Currently lounging with intent at Don Det, but thoughts are turning to Christmas and Vietnam. We REALLY want to be on or near a nice beach for Christmas, but have so far identified only Phu Quoc as an option. Can you guys help with any others? Deep online research isn't an option at the minute with the wifi as carefree as the atmosphere here.
All recommendations greatly appreciated!
I'd say that's easily your best bet. I also like Mui Ne (though not as much), so that's worth considering if you can get that far before Christmas.
Phu Quoc is by far your safest (and cheapest) bet; the further north you come the less reliable the weather. Also you don't need a visa for the first couple of weeks in Phu Quoc, so it gives you a bit more choice on your next destination. Nguyen, Nguyen.. win, win
Thanks guys, Phu Qoc keeps coming up trumps.
Surprised to hear people say it's the cheap option though - a brief scan online has revealed few options for below 40 used. Is there a 'cheap' / backpacker area that I'm not aware of? And would it be advisable to book ahead seeing as it'll be Christmas, or is it likely to be ok? Nowhere we've been seems particularly busy, Don Det whe we are now is pretty dead.
On Phu Quoc there are quite a few little places for around $10 a night. They are basic and don't advertise, so your best bet is to turn up at the main town / Long Beach area and ask in one of the bars or dive shops. This is quite a handy guide - http://www.visitphuquoc.info/2014map.html
Tourism in Vietnam is down this year (as I get the impression it is across most of S.E Asia), in my opinion (which is probably wrong!) the whole region suffered from bad publicity with all the floods, typhoons and protests at a time when most people were booking their Christmas hoorahs. In Hoi An our hotels are between 50-80% down for Christmas and businesses are reporting their worst season in five years (this is peak tourism time for us). What this does mean is that there are some great offers on flashier hotels - not so much on backpacker digs.
If you are looking for busy, perhaps you'd be better off on one of the more popular Thai islands or Sihanoukville in Cambodia - it's a bit grubby and the beach is shocking, but it's cheap and busy at the moment. If you want a heavenly beach (one of my top five) with $10-15 a night accommodation Otres would be worth a look. We stayed in a beautiful four hut beach property down near the estuary called Zen a couple of years back ($15 inc breakfast). It was incredible, a good 20 minute walk from all the action (there is a lot of it on Otres), so it was quiet but we were able to walk along the beach if we fancied an all night party.. Tis the season for stunning sunsets and incredible weather in Cambodia.
Hope that helps a little!
Thank you so much for your really helpful post. It's firmed it up as our chosen location!
When you say there are deals to be had in flashier places, how do we access those? It's been so cheap here on don det, I think we can bust our budget for a couple of festive days if there's something great to be had!
You are very welcome!
To get the best fancy hotel deals in VN you need to go online - the hotels never discount as much onsite as they do online. I use (ahem) hotels combined which I find is the best one for Vietnam. I did a search for 24-26 Dec a second ago and they have got some great prices - cute little bungalows at the peace resort (not sure how good it is) were $29 for two nights. It's a big island though, so make sure you are happy about the location before you settle on anything and then hire a bike and explore other areas/accommodation that is not on the web.
I'm a little bit jealous.
Hi again. So sorry for the lateness of my reply, I suffered a bit of injury following kayaking on the weekend.
The websites you recommended didn't quite show up - is there a filter on here perchance? I've enabled private messaging for now if you can send site details through there instead?
We'll be flying into Phu Quoc on the 22nd from HCMC - so 3 days to get there from Don Det. Better stock up on bus books.....
Kayaking injury? Did you fall asleep?
The one for booking hotels is hotelscombined.com - they scan all the big sites like Agoda, Booking.com etc and list the rates, you just link through and book the best deal for you. It also gives you the option to pay on arrival, which means you can at least checkout the property first hand before parting with your cash.
The other site was Visit Phu Quoc, has good maps and up to date info on all the goings on and of course, for wonderful, independent reviews - https://www.travelfish.org/location/vietnam/mekong_delta/kien_giang/phu_quoc_island of course!
The bus from HCMC takes about six hours to Rach Gia - saves messing around with expensive taxis to the port from Ha Tien (which is a bit of an odd town). The ferry then takes a couple of hours, speed boats less - but I'd suggest giving them a miss as they usually overload them and quite often they are river speed boats; not exactly sea worthy.
Saigon is suffering a bit of a cold spell (as is the rest of Vietnam at the moment), but Phu Quoc is a toasty 30 degrees.
Just to finish this up briefly, accommodation was harder to find than we'd bargained for, particularly with prices bumped up for Christmas. We lucked out with a tip whilst there though, and ended up with a sea view bungalow at Thai Tan Thien for 25USD, which was a pittance compared to other places around the island. If you can find it - and it's fairly well hidden from the road - it makes for a great budget option, with dict beachfront access, friendly staff, and dirt cheap bike hire.
The Internet - and power in general - was sketchy there though, so we couldn't Skype home. Instead, we made a video, which I'm happy to share as a kind of Phu Quoc documentary......!
Ryan and Jenny's alternative Queen's speech