You want to know all the must-have things to do in Phu Quoc island – the largest, most beautiful, developed island in Vietnam? To help you avoid all the confusion, we’ve come up with a detail list of the top places and activities you shouldn’t miss visiting while on the island.
>>> Read More: Top Things to do in Phu Quoc Vietnam with Kids
1. The flavorful pepper farm
When you take a step into Phu Quoc’s pepper farm, you’ll be surrounded by cluster after cluster of red pepper fruits. These fruits will be harvested and dried under the sunlight for at least 10 days until they turned into a darker color. The areas that originally grow pepper trees on Phu Quoc island were villages like Ganh Gio, Suoi Da, Suoi May, Khu Tuong. They’ve successfully built and made the brand “Phu Quoc pepper” national-wide famous.
The pepper products in Phu Quoc are known for their strong flavor and fragrance which can make the dishes taste a lot better. In recent years, quality products of Phu Quoc pepper can sell at price 200,000VND for one kilogram. The pepper farms are open for tourism purposes and you can buy home some as gifts.
2. Healthy cooking class at organic farm
You might be surprised to know that there’s even a cooking class on an island on the ocean. But it’s not only there is one, but the cooking class even is also located inside a permaculture-based organic farm which focuses on producing natural and healthy products without using chemicals or synthesized fertilizers.
Join the cooking class, you have a chance to enjoy more than just cooking. You can shop the ingredients at a local wet market which is an Asian typical market. There is even a farm tour with beer tasting at farm-owned brewery, and if requested, a quick detour to the pepper farm nearby is also doable. The menu for the class includes four dishes that are the essence of Vietnamese cuisine – spring rolls fresh and fried, caramelized fish/pork with fish sauce, sizzling pancake.
Cost for one person’s standard class is at $35USD, VIP class offers price of $55USD.
3. Magnificent Dinh Cau Temple
Legend has it that Dinh Cau is the symbol of Phu Quoc island not only for its masterly-designed architecture and location but also for its sacredness. The temple is located on a huge rock reef on the beach of Dinh Cau.
The scene is even more magnificent in the sunset when golden warm light from the sun changing the whole sea and sky yellowish mixed with purplish color. Climb 29 stone steps to the temple, you will take in a vast scene of the sea surrounding you – a pure beauty of nature. Or you can take a seat at a nearby café to enjoy the view of the town. Do not forget to bring camera with you.
4. Insightful Coi Nguon Museum
Coi nguon Museum is a private museum operating in accordance with the Cultural Heritage Law and the organizational and operational regulations of private-owned museums from the Ministry of Culture and Information.
Within the museum, there are more than 3000 antiques including pottery, stone, ceramics, copper, petrified woods which have been evaluated and recognized by UNESCO.
All the artifacts are dated back as far as 15th century of which 2645 antiques are pottery and ceramics from Ly, Tran, Le, Nguyen dynasties have been recognized by UNESCO. There are also 300 rare and valuable documents written in Mandarins, Vietnamese, French, English and more than 100 folklore artworks are archived and displayed here. Coi Nguon Museum would make an interesting rain shelter for you in Phu Quoc.
5. Historical Phu Quoc Prison
Located at Cay Dua (Coconut Tree) hamlet, An Thoi district, south Phu Quoc, Coconut Tree Prison was a central penal institution of South Vietnam and Americans during the Vietnam War. The prison was actually constructed by the French to confine Vietnamese activists. In 1967, the puppet government of South Vietnam had rebuilt and changed the prison into Phu Quoc prison which covers a total area of 400 hectares. There was a time the number of prisoners here reached 32,000 inmates or even 40,000 inmates if added the political prisoners.
Twelve sections were made for confinement, guarded by 3 battalions during most of the war. Section 13 and 14 were built in late 1972, each confined 3000 prisoners. Male and female inmates were confined in separation. Each area was divided into four different sub-areas “A”, “B”, “C” and “D”. This prison is living evidence for war crimes in Vietnam. There are exhibits presented in the prison for visitors to learn more about the war of which are some torture tools that were used in the past on prisoners.
6. Peaceful Ham Ninh Fishing Village
Ham Ninh Fishing Village has spectacular views of mountains in the back and ocean in the front. Ham Ninh is an old fishing village that reserves the peaceful, slow-paced flow of the local daily life. The houses of the fishermen are mostly on stilts, humbly made of wood.
