Previously Phu Quoc had been a secret. Anyone who visited at the turn of the century will recall a sleepy island with few tourist services and not much by the way of infrastructure.
And despite the talk of a construction boom, for many years nothing much changed. But there are now signs of a more mass-tourist friendly Phu Quoc emerging. The on-going construction of two main, long roads from Duong Dong town to Cua Can commune in the north and to An Thoi town in the south will make remote parts of the island more accessible than ever before. Construction on the new international airport broke ground recently, boosting the government’s dream to turn Phu Quoc into an international beach destination.
What is good news for the State’s coffers and investors might be bad news for those who came to Phu Quoc, because of the fact it was off the tourist map and free from tacky resorts. While infrastructure was limited, you could still jump on a motorbike and drive around the island; there’s nothing like turning down some random bumpy road only to discover a white sandy beach with turquoise waters at the end. You could sit back in a hammock, order fried squid from a local family and sip on a cool beer and smugly grin as though you had discovered a lost paradise.
It’s not like Phu Quoc has suddenly turned into Ko Samui, mind you. For the time being many of the beaches on the island remain untouched. Away from Duong Dong town at the end of the under-construction roads there’s still plenty of untouched paradise for those who need to get away from it all.
Flopping around on these beaches, you’ll find it hard to disagree with the travel website that recently voted Phu Quoc as one of top five hidden beaches in the world; although there is a certain irony to promoting a destination’s hidden quality
The island is also ideal for snorkelling and scuba diving. In the middle of the island you will find tropical forests on a low mountain range which makes for good trekking. The forest’s diversified fauna and flora makes it a conservationist’s dream. One of two famous springs on the island is Da Ban, just outside of Duong Dong by a large lake, which supplies fresh water for the islanders. The only way to reach the spring is to take a 10-minute trip on a sampan – it is $10 for a return trip. Large rocks form small ponds around the spring, which make for ideal baths.
Tourists sit in the sun, reading novels, munching on grilled shrimp. The only dilemma is whether to order a fruit juice or a cold beer. You can easily find a secluded spot should you wish to bathe au naturel. The setting is postcard perfect with majestic rock formations and pristine forests all around.
Later on in the evening, you may spot a few signs of what might be to come if tourism continues to grow on Phu Quoc. On the beach a number of new bars have opened catering for the young, sunburned and thirsty travellers. Among them, Ahoy is said to be the biggest. It features an underground bar. On one particular visit business is slow.
In fact, there are only three customers. Undeterred by the measly crowd a resident Filipino band plays a rousing set. But Phu Quoc is not for bars or late nights. The three customers all head off for an early night. Tomorrow morning paradise island awaits
Hotels & resorts in Phu Quoc: http://www.activetravelshop.com/?name=product&op=listProducts&subcat=PhuQuocHotels
Mekong & Saigon excursions: http://www.activetravelshop.com/?name=product&op=listProducts&subcat=HCMCMekongTours