Welcome to Paradise — Phu Quoc, Kien Giang, Vietnam
Phu Quoc is an island of pure zest and tranquility. If you’re looking for a perfect, adventurous or romantic getaway; for solo travel, with a loved one, friends or family, Phu Quoc is the place to be!
Phu Quoc allows you to lounge away on thee exotic, white sand beaches all day long; motor/bike ride around the market during the day or night and stroll to the city for some local Phu Quoc beer and great cuisine. Leisure visits to the local art galleries, stargazing and sunset watches on the beach, cute little cafes with amazing smoothies, breakfast all day and delicious coffee. Fun Fact: For all you coffee lovers, Vietnam is known for having thee best coffee in the world! Phu Quoc has an infinite amount of possibilities for having the best time of your life!
Let me tell you, I had an astounding time in Phu Quoc! It seems like such a small island from afar, yet is the largest island in Vietnam. God! I wish I had had more time. I spent a total of 10 days on this tropical, natural beauty of an island; located off Vietnam’s southwestern coast. With perfect weather 95% of the time, there was always something to do, somewhere to go and people to engage with. It’s a joyful feeling seeking new discoveries by wandering and getting lost. Having had the opportunity to live among the most kindred spirits of Vietnam, experiencing daily walks toward the breathtaking views of Long Beach (Bãi Truòng); where the motionless waves of the Gulf of Thailand mirrored a white halo of crisp yellow sand, which never failed to burn into the pits of my feet. I hadn’t felt such complete and total ease within myself, mind and body; whilst feeling totally comfortable and integrated into the Vietnamese culture. As soon as I stepped foot off that ferry, freedom grasped hold of my wanderlust soul; immediately I fell captive to the relaxed and carefree lifestyle of Island life.
It all started with an early morning flight from Bangkok, Thailand to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), Vietnam. Prior to the days leading up to my departure I didn’t get much rest, if you dare to imagine. It was the Christmas holidays and lots of drinking took place, that’s for sure. Up at the crack of dawn, still hung-over, yet running on a mere few hours of rest; I stumbled around to do last minute packing. It was quite the hassle indeed trying to catch the taxi. I arrived to the airport for my 6 AM flight safe and sound, checked-in my baggage and everything went smoothly… surprisingly, as normally I have countless problems with airports, it’s unbelievable! Hence why I prefer to arrive at the airport 3 hours prior to my flight; a day earlier if I could. A plane, 2 taxis; 3 buses and a ferry later… welcome to Phu Quoc!
Phu Quoc is a peculiar island to travel to. I’ve traveled to many other islands before but Phu Quoc stole my heart. I assure you that anyone who goes to visit would instantly fall in love! I felt sentimental about leaving; I grew so attached to the island and integrated into the Vietnamese lifestyle in such a short time frame. Phu Quoc has this vigorous energy of excitement to the island; attracting many curious and unique travelers to visit and tour its different cities. I stayed just outside of the city in the province Kien Giang, which had a peaceful ambiance. I believe every city in any country will always have its own niche. Throughout my stay I was couchsurfing and stayed with thee best host on the island; in my biased opinion of course. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term “couchsurfing”, it is truly a hidden gem and a useful tool when it comes to the “World of Travel”. You have the opportunity to meet so many amazing, interesting locals and expats out there in the world; who later down the road turn into long lasting friends. You have friends from all over the world but you just don’t know it yet until you’ve traveled. I strongly encourage everyone who travels to try couchsurfing at least once in your lifetime; I guarantee it’ll be a life lasting experience. I always make sure to spread the word about couchsurfing when I come in contact with people who are oblivious to these tendencies.
My host lived in a beautiful, man-made cottage and was very accommodating. It took him only 10 days to build… can you believe that? You should have seen my face when he mentioned that so nonchalantly. No biggie, ha-ha! As if you could build a structured house like that in Canada… I wish. His cottage was surrounded by a community of distinct shaped accommodations. A tree house for example, in which the layout and concept was super cool! One house in particular resembled SpongeBob SquarePants’ home; for those of you who are familiar with the television series. The landscape was surrounded by lush greenery where we cooked outside with Mother Nature, chickens, stray dogs and ancient trees — some with bananas and coconuts. My host had such a spacious property which was superb for pitching a tent in the garden. The lingering fragrance in the atmosphere was so heavenly, soothing and clean.
Phu Quoc is filled with precious people all around; young and old. Meeting new, smiling faces day in and day out; not a day passed by where I didn’t feel the genuine warmth and love settled in the air. Greetings of “hello” from the locals whilst walking the streets and shared laughter’s of the miscommunication presented through language barriers. Nonetheless, it was quite the experience; an experience unlike no other. While I was couchsurfing I met a lot of inspiring, courageous, like-minded individuals from all over the world and all wakes of life. This is exactly why I love the experience of couchsurfing and what it brings to the table. I met a copious amount of Russians, fellow Canadians (my first time meeting Canadians throughout the duration of my travels in South East Asia), Hispanics and other nationalities from the surrounding European countries. Meeting people from different nations and cultures is a literal high off life. Getting to hear about other travelers’ journeys, where they’ve been and where they may be headed is truly enriching and fulfilling to my soul.
