Phu Quoc, Vietnam "Suggestion for Best Winter Trips"

Picture of a couple relaxing on a summer evening.

Photograph by Michael S. Lewis/National Geographic Creative
Some of Vietnam’s best beaches are on heart-shaped Phu Quoc island, making them closer to Cambodia than the Vietnamese mainland. Located in the Gulf of Thailand just off the Cambodian coast, Phu Quoc once housed the so-called “coconut tree prison” (now a museum), where Vietcong prisoners of war were held through 1973. What’s bringing international travelers and, so far, restrained development to Phu Quoc today are its warm, turquoise waters; secluded, deep sand beaches; and lush, mountainous interior (protected as a national park).
When to Go: December-March is dry season, with average daytime temperatures between 77° and 82°F.
How to Get Around: The new (2012) Phu Quoc International Airport is located near the midpoint of the island’s western coast in Duong Dong, the largest town. Most resorts are located south of the airport on Long Beach, and provide airport transfers to their guests. The most convenient way to travel around the island is by motorbike taxi or (with extreme caution) by motorbike.
Where to Stay: All 70 rooms and suites at the upscale, French Colonial-styleLa Veranda Resort are steps from Long Beach and have either a private balcony or terrace. The lush, tropical foliage can partially obstruct water views, so choose a second floor “sea view” room or suite facing the pool.
Where to Eat: Pull up a plastic chair and sit under the stars at the bustling Dinh Cau Night Market to try whatever local fishermen hauled in that day (sea urchin, prawns, clams, squid, scallops, sardines). Held most evenings near Cau Temple in Duong Dong, the market has dozens of stalls and is a good place to shop for souvenirs (although most items aren’t produced locally).
What to Read Before You Go: Vietnam: A Traveler’s Literary Companion(Whereabouts Press, 1996) features 17 stories by contemporary authors living in Vietnam and abroad.
Helpful Links: Vietnam Tourism and Discover Phu Quoc
Fun Fact: Phu Quoc is Vietnam’s nuoc mam (fish sauce) capital. The island’s signature (and powerfully pungent) sweet-sour Phu Quoc sauce is the essential Vietnamese condiment and, in 2013, became the country’s first product granted European Union Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status.

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