of beach. The most famous beach on Phu Quoc Island is Bai Sao where the ocean has soft waves and various swings for your Instagram photos. You can also check out the marine life around the islands by going on a snorkeling trip around Phu Quoc.
Wander Around Phu Quoc Prison
Phu Quoc Prison is where Northern Vietnamese soldiers were imprisoned during the Vietnam War. The prison is now a museum where you can see torture instruments, photographs of former prisoners and various exhibits with life sized mannequins depicting graphic scenes of what life was like in prison during its operation.
Whilst not for everyone, the prison is a way for tourists to learn more about Vietnam’s history and a reminder of the brutalities of war. The prison is open between 7.30 am to 11 am and 1.30 pm to 5 pm daily and entry costs around 3000 Vietnamese Dong per person. Guided tours are available in a variety of languages.
Dinh Cau Night Markets
Unlike most South East Asian markets, this is not really where you come to buy a bunch of dodgy souvenirs – this is mainly a place for fresh seafood and local Vietnamese food. If you’re keen to try the local delicacies, I urge you to pay a visit to this particular night market. You can even choose between a live frog or snake which will be cooked fresh for you (yeah no, I’m good!).
One of my favourite things to eat at the night markets is yummy rolled ice cream – I love this stuff!! They have a variety of flavours which they mash into the fresh ice cream and roll it into little cups – delicious!! You can visit the Dinh Cau night markets any night of week between 5 to 10 pm.
Editor’s Recommendation: Take a Cooking Class
One of our favorite things about traveling is being able to taste and learn about new cuisines! Since we travel full-time, attending a cooking class in every place we go to is like the ultimate souvenir. Learn how to make your favorite Vietnamese meals with these fun island cooking classes.
Visit the Dinh Cau Rock (Cau Temple)
Cau Temple is located just by the Duong Dong Fishing Harbour and is an oddly shaped rock formation which local fisherman pray to before heading off to fish. The temple has a brightly coloured lighthouse and Buddhist shrine making it totally Instragramable.
You can walk to the top of the temple for fantastic views of Dinh Cau Beach and fishing boats. Dinh Cau Rock is also a fantastic spot to photograph the sunset. The temple is open between 7 am to 6 pm.
Chill out on the beach
My all-time favourite thing to do in Phu Quoc Island is to spend hours not doing much while on the beach. I just love lying in a comfy beach chair catching some sun where I can read a bit, swim a bit, have a drink or two. Really, I can do this all day.
Along Long Beach, which is the main tourist beach on Phu Quoc Island, there are ladies selling fresh fruit for when you get a bit hungry. You can also pop by massage parlours if you feel like a bit of pampering. This is completely my idea of heaven!
Related: If you’re looking for suggestions on Phu Quoc accommodations, take a look at this article with tips on where to stay.
Watch the sunset on the beach with a few cocktails
After a hard day on the beach, or perhaps being out and about exploring the island, find yourself a bean bag on the beach at a trendy beach bar, order yourself a cocktail and watch the spectacular sunset. If you are like me and travel with kids, beach bars are perfect as the kids can play in the sand, even swim whilst the adults unwind with a few drinks.
One of our favourite spots to do this was at Rory’s beach bar. The bar has colourful lanterns, beach chairs, and tables right on the beach. The owner, Rory, is great with the kids. Whilst we were there he dressed up as a pirate, complete with a bird on his shoulder and told the kids stories about pirates and hidden treasures, whilst the parents relaxed. Once the sun sets, Rory’s has beach bonfires and delicious meals.
Explore the Island on a Motorbike
If you can, hire yourself a motorbike and explore the island on your own. The traffic on Phu Quoc Island is nothing like Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City and I felt reasonably safe riding around. With your own transport, you can go explore some of those beaches I mentioned above and visit the various tiny little local villages, like Gahn Dau. You can also stop in the local bakery here and eat delicious baked goods. Other places you may like to visit include the Pepper Plantations, Phu Quoc National Park, and Fish Sauce Factory.
If you are not confident in riding a motorbike, just hire yourself a driver for the day, there are plenty of taxis in the area and you can negotiate a day rate with them. Alternatively, there are plenty of tours like this one which will take you around all the main sites on the island.
Explore the Local Life at Ham Ninh Village
Ham Ninh Village is a picturesque fishing village and a great spot to get a glimpse into the everyday life of the local fishermen. For those who love fresh fish, the village is a great spot to eat some bargain-priced seafood as well as try some unusual dishes such as sea cucumber soup. Sorry, I don’t eat seafood so can’t tell you what cucumber soup tastes like!
Explore the An Thoi Islands
If you thought Phu Quoc Island was stunning, wait till you see the gorgeous An Thoi Islands!! Just off the southern end of Phu Quoc Island you will find 15 tiny islands which make up the An Thoi Islands. The various islands are perfect for spending the day snorkelling, swimming, and fishing. You can join various boat trips or even charter your own private boat. Just book in advance as these tours do book out quickly!
Visit Suoi Tranh Waterfall
Last but not least, if you’ve had enough of the sea and the sun, you can visit Suoi Tranh Waterfall. Although it is not very high, this 4-meter waterfall is located in a lovely spot surrounded by lush rainforest, caves, and rock pools. It’s an easy 10 to 15-minute walk to reach the waterfalls from the main entrance.
For those who love hikes, you can walk a bit further past the waterfall, around 15 kilometres and you will reach Hang Doi (Grotto of Bats) which is a cave formation only 200 metres in height with stalactites. The entry to the waterfall is 5000 Vietnamese Dong.
Hopefully, this article has given you ideas on what to do and how to spend your time in Phu Quoc Island. While Vietnam doesn’t always equate to sunny beaches, if you’re looking for a few days of sun and sand, Phu Quoc Island is definitely a great choice.