see + do
Phu Quoc Island
Concierge.com's insider take:
A growing number of travelers have found the golden-brown sands and laid-back vibe of this distant isle in the Gulf of Thailand the perfect coda to their Vietnamese holiday. Situated less than ten miles offshore from Cambodia, Phu Quoc is evolving from a sleepy outpost for U.S. Navy boats to what may soon be the next Phuket or Koh Samui. Phu Quoc's first true boutique property, the 43-room La Veranda Grand Mercure Resort & Spa, hit west-side Long Beach in late 2006 (Ward 1, Duong Dong Beach, Tran Hung Dao St.; 84-77-982-988; www.laverandaresort.com). There are big development plans for much of this thin, ten-mile-long strand, including a new international airport. For now, however, Phu Quoc remains a quiet place that attracts an eclectic mix of backpackers, midrange tourists, and HCMC-based expats. Vietnam Airlines operates daily turboprops from Ho Chi Minh City, an hour's flight away, while several express ferries make the two- to two-and-a-half-hour crossing from Rach Gia, a Mekong Delta port, for $8 to $11 round-trip. Duong Dong Express has the smoothest, most spacious ferries (84-77-879-765; www.duongdongexpress.com.vn).
The don't-miss activity is a boat trip to the An Thoi archipelago, a cluster of 15 deserted, palm-topped islets fringed by coral reefs lying just south of the main island. PADI-certified Rainbow Divers runs dive trips during the OctoberApril high season (84-194-400-964; www.divevietnam.com), while Michelle Thong's Indochina Adventure Travel mounts barbecue-equipped snorkeling excursions (84-77-994-227; www.indotrek.com). Thong can also organize mountain bike expeditions as well as picnics and wine tastings at remote waterfalls in the forested interior.