Almost every morning my day consisted of gatherings with various newfound friends at a cute Cafe called “Z Coffee.” That became our local hot spot, as we’d indulge in gourmet food and drinks; coffee, tea and the best smoothies on the island! I kid you not. When my mind goes quiet I am often reminiscing about those mouthwatering smoothies; to the point where I even have nightmares! Another alternative to my mornings were beach days at Long Beach. ’Twas indeed a really long beach — the name speaks for itself. Hours were spent baking in the scalding sun, swimming, snorkeling and jumping off the boardwalk pier. In my honest opinion, beach days are one of thee most meditative and addictive activities to partake in. It definitely puts you sound to sleep like a baby all through the night. What can I say, who doesn’t love a lazy day at the beach? I know I sure do! Having had the beach within close proximity to my accommodation was extremely rejuvenating and total bliss. Being able to wake up every morning to all the Vitamin Sea a Canadian girl could ever wish for; especially now that it’s winter time in Canada. What more could I ask for? *Takes a whiff of fresh air* winter is the best time to escape to Phu Quoc; rated the perfect destination, in my mind at least.
Every beach encounter was filled with lively adventures, seeing new faces each time, drinks, parties; outstanding music and positive vibes always! Long Beach has many fascinating and exquisite rock formations; it’s by far the utmost attention-grabbing sights I’ve encountered. Snorkeling and seeing them underwater was just as enchanting. At the beach there were water sports, overpriced massages and many expensive bars to grab drinks and food from (some of which I’m guilty of). But, when the morning after starts off with a headache; still dizzy from the night before, greasy fries became my best friend. You can simply loose the day at Long Beach by walking for miles and miles, with the sun shining bright, sand in your toes and a Saigon beer in hand. Or, you could indulge in more substantial activities for your health such as running/jogging, playing Frisbee or having water balloon competitions. Come to think of it, I remember seeing a man practicing yoga on the beach which was pleasing to the eye; as I was in my own relaxed state with a refreshing, cold beer in hand. Nevertheless, Long Beach is pleasurable. However, not only is it one of the main local beaches in Phu Quoc but it surrounds the city. With the perfect weather, the right company, amazing photographers, per say; you’ve got yourself a festive themed photo shoot. It was the perfect ending to a relaxing day, especially with the sun setting so angelic; the pictures were divine.
The atmosphere throughout the streets of Phu Quoc was the epitome of the “laid back” lifestyle. Local citizens and tourist unwinding in their hammocks all day long and avoiding the sun by hiding beneath the shelter of the rooftops… they swung back and forth, back and forth, waving and chanting “Hello!” every time I passed by. The only universal greeting they knew how to say. An “A” for effort I’d say, even if the conversation never went too far. The Vietnamese people are one of the friendliest I’ve come across thus far in all my travels; they are always willing to go through great lengths to help you out no matter what. Constantly surrounded by the lazy lifestyle in Phu Quoc, naturally it took a toll on my energy for better and for worse. Some days I was rained in, other days the island was completely without power, including the restaurants and bars. You could only imagine the level of frustration. Power outages aren’t fun at all especially while vacationing. Caught in the rain, stranded without WiFi and boiling hot like a sauna; who would have thought forced interactions among each other could be such a drag. First world problems at its finest.
One night while strolling through the villages I saw the Big Dipper for the first time ever. As I gazed upon the night sky, I was mind blown. I have never seen the Big Dipper before, I guiltily admit. The Little Dipper is always the easiest to point out; I’ve seen it multiple times but with a dark sky full of bright stars it was riveting. After that night I never saw the Big Dipper again. On the bright side, stargazing will continue to remain one of my favourite hobbies and in Phu Quoc it is always a pleasure to see where the stars dance among the serene ocean breeze.
Phu Quoc is a perfect getaway destination. Originally I had planned to be in Phu Quoc after the holidays but I am so grateful and blessed that I didn’t miss out on the festivities for a second! I live for the nights I can’t remember and to be brutally honest you really only do live once; YOLO as the kiddos chant these days! Bringing in the New Year was slightly a blur; partying like a rock star on Long Beach, bar antics with my couchsurfing host, new friends and fellow Canadians. Need I forget, flaming bonfires and multiple failed attempts at releasing our wish lantern before the Universe God’s. Cheers to good health, good luck and a prosperous new year; that ship has surely sailed. Nonetheless, my Phu Quoc adventures were an overwhelming, yet amazing experience; especially since it was my first time in history releasing a wish lantern! It was the highlight of my voyage! This trip has definitely altered my perception on life as I left Phu Quoc trapped in a Zen state of mind. What fun I had bringing in the New Year with awesome newfound friends; a memory to cherish for a lifetime indeed.
Seiko M | PASSION | ∞