Best Attractions in Phu Quoc Island

By: Mervin Lee

Phu Quoc island has long been known as one of the best up-and-coming tropical beach resort destinations in Asia, often nicknamed the Phuket of Vietnam. Interest in Phu Quoc has been increasing year-on-year, resulting in improvement of amenities and infrastructure which has made it a beautiful destination now comparable to any mature resort island in Thailand or the Philippines.

To help make your holiday planning a breeze, our investigators at City Pass Guide have put together a quick and easy list of fun-filled locations you can visit while on the island.

Khai Hoan Fish Sauce Factory

Contrary to popular belief, your olfactory system will not be assaulted brutally by this somewhat strange but essential visit in Phu Quoc; in fact, we personally felt that the maturation room at Khai Hoan fish sauce factory was quite fragrant in an organic manner. Bright red and blue coloured boats are also docked right beside the factory, making the location highly picturesque and Instagram-worthy beyond noon when the factory’s anchovy fishermen return from work. The factory also sports a showroom where guests can purchase fish sauce, and if that’s not your cup of tea, there’s plenty of other sea produce such as dried anchovies and shrimp up for sale at highly reasonable prices.

attractions in phu quocImage source: Mervin Lee


Hon Thom Cable Car

Although somewhat touristy at first sight, this Phu Quoc cable car ride, at more than 8 kilometres long, is amongst the longest in the world and spans four islands while offering stunning views at just VND200,000 for a return trip. The ride itself connects Phu Quoc’s main island to Hon Thom, or “pineapple island”, which is currently being developed as an entertainment complex and resort. A wide-angle lens is highly recommended for this experience!

attractions in phu quocImage source: Mervin Lee


Phu Quoc Night Market

No holiday island is complete without a convincing night market filled with food and drink. At Phu Quoc’s Night Market, located in the main stretch of Duong Dong town, you’ll find numerous seafood restaurants and snack stalls in an area where motorbikes are restricted from entering after 5 pm daily; walking suddenly becomes a comfortable experience in Vietnam! Apart from Vietnamese dishes, the night market is also famous for a peculiar foreign delicacy. Known as Chouchou, these caramelised peanuts were introduced to Phu Quoc by a French-Moroccan man in the late 2000s and the snack has since become a must-try on the island. Beyond classic flavours such as salted caramel, Vietnamese-inspired flavours like Phu Quoc pepper, Vietnamese shrimp salt and chilli butter make these tiny devils an enjoyable bout of calorie-filled self-torture; ‘once you pop, you just can’t stop’!

attractions in phu quocImage source: Mervin Lee


Dinh Cau Shrine and Dinh Cau beach

Purportedly first built in the 16th or 17th Century, Dinh Cau Shrine sits on an interestingly shaped rock formation at the tip of Dinh Cau Beach and has had its current structure since the late 1930s. Fishermen come to pray at the shrine for protection and safety before embarking on their fishing trips, which are often rocky and dangerous.

attractions in phu quocImage source: Mervin Lee


Ba Thuy Long Thanh Mau Temple and Bach Dang Park

Located very near to Dinh Cau shrine, this temple may be small but is highly ornate with numerous intricate dragon carvings and both a colourful exterior and interior. Ba Thuy Long Thanh Mau Temple is said to have been built by Chinese immigrants more than 150 years ago. Located right across the road from the temple is Bach Dang Park, where one can also visit a pier to get up close and personal with the island’s fishermen and boats.

attractions in phu quocImage source: Mervin Lee


Phu Quoc Prison

Phu Quoc Prison was first built by French colonialists and later refurbished by American army engineers to incarcerate North Vietnamese soldiers during the Vietnam War. It has now been recommissioned by the Vietnamese government as a rather disturbing museum; the prison’s original cell blocks, multiple layers of barbed wire and mock-ups of inhumane torture can be viewed by tourists as they walk around the prison site. Definitely one for warfare and history buffs.

