Chances are that once you’ve flopped into the hammock on Phu Quoc Island, you’ll have forgotten you’re in Vietnam. The country of 96 million people is more famous for metropolises and motorbikes than tropical idylls. However, Vietnam’s largest island boasts incredible beaches including the aptly named Long Beach. Over 12 miles of clear water, soft beige sand and beachfront accommodation unfurls against a backdrop of languid palms and jungle-cloaked mountains.
Adding to the confusion, Phu Quoc is located in the Gulf of Thailand and is actually geographically closer to Cambodia than to mainland Vietnam.
Vendors in conical hats deliver sweet pineapple, dragonfruit and coconuts to sunbathers. The island is renowned for its sunsets and at the golden hour, locals and visitors converge on Long Beach for a playful splash, cold beer, a game of soccer or a final paddle into the glowing horizon. At night, barbecues sizzle with the catch of the day: fish of every shape and size, shellfish and squid. It’s a little too easy to slip into the laid-back, somnambulant rhythm.
If visitors tire of lazing under the sun, exploration of dirt tracks, pepper plantations, fishing villages and remote beaches give a taste of what Phu Quoc was like only two decades ago. Over half the island remains national park. Scuba diving and snorkeling are popular, as are boat trips to An Thoi archipelago, islets of white sand and sparkling turquoise water off the southern tip.