48 Hours on Phú Quốc, Vietnam’s Island Paradise

Published April 1, 2019

Welcome to my very first blog post featuring a destination in Vietnam! I’ve been based in Ho Chi Minh City for almost a month now, and after doing a little bit of research, I decided to take my very first trip outside the city. I looked at a number of options, but eventually decided to check out the island of Phú Quốc, which is right off the southern coast of the Vietnamese “mainland” and Cambodia.

Phú Quốc isn’t as small as it might look on the map. Since I spent one weekend here, I only really had time to explore the town of An Thới on the south side of the island. However, I’m definitely going to be going back to see more of the island because it’s only about a half hour away from Ho Chi Minh City by plane!

Because I wanted to relax a bit while on the island, I basically only did two things per day: Bãi Sao (Sao Beach) and the world’s longest cable car on Saturday, and Bãi Khem (Khem Beach) and the fishing village at An Thới on Sunday. I’ll also let you know what kinds of dining options there are here as well as where I stayed. Keep reading to learn more about this stunning island!

Sao Beach

This was the first place I visited on Saturday morning, and there’s not much to say other than that it’s a really lovely beach. When you first enter from the road, you’ll pass by a number of restaurants and gift shops, but my guess is that everything is really overpriced (I was parched and got a bottle of water, which cost three times as much as at convenience stores).

The left “half” of the beach is crowded. There are tons of chairs and umbrellas, but I think you have to pay or at least order something to eat if you want to lounge there. If you head to the right, you’ll pass by a section of big boulders, and the stretch of beach past has way fewer people and no restaurants or bars.

A ton of resources online claim that Bãi Sao is the best beach on Phú Quốc, but I ended up liking Khem Beach more (read about it below). However, as you can see in the pictures here, Sao Beach is still a beautiful place that shouldn’t be missed!

The World's Longest Cable Car Ride

By the afternoon, I was ready to cool down a bit, so I took a taxi to the Phú Quốc cable car terminal. This was probably my favorite part of my trip because the views are absolutely stunning. The cable car is the longest of its kind in the world, and it crosses over a number of small islands before finally reaching Hòn Thơm (Pineapple Island), where a water park is currently being constructed.

As you can see, the views are simply stunning and absolutely worth the 150,000 VND (approx. 7 USD) for a round-trip ticket. I think the ride lasted about 20 minutes each way, and the cable car offers a panoramic view of the surrounding islands and open ocean.

You have to get off at Pineapple Island before getting back on the cable car, but there’s not much to see there except a bunch of construction equipment, so you’ll probably just get right back on.

Khem Beach

On Sunday morning, I tried to visit Khem Beach, which ended up being a little bit of an adventure. If you try to go via this road, you’ll find that the beach access is blocked, and the only way to pass through is to pay a fee to the Marriott Hotel there for a day pass.

A resort under construction across from the Marriott. You be the judge of how tacky it looks...

Since I had no interest in doing that, I asked if there was a public access road, and an employee of the hotel pointed me to take this dirt road (the dashed green line). I wasn’t sure if that was right, but I walked all the way down and finally made it to the beach. And I’m glad I did; take a look at how beautiful it is!

The "public access" dirt road to Khem Beach
Sand bubbler crab standing guard outside its burrow

I arrived right around noon, so I decided to eat lunch at one of the two little restaurants there. I got a plate of seafood fried rice, which ended up being delicious!

Interestingly, when I walked back to the main road, I noticed that a guard was standing there. I’m not sure if I was supposed to be there, but he didn’t say anything as I walked out. There were also some other tourists and visitors on the beach, so I think it was open to the public via the dirt road. Visitors should definitely try to make it to Khem Beach, but if they’re turned away at this entrance, the only other option may be to pay a (presumably exorbitant) fee at the Marriott.

The resort(s) including the Marriott that are making it so difficult to get to this beach for free

Fishing Village at An Thới

The last thing I did on Sunday afternoon was visit the little fishing village located here on the southern tip of Phú Quốc island. There wasn’t anything really unusual about the town (other than a pretty pervasive fishy smell), but there were almost no tourists here, so it’s a bit more authentic than some other parts of the island.

In addition to the docks, there are a ton of vendors on the street selling everything from dried fish to…fresh fish. There are also sit-down restaurants, cafes, and the occasional hotel here.

Meal Options: Hot Pot, Phở, and Other Vietnamese Classics

Food on Phú Quốc seemed pretty similar to meal options in Ho Chi Minh City, but with a bit more seafood. For lunch on Saturday, I tried phở at a small restaurant near my guesthouse and it ended up being really good and cheap (40,000 VND, or less than 2 USD).

For dinner on Saturday, I ended up going to Lóc Cóc, a restaurant specializing in seafood hotpot. I also tried a snail soup and a mango salad and really loved every dish here.