On the sea, the skillfully made fishing boats painted with bright blue and green lying there await new ventures. In the past, Ham Ninh village was built by the immigrants coming to the island and seeking for more prosperous life.
Ham Ninh beach is a place to dock boats, also the place for the fishermen to try selling their catch of the day. At the end of each day, if you have chance, witnessing the very bustling, at times quite noisy crowds on Ham Ninh beach would be one of the wonderful things to do in Phu Quoc.
7. Unique Phu Quoc Fish Sauce Factory
If you love cooking, especially Asian cuisines, then you must have heard of the savory fish sauce. In Asia, Vietnam is the country that fish sauce was invented and through the time, this liquid spice has become an irreplaceable thing in traditional Vietnamese cuisine and would continue to be so. Made for fermented fish and sea salt, fish sauce takes at least 12 months to be edible.
The fish sauce made in Phu Quoc has long been one of the best fish sauce in Vietnam for using anchovies, which make the final sauce less salty, more flavorful and high-protein.
Come to these factories, you’ll be impressed firstly by the smell – strong and somewhat unpleasant, secondly by the gigantic lining up barrels which contain the fermented fish sauce inside. You can also buy fish sauce bottles to be gifts for your loved ones.
8. Authentic Sim Wine factory
Fans of liquor might be very pleased spending time on Phu Quoc Island. At Sim Wine factory, you can taste this very unique and healthy wine for free. Phu Quoc has been successful in making wine and champagne from wild sim fruits mixed with some other fruits at 12-14% etanol concentration. The wine has a very natural reddish color of the sim fruits with a lot of health benefits. Some consider Sim Wine as not wine but medicine, good for your digestive system and your health in general.
Sim trees grow wildly across the country but the sim trees in Phu Quoc are quite different compared to other places. Sim in North Vietnam bear fruits in July while in Phu Quoc, it’s January. You can buy sim wine bottle right at the factory.
9. Phu Quoc National Park – true adventures await
For those who love trekking, hiking, and adventures, Phu Quoc National Park is the right place to be. The park is located at the north of Phu Quoc, consisted of Ganh Dau, Ham Rong mountain and Cua Can river. All these three places mentioned are worth visiting.
The most charming features of the national park must be the clean, empty beaches, cool streams and the wilderness of nature. Indeed, the forest of Phu Quoc covers almost 70% the total area of the island and is reserved in good condition. One thing that worth saying here is Phu Quoc National Park has all types of forest ecosystems that exist in Vietnam which show how diverse the nature of Phu Quoc.
Phu Quoc National Park contains many forest types and landscapes including mangroves and wet lands, sparse forested areas, coastal vegetation and forest on rocky mountains.
10. Sparkling Pearl Farms
In many countries, pearls are well-loved and Vietnam is no different. And Phu Quoc has gained the reputation for having very high-quality pearls, even what seems to be very rare and precious – black pearls.
Legend had it that pearls have some characteristics that can cure diseases like anti-aging, detoxifying and even magical ability like bringing good luck and happiness. Nowadays, oysters are being reared across the island. Many pearl farms are open for tourism purposes.
The traditional pearl is milky, and the rare ones are black or amber…. With modern technology, they could make the oysters produce the pearls in shapes and colors as they want such as heart-shaped, drops, square, triangle, oval….
11. Mysterious Hang Doi Cave
Hang Doi or Cave of Bats can be quite challenging to visit. It is a long way to get to the cave – you have to reach to the upstream of Suoi Tranh waterfall. From here you continue on a very rocky path to Hang Doi – a rather gloomy, mysterious place.
As the name hints, there’re hundreds of bat residing here, hanging upside down on the ceiling of the cave. Hang Doi might be a little scary when you look from the outside but once you enter, you’ll find it a quiet and pretty place. The stalactites are quite nice and the air inside is cooler too. Hang Doi would be a wonderful stop on hot summer days.
However, to have a safe and dun trip to Hang Doi, you should prepare carefully in advance:
- Appropriate clothing: long sleeved shirt/jackets/trousers, sporty shoes (trekking boots would be best)
- Medicines: insect spray, stomach pills, skin treatments, bandages…
- Enough Water
*Tips and rules:
- When lost, do not wander, it’s best to stop and wait for help
- Tie your shoelaces tightly before going, keep your clothing and belongings close to your body
- The skin exposed to the air should be applied anti-insect cream
- It’s best to have a small hand-made walking stick during your walk to support your balance
- Keep the digital devices like phone and camera inside a water-resistant bag
12. The busy Duong Dong Market
Unlike Bach Dang Night Market which is almost a market for tourists, Duong Dong market is a normal, local market located on the bank of Duong Dong river. It’s also the largest market on the island, opening at the earliest hours of the day.
