How many places in the world can you watch the sunrise and sunset in the same spot?
The answer is not many. The popular (and perhaps much commercialized choice) would be Kanyakumari beach, located in the southernmost part of mainland India. Here, two seas and one ocean meet, creating a point of great geographical significance.
But did you know that there’s also a place in Vietnam where you can enjoy such spectacular views?
That’s right! It’s situated in Phú Quốc island in Southern Vietnam, at Ông Đội point. Only 45 minutes by plane from Hồ Chí Minh city and 2 hours and 10 minutes from Hà Nội, Phú Quốc has quickly evolved from a relatively unknown and often overlooked island to one of the most popular holiday destinations in Vietnam. Yet, despite the flocks of tourists and the many luxurious resorts built over the past few years, the island still retains its original charm and natural beauty.
Phú Quốc was first discovered in the 17th century by a Chinese family from Guangzhou, who later pledged loyalty to the Nguyễn Dynasty of Vietnam. It is the biggest island of Vietnam, boasting its own fresh water source and diverse terrains – including mountains, tropical jungles, pristine beaches, lagoons and barrier reefs.
Ông Đội point, where you can watch both the sunrise and the sunset in the same spot, is only one in the many fantastical scenery Phú Quốc has to offer. So what else can you do when you’re here?
1. Visit pepper farms and fish sauce factory:
The island is most famous for its pepper and fish sauce. Trust me, both of these are out of this world.
You can select tours that will take you to pepper farms, where you’ll learn everything you need to know about pepper trees and just about every type of peppers that has ever existed in this world. There’s black pepper, grey pepper, white pepper and green pepper, to name a few. Phú Quốc pepper has forever ruined me from enjoying pepper anywhere else.
Often included in these tours are their visits to traditional warehouses where the islanders make and store fish sauce in large barrels. You’ll get to drink fish sauce straight from the tap and learn the process of making fish sauce from the masters themselves. Fish sauce is the nectar of the gods and these islanders have perfected the art of creating it.
2. Enjoy amazing seafood at Dinh Cậu Night Market:
It’s not Vietnam if there’s no night market at some point. I have been to many night markets in different cities in Vietnam, from those high up in the mountains, or nestled in the midst of bustling metropolises, to those situated in charming seaside towns; however, none has yet to surpass the one I visited in Phú Quốc (with perhaps the exception of Đà Lạt, but that’s another story altogether.)
Located in the heart of Dương Đông Town on Võ Thị Sáu Street, Dinh Cậu Market only operates from 19h00 to 23h00. It is easily accessible and the best part is that you don’t have to remember the address or try (hopelessly) to look it up on Google map. Just tell the taxi driver where you want to go and you’ll be there in the blink of an eye.
Now, if you’re a seafood fanatic like I am, then this will be a heaven for you. The stalls at this market boast a range of every imaginable seafood, from fishes, prawns, lobsters, crabs, to exotic looking creatures that might look dubious at first glance but will be sure to blow your mind. Everything is made fresh and perfectly seasoned. Grab a table, enjoy the food and have a few beers to go with it – you know you deserve it 😉
3. Swim in some of the best beaches in the world:
Okay, I digress – I might be a tad biased when it comes to this, but it certainly feels like some of the best beaches in the world to me. The good thing about Phú Quốc is that since it is a huge island, it has not only one but several beaches that you can visit, all unique in their own ways.
Located 25km away from Dương Đông Town is Bãi Sao Beach, arguably Phú Quốc’s best. It has pristine white sand that stretches on for miles in a half-moon curve, jaggy rock formation rising towards the sea and a myriad of activities like kayaking, surfing or diving.
If you prefer somewhere more quiet and less popular, you can head to Bãi Khem, nestled deep between the jungle of Phú Quốc. Here, you can visit a fishing village, sign up on a night trip to fish squid out in the sea or just enjoy a nice afternoon in the sun. Did I mention that Ông Đội point is right close by?
Another place you can consider for a visit is the beach on Hòn Móng Tay, a small island 14km away from Phú Quốc. It’s dubbed as the Maldives of Vietnam, only less commercialized and touristy. You can catch a canoe to this island from An Thới port in Phú Quốc.
So these are three of the things that you can do when you visit Phú Quốc. The island is easily accessible by plane from Hà Nội and Hồ Chí Minh city, as well as by ferry from Kiên Giang province. Phú Quốc is also only less than two hours away from Singapore, Bangkok and other Southeast Asian cities, making it a perfect location for either a long weekend, or a short holiday.
It is well-worth a visit, so what are you waiting for?