attractions in phu quocImage source: Mervin Lee


Phu Quoc Pepper Farms

Phu Quoc pepper has been long renowned as some of the best in Asia. In fact, Vietnam is also the largest black pepper exporter in the world, accounting for more than 30% of global production annually. Visiting these farms while getting a chance to taste and buy dried peppercorns is an easy and educational experience, as numerous plantations are located along the DT47 provincial road that connects Dong Duong town to Ham Ninh fishing village. Most of these farms are also not pushy with sales and are more than happy to allow visitors to explore the farms freely without an entry free.

attractions in phu quocImage source: Mervin Lee


Bun Quay Kien Xay Phu Quoc

This seafood vermicelli institution has been a long-standing point of pilgrimage for eager locals for several decades. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t visit as a foreigner. Though not originally a Phu Quoc specialty, the dish was imported to the island in the mid 1950s and has thus been transformed with local ingredients into what we consider truly unique to the island. The rice noodle’s irresistibly soft yet firm texture is not a result of any family secrets; fresh dough is extruded right into a boiling pot of water with a vermicelli maker on-location. The resultant noodle is served with light, savoury soup alongside fish cake, shrimp paste and squid. It’s true secret? A highly addictive dipping sauce made with the island’s celebrated fish sauce.

Video source: Ký Sự Miền Tây


Phu Quoc National Park

Phu Quoc National Park is unique for several reasons. It is one of the few national parks in asia to feature both forest and sea, protecting wildlife from a vast range of distinct habitats. The park is in fact part also part of a larger entity known as the Kien Giang Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO designated site and a biologically sensitive area with endangered aquatic species such as the dugong, hawksbill turtle and more than 1000 species of tropical forest and mangrove trees. Beyond nature, the park is also home to two historical sites and picturesque hiking trails.

attractions in phu quocImage source:


Ho Quoc Pagoda

Built in 2012, Ho Quoc Pagoda is the largest buddhist monastery on the island. The impressive structure overlooks the north-eastern coast of Phu Quoc island and features a large statue of Avalokitesvara, who is often known as Quan Am, Lady Buddha or simply the Goddess of Mercy in most of Asia. The most interesting feature located in the main atrium of the temple grounds is perhaps an elaborate list of examples of buddhist karmic cause and effect complete with comic illustrations, demonstrating how acts of vanity, greed, evil and neglect of other fellow human beings in need of help can result in one being inflicted with similar problems later in life.

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Bonus: Beautiful Beaches in Phu Quoc island

We were hesitant to include this entry on the list because of the possibility of stating the obvious. One important tip to note: beaches facing the Gulf of Thailand (off the western coast) are clearer during the first half of the year and the inner beaches facing peninsular Vietnam (eastern coast) are clearer in the second half. Starfish Beach and Sao Beach happen to be our favourites.

attractions in phu quocImage source:

Banner Image source: Mervin Lee

Phu Quoc: The Pearl Island

By: Sivaraj Pragasm

Dubbed “The Pearl Island”, Phu Quoc Island in the south of Vietnam is about 600 square kilometres, making it the largest island in Vietnam even though it’s geographically closer to Cambodia. Two-thirds of the island consists of forests but the main draw for tourists are its white sandy beaches and pleasant weather all year.

With a total local population of just 103,000 people, Phu Quoc Island is the perfect escape from the overcrowded mess you find in many large cities.

There has been an increase in foreign investments over the years mainly due to the island having the lowest corporate and personal income taxes in the country. Land rents are waived for the first four years, and then halved for the next nine. Due to this scheme, the island now has a large number of hotel rooms to meet the rising needs of visitors.

Phu Quoc IslandImage source:

Currently, there are about 15,000 rooms rated three-stars and above, including 6,000 rooms rated five-star.

If you have a phobia of riding bikes, you’ll be pleased to know that there are now five taxi firms operating on the island, with a total fleet of about 1,000 taxis. Some of these include the low-cost Phu Quoc Taxi Company, as well as a fleet of Vinasun taxis after the latter expanded its operations into the island by buying a small taxi firm.

