Phu Quoc, although being the largest island in Vietnam, is one of south-east Asia’s best-kept secrets.
Situated in the waters of the Gulf of Thailand, about 50 km from the Vietnamese mainland, it offers tranquil and beautiful beaches, pristine nature, a laid-back atmosphere, friendly locals and countless adventure activities, allied to the best sunset in the country. If the curiosity is already sharped, there are more reasons to visit this unexplored paradise, before the crowds do.
Despite the significant development in recent years, much of its area remains protected since it became a National Park in 2001, covering more than 50% of the island. In 2010, it was declared a Kien Giang Biosphere Reserve, promoting the conservation of its tropical rainforests featuring waterfalls, coral reefs, wetlands and other parts of the surrounding natural landscape, as part of UNESCO’s MAB program. The island also has a mountain landscape of about 99 peaks along the island’s 48 km long, with Chua Mountain being the highest with 600 meters above sea level.
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Phu Quoc has about 20 idyllic and wild beaches with white sand, calm sea and warm water. Sao Beach is one of the best known, thanks to its white sands and turquoise seas. However, Long Beach, which stretches over 20 Km of shoreline, is the best choice for lodging and watching an unforgettable sunset. Khem Beach is one of the most beautiful, overlooking the Emerald Bay, and powdery white sands caressed with effervescent waves. At the eastern tip of the island, Rach Vem is known for its starfish population.
For culture lovers, Phu Quoc has one of the most distressing but, at the same time, thrilling memorials of the country’s War. Nha Lao Cay Dua Prison was the largest prison camp in southern Vietnam in 1973. The Dinh Cua Rock (Cua Temple) stands out among the many pagodas that exist there.
Its economy is still based on fishing and agriculture, so there are several small villages, known for the production of fish sauce, where contact with the local community is guaranteed and where a fresh fish meal is a must.
Ha Tien is the nearest mainland city, and the island is easily reached from a 50-minute flight from Ho Chi Minh City or 2 hours from the capital Hanoi. The best time to visit Phu Quoc is from November to May, during the dry season. However, the island offers comfortable temperatures throughout the year, as the average temperature is around 27 ° C. In April and May, the thermometers can reach 29ºC.
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