advertisement

Getting There

Vietnam Airlines offers daily flights from both Ho Chi Minh City and Rach Gia, a small coastal town adjacent to Phu Quoc on the Mekong Delta mainland. Some flights actually hop from Ho Chi Minh to Rach Gia and then on to Phu Quoc. From Ho Chi Minh, the flight is about 45 minutes on a midsize turboprop plane. The cost is 830,000 VND for the one-way trip. Flights leave Saigon's Tan Son Nhat domestic terminal daily at 9, 10:20, and 11:50am, and 12:45pm. Return flights from Phu Quoc Airport to Saigon leave daily at 8:35, 10:50, and 11:55am, and 1:25 and 2:20pm. Contact Vietnam Airlines in Ho Chi Minh directly at their office at 116 Nguyen Hue, District 1 (tel. 08/3824-4482), across from the Rex Hotel, or call their reservations office at tel. 08/3832-0320. Note: Try to book at least a week in advance; residents of Phu Quoc often travel to Ho Chi Minh City for daily shopping trips and errands, so these flights fill up fast. Any travel agent can make arrangements for a small fee. A motorbike taxi from the airport to Long Beach is just 10,000 VND, but drivers eager to adopt you and be your guide for your time on the island means that these guys will make the trip for 5,000 VND, or even free, if you promise to rent their bike from them (a popular way to explore the island). An international airport is in the works, but for now there's nothing more than blueprints and a model. It is expected to be up and operational by 2012.

There are regular high-speed ferryboats that connect Phu Quoc with Rach Gia on the mainland. The 3-hour, 140km (87-mile) trip is relatively smooth (in the low season) and costs just 240,000 VND. Boats connect with the island by the far southern port town of An Thoi; it's a 30,000 VND motorbike taxi or 12,000 VND bus ride between An Thoi and the Long Beach area; expect to pay 180,000 VND for a taxi between An Thoi and Duong Dong Beach. Tramaco Boat Tours (12 Tu Do St., tel. 077/387-8655 in Rach Gia; Khu Pho 1, Duong Dong, tel. 077/398-0666 on Phu Quoc) and Duong Dong Express (18 Nguyen Cong Tru, tel. 077/387-9765 in Rach Gia; 4 Tran Hung Dao, Duong Dong, tel. 077/398-1648 on Phu Quoc) are the two main companies; both have early morning departures. Be sure to buy boat tickets at least 1 day in advance.

Be warned that the boat can get overcrowded and may have the unfortunate lingering odor of previous passengers' weak stomachs. The journey is pleasant and smooth during the low season but is often beset by jarring waves during the high season; hotel staff can advise you of ocean conditions. Taxis and motorbikes congregate outside the ferry port and can shuttle you to the bus terminal (some 6km/3 3/4 miles out of town). From there, public buses can take you onward to Ho Chi Minh City, Can Tho, or Chau Doc. KienGiang Tourist (36 Pham Hong Thai; tel. 077/386-2081), a small tour operator in Rach Gia, can help arrange onward travel, but you may end up spending a night in the busy port town. I recommend flying directly from Ho Chi Minh City to Phu Quoc, but another good option is a multiday trip on the Mekong Delta ending in Chau Doc; from there, arrange with your tour operator for passage to oceanside Rach Gia and hop one of the short flights or (gulp) the crowded hydrofoil on to Phu Quoc before returning by flight to Ho Chi Minh.

There's also the "Super Dong," which connects between Phu Quoc's southern An Thoi Port and Rach Gia. The Dong departs in the afternoon and, unless you arrange your own transport from the pier at Rach Gia, that means an overnight there. Buy tickets on the Dong for 240,000 VND or 220,000 VND (8am and 1pm departure, respectively) at their offices on Phu Quoc (34 Tran Hung Dao; tel. 077/398-0111) or in Rach Gia (14 Tu Do; tel. 077/387-7742). The local bus station in Rach Gia is at 260A Nguyen Binh Khiem St. Buses connect regularly with Chau Doc, Can Tho, and on to Ho Chi Minh's Mien Tay Bus Station. Head to Mai Linh Express (tel. 077/382-9292) for comfortable shuttle buses to Ho Chi Minh City (105,000 VND) or Can Tho (55,000 VND). There's also a minibus stand -- with cozier, air-conditioned vans that have assigned seats -- on Tran Quoc Toan Street. For all ground transport, you can also contact the office of helpful KienGiang Tourist (36 Pham Hong Thai; tel. 077/386-2081).

Boats also run from Phu Quoc's eastern port of Ham Ninh to Ha Tien, a small town just adjacent to the Cambodia border, but departures are irregular and, especially in dry season because of low river water, they require a small boat to take you from the ferry to a point some distance from the Ha Tien area. Stick to the boats between An Thoi and Rach Gia, or fly.

Orientation

The island is over 50km (31 miles) in length and just 20km (12 miles) wide at its center. The Phu Quoc Airport is near Duong Dong, the island's largest town, a fishing port on the western shore. From Duong Dong, Tran Hung Dao Street connects with Long Beach, where you'll find most of the island resorts. Ong Lang Beach is about 6km (3 3/4 miles) north of Duong Dong. At the northernmost point of the island, you're just 15km (9 1/3 miles) from Cambodian waters.

Getting Around

Taxis wait just outside the Phu Quoc Airport (tel. 077/384-6742) arrival terminal. Starting rates are 12,000 VND for the first 2km (1 1/4 miles) and 2,000 VND per 200m (656 ft.) thereafter. Mai Linh Taxi (tel. 077/397-9797) is a reliable company. Phu Quoc is also a great place to putter around on a motorbike -- the dirt roads are mostly smooth and there is hardly any traffic. An all-day motorbike rental will set you back 200,000 VND.

Fast Facts

Bank & Currency Exchange -- The Vietcombank branch on 20 Duong 30/4 Street (tel. 077/398-1036; Mon-Sat 7-11am and 1-4pm; www.vietcombank.com.vn) has comprehensive services, including traveler's check cashing, currency exchange, and now an ATM compatible with most international cards (MAC, Cirrus, and so on). Just across the street from Vietcombank is a branch of Western Union (tel. 077/384-8621), where you can make that important SOS call back home for a few bucks.

Internet -- There's decent Internet service next to the post office.

Post Office -- The post office is in the town center, just down the Duong 30/4 from the Vietcombank (tel. 077/384-6177). It's open from 6:30am to 9pm (closed Sun).

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.