I know this question has been asked before, but post seem a bit outdated. What is the better place to visit, Phu Quoc or Con Dao (Con Son)?
Phu Quoc best days seem to have past by, from what I read, all being very touristy and very expensive now it seems. Is their still any nice beach place away from Western food places and overpriced resorts (between 10-30 $US in high season) that you could recommend? Is its possible to go snorkeling in January?
Con Dao sounds lovely, apart from what I read about sand flies. Is it so bad, or would some repellent save the problem?
Also: Is it possible to enjoy either of those islands without renting a motorbike? I do not want to try riding a motorbike while in Vietnam. How expensive would it be to get around by Xe Om in Phu Quoc? Are there any Xe Om on Con Dao at all?
Are there any affordable tours to beaches and hiking trails around Con Dao Archipelago? Are there affordable snorkeling tours, or places you could reach by foot or bicycle from the main town, where we could snorkel?
Also happy to learn about alternative beach destinations in South Vietnam. Looking for clear water, relatively clean beach, budget accomodation, not too many tourists and nice weather - who doesn't .
Thank you for you help, much appreciated!
#1 Foolslena has been a member since 19/6/2013. Posts: 17
This is all a little out of date - but I'll try to answer. In January Phu Quoc is the better destination for weather, snorkelling and diving. Phu Quoc can get very busy in high season - but it's a huge island (you'd need a motorbike to explore it properly) and there are some very secluded spots with well priced accommodation that remain quiet and unspoilt.
Con Dao is generally good all year round, but for snorkelling and diving the best months are from March through to October when the sea is calmer. It's a tiny island and is easy to explore by bicycle.
Sand flies can be an issue in the Summer months - but you can take precautions (sand flies hate suntan lotion - which you should be using anyway).
Accommodation on Con Dao is a little limited and most of the cheaper options are not exactly western standards and are located in town, you'd need to travel to get to the nicer beaches.
Getting to Con Dao is still expensive - you have (for now) two options, to fly it costs approx $160 return from HCMC. The second option is a very unreliable night boat (14 hours) from Vung Tao to Con Dao. If the sea is choppy it won't run, the sleeping deck is just that, it can be overcrowded and there is usually quite a lot of vomiting.. It costs approx $10 each way. Things are set to change with a proposed high speed boat service in the New Year, but you'll have to wait and see if that happens.
For diving information look at Dive, Dive, Dive! for Con Dao and Rainbow Divers for Phu Quoc - both are happy to advise you on what to expect both under and over water on the islands.
An alternative unspoilt island escape are the Cham Islands just off of Hoi An in Central Vietnam - they really are beautiful and offer good snorkelling and macro diving (coral and small stuff). The season runs between March - September. Accommodation is limited, but there are places to stay right on the beach and it's cheap. Boats over to the island go from Cua Dai harbour (taking about 30mins to just over an hour depending on boat) and it's possible to explore on foot.
Have a read of this. https://www.travelfish.org/blogs/vietnam/2012/07/25/cham-islands-hoi-an/ to give you an idea. The only problem I envisage with Cham is that in January it can be a bit hit and miss with the weather - however the dive boats are apparently starting to go out again this week. Visability for diving might be a bit poor, but snorkelling will be good. For weather a reliable 10 day forecast for Cham use foreca.com - Hoi An.