The Downside of Development

However, rapid development can sometimes lead to unwanted consequences and in the case of Phu Quoc Island, there are a few.

Due to the sudden surge of hotels and resorts on the island, the demand for trained workers in the hospitality exceeds its supply. One solution to curb this was for hotels and resorts to work with vocational colleges and schools to provide short training courses. Some resorts have also partnered with vocational schools to offer apprenticeships and internships to students to provide them with hands-on experience.

There has also been an increase in the number of workers relocating from the mainland to the island to work.

Environmental concerns in the form of waste and water treatment have also crept into the island. The current infrastructure is simply not able to fully support the massive amounts of waste generated—about 150 tonnes a day.

The river’s water has turned black mainly because of the residual oils being discharged from boats. To add on to the misery of marine life in the river, pollution is also rampant here with plastic bags and used plastic bottles, floating alongside old clothes and animal carcasses which have been spotted covering the water surface from Hung Vuong Bridge to Dinh Cau Estuary.

According to Phu Quoc Province’s Public Work Management Board, workers have collected more than three tonnes of garbage from less than one square kilometer of the river. The river stretches up to about 21.5 kilometres and is considered one of the main sources of water for daily use and production activities on the island. There are currently about 322 establishments operating along the river, including fish sauce producers and some of these businesses lack a proper sewage treatment system.

The island currently only has two landfill sites, one of which has been closed for months while the other is increasingly overloaded. The waste treatment plant in Ham Ninh Commune’s Bai Bon Village is also currently closed for maintenance and upgrading works, and is only expected to reopen in June.

The island’s authorities have also been having difficulties attracting investment in their wastewater treatment projects.

Other concerns that the island is grappling with include land disputes, fraud, pollution and social disorder due to land speculation.

However, moving forward, the island is expected to remain one of Vietnam’s top tourist destinations mainly thanks to recent policy changes.

Phu Quoc IslandImage source:

A visa-waiver policy adopted in 2014 allows foreigners a 30-day visa-free stay on the island. This includes foreigners from countries that would normally require a visa application to visit the mainland.

Phu Quoc International Airport is expected to undergo an upgrade that will increase its capacity from the current 2.5 million passengers a year to 5 million passengers by the year 2020, and a further increase to 7 million passengers by the year 2030. Plans are also underway to introduce direct flights to Japan and European countries soon.

However, the biggest news of all would be the recently-announced special administrative-economic zones, of which Phu Quoc Island is one of three in Vietnam. It has been the subject of nationwide debate, and even protests.

Although the details of this new law have not been officially confirmed yet, several improvements are expected, such as tourism services and the elimination of common tourism bugbears such as cheating and overcharging of foreign customers.

Other areas that will also be looked into include hygiene and food safety at traditional markets, better enforcement of traffic laws and tourist information booths at tourist spots.

Video source: Đạt Lê

Banner Image source:

The Archipelagos of Hai Tac, Ba Lua and Nam Du

By: Fabrice Turri

If you’re passing through the Mekong Delta, make a detour and head for the archipelagos off the Ha Tien coast, about 350 km from Ho Chi Minh City. Less known than Phu Quoc (South Vietnam’s largest island), the archipelagos of Hai Tac, Ba Lua and Nam Du have retained their wilderness charm. Should hotels be unavailable it is easy to find accommodation in private homes – a rustic formula for those addicted to authenticity.

Hai Tac

The coastline is one hour away by boat – you can smell it in the fragrant sea air.

Crabs, sand, swaying coconut trees: This spot is idyllic, perfect to relax and insulate oneself from the sometimes oppressive din of the big city. Upon arrival, children’s stares suggest that only a few Western tourists come to this place.

Located in the province of Kien Giang, the Hai Tac Archipelago – or archipelago of pirates – includes 16 islands whose largest is Doc Hon. It is located 27.5 km from the coast of Ha Tien and 40 km from Phu Quoc island.

