Phu Quoc

Discussion in 'Vietnam - Road Trip Reports' started by Rod Page, Dec 2, 2011.

  1. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    PHU QUOC - Pt 1: Heading Over
    Although Phu Quoc has its own airport, the way over for those wishing to take their bikes is by hydrofoil, a wonderful 28 nautical mile/45 km journey across an almost perpetually calm Gulf of Thailand sea.

    The fare for a bike is greater than that for its rider due we were told to the manpower needed to move bikes onto & off the boat. The photos showing the bike being loaded in Ha Tien & off-loaded in Phu Quoc explain:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The fact that the area had recently faced exceptionally high rain-fall with the resultant flooding of much of SE Asia could be seen for some 5kms out to see. Well out to sea, the voyage takes you past the Ha Tien islands, a group of around 15 beautiful, mostly uninhabited islands around which those most colourful Vietnamese fishing boats bob about whilst applying their trade, an envious sight for those who enjoy a day's fishing:

    [​IMG]

    The bikes too seemed comfortable & enjoying the trip:

    [​IMG]

    Arrival at Phu Quoc is at Bai Vong. Its an enchanting arrival:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  2. Loading...


  3. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    PHU QUOC - Pt 2: Long Beach & Duong Dong

    Billed as a destination just waiting to be discovered; the next big thing in island/beach holidaying, Phu Quoc is everything an island paradise should be & more. It has it all & in great abundance - fabulous beaches backed by crystal clear turquoise waters shaded by palms dancing in the breeze, exquisite fishing villages where fishing continues as it has for centuries, & a nature reserve taking in the island's mountainous interior & encompassing some 70% of the island. Phu Quoc is Vietnam's largest island, almost 50km long & encompassing some 1320sq kms. Its not fertile land & most villagers earn a living from the sea. Phu Quoc, it is said, produces the best nuoc mam in Vietnam.

    Duong Dong is the main village & most developed/tourist orientated area on the island. Its stunning beach Bai Truong (known not surprisingly as Long Beach) is where most of the hotels & resorts are found. Hai Dang (lighthouse) & Dinh Cau, built to honour Thien Hau/Goddess of the Sea so as to provide protection for all those at sea, stand at the entrance to the Song Duong Dong (river) where the village's fishing boats shelter. The beach runs south from here offering travellers an unlimited choice of idealic beach as it continues southwards almost 30kms to the island's most southern point, the fishing villge of An Thoi.

    A shot on the beach just after we arrived right in front of hotel looking north to Dinh Cau; the second from a rocky outcrop just south of the La Verandah, the most up-market accommodation on the island:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    So enticing is the beach that many take breakfast right on it:

    [​IMG]

    The village of Duong Dong is itself full of enchantment from the old 'opening bridge' offering views over the fishing fleet, some equiped to fish squid at night, to access to the most amazingly active of markets:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    A little further afield nuoc mam is produced:


    [​IMG]


    Duong Dong offers a nightly, walking street dining market, a place of great ambience & wonderful food at most affordable prices. The display of fare in front of each restaurant is masterfully prepared & totally enticing. Dining here is a must for anyone holidaying on Phu Quoc (I recommend Nho):

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Before dinner take in the sunset from the beach; Phu Quoc is famous for it:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  4. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    PHU QUOC - Pt 3: The Island's South

    Only a couple of kilometres south of Duong Dong the resorts stop simultaneously with the sealed road. Ahead is an enchanting run southwards along Phu Quoc's western coast over an all-weather road, through authentic villages set amidst sea-side dunes past a long stretch of sandy beach in perfect waters offering an unlimited choice of beach without a soul in sight. A small pearl farm, fisherman at the seashore.....its magical:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    After a long untouced stretch of countryside & beach we stopped at Ong Bon Cape to celebrate the beauty through which we had just passed:

    [​IMG]

    The route continues on to An Thoi, a major fishing village & port on the most southern tip of Phu Quoc at the very end of which lies the scenic Con Duong Cafe offering views over the An Thoi islands:

    [​IMG]

    We departed before trying the food above, drying in the sun.

    It was here that we discovered the caramalised beer Sarxy Cantho (Sexy Cantho?) brewed in Can Tho:

    [​IMG]

    The small An Thoi islands dot the vista. Some 15 in number they are accessible by boat & offer a relaxing get away from which to fish or snorkel, swim or sunbake. The first shot looks out over Hon Dua (Coconut Island) & Hon Roi (Lamp Island), whilst the second peers out from the cafe over Hon Dam Trong & Hon Dam Ngoai (the shadow islands):

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Just north of An Thoi is Coconut Tree Prison, used as such by both the French colonialists & also the Americans during the American War reportedly housing some 40,000 prisoners:

    [​IMG]

    A little more effort is required to find the memorial to the 4000 pow's that reportedly died whilst incacerated by the Americans:

    [​IMG]

    The now sealed road runs back to Duong Dong providing access to the east coast. The beaches here, Bai Sao & Bai Dam (as well as the difficult to access Bai Khem), with their minimal develpoment of a few relatively up-market restaurant/bars are an absolute knock-out, as good as any you'll see anywhere:

    [​IMG]

    Could this be heaven................
     
