Phu Quoc is one of those places, that I want to tell you all about and simultaneously want to keep all to myself.
Floating in the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Thailand, the “Pearl of Vietnam” is a gem indeed. Just an hour after arriving on the island, David and I were already giving each other looks that said “We will definitely be back.” The magic of this island lies in its mix of stylish properties, rough underdeveloped roads, postcard-perfect beaches and the promise that the island will never get too big or overdeveloped since more than 60 percent of the land is protected as a national park.
When we arrived at La Veranda, our home for the next three nights, time immediately slowed down. From our first lunch on their beautiful namesake veranda, sipping a cocktail made from sim wine (a local spirit made from fermented crepe myrtle), to the late nights listening to the evening rain on the roof of our villa, Phu Quoc is all about taking in the simple pleasures of island life.
I couldn’t help but coo over every aspect of the property as we explored that first day, from the French-colonial inspired architecture to the thoughtfully designed rooms, decorated by the owner, Madame Catherine, to reflect her childhood home on Phu Quoc. We started out in a garden villa, but when a very strong thunderstorm caused a palm frond to fall and damage our back porch, the staff knew about it before we did and they moved us to an oceanfront villa. As you can imagine, we didn’t mind one bit! The island is such a showstopper, I had trouble narrowing down which images to include, so consider this blog post the “director’s cut” because I simply couldn’t choose!
We loved jumping on a motorbike in search of the best crab on the island (it can be found at The Crab House on Trần Hưng Đạo), sunsets on the beach at La Veranda, swinging from a palm tree and swimming in the crystal clear waters of Sao Beach, and heading up to our nightly dinners at The Pepper Tree in time for sunset.
Here are my five favorite experiences from our time on Phu Quoc:
1. Sao Beach and lunch at Paradiso – You reach Sao beach at the end of a long unpaved road, but one look at it’s glittering waters and you’ll know it is worth the trek. We loved the sparkling white sand, warm waters, delicious seafood lunch at Paradiso and even found a swing tree swing to play on.
2. Cooking Class and Tour of the morning wet market – A highlight of our stay was touring Phu Quoc’s wet market with Sim, a chef at La Veranda. The market is a rambunctious place as locals sell their farm’s produce or daily catch. There were so many species of fish that I had never seen! We purchased noodles and a few other ingredients for our cooking class then returned to the resort to learn how to prepare our favorite Vietnamese dishes. The class was outdoors in Le Jardin and we enjoyed the dishes we created under the arbor overlooking the beach. I shared all the recipes from our class (with La Veranda’s permission) here: Spring Rolls, Ginger Chicken, and Hot Pot!
3. Rent a Motorbike – Nothing makes you feel as carefree as hopping on a motorbike and exploring the island with the wind in your hair! Since a majority of Phu Quoc is a national park this is a fantastic way to experience the island’s natural beauty. Head back to Long Beach town and stop at The Crab House for a delicious lunch – bibs optional!
4. Watch the Sunset from Long Beach – A nightly ritual not to be missed. La Veranda created a pretty tent on the beach so we could toast to the ten years since we first met with our favorite champagne. Such an unforgettable experience!
5. Chess and Cocktails – After dinner at The Pepper Tree we’d head downstairs to the lower level to laugh and play chess into the late hours of the night.
Thank you La Veranda Resort for an unforgettable couple of days. We will certainly be back!
All photos by David and Stacie for stacieflinner.com