At the end of the 17th century, the rugged archipelago was a base for pirates who attacked the larger Chinese and European commercial boats. The Hai Tac Archipelago was indeed the perfect location to hide and attack ships, with its advantageous position along the broad outlines of maritime trade in the region. Of course, today the pirates are long gone, and the lone residents are local fishermen and military personnel.


I must say that, in this region, the memory of bloody raids perpetrated by Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge is still fresh. Far away on the surrounding hills, you can see a few barracks, an indication that the border with neighbouring Cambodia is very close.

The quiet atmosphere is relaxing, though we can imagine that beneath regular rolling waves crashing on the rocks, terrible storms can occur.
Today, however, the sea is stretching to the horizon and the sun is shining in a dim and pleasant purple light. The water is clean, warm and transparent. On the rocks, it’s easy to catch snails, oysters, crabs and clams.

Some people might complain that there are no tourist services, but this is another reason to enjoy this place. For sleeping, it’s possible to stay at fishermen’s houses. Indeed, many locals offer lodging for a reasonable price. Alternatively, you can come equipped with your own hammocks, tents and flashlights.

Hon Dau by: phuquocsensettravel

Other islands to visit include those of Ba Lua, a collection of 45 large and small islands in the territorial waters of Kien Luong District, also off the coast of Ha Tien.

According to local belief, Ba Lua was the name of a beautiful Sino-Vietnamese woman who once lived in Ha Tien and whose Western husband succumbed to her charm and agreed to buy her this heavenly place.

Dotted with numerous caves, Ba Lua is home to 2300 people spread over 10 islands. The vast majority of islands, with peaks at nearly 100 meters high, are uninhabited.

Ba Lua is rung by shallow waters and rarely encounters strong winds. The archipelago is quite suitable for tourists who enjoy nautical travel on small boats. Fishing vessels are actually the only possible means of transportation to visit the surrounding area.

Tien Cave is a must-see, a masterpiece of nature. Winding between towering walls carved by erosion, this 150-metre-long cave leads to a nice sandy beach.

Finally, if you have the time (and energy), you can visit Nam Du Archipelago, more distant, located 90 km west of Rach Gia City.

Photo by: Doigiay

Accessible by boat, the Nam Du Archipelago is a little corner of paradise. It includes 21 islands that feature beautiful, sandy beaches.

The largest island, Cu Tron, measures 9 km2 and the smallest, Hon Lo, is only 200 m2!

Wild and relatively unknown, Nam Du is a place where few tours are organized, and as such it will delight adventurous travellers.

Nam Du by dulichluhanh

Practical Information:

You can buy a bus ticket at Mien Tay bus station in Saigon (395 Kinh Duong Vuong Street, Tan Binh District) to go to Ha Tien or Rach Gia.

At Ha Tien, tourists can take a boat to go to Hai Tac. The journey, which lasts an hour, costs about VND40,000 per person.

The boat leaves Ha Tien at 09:30 and returns at 15:00 daily. It’s also possible to go to Hai Tac from Rach Gia by hydrofoil. A single ticket costs about VND70,000 per person and takes between 40 and 60 minutes.

The journey from Ba Lua Archipelago to Ha Tien also takes about an hour. I went there by fishing boat with a group of 10 people. We paid VND120,000 each.

Nam Du Archipelago is a 3-hour trip from the harbour at Rach Gia. The price is about VND270,000 per person.

Header photo by: Doigiay

Searching for Paradise in Vietnam: Where is Phu Quoc?

By: Laura Hill

Phu Quoc has never been easier to access from anywhere in Southeast Asia.

Know when to go for the ideal Phu Quoc tropical getaway.

Find out what makes Phu Quoc “the Pearl of Southeast Asia”.

Your memorable holiday moments await at La Veranda’s splendid boutique beach resort.

