In recent years, Vietnam has made a humungous effort to make Phu Quoc Island into the next Phuket. They have built a new airport and have been consistently adding direct flights to the island from all over the world. They have also relaxed visa requirements. While a visa is still required to go to mainland Vietnam, many tourists who go to Phu Quoc, plan to stay on the island, and will leave in less than thirty days don’t need a visa. And it’s worked. Take a short drive around the island and you’ll see all kinds of development projects. Open your ears and you’ll hear a huge variety of languages. While there, we met families from Sweden, Germany, Italy, and Russia.
There are a number of different thoughts about whether the big marketing push to expand tourism is good or bad. A simple google search will pull up opposing opinions—complaints about the excess trash the island was not ready to handle to the opportunity for more jobs for locals and a number of other thoughts. And I’m sure there’s truth to both the positives and negatives.
The island is changing rapidly. My own take-away from our trip is that if you are looking for a cultural experience of Vietnam and want “small island charm,” then that stage of Phu Quoc is probably already passed. And since there are a lot of building and development projects in progress, I’m sure that means it’s bound to lose even more cultural charm as more big resorts go up. If you’re looking for great snorkeling or diving, Phu Quoc probably isn’t the place to find that either. (We didn’t go snorkeling, but we were told by others that there was garbage in the water, dead coral, and an absence of fish). But if you’re looking for a place that still has nice beaches, comfortable resorts, and perfect weather—a place that’s easy to get to and easy to get around, then Phu Quoc is a good option.
We were there for a week in mid-December and experienced perfect weather. I’m a beach bum and could spend days lounging on a tropical beach reading and soaking in the clean air and hot sun. Hubby will agree to this kind of vacation from time to time to humor me, but he really doesn’t like the tropics . . . and he’s really not much of a beach bum. Phu Quoc, on the other hand, was a place he said he would love to go back to, and it was because of the perfect weather we experienced. The whole week we were in Phu Quoc, the temperature was mostly between 70 and 80 degrees (a couple days got above 80). It was often overcast, but we didn’t get any rain, and it was amazingly not humid. It was warm enough to swim, but not so hot that Hubby was miserable.
Where To Stay
If you want to be removed from all the busyness, then Duong Dong Town, probably isn’t the best choice for you, but it was the right area of the island for my family because the beach there (Long Beach) is clean, there are many resorts along this beach to choose from, and there are a ton of restaurants within walking distance from wherever you stay on Long Beach. We tried two different resorts while we were there.
We always book our hotels through hotels.com in order to earn points, which eventually gets us free nights in the hotels we stay in. All of the hotels we stayed at in Vietnam were booked through hotels.com.
Famiana Resort is a facility that’s divided into two sections, each one across the street from the other. The beachside section is called Famiana Beach and Spa. Across the street is the Famiana Green Zone. The rooms in the Beach and Spa are more expensive than the rooms in the Green Zone across the street, but even if they were priced the same, I’d still choose to stay in the Green Zone. Guests in either area have access to the facilities in the other. Both sections have their own restaurant for the breakfast buffet and both sides have their own pool area. In fact, the pool area at the Green Zone is better than the pool in the other section of Famiana. It’s not worth the extra money to stay on the Beach side. The beach at Famiana resort is not its strongest asset anyway (but I’ll get to that later). We paid about 140 USD per night to stay here and this was the most highly priced accommodation we stayed at in Vietnam. We splurged to give ourselves three nights here, but I think it was worth it.
The two sections of Famiana are a short walk from each other, but if you don’t want to walk, you can call the main desk and they will send a golf cart to come pick you up (and it only takes them five minutes to come get you).
We had a bungalow next to the pool that had a queen bed and a single. We borrowed a cushion from the pool chairs each night, used a blanket that we brought from home, and put our son on the floor so the four of us could comfortably fit in the room.
The rooms at Famiana are clean and the staff is very helpful and friendly. The beds are comfortable.
A breakfast buffet is included with the price of the room. They have simple options and a mix of Asian and Western choices. Eggs are available on request. My children are picky eaters, so I love it when I find a buffet with simple options that my kids will eat. All four of us were very happy with the food here.
Famiana is also in a great location to be able to walk to several different nearby restaurants.
My only complaint about Famiana is that I wasn’t fond of the beach area. The beachfront of Famiana is in two separate levels. The beach chairs are on a higher level than the sea, and the seawall was built so close to the waterline that there isn’t any room at the water level for beach chairs or even to sit on a towel without getting wet. For my family with two kids ages seven and five . . . with a little girl who can’t swim yet, this was a bit frustrating. I don’t always like to get wet, but I do want to be in the immediate vicinity of my kids while they play in the sand or swim in the surf. It was a bad design idea to have the beach chairs and lounge area so high above the waterline and for there to be no place to sit on the lower level. We spent most of our time here swimming in the pool or playing in the dry sand next to the beach chairs. I don’t think we got in the ocean at all while we stayed at Famiana.
Even so, I would recommend this resort to friends, but I would have to mention the design of the beach area which, though unsuitable for families with small children, might not be an issue for families with older kids.
I really wanted to make sure we had some quality beach time while we were in Phu Quoc, so we stayed for three nights at Orange Resort where we could afford a room right on the beach. Rooms at Orange Resort start at 75 USD a night, and we paid 104 USD to stay at a beachfront room.
Orange Resort is also in Duong Dong Town and on Long Beach. It’s in an ideal location, off the main road, but within walking distance of a number of restaurants. The service was good and the people were friendly.
The best thing about Orange Resort was the beach area. The beach is kept clean, and it has plenty of lounge chairs close to the waterline. I could sit in the shade and still be close to my kids while they dug in the sand and played in the surf. We really took advantage of the beach here. And we enjoyed the nearby restaurants which you can get to with a short stroll along the beach while enjoying the gorgeous sunset.
It was great to be so close to a nice beach area while we stayed at Orange Resort, but I wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or return here next time my family comes back to Phu Quoc. The resort as a whole was dated and run-down. The beds were really hard and uncomfortable. A breakfast buffet was included in the price of the room, but the food was not very good. As much as I loved the beach area here, by the end of our three nights at Orange Resort, I was ready to move on and hoped our next place would have a more comfortable bed.
Things to Do In Phu Quoc
The big attraction for us in coming to Phu Quoc was definitely the beach, but that’s not the only thing to do here. For the next few weeks, I’ll talk about some of the other things my family enjoyed on the island.
For a list of the other posts coming up in this Vietnam series, check out last week’s overview.