PHU QUOC ISLAND
With picture-perfect white sand, the delightful curve of beautiful Sao Beach bends out alongside a sea of mineral-water clarity just 15 kilometres from Novotel Phu Quoc Resort and a few kilometres from An Thoi, the main shipping port at the southern tip of the island. There are a couple of beachfront restaurants, where you can settle into a deckchair (50,000d fee for non-guests), change into swimmers (10,000d fee) or partake in water sports.
AN THOI ISLANDS
Just off the southern tip of Phu Quoc, these 15 islands and islets are a paradise of white sand and blue waters. They can be visited by chartered boat for a fine day of sightseeing, fishing, swimming and snorkelling. Hon Thom (Pineapple Island) is about 3km in length and is the largest island in the group.
Most boats depart from An Thoi on Phu Quoc, but you can make arrangements through hotels on Long Beach, as well as dive operators.
Other islands here include Hon Dua (Coconut Island), Hon Roi (Lamp Island), Hon Vang (Echo Island), Hon May Rut (Cold Cloud Island), the Hon Dams (Shadow Islands), Chan Qui (Yellow Tortoise) and Hon Mong Tay (Short Gun Island). As yet, there is no real development on the islands.
The island’s main town and chief fishing port on the central west coast is a tangle of budget hotels catering to domestic tourists (though foreigners are allowed), streetside stalls, bars and shops. The old bridge in town is a great vantage point to photograph the island’s scruffy fishing fleet crammed into the narrow channel, and the filthy, bustling produce market makes for an interesting stroll. Most visitors come for the night market, seafood and the best glimpse at local life on the island.
PHU QUOC PRISON
Not far from Sao Beach in the south of the island, Phu Quoc's notorious old prison, built by the French in the late 1940s, contains a small museum that narrates (in English) the gruesome history of the jail. Much of the site comprises mannequins of Vietnamese soldiers in chilling reenactments, such as being forced to stand and starve in exposed outdoor barbed wire cages. A war memorial stands south of the prison on the far side of the road.
PHU QUOC NATIONAL PARK
About 50% of Phu Quoc is forested and the trees and adjoining marine environment enjoy official protection. This is the last large stand of forest in the south, and in 2010 the park was declared a Unesco Biosphere Reserve. The forest is densest in northern Phu Quoc, in the Khu Rung Nguyen Sinh forest reserve; you’ll need a motorbike or mountain bike to tackle the bumpy dirt roads that cut through it. There are no real hiking trails.