Imagine looking out over the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Thailand, taking a stroll on the white sand beaches of Vietnam’s Phu Quoc island, and relaxing in the colonial grandeur of La Veranda Boutique Beach Resort. When you travel to Phu Quoc, you may feel you have not only been transported to a far flung tropical island, but also back in time to a bygone era of colonial elegance.

The Convenience of Phu Quoc’s Location

The tranquil splendour of La Veranda, a gorgeous beach resort and spa in Phu Quoc, is closer than you may think. With an increased number of direct flights to Phu Quoc International Airport since it opened in 2012, the idyllic pearl islands of Vietnam are now within a two hour flight of major travel hubs Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur, and just over three hours from Hanoi. With such popular cities now being in close proximity, Phu Quoc and La Veranda Beach Resort are easily accessible for visitors to Vietnam from all over the world.

La Veranda Resort Phu Quoc

Phu Quoc’s Weather and Seasons

Nestled in an eastern corner of the Gulf of Thailand and to the west of Vietnam’s mainland, the Phu Quoc archipelago is actually a group of 28 islands covering an area of almost 600km2. Being located in tropical South East Asia, the archipelago has two distinct seasons: a wet season that typically begins around May and a dry season that usually starts around November.

La Veranda Resort Phu Quoc

Due to the region’s location, Phu Quoc’s temperatures vary little throughout the year and are usually in the low to mid thirties degrees celsius. High season for tourists visiting Phu Quoc normally falls between November and February when temperatures are more comfortable, humidity is lower and the sun shines all day long.

No matter the season, Phu Quoc is always a peaceful location for a retreat from the rush of normal life, especially for those who are looking to target their holistic wellbeing. La Veranda Beach Resort Phu Quoc’s TĨNH Wellness Sanctuary is a beautiful addition to the boutique hotel MGallery Heritage Collection by Sofitel. Even during the rainy season, the French Indochine style spa and sanctuary provides the perfect location to get away from it all and indulge in yoga, massage and targeted body treatments with the sounds of the ocean waves (and occasional rain showers) as your relaxing background music.

Phu Quoc Island; the Pearl of Southeast Asia

Phu Quoc island, or Vietnam’s ‘Pearl Island’, is an increasingly popular arrival point for travellers looking for a beautiful beach holiday destination in Southeast Asia. The largest island in Vietnam, measuring approximately 50 kilometres long and 25 kilometres wide, Phu Quoc is just 40 kilometres from the Vietnamese mainland town of Ha Tien. The mainland is easily accessible by ferries that service Phu Quoc throughout the day; however, it is Cambodia that sits closest to the island with just four kilometres separating the two.

Being located in a secluded area of the gulf, Phu Quoc provides visitors the opportunity to infuse each day with wonder by taking in the tranquil beauty of both breathtaking sunrises and stunning sunsets. Watching the sun creep over the horizon from the sumptuous beachside surroundings of La Veranda Resort Phu Quoc, visitors will enjoy a peaceful yet gorgeous start to the day. In the evenings, with nothing but the shimmering waters of the Gulf of Thailand to the west of the island, locals and tourists are gifted with uninterrupted views as the sun drops back out of sight. Popular sunset viewing spots in Phu Quoc, such as Dinh Cau Rocks, are a short drive along the coast from La Veranda. However, the views can also be taken in splendidly from the breezy beach deck of La Veranda Resort’s Le Jardin or the wrap-around terrace of The Peppertree restaurant, Phu Quoc’s top fine dining establishment. Alternatively, watch the delightful Phu Quoc sunset with a refreshing drink in hand from the comfort of a vintage armchair in the relaxing atmosphere of La Veranda’s Le Bar.

La Veranda Resort Phu Quoc

Gourmet Dining on Phu Quoc Island

Less than an hour’s flight from Saigon, Phu Quoc provides a welcome change of pace to the hustle and bustle of life on Vietnam’s mainland. Upon arrival, memorable moments are easy to find as traditional Vietnamese culture still influences day to day life. Sleepy fishing villages can be found around the island and throughout the archipelago, many of which have been relying on the sea for their livelihood for as long as anyone can remember.