Residents of Phu Quoc island come to Duong Dong to trade, purchase and sell all kinds of products, but fresh and dried seafood’s are most various. Fresh seafood comes right from the fishing boats. If you buy in large number, the shop owner will pack and deliver to the airports or harbors for you.
The area of souvenirs and gifts opens for a brief duration from 5:00PM to just little longer after the sun goes down. This is also a good place to take a short detour and enjoy the town’s atmosphere. But overall, it’s the mornings that Duong Dong is most worthwhile of your visit.
There are many dishes for breakfast, even Phu Quoc’s rare specialties like trung sam, bun nham, banh canh bot loc, chao cha ca…. You can get your stomach full yet paying not too much because the local foods are always cheaper.
13. Stunning An Thoi Archipelago
Islands in An Thoi get featured the most in travel agencies’ 1-day tours. You’ll go by their private boat for fishing or snorkeling trip to at least 2 islands. These are good choices for an escape from the crowded beaches of Phu Quoc with reasonable prices. But if you want to go by yourself, you can buy a cable car ticket to visit islands in the archipelago as well. This kind of transportation has its certain charms like air view and less time-consuming but it’s not flexible and the tickets are quite expensive.
Islands that worth visiting in An Thoi archipelago are Hon Thom (Pineapple island), Hon Dua (Coconut island), Hon Mong Tay (Fingernail island)…. Especially Hon Thom where the coral species are distributed widely which is just a paradise for snorkeling and scuba diving. Hon Mong Tay has stunning and empty beach where you can enjoy swimming to your heart’s content. You can also experience the world’s longest sea-crossing cable car system from An Thoi Town to Hon Thom.
Compared to Phu Quoc, these islands are like worlds apart from where there is no crowded beaches, no hotels, resorts, and restaurants invading the shores, no casino, no markets…. It’s just nature, wild and magnificent nature nurturing a humble, friendly population who sell their seafood at much cheaper prices. You should really not miss the islands of An Thoi archipelago when visiting Phu Quoc.
14. The Magical King’s Well (Fairy Well)
King’s Well is located on Mui Ong Doi – the southern tip of Phu Quoc which is only accessible by boats.
King’s Well is a legendary place on Phu Quoc. To foreign tourists, this has no significance at all but it’s totally different from Vietnamese people because it was related to the story of the last king of Vietnam – Nguyen Lord or Gia Long and his ventures to runway from his enemies to Phu Quoc.
In the 17th century, Lord Nguyen who was on his way to run away from Tay Son troops came to Phu Quoc. When arrived, he and his army found out they no longer had enough fresh water and food. Before the situation, his followers were on edge of losing hope. Desperate, the King couldn’t do anything but calling upon heaven. After stabbing his sword into a stone crack as an act out of desperation, the King, then, asked “If the Highest still wants me to be King, please give food and water!” Then, as soon as he removed the sword from the crack, a flow of freshwater splurted out of the ground. On the sea, many fishes came to surface, saving the king’s army. In later days, the fishes were called “Rice fish” in Vietnamese (in English, it’s anchovy). The place where the freshwater came out became a well, the people named it a King’s well or Magic’s well.
As a result of choosing Phu Quoc as a shelter to take a rest and recover the loss from the war with Tay Son Revolt, Lord Nguyen managed to defeat the Tay Son troops and gained control over Saigon-Gia Dinh a few years later. Nowadays, a stele has been erected next to the well and the King’s armchair at the exact same place to remember the historical event.
15. Southern tip Ong Doi Cape
Mui Ong Doi is the southernmost point of Phu Quoc island, also the location of the King’s Well. Ong Doi Cape is an extended land reaching out to the southern sea, a place that has both natural beauty and historical values. Nguyen Lord, when running away from enemies, came to Phu Quoc, first reached Mui Ong Doi. Nowadays, Mui Ong Doi is a part of a new private resort that is expected to be a resort paradise of Phu Quoc.
For non-resort guests, snorkeling at Mui Ong Doi is a decent activity to do. The marine life here is unique the emerald color of the sea is enchanting. Exploring the natural forest is also a great experience. Do not forget the gorgeous Ong Doi beach and the mysterious King’s Well.
*Best Tour to Phu Quoc Island: