Suoi Tien - Fairy Stream

Fairy Stream, or Suoi Tien in Vietnamese, is a small stream near the fishing village Ham Ninh that is hard to find, but worth a visit.

Fairy Stream is the most natural and beautiful of the trio of streams on Phu Quoc Island. The people who actually manage to find this hidden treasure seem to have a greater sense of environmental responsibility than others.

(Let’s keep it that way and help the locals preserve this gorgeous landmark nice and clean.)

The scenery of Suoi Tien, not to be confused with Suoi Tien Park in Ho Chi Minh City, the Fairy Spring of Phan Thiet or the Fairy Spring of Hoi An, is simply beautiful and picturesque. The creek finds its way through the reddish-brown rocks and boulders. Sometimes the water rushes over the stones, sometimes below. At certain places the small stream splits into several arms or flows into a pond, surrounded by interesting plants.

Phu Quoc’s Fairy Stream is an ideal location for a picnic, but we say it again: please don’t leave your rubbish behind, or it ends up like Da Ban Stream.

The best way to get to the Fairy Stream is to start out in the fishing village Ham Ninh and ask along your way while following the dirt roads north. If you get to the local station where you can park your motorbike, make it so and follow the path through the jungle. At one point you have the option between using a monkey bridge or a half-sunken log to cross a slow stream, which requires some balance, but is not dangerous.

At the section in the forest that mostly consists of white sand and thorny bushes, follow the black hose until you reach the stream. The locals seem to get fresh water from the well, so the hose is a splendid indicator of where to head.

The Fairy Stream of Phu Quoc Island is best visited during the rainy season when there is enough water to make it noisy and beautiful.
If your time and patience is limited, you might want to visit the Painting Stream instead, it’s easier to find and more comfortable to reach. Not as gorgeous, however.


Rach Vem Beach

Rach Vem Beach, or in Vietnamese Bãi Rạch Vẹm, belongs to the commune of Ganh Dau.

This rural beach on Phu Quoc Island is in a beautiful setting, but similar to Rach Tram Beach, Rach Vem is a working fishing village and not really a place for beachbumming. The village however is picturesque and the people are really friendly and you might find some remote beaches if you follow the coastline.

Nearby there is the Phong Lan guesthouse, but the rest of the area is fairly undeveloped, so bring water and food if you want to spend time on the remote beaches near Rach Vem village, where the life has not changed much during the last years.

Many houses are built on stilts, especially the shelters out on the water. The area is something like a parking lot for fishing boats, while the sea is dotted with traps for various types of sea creatures. That makes a nice spot for taking pictures.

The inhabitants are of Khmer ethnicity and their daily life includes breeding chickens and ducks that run around between the huts, together with stray dogs. Expect the children to follow you around, because tourists are quite rare in this area.

As everywhere on Phu Quoc Island, if you are able to speak Vietnamese or Khmer, you can have a nice chat with the locals. But don’t bring up the war between Vietnam and Cambodia and the terror regime of the Khmer Rouge. It is still a highly sensitive topic.


Rach Tram Beach

Rach Tram Beach, or in Vietnamese Bãi Rạch Tràm lies to the north of Phu Quoc Island near the fishing village Rach Tram.

Like Rach Vem Beach (Bãi Rạch Vẹm), Rach Tram Beach is one of the less-visited beaches on Phu Quoc Island and nearly totally undisturbed by the increasing tourism. A meandering dirt road passes by a calm fishing village. The location is sheltered by the nearby Du Bac Cape and the beach is lovely in front of the jungle background.

The beach is a place to work for local fishermen, as the debris points out, from picturesque hulls to the dirt of daily labor. Nobody cleans up the area, so maybe it’s not the very best location for beachbumming. However, it makes a nice place for photography. You might also spot the fishermen’s families when they are drying parts of the catch in Phu Quoc’s strong sunlight and calm breeze.

The jungle that covers the hills to the East almost reaches the Gulf of Thailand at Rach Tram Beach. At the moment, there are no accommodations either at Bãi Rạch Tràm or Bãi Rạch Vẹm, but in the currently fast developing tourism scene of the island, that might change soon.

Rach Tram Village

Rach Tram Village, which gives the strip of beach its name, is only 800 meters wide and 2,500 meters long and provides a great cultural experience. However, you need some language skills in either the Vietnamese language or in Khmer if you want to chat with the locals.

Coming to that topic, it is advisable not to mention here, or anywhere else on Phu Quoc, Pol Pot’s terror regime or the war between Cambodia and Vietnam. This is still a very sensitive topic, especially on Phu Quoc.

The village is divided by the Rach Tram Stream that flows in the lake of the same name, one of the four lakes found on Phu Quoc Island. Some of the local fishermen might take you out to the sea with them to experience a fishing trip.

Image credits:

The images used in the listing are taken by rotorhead85, also known as Dan who travels the world and takes pictures. I like his quote on his profile:

“Home is a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.”

Header image: Beach crab by Frank


Sao Beach on Phu Quoc Island

Sao Beach is located in the southeast Phu Quoc Island. The street to the beach is not much more than a dirt road, but easy enough to find and follow.