These picturesque villages are the home of a staple of Vietnamese culture - the pungent fish sauce that locals love to add to nearly every meal. Locally referred to as nước mắm, this distinct sauce is often used as a base in dipping sauces or as an ingredient in soups and stir fry dishes. Visitors to the island should try it at least once whilst on the island, as fish sauce from Phu Quoc has received the European Union PDO status, which puts it in the same bracket as products such as Kalamata olives from Greece and Edam cheese from the Netherlands!

The Peppertree restaurant at La Veranda Beach Resort Phu Quoc is the perfect place to try another epicurean local product - Phu Quoc pepper. The island is dotted with pepper farms and they are even grown in La Veranda Resort’s organic garden! The Peppertree restaurant adds this Phu Quoc delicacy to certain dishes to give just the right amount of savoury spice to their gourmet offerings.

La Veranda Resort Phu Quoc

Memorable Moments in a Tropical Paradise on Phu Quoc Island

Phu Quoc’s pristine sandy beaches, a result of the surrounding coral reefs, and crystal clear water satisfy every visitor’s fantasy of a secluded tropical getaway. A number of small islands to the southern tip of the region are almost untouched, and offer soft white sand beaches and clear blue waters to anyone who makes the trip. On the main island, white sands and calm shores make many beaches popular with visitors. La Veranda Boutique Beach Resort enjoys a stunning location on popular Long Beach beach (Ba Keo) on the west side of the island, as well as numerous other options within easy reach.

The main island is not only blessed with beautiful beaches but also lush rainforest. With more than half of the island being a protected national park, Phu Quoc is also home to an important UNESCO biosphere zone. Transfers to Phu Quoc’s national park from La Veranda Resort take around an hour and allow visitors to experience hiking through a tropical jungle, where they can hopefully spot some of the wildlife that lives there, including endangered species such as the Silver Langur and Leopard Cat.

Phu Quoc’s location has contributed to one more essential part of island heritage. The surrounding seas provide perfect conditions for oysters to produce their precious stones, and pearls here have gained a reputation for being very high quality. This industry is so integral to Phu Quoc’s heritage that the island is often referred to as ‘Dao Ngoc’ or ‘Pearl Island’.

La Veranda Resort Phu Quoc

Whether visitors come to La Veranda Boutique Beach Resort Phu Quoc from near or far, what awaits is timeless elegance, a luxurious paradise where attention to detail and the wonders of nature meet. Between the sparkling azure waters of the Gulf and the colonial grandeur of La Veranda’s outstanding facilities, there are plenty of opportunities for memorable moments to be made on this beautiful paradise island of Phu Quoc.

Image source: La Veranda Resort Phu Quoc

Phu Quoc Island: A Glimpse of Yesterday and Today

By: Alex Gordillo

The rich and interesting story of Phu Quoc.

The reign of the infamous French emperor, Napoleon III and the success of the Vietnamese resistance against the US.

Some of Phu Quoc’s important development in recent years and the future.

One would hope that with the roughly triangular shape of the island, reminding us of a kind of prism, would be an entry point into understanding the complex and long history of Vietnam. However, much of what is written about Phu Quoc is related to what the island represents as Vietnam’s future, not its history. 

Before the 17th Century, there are few historical references and very little is known about Phu Quoc island, its inhabitants, and its history. However, historical consensus holds that the island has been inhabited for at least 2,500 years. Most of the archeological evidence—pottery, tombs, and tools that were unearthed in the northern part of the island — is located in Coi Nguon Museum near Dương Đông, the island’s town centre.

History of Phu QuocImage source:

Phu Quoc, Vietnam is also commonly known as the “Pearl Island” (“đảo ngọc”), due in large part to its thriving pearl farming industry. It is also known as “99 Mountain Island” (“99 núi”), due to its network of mountainous ridges that descend from the northern part of the island to the south. 

