Over Tet, we had just over a week off work as the schools shut and everyone prepares for the celebrations. This gave us the perfect opportunity to get out of Hai Phong a little further than a taxi ride can take us and do some travelling so a big group of us decided to head South, towards sunshine, beaches and cocktails to an island paradise.
Phu Quoc Island is Vietnamese territory and is positioned West off the Vietnamese coast, just South of the Cambodian Coast. There is a spot on the North of the island where you can apparently see Cambodia when the weather is good. While Phu Quoc is a relatively small island, there is plenty to see and do there.
Long Beach was right near where we stayed, booked on the advice of a friend of a friend as well as a bit of research. The beach is, in fact 20km long, hence the name I suppose. This lies up the west coast and starts about 10 minutes from the airport, working it’s way up north. The beaches are beautiful, clean and the water is pristine clear blue. Our hotel (which was also amazing by the way) was about a 10 minute walk from the main hotspot on Long Beach so we usually made our way up towards the centre along the beach. There are tons of restaurants, beach loungers, massage places and more along that stretch of the beach so it doesn’t really matter where you decide to stop – you won’t go hungry, lonely, sandy or unmassaged!
We also ventured south east one day to Bai Sao beach for a day which was about a 30 minute taxi ride from where we stayed. Think white sand beaches, set back in a cove so there is practically no current and the water was as still as can be. There’s a swimming area that’s buoyed off and outside of that there is space to go venturing on jet skis or go para-sailing. Restaurants abound here with views of the water and the only potential downfall of this side of the island is that you don’t get to see the sunset from here, and they are pretty spectacular, so worth getting packed up and heading back across to Long Beach to catch the end of the day.
Sim Wine Factory
Isn’t really a wine factory but whatever the liquor is it’s most certainly alcoholic. There isn’t really very much to see here except some very pretty flowers and you can do a free tasting of a few of the variations including a syrup which they put over ice like a slushy. They’re also pretty strong so take it easy if it’s breakfast time 🙂
Phu Quoc Pepper
Phu Quoc is specifically known for producing pepper in Vietnam and quite a few dishes, specifically on the island specify that they’re made with Phu Quoc pepper. If you’re looking for THE pepper farm you can find a couple relatively close to Long Beach, but if you keep driving up north, you will see countless pepper farms and again, there’s not a lot to see, except rows and rows of pepper plants, which is pretty cool. You can also buy various types, combined with different spices, whole peppercorns, ground with chili and so on. It was pretty cool to se them on the stem, changing colour etc but don’t expect a guide or anyone to tell you about the process or anything. We wandered around a bit, got a few pictures, bought a couple of bottles and then asked them to call us a taxi to move on to the next place.
The same sort of deal goes for the bee farms as for the pepper farms. There is more than one and there’s not really anything like a tour of the place. Some of them seem to have food while some only have drinks. The one we went to had a drinks menu and a honey tasting as well as jars of infused honey to buy. They were infused with things that would never have crossed my mind, including the ever-present Phu Quoc pepper!
We had freshly squeezed orange juice drowned in raw honey which was absolutely delicious, and after that I couldn’t possibly put any more honey in my body but Claire tasted a bunch of different ones before buying a couple of jars.
We wandered around here again, to see the “yoga house” – a wooden hut with a yoga mat in it, the “bee library” – a small housing with some books in it,
and the “mushroom house” – a room where a bunch of mushrooms looked they were probably drying out.
Also, check out his pineapple plant! I mean, how did I not know that this is how pineapples grow?!?
The Spice House at Cassia Cottage was a revelation. It is one of the highly recommended restaurants in the area and not by mistake. The food was delicious, service was excellent and dessert was spectacular. Three of us ate there and we had the vegan curry and rice, beef strips and pineapple with Phu Quoc Pepper (served in a freaking pineapple), and cheese stuffed chicken breast with ratatouille. I had a Bloody Mary which was also divine. We couldn’t resist ordering dessert as well and shared two between the three of us. We had a chocolate lava pudding which was mind blowing, and ice cream sundae which consisted of 2 scoops of Cassia ice cream and one vanilla. The two couldn’t have complemented each other better – ice cream and chocolate pudding? I mean, come on.
There was also, naturally seafood for days along the beach front, fresh fruit smoothies in all the restaurants, as well as fruit, chopped right in front of you on the beach. Phuong Binh House does an incredible Grilled Squid with Chili and Salt. You can’t go wrong with a Rory’s Beach Bar pizza, and Jo Jo’s does a fresh Seafood barbecue on the beach, where you go and select your own fish before they cook it, as well as a whole menu, and reasonably (ish) priced wine.
I would definitely go back to Phu Quoc. I only have a couple of hundred other places I haven’t been before first.