Phu Quoc: Toward a Plastic Waste-Free Island

By: WWF-Viet Nam

Long celebrated as the “Pearl Island” of Vietnam, 
Phu Quoc in recent years faces a severe crisis: WASTE!

THE SITUATION

As 200 tons of waste is produced daily, the largest island in Vietnam finds itself inundated with overwhelming waste, especially plastic waste, and the consequences are overtly visible. 

Visit any public beach that is not managed by a private resort, one can easily spot patches of plastic bags floating among the waves, remnants of styrofoam boxes, and plastic containers beached in the sand. Stand on Nguyen Trung Truc Bridge overlooking the Duong Dong River below, one can observe a stream of assorted waste dumped by locals, waste that will follow the river current heading out to sea. Driving to the north-west of the island one has to pass the infamous open landfill dump right by the road, this has unfortunately grown into a small hill and is now covered by a temporary fence to hide it from obvious view.

Plastic Waste-Free Phu Quoc IslandA landfill on Phu Quoc island © WWF Vietnam / Duong Quoc Binh

This waste situation is not only impacting the tourism business on the island but also damaging precious native marine ecosystems, including the local seagrass beds, which are essential habitat for blue swimmer crabs - a valuable main source of income for many fishermen communities on the island.

LOOKING FORWARD

To help protect the native environment and address plastic waste issues, WWF-Viet Nam began the Phu Quoc - Toward a plastic waste-free island project. Sponsored by USAID and implemented by WWF-Viet Nam, this project is working with many different stakeholders such as the local government, schools, local communities and businesses who are expected to cooperate with each other within a public-private partnership platform to reduce single-use plastic, and move towards a plastic waste-free island.

Plastic Waste-Free Phu Quoc IslandA plastic waste polluted beach on Phu Quoc island © WWF Vietnam / Duong Quoc Binh

In engaging with the local government, the project is working with the District’s People Committee to commit the whole island to reduce single-use plastic. Over 60 teachers and school representatives from more than 30 schools have attended a two-day training on plastic waste and have begun adopting plastic-reducing practices into their schools’ policies. Two villages adjacent to the seagrass beds - Da Chong in Bai Thom commune and Bai Bon in Ham Ninh commune - are setting up a better waste management system where plastic waste is separated and better collected, reducing the chances of discharging waste directly into the ocean.

With technical support from WWF-Viet Nam, participating businesses are exploring ways to reduce single-use plastic in their daily operations. Effective practices like removing plastic straws, using refillable dispensers for shampoo, replacing plastic packaging, using glass bottles, separating waste etc. are being implemented by many businesses. WWF-Viet Nam hopes to facilitate a group of businesses committed to reduce single-use plastic products, in which members can advise one another and inspire interested businesses to join. WWF-Viet Nam will also connect this group to the local government, further advocating for collaboration among different stakeholders to tackle the plastic waste issue together.

Plastic Waste-Free Phu Quoc IslandOpen dumpsite leaking waste into the environment of Phu Quoc island, Viet Nam. © WWF-Viet Nam

IN CONCLUSION

At the end of November 2019, 37 businesses in Phu Quoc had officially agreed to participate in the project. With the support from Visit Phu Quoc (visitphuquoc.info), WWF-Viet Nam hopes to map out these businesses, so that any tourist who wants to help the plastic-reducing cause can support these businesses and spread the word. 

Please help our beautiful island, minimize your footprint by at least saying no to single-use plastic!
For more information or if you would like to get involved, please contact Ms. Quynh at quynh.nguyenmy@wwf.org.vn

Banner Image source: WWF-Viet Nam


Phu Quoc Infrastructure to 2030: Ambitious and Why Not?

By: Karen Wise

What major investments have taken place in Phu Quoc so far?

Health facilities and air travel are two examples of Phu Quoc’s infrastructure success

Phu Quoc still requires further investment to overcome challenges and complete key infrastructure projects

The Phu Quoc Island Construction Master Plan to 2030, revised in March 2017, is undoubtedly an ambitious one with a central focus on the development and upgrade of Phu Quoc’s infrastructure. Though it is ambitious, the plan shouldn’t be too unsurprising given the island’s major role in Vietnam’s tourism industry.

The plan identifies three large urban areas—Phu Quoc’s main town of Duong Dong, as well as An Thoi and Cua Can. It seeks the support of both domestic and international investors for Phu Quoc to realise projects in world class leisure and entertainment, transportation, telecommunications, additional power supply and water, and sewage treatment. Progress has since been made in many of these areas.

Phu Quoc Infrastructure to 2030Image source: phuquocxanh.com

Major Investments in Phu Quoc So Far

Examples of major investments that have already been completed include Phu Quoc International Airport, which opened in 2012 and expanded again in late 2018, and the Vinmec Phu Quoc International Hospital, which opened in 2015. Also making recent headlines was the opening of Phu Quoc’s Corona Casino, the first casino in the country in which Vietnamese nationals can gamble.