One of the main attractions of this 28-islet archipelago, nestled in the Gulf of Thailand, is its isolated nature as well as its famed 150km of coastline with more than 20 beaches. The island measures close to 600km² and 50 kilometres (31 miles) long from north to south as well as 25 kilometres (16 miles) from east to west in its widest area in the north. Phu Quoc island’s geology includes rocks that are mostly from the Cenozoic and Mesozoic ages as well as an array of quartz pebbles, limestone rock structures, riolt and feslit. 

Most Phu Quoc Island “things to do” are based around rest and relaxation especially since Phu Quoc weather is usually outdoor activity-friendly. To show how in-demand the island is becoming, recently an Indian billionaire couple chose Phu Quoc as the location for a massive wedding party that lasted a week, with more than 700 guests and over 150 performers. However, for those who love digging into a bit of history, here is some historical background to this mysterious destination. 

History of Phu QuocImage source:

An Important Jewel in the History of a Vietnamese Dynasty

The appropriately named Phu Quoc island, meaning “fertile” or “thriving land,” has a rich and interesting story. Around 1680, a Chinese merchant named Mac Thien Tu had an opportunity to develop a large part of the southern coast of Cambodia. As a major part of this process, he linked Phu Quoc island as one of seven trading centres that welcomed European commerce, especially from Portugal. During this time, Phu Quoc had considerable growth in several industries, especially the fishing industry. 

One of the most iconic moments in the island’s history was when French missionary Pigneau de Behaine used the island as a base to hide King Nguyễn Ánh, who was being hunted by Tay Son rebels. In 1782, King Nguyễn Ánh consolidated his power on the island and re-entered mainland Vietnam to defeat the Tay Son rebels. Twenty years later, in 1802, King Nguyễn Ánh became Emperor Gia Long, the first ruler of the Nguyễn Dynasty in Vietnam. 

History of Phu QuocImage source:

It was around this time that John Crawford, from the British East India Company, visited Phu Quoc island and documented an estimated population of about 5,000 inhabitants.

From Cochinchina to Kien Giang 

In 1862, during the reign of the infamous French emperor, Napoleon III, the French entered Phu Quoc as part of the Cochinchina Campaign. By 1867, French rule was formally established in the region. During this time, the Governor of Cochinchina established coconut, rubber, and pepper plantations. 

This is also when the famous Cay Dua Prison (Coconut Tree Prison) was established, which later became a centre of US military presence in Vietnam during the Vietnamese War in the 1960s-1970s. In fact, from 1953 to 1975, the island had the largest prisoner camp in southern Vietnam, which was documented at 40,000 in 1973.

History of Phu QuocImage source:

Following the success of the Vietnamese resistance against the US, the country was once again united. As a result of this, there was a resolution of Phu Quoc’s most important territorial dispute and finally the island officially became a part of Kien Giang province, Vietnam. After the end of the war, Cay Dua prison was closed and later reopened as a museum, preserving a small piece of the island’s recent history. 

Present and Future of Phu Quoc Island

Although Phu Quoc island’s economy has centred on fishing and agriculture, a thriving tourism sector has become central to the island’s economic growth as one of Vietnam’s most important tourist hubs.

Pearl farming began more than two decades ago when Japanese and Australian experts came to grow pearls and establish this industry. One Vietnamese pearl farm that was established during that time is called Quoc An. 

More recently, Phu Quoc National Park was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2006, due to the ecological diversity of the island, and also made news for having the world’s longest oversea cable car route as well as the world’s second biggest wildlife safari, both recent additions to the island’s attractions.

History of Phu QuocImage source:

Furthermore, the CEO Group, which is one of Vietnam’s most successful real estate investors, established the Sonasea Villa & Resort complex in 2013, which covers close to 80 hectares in the southern west coast part of the island. This real estate development, which has paved the way for a growing group of large-scale commercial beach resorts, came just after the island’s government set up urban infrastructures that included roads and better internet access. And if you’re wondering how to get to Phu Quoc, there’s a growing number of international flights to the islands each year. 

