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Vietnam forum

Phu Quoc - what is it REALLY like?

Posted by VickyJoseph on 3/5/2008 at 06:32

We are planning to go to Phu Quoc for 6 days at the end of a 17 day holiday this Christmas. I've read in several places how beautiful and unspoiled etc it is but have just read a report on Trip Advisor saying it's dirty and polluted and not all it's cracked up to be. Has anyone actually been there who could give me another opinion? Thanks

#1 VickyJoseph has been a member since 3/5/2008. Posts: 1

Posted by CatBa on 3/5/2008 at 09:10

Posted from within Vietnam.

Like any destination, one persons paradise is another's Hell.

Phu Quoc Island is really part of Cambodia, geographically, which the Cambodians still believe, but a stroke of a French colonial pen hived it off and gave it to what was to become VietNam.

The Vietnamese government maintain a very large number of military installations on the island to dissuade anyone from making off with this valuable piece of real estate.

Being an island, the French, followed by the Americans, found it a handy place to keep prisoners during their respective military activities, although the real hard cases were kept on Con Dao Island, the equivalent to the present Guantanamo Bay, where life was Hell for prisoners.

The military occupy the former prison camps on PQ - many of which are near the best beaches.

The main occupation of the residents of PQ is fishing and the manufacture of fish sauce. There were a few basic forms of guest accommodation until the last 5 or so years.

Now SaiGonTourist, VietNams biggest moneymaker, has invested heavily in the island, along with other joint ventures involving foreign investors. Investments of over USD$10-BILLION have been announced in the past year, including preliminary permission for (a) massive casino(s), as the Vietnamese government continues along its plan to make VietNam like any other country and destroy the country's unique characteristics.

It is a good time to visit before the character of the place is gone forever.

At this point in time accommodation ranges from the lowly, basic, guest house through 5-star accommodation.

The infrastructure has grown slower than the development of new hotels and the Vietnamese have, like most other parts of the country, have resorted to dumping raw sewage in to the sea which, fortunately, is fast moving conjunction of the Bay of Thailand and the SouthEast China Sea.

Beautiful PQ is, unspoiled only applies to parts of the island.

I have been there several times (I live in VietNam) and still consider it a worthwhile experience. I recommend you visit BUT BOOK EARLY!

This web site has a review of some of the hotels as well as a guide to the island which is worth checking out.

One thing. Travel to and from the island, whether by sea or air, is dependent upon weather conditions and therefore it is wise to go to the island BEFORE 'doing' HCMC in case bad weather interrupts travel and you are left on the island when your flight to distant places is taking off! It is always better to plan on being in your departure city a day or two before leaving, especially in an 'emerging' country.

#2 CatBa has been a member since 5/3/2007. Posts: 349

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Posted by somtam2000 on 3/5/2008 at 21:31 admin

It’s a common style of question — but one there is never a definitive answer to.

When I went to Phu Quoc a couple of years back, I wrote it up as being one of the most impressive islands I’ve been to in the region — and I’ve been to most! Simultaneously others were writing up opinions on Ko Phi Phi as being of the universal wonders of Southeast Asia — an opinion I’d strongly disagree with.

Sure things change — good places go bad, bad paces improve — but the only way you’ll ever know for sure is to go there yourself.

Without seeing the Tripadvisor thread the poster mentioned it’s difficult to make a comment — but Phu Quoc is a big island with dozens of kilometres of totally undeveloped beach on it — if you’re looking for deserted beaches, you’ll struggle to do better — just don’t expect them to be swept clean daily.

#3 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,938
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Posted by somtam2000 on 3/5/2008 at 21:32 admin

Sorry hit enter too quick. Absolutely agree 100% with CatBa about the need to book early for the Xmas break.

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Posted by MySherpa on 27/7/2008 at 14:10


I visited last year, fell in love with the place so much I quit my job and went back 5 times to write a guide book to the island. See MySherpa. I'm completely biased but as the last major undeveloped island in SE Asia it is an absolute gem of a place.

#5 MySherpa has been a member since 26/1/2008. Posts: 2

Posted by chrispyrolls on 28/7/2008 at 01:11


We spent the last week of our honeymoon on PQ and loved every minute of it. Stayed at Mai House on Long Beach, went snorkelling (dunno what we saw but it was great fun!), hired an US army jeep for a day tour of the south of the island ... including Bai Sao which is stunning. Drank and ate great food as well...

There is a place on Bai Sao now as well ( ) which looks cool ... top spot on the beach...

Go to PQ sooner rather than later i would say, as there is development on the island, so best to see it before it changes...

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Posted by chrispyrolls on 28/7/2008 at 01:23

forgot to add we went in November last year...

#7 chrispyrolls has been a member since 2/11/2006. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 197
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Posted by neosho on 16/8/2008 at 03:14

The other posts tell it all but just wanted to add that I was there in early Nov of 07 and loved it. The government's 10 year plan for it will have Long Beach covered with resorts.

#8 neosho has been a member since 13/8/2008. Posts: 386

Posted by Manticore on 22/8/2008 at 19:05

Posted from within Vietnam.

Just came back last week. Loved the place and will def return soon.

#9 Manticore has been a member since 9/11/2006. Posts: 67
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