Yet another impressive addition to Phu Quoc’s infrastructure has been the world’s longest oversea cable car ride (8 km), connecting An Thoi town and Hon Thom Island, funded by the Sun Group. In addition to being a fabulous tourist attraction with amazing views of Phu Quoc and beyond, the cable car also cuts the travel time between the two locations in half.

Phu Quoc Infrastructure to 2030Image source: latimes.com

Health and Air Travel: Two Examples of Phu Quoc’s Success

The 150-bed Vinmec Phu Quoc International Hospital in Ganh Dau, adjacent to Vinpearl Safari and Vinpearl Land Amusement Park, has brought modern medical facilities to Phu Quoc that are on par with those available in the US, UK, Germany, Japan and Singapore. Impressively modern Vinmec Phu Quoc International Hospital boasts a mix of experienced foreign and Vietnamese doctors able to speak Russian, French and English.

Along with state of the art diagnostic equipment, this Vinmec hospital is a real boost to both residents and tourists in Phu Quoc needing high quality medical treatment. Vinmec Phu Quoc was actually the second Vinmec hospital to open in Vietnam, following on from Vinmec Times City International Hospital, which opened in Hanoi in 2012.

Phu Quoc Infrastructure to 2030Image source: static.vinid.net

In addition to general practice, Vinmec Phu Quoc International Hospital offers a comprehensive list of specialist services including accident and emergency, resuscitation, gastroenterology, gynecology and obstetrics. The Imaging and Radiology Department is fully equipped with state of the art equipment and, importantly for families, there is a high quality pediatric department. Emergency care for Phu Quoc residents and visitors is available 24/7 and there is also a pharmacy on site.

Phu Quoc Infrastructure to 2030Image source: storage.googleapis.com

Improvements have also been made to the public health facilities on the island. The Phu Quoc General Hospital in Duong Dong now incorporates the town’s medical clinic and has over 20 departments. The physical buildings and facilities are in need of refurbishment, but the staff are dedicated and experienced. Phu Quoc General Hospital is open to foreigners and local residents.

Travel by air is certainly the most common way to arrive on Vietnam’s ‘Pearl Island’ and the current capacity at Phu Quoc International Airport is approaching four million passengers per year. There are also plans in place for a second terminal and runway to take the annual number of air passengers visiting Phu Quoc up to a possible 10 million by 2030.

Phu Quoc Infrastructure to 2030Image source: asiawebdirect.com

Airlines currently operating flights to and from Phu Quoc include Vietnam Airlines, VietJet Air, Bamboo Airways, and Jetstar Pacific. The busiest route is between Ho Chi Minh City and Phu Quoc, but there are also multiple flights daily between Phu Quoc and Hanoi. In 2016, TUI Airways commenced a twice weekly flight service for the European winter season (December to March), bringing tourists to Phu Quoc from Sweden and the UK, amongst other countries.

Phu Quoc Infrastructure to 2030Image source: vietnamairlines.vn

In November 2018, Air Asia Airlines commenced flights between Kuala Lumpur and Phu Quoc, and other major international destinations with direct flights to Phu Quoc include Seoul, Bangkok and Guangzhou.

Increased Investment Planned to Complete Key Phu Quoc Infrastructure Projects

Rapid development typically brings disruption and a plethora of challenges. Though there are many more projects in the pipeline and plenty of obstacles to overcome, there is no doubting the government’s determination to push ahead. In January 2019, representatives from Phu Quoc’s administration management board stated their intention to pursue investment capital to speed up the completion of key infrastructure projects, improve planning and tackle land disputes, compensation, site clearance and resettlement issues.

In the same month, Vietnam News reported that 46 projects had been completed, 41 projects underway with a total investment value of VND101.43 billion, and that, to date, there are 31 foreign direct investment (FDI) projects with a total registered capital of $293 million. Money is indeed flowing to Vietnam’s major island destination, although the issues of sustainability and corporate social responsibility in Phu Quoc should not be put aside.

Phu Quoc Infrastructure to 2030Image source: vir.com.vn

In 2017, local government figures stated that Phu Quoc welcomed around 2 million visitors to the island, with the number of foreign tourists increasing by more than 70 percent. With the current and future plans to further upgrade the island’s infrastructure and world class leisure facilities, a continued rise seems certain in the number of visitors to Phu Quoc, where Vietnam’s tourism industry is booming.

Banner Image source: shutterstock.com


Travelling from Hanoi to Phu Quoc

By: Laura Hill

Getting to Phu Quoc from Hanoi is fast and convenient by air.

Explore cheap and easy land transportation to Phu Quoc.

By air, land, or sea, Phu Quoc is easily accessible from Saigon.

Steeped in history and filled with the sights and sounds of Vietnam’s rich heritage, Hanoi is a fabulous city to explore. Showing the influence of foreign rulers of the past, the narrow streets of the old quarter, and attractions across the city, will provide ample opportunity to create memorable moments as you sample the cuisine, culture and local lifestyle of the city.