Another important development occurred with Vinpearl’s Phu Quoc complex, which was created by Vingroup in the northern part of the island and contains a five-star hotel with villas, a modern amusement park, a golf course, among other attractions. One of the island’s most notable feats is bragging rights for the world’s longest cable car route over sea; connecting An Thới town and Hòn Thơm Islet. Measuring close to 8km (26,248 feet), the cable car was inaugurated by the Sun Group in February of 2018. 

History of Phu QuocImage source:

Today’s local population is roughly 103,000, with a thriving average GDP growth of 22%. The GDP per capita tripled from 2012 to 2017 while the per capita income is over 70,000,000VND. Finally, visitors to the island were over 2 million last year and authorities have scheduled upgrades in the airport so that up to 5 million visitors can arrive by 2020. 

From a shipping hub, to a remote island prison, to becoming one of Vietnam’s top resort destinations, Phu Quoc has weathered many changes. But it remains, as always, a tropical taste of paradise.

Banner Image source:

A Fuzzy Future for Phu Quoc

By: Keely Burkey

The first six months of 2017 saw a 77 percent travel increase to the island of Phu Quoc: tourism is booming there. International and domestic travellers have been drawn to the island for its sandy beaches, visa exemption programme and surprisingly affordable travel deals.

By 2020, real estate company Jones Lang Lasalle estimates that 20 million international arrivals will land in Vietnam; the Vietnamese government is hoping that many of these will choose Phu Quoc as one of their stops, expanding from the traditional Hanoi-Hoi An-Saigon route.

Video source: Hi Hai

The Department of Tourism has earmarked Phu Quoc as a prime destination, aided by an influx of luxury resorts dotting the beaches and, most recently, gambling. One of the island’s first casinos, the aptly named Casino on Phu Quoc, is set to open in the spring of 2018.

For an island with a population of just over 100,000, millions of visitors would understandably stretch infrastructure to breaking point.

As pollution continues to rise, this is exactly what we’re seeing.

The Specious Beaches

The Kien Giang Environmental Protection Office reported that some 300 tonnes of waste is discharged per day into the oceans surrounding Phu Quoc, coming from tourism services and the fishing industry. And the amount increases year-on-year.

Solid rubbish is one thing: though it’s more visible, it’s often easier to compile and clear, unless it gets swept into the sea. Wastewater is different. At the moment, there’s only one waste treatment plant on the island, able to treat 200 tonnes of sewage per day. With the increase of resorts and hotels, this isn’t powerful enough. According to VietnamNet, another plant will be built in An Thoi Town, though it can’t come fast enough.

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The detrimental side effects of Phu Quoc’s tourism surge might actually lead to environmental degradation—and the environment is one of the main reasons travellers choose the island. Case in point: the coral reefs.

In 2014 Dantri International estimated that 96 percent of Vietnam’s reefs have been damaged by human activity, and 75 percent face extinction. Activities like fishing with upgraded nets have been shown to cause significant damage. Further, Vietnam’s Red Book of Endangered Species now lists over 70 species of marine life that are suspected of being adversely affected by increased pollution.


The Kien Giang Government has proposed to fix the problem but it can’t come fast enough. Alongside plans to create a second water treatment plant are suggestions to improve waste treatment technology that promote recycling rather than dumping—it’s estimated that 80 percent of household waste is simply discarded rather than recycled or eliminated with environmentally sustainable methods.

More hope has been given by Vietnam’s participation of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security, signed in 2015. Signed with other countries such as Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia, the document is both nebulous and soft; from its chief document, no actual guidelines or missions are mandated.

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Seven more luxury resorts are on the roster in the next three years, among them Regent Phu Quoc, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve and Eastin Resort Phu Quoc.

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