If you want to experience a different side of Vietnam, one of the best places to visit is Phu Quoc. It’s the largest island in the country, with an economy focused on agriculture and fishing. However, in recent years, it has experienced a huge boom in tourism. It’s not very surprising, as the island is surrounded by plenty of beautiful beaches like Sao, Thom, Ganh Dau, and Bai Dai.
Still, there are many more reasons to book a Phu Quoc travel combo tour than just the beaches. For those who are looking for something a little different, consider a tour that incorporates the destinations below. They include natural attractions, historical landmarks, and shopping haunts that are sure to pique your curiosity and leave you awestruck.
Phu Quoc National Park
Phu Quoc has a total land area of 593.05 square kilometers, and a large portion of that is part of the Phu Quoc National Park. A UNESCO Biosphere Reserve since 2010, Phu Quoc National Park is perfect for nature lovers who love to camp, hike, and explore. One of the best activities here is bird- and animal-watching, as the park is home to hornbills, lorises, silver langurs, and long-tailed macaques among hundreds of other species. There are also more than 1,100 species of plants recorded in the park.
For mountaineering and trekking enthusiasts, you can test your mettle by climbing Mount Heaven and Mount Chua. The latter is the highest point in Phu Quoc National Park at 603 meters, with gorgeous views of almost the entire park. Those who love the water, meanwhile, may want to opt for kayaking, rafting, or taking a river tour.
Duong Dong Market
As Phu Quoc’s largest outdoor market, you can expect Duong Dong to be buzzing with activity at all times. Still, the visit is well worth it since you can get some of the freshest produce here. What’s more, Duong Dong Market has a sprawling area that’s dedicated to freshly caught seafood like eels, mackerel, squid, and various kinds of shellfish. You should also definitely go to the dry section, where you can purchase some of Phu Quoc Island’s best produce and processed food products, including cashews, mushrooms, black pepper, and fish sauce.
Ham Ninh Fishing Village
Ham Ninh Fishing Village is the best place in Phu Quoc Island to sample seafood and regional dishes. Try the boiled flower crab, sea cucumber soup, and tram mushrooms for an authentic experience. You should also take a sip of medicinal brews, which are often infused with seaweed, ginseng, and rice wine. Of course, you can also buy fresh seafood, even fresher than the ones you can buy at Duong Dong Market (which is only about 30 minutes away). The residents also dive for pearls, which you can buy directly.
Aside from indulging in seafood dishes, Ham Ninh Fishing village is also great for sightseeing. You can even see the Hai Tac Archipelago from the coast. Swimming is also a popular activity, as the waters surrounding Ham Ninh Village are not very deep. The best beaches are located further up north, which is only a short walk away from the main village.
Dinh Cau Rock
Phu Quoc Island has plenty of religious temples that travelers can visit like the Cao Dai Temple and Su Muon Pagoda. Another famous spot is the Dinh Cau Rock or the Cau Temple. These oddly shaped natural rock formations house a small Buddhist shrine, where local fishermen pray for abundance and guidance before they go out to sea. There’s also a small lighthouse, which is a popular subject in many a tourist’s photographs.
Constructed in 1937 and dedicated to the sea goddess Thien Hau, Dinh Cau Rock has 29 stone steps that lead to the temple’s rooftop. From this vantage point, you can view the sunset, the fishing boats making their rounds in the sea below, and the islands surrounding Phu Quoc. What’s great about Dinh Cau Rock is that aside from a couple of annual festivals, it’s mostly empty for the rest of the year. If you’re looking for some peace and quiet, this is the place to go to. Time your visit in the late afternoon so you can schedule an visit to the Dinh Cau Night Market afterwards.
Phu Quoc Prison
Those interested in Vietnam’s history will find Phu Quoc Prison an interesting venue for a quick day trip. More than 40,000 Vietnamese soldiers were said to have been imprisoned and tortured here, in punishment for going against the French and the Americans during the Vietnam War.
The prison was declared a national historical site in 1995 when it was converted into a museum. It has a collection of old photographs and torture instruments among other relics of the harrowing period in Vietnam’s history. There are even a row of “tiger cages” that were used as sensory deprivation chambers and for exposing the prisoners to extreme temperatures. It may be rather morbid, but Phu Quoc Prison can impart valuable knowledge about Vietnam’s past.
Unlike other locations in Vietnam Phu Quoc only recently became a tourist destination, which gives the island a “rough around the edges” sort of charm. Give it a chance and discover for yourself how easy it is to fall in love with Phu Quoc.