The west coast in sharp contrast to the east coast is vastly more developed especially near Duong Duong Town. However, the beach and water on the west coast are stunning and it’s easy to see why the development has happened.
Where to Stay
Thanh Kieu Beach Resort
During our second week on the island, we’re staying at one of the oldest family-owned resorts on the island Thanh Kieu Beach Resort. The resort was founded 15 years ago with just a handful of bungalows.
The Thanh Kieu Beach Resort has one of the best beachfront locations on the island, which they have kept very natural with eco-friendly palm trees shading the beach creating a large area of natural shade backing on to the beautiful gardens.
Each bungalow is nestled between the lush gardens, with a maze of pathways leading to them, tryin to maintain as much of the natural environment as possible.
We were staying in one of the large family Seaview bungalow, which was very big, with two twin beds and large double bed and ensuite open air bathroom, lounge area and veranda. As we were staying at the resort over Christmas we were happy to have so much space in the room.
Also it was fantastic to have the gardens, beach, and pool only a few steps from our room, it was the ideal set up for families; when it was too hot for the beach and pool, our girls were able to play in the shade of the gardens and palm trees.
The beach front
As beaches go, this particular beach was perfect, swaying palms, clear calm water great for paddle boarding and swimming. Numerous swings, and when you get bored of all that, the pool is just a few steps away with the same stunning sea view.
Rest and Relaxation were our top priority for this trip: 2020 has been a stressful year for everyone due to the pandemic, therefore we were very content to spend time in the tranquil resort, swapping between the pool and beach and a little paddle boarding.
However, it doesn’t take long for us to get itchy feet, but that is the beauty of Phu Quoc. When you have done all your relaxing and on the beach, there is lots to see and do on the rest of the island.
Almost half of the island is made up of National park and it is absolutely stunning with numerous waterfalls and different areas to visit, a day trip or even just an afternoon here is a must do activity.
Dan Banh Stream and pools
Dan Banh Stream and pools with an unassuming entrance with a small rustic restaurant at the entrance and then we headed over a handmade and very rickety suspension bridge. Bella and Maya blazed a trail through the jungle over huge tree roots and rocks, they were having their very own Indiana Jones adventure, until we found a tranquil spot with numerous pools to swim in.
An afternoon raced away we had so much fun, we had the place almost to ourselves and as always a walk and dip in natural water is always good for the body and mind!
Night Market in Duong Dong Town
The night market is a must-see: its bustling with activity but, unfortunately, many of the shops are selling similar souvenirs, but there are a few unique gift items on offer; we bought personalized purses for the girls with their names embossed in them. Obviously, seafood restaurants are the main attraction with a huge choice and many specialties on offer from lobster to sea urchins. Most is fish sold by weight, ensure to agree on the price before you sit down.
Even during the daytime, Duong Dong town has everything you could want for, in terms of massage, spa, gym, supermarkets, and restaurants and it is worth having a drive around to try some of the local Vietnamese restaurants which offer delicious cheap eats for $2 or less.
Sunworld Hon Thom Cable Car and Water Park
The largest and most famous attraction on the island is the Hon Thom Cable Car, and for good reason: it has been registered by the Guiness Book of World records as the world’s longest Sea three rope cable car, measuring a distance of 7899.9m.
We hadn’t researched the development prior to our trip and were in complete shock as we arrived at the cable car station, as they have built what looks like an Italian Riviara seaside town, with replica architecture and buildings, including town square, harbour, clock tower and ruins.
It was a very surreal experience for us, as Marco is from Italy and we had our home there for 6 years. They had copied every detail, of course mixing some of the architecture from different regions, but even the shop fronts and numbers on the building were the same.
The development is aimed at Asian and Russian markets. It was very strange for us to see, as we were very familiar with real towns and villages of Italy. However, in these strange times of a global pandemic, where travel restrictions are regulations are popping up everywhere, the strategy might pay off. If people can’t travel to Europe, why not bring Europe to them?
It does beg the question as to how much benefit local people will receive out of these big developments; of course, it will provide employment opportunities for local people, however, a more sustainable tourism model would be our preference. Where more organic growth is prioritized and ownership of businesses is by the local people rather than one big company or developer.
Aquatopia Water Park
Included in the ticket price for the cable car is entrance to a huge Waterpark called Aquatopia, and Nature Park beach area, which sits on the third and last island that the cable car transports you to, although very commercial theme parks are not usually our favourite day out.
However, Sunworld have created a fantastic and extremely fun water park: we had a wonderful day there.
The slides were fantastic, and all of the underwater and tropical themes of the park really worked. All water slides and attractions were very safe with extremely diligent lifeguards watching your every move. It is compulsory for young children to wear life jackets in the wave pool and at the inflatable playground at the beach.
Even though our girls were too small for some of the slides, there were still many slides they were able to go down as long as they were accompanied by an adult. Marco tried some of the heart-stopping steep slides, just to get his adrenalin pumping.
Overall we had a really fun day out, and the cable car is such a unique experience and I’d highly recommended it, if only for the views.
Phu Quoc is developing at an alarming rate, my advice is to visit now, whilst tourism is still low key on parts of the island.
Bai Sao Beach
We were quite content on the beach at Thanh Kieu Beach Resort, however we were also keen to also check out some of the other beaches on the island.
We made it to Bai Sao tipped as one of the most beautiful beaches on the island and located in the Southeastern corner of the island.
The beach is stunning: white powdery sand, fringed by palm trees. As with many beaches in Vietnam, the development is marching on, and especially at the moment, it’s targeting the local market with huge fish restaurants and lots of jet skis and paragliding.
The northern end of the beach, is quieter and less developed, as of yet there aren’t any big resorts, so my advice visit now.
Thinking Nomads Verdict
Phu Quoc is a paradise that is changing quickly: this is our second visit to the island, and again, we loved the experience.
The beauty of the island is that you can relax on many of the beauty beaches, but then also explore some of the inland National park, trails, and waterfalls.
We could have easily stayed and extra couple of weeks and not got bored on the island.