Phu Quoc

September 1, 2017

We were very fortunate to visit the Vietnamese Island of Phu Quoc.

Phu Quoc is located a short 20-minute flight South West of Ho Chi Minh City by Vietnam Airlines. Similar to flying between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, no sooner do you rotate and climb for 5 mins, before you level off for 7 minutes, then descend for 7 minutes, and you have arrived. On arrival at Phu Quoc Airport, our baggage claim was quick and seamless, and our private car minivan was waiting for us as we exited the arrival hall, with the staff greeting us with a smile.

We were fortunate to be staying at the newly opened 5-star Fusion Resort, located the North West Coast on Phu Quoc Island, and at the time the property had only been opened for approx 9 months, still in their ‘Soft Launch’ phase. The drive from the airport to the property took approx 35 mins and upon arrival, our baggage was handled by the staff, we completed check-in formalities, then boarded a golf buggy and were driven to our private villa. As it was very late at night by local standards it was decided we would all lay our heads down for a good night sleep and try to enjoy a nice sleep in.

As we woke the following morning with the benefit of the mornings light, it was clear what a stunning location we were in. One of the striking memories of the Fusion Resort on 1st glance was the huge amount of space available, from the perfectly manicured grounds to the private villas, to the restaurant & bar’s, and then the private beach. The property as mentioned is located on the North West Coast of Phu Quoc Island and is very secluded and isolated. There are no dwellings nor shops nearby so you are confined to the property, beaches and surrounding area which you can explore by foot, or on a bike. The benefit of this is it is very quiet, you do not have the queue for services, there are no strangers on the beach, and you will not be constantly interrupted by hawkers trying to sell to you. It is a perfectly idyllic setting and a real gem for clients wanting a beach experience in Vietnam but wants to stay away from the crowds in more traditional beachside locations.

Let’s make some observations about the Fusion Resort. Our private villa consisted of 3 bedrooms, a hallway, a lounge area, two bathrooms, a kitchen, unlimited free highspeed wi-fi, a spa and a private plunge pool, located along the picturesque river. The outdoor area surrounding the villa was very well kept and established, and the plunge pool was warm, deep and large enough for several people to enjoy at the same time. There is ample undercover area to enjoy the outdoor setting without getting sunburnt and plenty of well-grassed areas to relax and enjoy. Our Villa was only a 3-minute walk to the main dining area of the property which is located with ocean or garden views and one of the striking elements we found was that whilst at the time, the property was only 9 months old, the grounds were so well kept and manicured. Food and beverages at the morning breakfast were superb the coffee was beautiful, the fruit very fresh, and the cooked breakfast prepared and cooked in front of you, served nice and hot. We choose a different brekkie for most of our mornings and several freshly squeezed juices.

During our stay at the property, we hired a push bike so we could ride and explore the local area. There are several trails to ride and something to keep you busy and interested regardless of fitness levels. The beach is lovely and the water nice and warm, so a swim in it every day was just the answer. There is very little current or rips, and I was told by staff very rarely does that side of the island get any sort of swell so it’s very safe for young kids to swim in, allowing Mum and Dad to sit on a lounge chair nearby and talk whilst still being close enough to the beach if need be. One of the most enjoyable things we did was to indulge a dinner on the beach by a campfire. We had never done this before and looked forward with anticipation. The experience does cost however, we do not believe this is an extravagant expense and perfect for a couple or a family to do. Early evening the staff build a fire on the beach, set up tables and you enjoy the evening dining experience as the waves lap the shore only a few feet away, and the light is soft and warm because from the nearby fire. There is a permanent staff member to tend to your needs, the food is delicious and you can choose several dishes and refreshments. The experience is not rushed, can be enjoyed long after you complete your meal and we highly recommend it to any couples staying at this property.

Included in the cost of your stay is a daily spa treatment,  so I choose a daily deep tissue massage. I could always secure my preferred time and the Spa was in a central location within the resort grounds, so it was very easy to access. The staff and surroundings were lovely as you expect from a 5-star property. Each massage left me feeling very relaxed for my tired old muscles and in better condition then I started as I used the resort gym daily. I would highly recommend to all guests to make use of this wonderful facility and I am sure their menu will appeal to everyone.