However, after a journey focused on exploration, and surviving the chaos of the busy streets, you may feel that it is time to put your mind into the mood for relaxation. There is perhaps no better way to do so than to treat yourself to some time on the beach, enjoying the sumptuous surroundings of La Veranda Boutique Beach Resort, Phu Quoc where you can continue to sample Vietnamese heritage in the charming beauty of Madame Catherine’s French colonial mansion.

With 1754 kilometres to navigate between Vietnam’s capital city and Phu Quoc Island there are a number of different options that you can take to get to La Veranda Resort.

Travelling to Phu Quoc

Flying to Phu Quoc Island from Hanoi

Of course, the fastest and most convenient way to travel to Phu Quoc is to fly. Noi Bai Airport services the capital and is the largest airport in Vietnam. Home to Vietnam Airlines, the national flag carrier, and also a hub of Vietjet Air and Jetstar Pacific, there are a number of flights available each day. Flight times to Phu Quoc from Hanoi are around 2 hours 10 minutes, so you are never too far from a delicious meal at the award-winning Peppertree restaurant or a rejuvenating spa treatment in the luxurious TĨNH Wellness Sanctuary at La Veranda Resort MGallery Collection by Sofitel.

Getting from Hanoi city centre to Noi Bai Airport is simple. Taxis are readily available and the transfer from the city centre takes around 30 minutes. Make sure that you get a taxi with a meter and expect to pay between 320,000VND to 350,000VND ($13 - $15). Travel agents in the city will also assist you with making transfers to the airport and many hotels provide shuttle services for an additional charge. Local buses are the cheapest option at 5,000 VND per person but you should expect a transfer time of around one hour when taking either the number 7 or number 17 bus from the city centre.

Travelling to Phu Quoc

When you arrive at Phu Quoc International Airport, why not start your escape as soon as possible by arranging an airport transfer with La Veranda staff? You will be transferred from the airport directly to the resort in La Veranda’s comfortable shuttle. You may not even notice the short journey of approximately 20 minutes go by as you refresh yourself with cold towels and bottles of water provided by La Veranda. Taxi transfers to La Veranda are also available.

Travelling Overland Between Hanoi and Phu Quoc Island

If you have more time to spare or are looking to experience more of Vietnam as you make your way to La Veranda Resort and Spa then you may wish to consider a different option.

The North - South Railway, also referred to as the Reunification Line, covers 1,600km and links Hanoi in the North of Vietnam with Ho Chi Minh City (also known as Saigon) in the South. Constructed in the 1880s, during the era of French colonialism, the line also passes through Hue, Da Nang and Nha Trang before arriving in Saigon. This extended journey allows for many opportunities to sample more of this incredible country. Expect a journey time of around 31 hours, if you choose to take the train directly from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. However, if you desire to make a few stops along the way the only limit is how much time you have to spend.

Modern-day train travel may not always mirror the classical elegance of the days of steam engines and polished wood interiors, but the sense of excitement and romance still prevails. Departing from Hanoi’s train station will stir images of vintage leather cases and pressed linen travel suits; an exotic adventure through the tropics just hours away.

Travelling to Phu Quoc

Comfort levels have improved in recent years, and for longer journeys, VIP sleeper berths are available on some trains. Providing premium levels of service on board, these cars not only provide comfort for passengers with soft sleeping berths and air conditioning, but additional extras such as bespoke bedding and complimentary snacks.

Alternative classes of tickets are available, but during peak times bookings should be made in advance to avoid disappointment. Visit baolau.com for full details.

From Saigon to Phu Quoc - By Air, Land or Sea

After travelling the length of the country by train and arriving in Saigon you can opt to take a flight to Phu Quoc or continue your journey over land and sea.

If you choose to fly from Tan Son Nhat airport, flights depart throughout the day and will whisk you to Phu Quoc and a world of luxury at La Veranda Resort in just over an hour.

If you opt to take the overland route from Saigon you will need to make your way to either Ha Tien or Rach Gia, where you can then take the ‘fast’ ferry to the island.

Travelling to Phu Quoc

The ferry transfer connects the mainland to Bai Vong on the east coast of Phu Quoc and takes approximately 1.5 hours (Ha Tien) or 2.5 hours (Rach Gia). Popular travel operator Superdong charges 360,000VND from Rach Gia and 230,000VND from Ha Tien for a one-way ticket. From Bai Vong, La Veranda Resort and Spa is just 20 minutes away and your journey through the Land of the Blue Dragon will reach its conclusion.

However you choose to reach La Veranda Boutique Beach Resort, a tranquil and luxurious retreat awaits. Whether you desire a walk in the organic garden, a swim in the saltwater pool or simply to enjoy the views from your private beach villa or superior room, you will not only have time to indulge in the experience of creating memorable moments, but also to reflect upon those that you’ve made along the way.

Image source: La Veranda Resort Phu Quoc

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