Most people reach Sao Beach by motorbike. Some distance north of Phu Quoc Prison, a side street that quickly turns into a dirt road leads to the famous beach.

Even if Long Beach is the one Vietnamese beach that made it into BBC’s top ten beaches of the world, it’s actually Sao Beach with its white sand and natural surroundings that qualifies as really stunning.

Sao Beach has a nice landscape with boulders and sand, partially cleared of trash.

Besides a beach bar under a roof made of palm leaves, you can also eat at an open restaurant. The beach restaurants around are slightly pricier than elsewhere due to their prominent location. We had  a lime soda, which was sweet but quite good for VND 32,000. I have seen nuoc mia, sugarcane juice for “only” VND 10,000.
Usually nuoc mia is VND 5,000 - 6,000.

Renting a jet ski costs VND 450,000 for 10 minutes. You can also ride one of these giant inflatable bananas that get pulled by a motor boat or try water skiing. 10 minutes on either costs VND 700,000 . Near the cape, you see anchoring fishing boats that produce beautiful silhouettes during sunrise.

If you walk along Sao Beach southwards, you get to an unguarded area of the beach that is more private, but the trash does not get cleared frequently here. Nonetheless, it’s worth the walk, especially if the noise of the jet skis and the evening disco is getting on your nerves.

Sao Beach is particularly popular among families, because the water at the shore is shallow. No sudden drops, no dangerous rocks. Just fine, white sand. It is said that the northern end of the seven kilometer beach is cleaner and more beautiful than the southern part.


Ong Lang Beach

Since during the dry season the wind mainly comes from the east, the western beaches are clean and nice. Ong Lang Beach is one of the prime locations on Phu Quoc Island and harbors a plethora of quiet and peaceful beach resorts.

Ong Lang Beach is not one continuous stripe of sand, but rather a series of smaller beaches. Many resorts have chosen this area to build their facilities, halfway between Duong Dong and Ganh Dau. The beaches have yellow sand and are usually taken care of by the staff of the resorts. The waterfront is lined with poplar trees, coconut palms and the one or another rose myrtle bush.

Ong Lang Beach Phu Quoc

The water is nice and usually calm, there are some jellyfish in the sea during the start of main season on Phu Quoc. The slope is continuous and rather flat.

At Ong Lang Beach you can go snorkelling, rent a kayak or get a boat to the offshore islands for scuba diving and other interesting activities. With the kayak you can, if you have the endurance for that kind of thing, go up Cua Can River into the national park. If the weather is calm you can visit Hon Mong Tay, the Fingernail Island.

If you have time, visit one of the nearby pepper farms or undertake a kart race with your friends at the nearby go-kart arena. Generally, if you like to spend your holidays in peace and tranquility and are not dependant on the nightlife possibilities of Duong Dong Town, pick a resort at Ong Lang Beach. It’s nice and calm.

Ong Lang Beach Phu Quoc


Painting Stream in Phu Quoc (Suoi Tranh)

The Painting Stream is one of the more beautiful and professionally managed recreational areas on Phu Quoc Island.

On the main street between Duong Dong and Ham Ninh village on Phu Quoc Island, approximately 10 km away from Duong Dong, you can’t miss the entrance of Suoi Tranh, the Painting Stream. The dark sign that announces the recreational area of one of Phu Quoc Island’s most famous streams is big but withered and nearly unreadable. Just take a look at this photo and you will recognize it.

Entrance of Painting Stream - Phu Quoc

Suoi Tranh, Tranh Springs, Tranh Stream or Painting Stream are the names the destination is known under. The small river is about 15 km long and origins at Ham Ninh mountain.

The entrance fee is VND 5,000 per person and VND 2,000 for motorbike parking.

Upon entering the area, the first things that meet the eye are artfully molded concrete sculptures. A lovely park with many flowers provides a home for these statues, which depict a pond of hippos, a barrow that is home to a family of pangolins, and even the famous “Journey to the West”, featuring Đường Tam Tạng, the famous monk who traveled to India with his three companions to study Buddhism.

Statue in Painting Spring

Where the path towards the actual stream begins, there is a restaurant that was not open for business during our visit. However, some vendors sell water, soft drinks and the usual items that can be acquired at every tourist place in Vietnam.

If you need a bigger bottle of water to provide the necessary hydration on the tour, rather buy it at the shop outside on the street opposite, a couple hundred meters in the direction of Ham Ninh. The prices there are more reasonable and the shopkeepers are friendlier.

The path towards the stream leads on and turns into a slightly slippery path through the forest, paved with stones from the stream. The ascent takes about 30 minutes through the calm forested area, and even if it’s not steep or laborious, the humidity that is trapped in the valley makes you transpire and look forward to a bath under the waterfall.

The path ends at this very waterfall, which is about four meters high and ends in a natural pond, approximately 1-1.5 m deep. Depending on the time of the day, you will find tourists and locals alike enjoying their bath in the clear water with great joy.

Relaxing under Waterfall

The surroundings are not 100% free of trash, but the management takes care to keep it as clean as possible.

Streams and waterfalls on Phu Quoc Island for your individual itinerary: