Experience · Travel · Vietnam

Trip to Phu Quoc Island

Phu Quoc Island is the most famous destination in Vietnam, especially amongst expats. It is an island with beautiful coastline and resorts. You can reach there by car (then ride on ferry for about 1.5 hrs to 2.5 hrs depending on what kind of ferry do you take) or by plane. Since I don’t like travelling by ferry, I picked a flight to go there. The flight was only for 1 hour.

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Phu Quoc International Airport

We were staying at Ancarine Beach Hotel in Phu Quoc and they were very informative. Right after we booked our room there, we got a message from them saying that since we’re going to spend at least 3 nights at their resort, they will provide shuttle service from and to airport! I was so happy when I got this email xD When we arrived there, they picked us up (and apparently only us for that night). The journey took 30 mins from airport to resort. On our last day, they booked and paid a taxi to take us to airport. I saw on the meter, it was about 270k vnd from Ancarine Beach Resort to Phu Quoc Airport.

Our room was supposed to have sea view and garden view, according to the description on booking.com. But all we could see was garden, the beach was too far away from our room. So my husband contacted the reception and asked if they have any room closer to the beach.

We changed to this room. A wooden bungalow with private bathroom as well. The room’s design was unique, especially the bathroom. Open-air bathroom! They folded the towel into animal shaped EVERY DAY, not just on the first day to welcome you.

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Above is the pictures of Ancarine Beach Hotel area. I think it’s really nice for a 3-star resort. Much larger area than 3-star resort in Mui Ne.

Things we did at resort or Phu Quoc Island in general :

  • Lazy time on the beach 😀

It’s a resort! Of course we have to enjoy our days there. The view on the beach was really gorgeous.

 

  • Rent a motorbike and go around the city

To rent a motorbike, we contacted our receptionist and he arranged everything. It was 200k vnd per day. We got an automatic motorbike, so it was like riding a bicycle. Don’t forget to wear your helmet and practice driving your motorbike first before you go on tour.

 

  • Rent a car to go on tourist spots

It was too hot to ride on motorbike and go far on a tour. It was not much different between joining a group tour and rent a car, so we decided to rent a car. I’m not a fan of touring with many people, because I don’t like to wait for people or people to wait for me. If I can go on private tour then I prefer that. We asked about the rent cost to our receptionist and it was 800k vnd for 8 hours. And if we joined a tour, it would be 364k vnd per person (total 728k vnd). We went to the same places as the group tour with some changes. Our reception was really good. She helped on arranging the rent, and talked to driver about our destinations, even recommended some good places as replacement.

There are 2 tour company brochure on reception table. They both have almost the same price and package. They are Red River Tours and John’s Tours. We rented a car from John’s Tours. And it was super! The driver drove really careful and calm. He was also helpful even tho he can’t speak English. He tried to show us something with his gesture. A nice guy.

The places she arranged for us were :

1. Pepper farm

There are many pepper farm there, nothing can go wrong if you go to any farm. Pepper is one of their famous commodity. I bought a mixed pepper and it is really tasty to use for eating fruits or with meal.

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3 kind of mixed pepper

2. Long Beach Pearl

There are many pearl store there. One of the biggest and most trusted one is long beach pearl because they provide a certificate for their product so it has warranty. But they also have stores in the city like Ho Chi Minh City. I don’t know what makes it special to buy in Phu Quoc than in Saigon. Maybe the price is lower there?! I love the design our their jewelry case. It’s cute!

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Black pearl ring

3. Sao Beach

Sao beach is located in south part of Phu Quoc Island. It is very beautiful but very crowded at the same time. Especially at lunch time. Every tour company have schedule to visit this beach and to have lunch there. So expect many buses and tour cars in parking lot, and of course a lot of people in the restaurant. It was really hard to find a good spot to sit if we didn’t reserve before. Their service also not that fast, so you will have a long waiting time. Their food was just so-so with high price. One of the dish we ordered was really good. It’s a fried fish with fish sauce. Another thing I noticed was everything costs money! For example, toilet is 20k vnd. I’m not sure I want to stay in that resort if I need to see many people everyday wandering around.

4. Fish Sauce Factory

Another famous commodity from Phu Quoc is fish sauce. Their fish sauce is really superb. Even my husband, who doesn’t like fish sauce, really hooked with this one. You can buy fish sauce anywhere, but of course the best is buying at their factory. The problem is you can’t bring fish sauce on your flight! They said if the package is broken on the way then the whole airplane will be stinky. We were too honest and ended up handing over our fish sauce to the person in flight counter 😦 My precious fish sauce! There is a souvernir shop next to the factory. They are selling many things. I still wondering how to bring the fish sauce home. I saw a lot of people buying in boxes!

5. Coconut Prison

You don’t need to know about their history to come to this place, but a little knowledge wouldn’t hurt.. At first I was hesitated to go in because the receptionist in our hotel said there will be a lot of torturing scene pictured by waxed doll. It was a bit scary though. All of torturing method you can’t imagined are there. There are some boards with history explanation as well. It was an interesting experience.

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6. Ho Quoc Pagoda

This pagoda was recommended by the receptionist. She said this pagoda is more beautiful than the other one that was listed on the brochure. The driver took us there, and it was quite far from the main road. It is located on top of a hill. Very beautiful indeed! I would recommend this pagoda as well. We could see the sea once we climbed up on highest platform.

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7. Fishing Village

This place is also recommended to visit. It can be really hot, so prepare sunblock, sunglasses and hat. There is a restaurant there but we didn’t eat there. Very interesting area, and also a wonderful view of sea and the village.

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8. Night Market

We skipped this place because we were too tired (and it was too hot!). I just wanted tp lay down and relax after our trip to tourist spots. The other thing was the market is quite far from our resort. Well, we could have ordered taxi or rent a motorbike, but too lazy to do it. Next trip to Phu Quoc we definitely have to visit this place!

 

The only thing that made me uncomfortable in Phu Quoc was the scarcity of good food! Yes there are some good restaurants, but their price is not cheap. So the spending for food was big if we travel to resort. Here are the places we visited during our stay :

  • Crab House

We found this place on tripadvisor and the reviews were good as well. We went there on the day we rent the motorbike. It was 20 mins trip from our resort. I must say it was worth the trip! This is a must try restaurant. Their food was really delicious. Especially the crab. Since we couldn’t decide which one we want to order, the waitress suggested Combo 2. It was awesome! The sauce is finger-licking delicious! Seriously, it was a really yummy sauce. The crab also yummy. But the shrimp was not my favorite. We love this meal so much! Highly recommended.

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  • Mango Bay Restaurant

We were lucky that our resort was next to Mango Bay Resort. They have a good food and beautiful view. Some people also recommended this place to enjoy sunset, but I found that Ancarine have better view with all their trees and sea waves. My recommendation for this restaurant are : mango mojito, Cha Ca La Vong, and Ong Lang Squid. Definitely have to try those!

  • Sao Beach

There is a restaurant in Sao Beach, run by one of the resort there. It is always crowded at lunch. Their service is very slow, and their food is just so-so. Price also pretty high, not one of good value for money. From several dishes that we ordered that day, our favorite was fried marinated fish (marinated in fish sauce). Their scallop was very disappointing! It was like eating rubber 😦 And their waterspinach / morning glory also so-so.

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our lunch. the fish was superb!
  • Ancarine Beach Resort

We stayed here, of course we have to try their restaurant! 😀 (the main reason was because we were lazy to go out to find food, need about 20 minutes to downtown.. unless we choose to eat at mango bay again, so nope..). They have many options for dinner. Price was high (doh!), taste was so-so, but we had no choice.

  • Night Market

Many people told us to visit the market and enjoy their seafood dishes, but unfortunately we didn’t go. Next time! We will visit it next time for sure!

That is all I can share with you guys. If you have any suggestion on place to visit or to eat in Phu Quoc, please let me know in comment below. Ciao!

 

Experience · Food · Travel · Vietnam

Mui Ne – A Short Getaway

Have you been to Mui Ne? Do you know where Mui Ne is? To be honest, I never heard of this city before. I heard it from my friends and they said it’s really nice to relax there. Mui Ne is a small city in the north of Ho Chi Minh City. You can reach there via train or car. I used a car, and it took me around 4 hours of driving. There are some hotels which allow pet as well. One of them is the place where I stayed, Canary Beach Resort. They allow pet in the resort and their private beach, but preferably small pets.

Many expat friends recommended Coco Beach resort for being pet friendly. I checked their price and it was very expensive! USD 510 for 3 nights for a 3-star hotel. While at Canary Beach Hotel, I spent USD 240 for 3 nights. Although we didn’t have our private bungalow, I think the room is very comfortable and big! I asked for 2 single beds, and I got 2 queen-sized bed! We have our own balcony as well with sea view (yes, I chose sea view over garden view! :D).

Our hotel area is not big but really nice. It has swimming pool, breakfast buffet and private beach.

At first I wanted to make a day-to-day journal for this trip, but I will skip it and just make it easier to look at, which is where to eat and what to do in Mui Ne. That is the most frequently asked question when we go on a trip 😀

Now let’s start with what to do in Mui Ne. The city is small so there aren’t many things to do there. These are what we did on our trip :

  • Relaxing on beach, enjoying sunset

Of course! It’s a trip to the beach.You can’t miss the sunset (and sunrise, if you want). Relaxing on the beach, or swimming, or playing with sands, anything!

 

  • Red Sand Dunes

This one is a must-visit spot in Mui Ne. A beautiful red sand dunes in the middle of city. Don’t go there between 10.00 am til 4.00 pm because it will really hot. We went there around 10.30 am and the sands were really hot! Use sandals when you come to this place. There were some local people trying to get us rent a board for sliding on the dunes. I bet it’s really fun to do that, but we couldn’t do it because we had our dogs with us and it was very hot as well. Didn’t want to get a sun burn. A sunblock cream / lotion is a must here. We also read on some reviews that this place is good to enjoy sunset.

 

  • White Sand Dunes

White Sand Dunes is a little far from resort area. It’s about 30 minutes to get there and need to ask the way from local people. I think google map has it as well but it was different location, better ask local.

It’s also known as white lake, because there is a beautiful lake next to it. We need to pay for entrance ticket and parking ticket (if you bring car). The lake is really beautiful. I couldn’t stopped taking pictures.

We can rent an ATV. There are 2 types of vehicles, small one and big one. They have different price, and it depends on how long you rent it as well. We didn’t rent it because we were in a hurry when we were there (it was 12.00 pm! hungry tummy :()

We kept walking on the sand between trees until we reached the dunes. It was really beautiful! It must be nice to stay longer there and explore around with the ATV. Maybe next time I’ll do it! They said that it is a good place to watch sunset as well.

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  • Fairy Stream

This place has many entrance which are connected to each other. You can go from any entrance you want. Just find the one nearest from your resort. We found one very close from Canary Beach Hotel, it was on the opposite side. We need to pay for 5.000 vnd for them to keep our shoes/sandals. Note : better use sandals if possible. And then you just need to follow the path there (or follow the people :D). We had no idea which way to go, but we saw many people went to right direction, so we followed them. And it was the right decision! First part will make you question what’s so special about this place. Just a normal river with very shallow flowing water.

And slowly you will enter a new area with natural stones, amazing job by nature.

And next up is the most beautiful part of Fairy Stream. Sands, stones, water and grass all together making a very beautiful view.

My friend read on one of the review that there is a mini waterfall at the end of path. So we tried to reach there but we gave up on the way. Too much water and the area was not nice anymore. We took a note that after the first area where you need to cross a knee-high water, just go back to entrance because there’s nothing to see anymore. The mini waterfall also less tempting compared to avoiding the muddy water on the way.

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Stop after you see this area.

 

  • Champa Temple

Champa Temple is a bonus visit. We didn’t plan to go here, but since we’re in the neighborhood we stopped by. We had to walk to the hill to see the temple. After the entrance there is an area with many statue and intended for praying.

And at the top, there are 2 temple and a rest area. It has a beautiful view to the city.

 

We also need to know places to eat around Mui Ne. I used Tripadvisor and Foursquare to find a restaurant and see the review or recommendation. These are the restaurant we went during the trip :

  • Sandals Restaurant @ MIA Mui Ne

This restaurant has a really good review. It is located inside MIA Resort, a 4-stars resort. The resort looks really nice and clean. We didn’t find this on our search before because they don’t allow pet here.

It looks luxurious lol. I told my friend this restaurant can’t be cheap by looking at the exterior of this resort. But at least the reviews said the food is good.

These are the food we ordered that night. The grilled scallop was so-so, but risotto mushroom was really really yummy! I was never a fan of risotto, but I like this one very much. Their brownies was so-so as well, too sweet for my taste.

  • Bao Tran Restaurant (Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street)

We were looking for Bao Tram (from Foursquare), a Vietnamese restaurant, but ended up at Bao Tran, also selling Vietnamese food. The owner was really friendly and helpful. The food was so-so, but good price. _DSC5552

  • Bao Tran Guesthouse (89 Huynh thunc khang)

This one is close from our resort. It was quite famous in backpackers group. We tried fried fish and also veggies spring roll. Food was so-so, but cheap. Maybe we should’ve tried their grilled fish. It looked delicious and smelled yummy as well!

 

  • Sindbad (233 Nguyen Dinh Chieu)

This restaurant is number 1 on tripadvisor for restaurant in Mui Ne lol. A middle east restaurant, selling kebab. But I must admit their kebab was really tasty. It also come in big portion, even for the small size. And the price was quite cheap as well, so it was really a good deal for meal.

 

  • Bo Ke Lam Vien

There are many seafood restaurants along Nguyen Dinh Chieu street. We had a hard time to pick one because all of them looked crowded. Our driver dropped us at Mr Crab, he said it is the most famous restaurant there. But I was hesitating because the review of that place is so-so, and also the night before I saw another restaurant really crowded. So we decided to move to Bo Ke Lam Vien.

 

 

We ordered several dishes for just the 2 of us! They cooked it very well. Our favorite was scallop with butter and green onion, and grilled squid. The fish with lemongrass was actually not bad, but it was a bit bland, need to add some soy sauce. Shrimp tempura was so fail in term of shape lol. It was not like the one we were imagined. The last dish, baby squid with lemongrass, chilli and garlic was good to eat with steam rice. We didn’t order rice so it was tasted a bit too much of spices for us. But overall the foods were yummy! Happy tummy on last night in Mui Ne.

 

That’s all I can share about my trip to Mui Ne. Thank you for reading this very long post lol. Will update you on my next trip 😉 Ciao!