After a few days to recover from the travel and relax and familiarise ourselves with the resort and surroundings it was time to get the kids active, and very conveniently located 8km up the road is the Vinwonders Phu Quoc Waterpark. To draw a comparison for the Australian readers this park is a combination of Dreamworld & SeaWorld rolled into one with various themes located within the park. As the day was warm and sunny, we stuck to the water park and spent the day riding the waterslides and swimming in their numerous pools. Whilst it was school holiday time this day has a uniqueness about it as we did not have to queue for any of the rides, nor food outlets, refreshments or toilets as there literally were only a few hundred people at the park. Suffice to say we all had a great day and it is easily one of the most enjoyable days we have spent at any waterpark around the world and if traveling to Phu Quoc with kids, we highly recommend you visit the park for a day.

Every evening Phu Quoc runs a night market and Fusion Resort offers courtesy shuttle bus transport to and from the market. You must pre-book this as availability is limited to the minibus and pick up is approx 6.00 pm with the bus departing the market at 10.30 pm and the journey to the market from the hotel is approx 30 mins. The market itself is like other outdoor night markets you may have visited in Asia which offer many clothes stalls, toy & souvenir stalls as well as a large choice of dining options from lovely outdoor riverfront restaurants to cheaper, street vendor style dining. We visited the night market on 3 occasions which also allowed us to sample a range of food and I must remark, not once did we fall ill  after eating at the markets, the food was fresh, the beer and soft drink were cold, and the price was right so we would highly recommend visitors to Phu Quoc visit the night market at least once during their stay.

If you are staying in Phu Quoc and looking for a beach location to visit for a few hours or the day, we recommend Sao Beach. Located on the South East side of Phu Quoc, this beach is lovely however, it will not stay that way forever as the construction of other resorts will begin within the next few years. On the day we visited we were able to walk North, with the kids playing in the water at different times, and we could sit and relax with a cold drink, and not be hassled by hawkers trying to sell to us. It is unlike other Asian beaches such as Karon or Kata in Phuket, or Legian or Kuta in Bali, as it was largely deserted. Yes, there were other people on the beach however, you had plenty of space to choose to dwell, it was quiet and there was not a hint of any trouble or rowdiness that is sometimes found on other beaches. We finished the day by dining at a local open-air seafood restaurant before hailing a taxi back to our resort and relaxing for the evening. It is worth mentioning our taxi driver was lovely, spoke very good English, the taxi was very clean and at no time did we feel unsafe.

If you are looking to explore the surrounding islands you can easily arrange this at your hotel/resort booking office or one of the many travel agents/booking offices, you will see scattered around the Island. We decided to book a day trip to Hon Thom Island for a day of swimming, snorkeling, fishing and enjoying the white sandy beaches. The day was well organized by our ground operator and after 60 mins on the boat, we arrived at our first swimming destination. The tour includes snorkeling equipment and life jackets for those people who are young or not strong swimmers and we spent 60 mins exploring the reefs and viewing the sea life. On our day the water was a little cloudy, so the visibility was not perfect however, to view the sea life swimming around was an absolute thrill. Upon embarking on the boat again a selection of fresh fruit and water was made available before we cruised for 30 mins to another location when we had the opportunity to catch some local fish. Regrettably for keen fisherman and some of the children on board the fish were not biting this day, so we proceeded to our next location which was a white sandy beach where we enjoyed the beach setting and the opportunity to enjoy lunch for 2 hours. After lunch, we boarded the boat again and cruised to another location closer to the tour start location for a final 45-minute snorkeling opportunity, and the sea life here and water quality was better than the morning’s session. The final cruise back to the port was pleasant and again we were all offered a selection of fresh fruit and water, and upon arrival in port, our driver greeted us and transferred us back to our resort. Overall the day was well worth the expenditure, and everyone on board seemed to have a very enjoyable day exploring the surrounding islands.

We were very surprised and happy with the choice to holiday in Phu Quoc and it is certainly a wonderful alternative to the more traditional beachside locations in Vietnam. The population of the island is approx 180,000 which in comparative locations in Vietnam is very low. The infrastructure on the island was of a reasonable standard with roads mostly in very good condition, and traffic jams were not an issue like they are in other Vietnamese cities. The people were very welcoming, the food was delicious, the beaches uncrowded and a joy to swim in. One observation of the beaches was there was no litter in the water, unlike some other Asian locations and there was no serious swell or undercurrent so for the most part it was very safe for young children to swim in the ocean. This was the 1st time we have traveled to Phu Quoc, it was an absolute privilege, and as we returned it was remarked this will not be the last time and we will return in the future. Looking for an alternative beachside holiday in Asia away from the tourists, then strongly consider Phu Quoc!

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