  5. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    PHU QUOC - Pt 4 - Exploring the North

    1. Up the West Coast to Cape Ganh

    Just a couple of kilometres north of Duong Dong along a sealed road lies an area generally referred to as Bai Ong Lan encompassing a series of beaches, essentially sandy bays sheltered by wooded headlands, & a scattering of resorts of varying quality for those wanting a more isolated experience than Long Beach. The beach in the first photo is not far from the Chen Sea Resort, the second in front of Mango Bay Resort:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The sealed road continues north to Bai Cua Can overlooked by the impressive Carole's Resort, owned & operated by the lady behind the restaurant of the same name in Duong Dong. Apparently most of the 'beach' was washed away, temporarily we were assured, by the recent heavy rains that hit all of SE Asia:

    [​IMG]

    The now dirt road weaves its way through forrest down to the isolated Bai Vung Bau:

    [​IMG]

    Onwards past wonderful shades of blue; we're travelling along Bai Dai. Its an easy going coastal run with the beachfront interdispersed by charming bridges:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Approaching Da Trai Cape we were greated by life at its truest best in this part of the world - authentic & raw; what travelers such as we yearn to see:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Can you believe it; it got even better!!!
    We rode the final few kilometres to Ganh Cape, the most north-westerly corner of Phu Quoc & there, where the track veers off towards Cape Duong, we found this fishing village in all its glory:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Just how magnificent is Vietnam!!!!!!
     
  6. Fishenough

    Fishenough Ol'Timer

    Thank you for the wonderful report Rod, Phu Quoc looks wonderful.

    How did that smell?

    [​IMG]
     
  7. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    PHU QUOC - Pt 4 - Exploring the North

    2. Over to Bai Thom & on to Ham Ninh

    There's one further (Eco) resort not far from Cape Ganh on a relatively nice piece of beach - in this area as you look out over the waters, the larger island you see, Hon Ban, is actually in Cambodia:

    [​IMG]

    We rode cross-country directly over to Bai Thom without detouring up to Ham Rong & Da Bec Capes. The beach at Bai Thom was under the influence of strong winds. This shot was taken down towards Hon Mot, the island in the background:

    [​IMG]

    Its a dirt road heading south with few inhabitants along the way as it proceeds to Cape Da Chong where a large sea transport facility has recently been constructed. Continuing south the traffic dropped completely away, in both directions. I would shortly know the reason why & it took my mind back to a particular run in Thailand - http://www.gt-rider.com/thailand-motorcycle-forum/threads/34565-Caution-Very-Steep-Dangerous-Road-Collapse-Restricted-Area-Dangerous-Road There is no way a car or truck could pass here & it would present difficulties for the small cc bikes that make up 99.9% of the bikes in Vietnam. I saw only 1 other person on my run down to Ham Ninh, coming in the opposite direction to me, & he stopped me wanting to know if I felt he'd get through. Some photos to tell the story, to give you a feel...........

    Exactly how it looks the first time you are brought to a halt. IMPOSSIBLE to pass!

    [​IMG]

    The alternative way forward, unmarked & found some 100 metres before you stop (could we be traveling through Ireland?)

    [​IMG]

    Looking back shows the problem more clearly:

    [​IMG]

    There are several other quickly assembled wooden crossings to keep you on your way. Here's one with a close up.................will it collapse as I cross?????

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Its somewhat of a relief to arrive in Ham Ninh although there's a feeling of exhilaration in completing such paths. Ham Ninh, not far north of Bai Vong, is a small village with a certain appeal - not too big, not overdeveloped, certainly not in the clutches of tourism, its long peer dominates matters whilst the fish restaurants at the pier's start make a delightful place to dine:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Its but a short run back to Duong Dong but I could not end without including a photo I took whilst riding a brand new 4-lane dual carriageway connecting Duong Dong to Bai Thom. The highway must be around 25kms long & there, without explanation, & for no apparent reason, in the middle of nowhere you are diverted around a house left smack-bang in the middle of the highway:

    [​IMG]

    We surely are amongst the Irish!
     
  8. cdrw

    cdrw Ol'Timer

  9. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    Happy Christmas Jay.
    Took the option that we did for the very reasons, amongst others, you cited - reliability, speed & particularly because we did not want to disembark at Cape Da Chong (from where I managed the road south to Ham Ninh by road-bike).
    Did you get out near Cape Ganh, Cape Da Bac or the brilliant area around Sao Beach?
     
  10. cdrw

    cdrw Ol'Timer

    Rod,
    Cape Ganh and the lighthouse was the one area we didn't see. My riding partner was anxious (horney?) to
    get back to Cambo and visit his wife and see their daughter ;-) We did take all the other side roads,
    inc'l cape da bac & ham rong. As we lodged in An Thoi, we saw a lot of Sao Beach; some nice resorts
    in the area as well as some adjacent to a few other beach areas. All of the beach areas are so unspoiled;
    clean, no trash and generally devoid of people except near the resorts.
    I was not impressed with Doung Dong, as it just another town now orienting towards the tourist trade.
    Although, we went there daily only for breakfast.

    My compliments on your photographs. Not only for your Phu Quco report, but also other reports you've submitted.
    Your reports usually manage to show more of the local life and geography than other contributors. Kudos!
     
  11. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

  12. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer

    Looks really fantastic.. Thanks for the window in to that part of the world

    Cheers
    Brian
     

Share This Page