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Phu Quoc from the skies

Photo: Courtesy of Rebecca Cairns/Hong Kong Tatler

Lying just off the southern tip of mainland Vietnam, Phu Quoc is an up-and-coming island paradise that’s been a favourite amongst those in the know for years. Once reserved for the adventurous backpacker, it’s now becoming a destination for luxury beach escapes. 

Add a dash of history and cultural sightseeing to five-star hotels and idyllic coastlines, and you have the recipe for an all-around perfect holiday destination. Check out our top things to do on Phu Quoc island.

(Also see: 7 Luxury Cruises In Asia For Your Next Holiday)

Find your zen at the Ho Quoc Pagoda 

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Photo: Courtesy of Instagram @hannehveding

Located beside the peaceful Dam beach, the Ho Quoc pagoda is a beautiful Buddhist temple complex with stunning ocean views. Although it was only opened in 2012, it is constructed in the traditional Chinese Buddhist style and is popular with locals and tourists alike. Wake up early and head over to watch the sunrise, or enjoy a morning cycle along the coast.

Dương Tơ, Tp. Phú Quốc, tỉnh Kiên Giang, Vietnam

Visit Coconut Prison

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Photo: Courtesy of Rebecca Cairns/Hong Kong Tatler

It would be hard to spend time in Vietnam without learning a little history of the Vietnam War, and not even this remote island escaped the horrors of the conflict. Phu Quoc's military camp, locally known as Coconut Prison, once took up most of the southern tip of the island, including the area where the JW Marriott’s new Emerald Bay Resort now sits.

Only a small area of the prison is left, and it has been converted into a museum and memorial. It’s an emotionally tough but fascinating look at how this island was involved in the war—you’ll be riveted by stories of daring escapes through spoon-dug tunnels, which can still be seen today.

350 Nguyen Van Cu, An Thoi town, Phu Quoc, Kien Giang, Vietnam, phuquocprison.org

Get back to nature at the Bee Farm

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Photo: Courtesy of Rebecca Cairns/Hong Kong Tatler

Phu Quoc is a culinary paradise with some of the most delicious, fresh ingredients in the world—and that includes honey. The Phu Quoc Bee Farm is a conservation project that focuses on sustainable farming and educating both tourists and locals about eco-balance. It’s an amazing, heartfelt project with a great cafe where you can sample their incredibly fresh organic honey.

Cửa Cạn, Phu Quoc, Kien Giang, Vietnam, phuquocbeefarm.com

Sample fresh fish sauce

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Photo: Courtesy of Rebecca Cairns/Hong Kong Tatler

Okay, so it doesn’t sound super glam, but you’re going to want to take a quick peek (nose held, of course) at the Phu Quoc’s legendary fish sauce factory. The pungent substance is one of the island's biggest exports: millions of tiny anchovies are caught, dried and fermented in huge barrels, before being purified into  the most delicious (if incredibly salty) sauce you’ve ever sampled.

It’s a key ingredient in all Vietnamese cuisine, and thanks to the super simple ingredient list and refinement process, it won’t leave a nasty aftertaste, either.

11 Cầu Hùng Vương, tt. Dương Đông, Tp. Phu Quoc, Kiên Giang, Vietnam, khaihoanphuquoc.com.vn

Go island-hopping

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Photo: Courtesy of Rebecca Cairns/Hong Kong Tatler

It’s the quintessential island activity, but the crystal clear waters of Phu Quoc make it extra essential that you get out to sea. Turquoise ocean meets azure skies, all set off against a vibrant jungle island backdrop, with plenty of stunning rock formations along the way. Underwater reefs provide great places to snorkel, so don’t spend all your time sunbathing, either.

Boats can take you island-hopping, especially to the beautiful Pineapple Island. The JW Marriott Emerald Bay offers boat trip excursions to guests, in collaboration with local fisherman: it’s worth it just for the fresh-cooked seafood lunch served on board.

Hòn Thơm, Tp. Phú Quốc, tỉnh Kiên Giang, Vietnam

Keep fit with SUP yoga

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Photo: Courtesy of Chompu/JW Marriott Emerald Bay

The clear and calm waters surrounding the island have made SUP yoga a must-do activity on Phu Quoc—especially given the pastel-pink dawns and gorgeous sunrises. People often come to this remote paradise to recharge and reset, and there’s no better way to tune into your thoughts than with a peaceful morning on the water. Find an instructor at your resort, or just grab a board and get out there for some alone time.

Bai Kem, tỉnh Kiên Giang, tt. An Thới, Tp. Phú Quốc, tỉnh Kiên Giang, Vietnam

Visit Duong Dong and its night market

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Photo: Courtesy of Rebecca Cairns/Hong Kong Tatler

Phu Quoc’s main town of Duong Dong is also worth a visit. Stop by the Dinh Cau Buddhist temple and lighthouse and the unusual Cao Dai temple, before watching the beautiful  sunset in the harbour and visiting the night market.

Once used only by locals, the market has grown with Phu Quoc’s booming tourist industry. But it still remains relatively genuine—a far cry from Hong Kong’s tourist traps. Expect local food produce including fish sauce, honey and pepper, locally made crafts and plenty of fresh, cooked-to-order seafood.

Mai Thị Hồng Hạnh, Dương Đông, tt. Dương Đông, Tp. Phú Quốc, tỉnh Kiên Giang, Vietnam

(Also see: 48 Hours: Yangon's Glistening Pagodas & Colonial Architecture)

 

 

Tags: Travel Guide, Phu Quoc, Vietnam, JW Marriott Emerald Bay Phu Quoc