Sue Ostler suggests you visit beautiful Phu Quoc before the crowds discover it.
If you’re quick enough, you can still luxuriate in the gobsmacking natural splendour that is Phu Quoc, renowned as Vietnam’s best kept secret. After trooping across Vietnam, from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh, you’ll find a dreamy tropical island that makes you want to flop on the sand. Yes, it may well be one of the top five hidden beaches in the world.
While most visitors to Vietnam play the follow-the-tourist-game and follow the well-trodden paths that lead to the noisy, over hyped-tourist beach is that Nha Trang, those who paid careful attention to their Lonely Planet guides board a plane and settle in for the one hour ride from Ho Chi Minh City.
Yes, Phu Quoc is slightly off the beaten track, but that’s the point! The little bit extra that you spend in travelling time and money will reward you (as it did this Holiday Goddess) with a longing to go back every day for the rest of your life. Not only is it a little slice of paradise, it’s also ridiculously good value for money.
My travel buddy and I arrived at our – well let’s call it a Palace for want of a better word – only to find they had double booked. We looked at each other in despair. We braced ourselves for the disappointment -only to find out that the word upgrade really does exist, and we were about to be experience it, as we were moved to the Presidential Suite. Yess!!
Padding around our deluxe digs and peeking into the fully stocked liquor cabinet like two naughty little kids, we prepared for our three day idyll. In all honesty, backpacking across Vietnam had been, well, challenging. Right at this moment, looking out across our own personal slice of shimmering, sandy unspoilt heaven – there seemed no better place in the world to be.
You could argue that there’s not a whole lot to do on the Island of Phu Quoc outside the entertainment and recreation offered within the 75 resorts dotted around. But frankly, when you’re shacked up in a five star resort with an ocean-facing bungalow and mornings spent swimming and snorkelling, who cares? Our days were filled with the sumptuous seafood buffet brunch; long, lazy afternoons reclining on banana-lounges; massages and cocktails. Try the chilled lychee-mint champagne and fresh mango/lime sorbet if you go.
A trip to Vietnam – mystical, magnificent and maddening all at once – is up there as one of the most exciting things in the world to do. The beauty of Phu Quoc is that it’s just far enough away to recharge the batteries, but close enough to appreciate the stunning beauty and diversity of the country. Go see for yourself, before it’s too late.
Photo credit: cc. Flickr.com/dms_303