For dinner on Sunday, I ended up at another restaurant that served hot pot, except this time with beef. Even though it was hot on the island, hot meals were oddly satisfying (especially with a cold beer or two!). Depending on how many people share the meal, hot pot dinners appeared to be in the ballpark of about 8 USD per person including drinks and appetizers.

Where I Stayed

For this short trip, I spent two nights at Wanderlust Bungalows. I really liked their beautiful, sunny courtyard as well as the fact that they have a restaurant and cafe in the lobby (which serves some great Vietnamese iced coffee, by the way). They also only cost about 18 USD a night for a private room! My only complaint is that they weren’t within walking distance of any of the attractions listed above, but since everything was spread out enough to need a taxi to go from one area to another, this didn’t end up making too much of a difference.

An Island I’ll Be Coming Back To

A lot of my recent blog posts have ended up being really long, so I’m glad to finally publish one that’s short and sweet! As I mentioned before, two days was only enough time to explore one small portion of the island of Phú Quốc. With that said, I absolutely intend to visit again and explore even more! To read a bit more on the island and see the guide I used to decide which areas to focus on, click here.

Have any questions? Curious how things have been for me since moving to Vietnam? Leave me a comment below! Thanks for reading, and stay connected on Facebook and Instagram for the latest updates on my Southeast Asia excursions!

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This post was published on Apr 1, 2019

This Post Has 21 Comments

  1. Hailey

    I want to go just for that seafood hotpot! Looks delish! I am right with you about finding the beaches that are less touristy.. and it looks like you found some great ones!

  2. Wow! Vietnam is on my list and I have a lot of information here when I get to go. Looks so beautiful and colourful and how cheap is that food? Amazing read

  3. Omg I wish I could just jump into my computer right into the ocean. I will definitely have to add this location to my list for my upcoming trip to Vietnam

  4. Anna Sherchand

    Oh I miss that place! You post reminded me of my travels to Phu Quoc back in 2016. It was so fun!

  5. FS Page

    Phú Quốc seems amazing; haven’t really heard of it before. The cable car ride must be giving stunning views. I especially loved all the photographs. I would definitely include Phú Quốc island on my itinerary when I visit Vietnam.

  6. Rebecca

    Your photography in this post is just wow. I would love to go and experience Vietnam. Thank you for this great post.

  7. Shane Prather

    That cable car view looks incredible! I had no idea this city was so colorful. Way to make the most out of a shorter stay!

  8. The ambiance of the place was ravishing. Also the food looks appetizing and mouthwatering. The cable car is something I should try as well, since it seems really exciting, and perhaps the view atop would be really one of a kind. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

  9. Marvi

    Wow.. I didn’t know Phú Quốc holds the record for the longest cable car.. That’s so cool! The views are absolutely stunning. The waters are so clear too and the beaches are so lovely. I’d be sure to add this on my places to visit in Vietnam!

  10. The views from the cable car are absolutely incredible. Also, I think I am the only one, but I love the colors of the new hotel under construction haha! It’s so bright and vibrant.

  11. diapersinparadise

    Wow! That cable car looks amazing! the shot with all the boats is awesome. I kind of love all the tacky colors of the Marriott! Haha.

  12. Cindy

    The views from that cable car look fantastic. I would love to do that. And Khem beach – – I’m glad you found the “secret route” to get there without paying, and I hope it stays open to the public. I especially love your photos from there.

  13. pappasw

    I love the views from the cable car. I think that would be my favorite park. The fishing village looked lovely all the beautiful colors and I bet the food was delicious.

  14. danahfreeman

    Great photos! I can’t believe how crystal clear the water is. I need to get to there one day. Thanks for the inspiration.

  15. Alexander Popkov

    I wanna be there. Heh, here in Finalnd the weather is horribly windy and cold. All I can think is staying in a place like Vietnam for a couple of days.

  16. Carolina Colborn

    The sand bubbler crab, the green dragon, and the different dishes fascinated me. You discovered a great getaway!

  17. Kris

    That cable car looks incredible! I can’t believe how affordable it is for such gorgeous views. I totally need to learn more about the sand bubbler crabs too – they look adorable!

  18. Daniel

    I visited Phu Quoc a couple of years ago and had an amazing time over there! It’s one of my favorite islands in Southeast Asia. I really enjoyed every line of your post and it brought back so many nice memories. Thank you for sharing

  19. Milijana

    I have travelled Vietnam for a month. But I haven’t visited Phú Quốc. What a pity! I have heard it’s beautiful, but your post actually convinced me. Would love to take that cable car ride one day when I am back in Vietnam.

  20. pinkcaddytraveloguegmailcom

    This looks like a beautiful place! It’s rare that islands like this are so affordable. The cable car looks awesome – the pictures you took from it are stunning. Thank you for sharing!

  21. Vanessa

    That cable car ride looks awesome but also horrifying for me… lol. Just looking at that last pic from the cable car is giving me vertigo.

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