If you’re looking to find lots of hot chicks and party your ass off you can stop reading right here, Phu Quoc is not going to be your cup of tea. You’re much better off in Saigon, Nha Trang or even Mui Ne. However, if you’re looking for a dirt cheap island getaway with lots of nature and water sport activities, Phu Quoc should definitely be on your list. Whether you’re brining a girlfriend along or you’d just like some quiet time to yourself, Phu Quoc will deliver without breaking the bank.
Phu Quoc is easily reached from Saigon via cheap puddle jumper flights starting from under $100 USD round trip depending on your dates. You’ll want to book directly on flyvietnam.com or Vietnam Airlines because last I checked Sky Scanner and other similar flight search engines were not finding the cheap flights.
Upon arrival in Phu Quoc you will find yourself on a small island 50 km x 25 km with a population of approximately 100,000. You will have no trouble finding dirt cheap basic accommodation between at $8-$10 USD per night. If slumming it isn’t your style, for $30-$50 per night you will find 3 starish air-conditioned bungalows right on the beach or for $75-$150 you can find 4 star plus accommodations.
As you will have learned to expect in Saigon, you can find dirt cheap yet delicious eats as well as Saigon beer that’s practically free. You can have a dinner of fresh seafood on the beach for $5-$10 per person including plenty of beer or wine. Because it’s Vietnam, you can eat almost anywhere and rest assured that the food is going to be delicious and cheap. A squid burger on the beach was by far my favorite lunch. I’m not sure if squid burgers are a Phu Quoc thing in general or just a specialty of the beach bar next to my first hotel but they are god damned delicious and likely fresh caught just the day before.
As previously mentioned, Phu Quoc is not much of a party place. There are a few lame clubs scattered around the island, most of which look like they are on the edge of bankruptcy. I will say that the locals were enthusiastic about meeting foreigners at the few night spots we did find, however. In general you are just better off focusing on the water sports and the nature while visiting Phu Quoc.
The island is covered in dense jungle, most of which is part of a national park. If you’re into hiking and wild life, grab your camera and go exploring. If water sports is more your speed you will find plenty of dive operators on the island offering a variety of excursions for competitive prices. Not certified? Why not do it here, diving is one of the most exciting things you can do in southeast Asia. Just beware that the conditions can be horrendous in the wrong season, I went on some dives where I could barely see my hand in front of my face and watch out for sea urchins! Just want a pristine deserted beach? You can find that too no problem.
The highlight of my trip was a short stay at Freedomland. Freedomland is a tiny resort operated by a husband and wife team with 11 private bungalows nestled within the Phu Quoc jungle just fifteen minutes walk from Ong Lang Beach. It’s an ideal place to unplug and unwind from the big city life.
Freedom land provides an experience unlike any other resort I’ve ever visited. Peter, the owner, is a former fashion photographer turned professional chef. Every day Peter rides into town and purchases fresh food from the local market for the evening’s dinner. Sometimes seafood, sometimes fillet mignon, Peter will cook a multi-course meal that rivals most five star hotels. The difference is that you will eat outside at a long communal table with the other guests under the canopy of the jungle. It’s a truly one of a kind experience.
With a name like “Freedomland”, no hot water and bungalows “constructed using mostly natural materials from the island, driven by our respect for the environment,” you might expect the majority of the guests to be a bunch of dirty hippies. In my experience, that couldn’t be further from the truth. I saw not a single dirty hippie during my three day stay. I did however meet a couple of Phd scientists, entrepreneurs and other interesting characters from around the globe. The guests were mostly late 20’s to early 40’s, well educated and upper middle class. The conversation around the communal dinner table was as enjoyable as the meals. If you don’t believe my glowing review, just check out trip advisor. How many resorts do you know that have a perfect five out of five rating?