PHU QUOC WITH KIDS
BEST TIME OF YEAR TO GO:
January or February - busy season, but not overly crowded. Best weather at that time, everything is open, and the water is calm. If you go in September or October, it is their off season, so many things are closed and the weather can be quite rainy.
WHERE TO STAY:
Depends on what type of vacation you want, but the island is small enough to get anywhere in 30 minutes to an hour. We chose to stay on the beach on the west coast so we could be close to many good restaurant options. We were very happy with the location because we could get anywhere on the island in 30-45 minutes.
We stayed at Arcadia Beach Resort
- it was literally on the beach and was a good price. The breakfast buffet wasn't anything spectacular, but it was free and we sometimes slept in past breakfast anyways. Our room had a porch with chairs so we could sit outside at night while our son went to bed early - just remember bugspray at night! This particular resort had a small playground for kids, outside showers at the beach, and lounge chairs with umbrellas for use. They give you new beach towels and bath towels every day, as well. The staff was very helpful in getting us cable car tickets and a motorbike, and they had some tour options, as well.
WHAT TO SEE AND DO:
- a white sand beach with clear, calm water and tons of starfish! The last bit of road there is a bumpy dirt road, but totally worth it. We took a motorbike, but you can also take a car. There are very basic and sandy bathrooms there - not the best for changing in, so wear your bathing suit there and just dry off before you leave. There is a drink bar on the beach with soft drinks, beers and coconuts. I didn't notice if they also had food - we brought some snacks with us. There are also some seafood restaurants over the water. Beach and parking is free, but you can rent a lounge chair with umbrella for 50k vnd per lounge chair. It is a small beach, so we only spent a couple of hours here to see the starfish and enjoy the white sand. I definitely recommend it for the experience, but Sao Beach is much better for an all day beach day. Note: please don't lift the starfish out of the water for photos and such. They need the water to survive. You can touch them, but we recommend keeping them submerged in the clear water so you don't hurt them. Unfortunately, many people did not follow this recommendation and would take the starfish out of the water for a long time and place them in different positions for photos.
- the best white sand beach on Phu Quoc. Crystal clear water and white sand, with picturesque swings in the water for that perfect Instagram photo. This is a great beach to spend the whole day at, as there are quite a few restaurants and water sport activities for rent. We took a motorbike and parked at a restaurant with their private beach (search: "nha hang chez dugong
" on Google maps for the exact directions). Parking was free (though I've heard some of the other resorts and restaurants along that beach charge for parking) and they had restrooms and showers. You had to pay for the showers and change room, but I can't remember how much it was because we just wore our swimsuits there and dried off before leaving and then showered back at our hotel. It costs 50k vnd per lounge chair with umbrella, and you can order drinks delivered right to your lounge chair - ahhh, the life! There were also a few street vendors with their food carts that came along the beach every once in awhile selling banh mi and other snacks. We spent half a day here, but we could have easily stayed longer if we had got there earlier. I would definitely go back!
Phu Quoc Cable Car
- This cable car is part of SunWorld's amusement park, but the ticket for the cable car doesn't include admission to the water park. We bought tickets through our hotel for 300k vnd per person (and I think the child rate was about 200k vnd). This included a round trip cable car ticket on the world's longest sea cable car, plus access to their private beach on the island. We drove a motorbike to the cable car station and there was plenty of free parking for bikes and cars. Once you take the cable car across to the smaller island, you can wander around the theme park, but you will need an extra ticket to go into the water park. Or, you can just take the free buggy ride to the private beach and spend the day there.
The beach had showers, bathrooms and changerooms you could use for free. They also had hammocks (hallelujah! this is the life) and lounge chairs with umbrellas, life vests, kayaks (and I think jet skis?), and a bouncy water slide all for FREE (er...included with the cable car ticket, I guess). They also had two restaurants on the beach - one was a grill and one was a buffet. Prices were about 250k vnd per person. If you want the buffet, I recommend getting in line for that right when it opens for lunch, as they have limited space and will stop admitting people to the buffet after a time to make sure there is enough food for everyone. There was also a snack shop with juices, popcorn, and ice cream.
WHERE TO EAT:
Blue Bar Beach Club
- great views, great beach, great food! This is a great place for a relaxing lunch on a big mattress lounger as you take in the sea breeze and beautiful water. The cocktails are similarly priced to every other restaurant in the area. The food and the chill atmosphere during the day kept us coming back more than once (I think it might turn into a club after dark, but not sure). We recommend the fish and chips, the breakfast burrito, or the "Not a Crying Tiger" marinated steak and salad. The french fries were also a family hit - don't be scared of the "chili salt" title, there was no spiciness at all.
- If you've traveled or lived in Hanoi or Saigon, you are probably familiar with Pizza 4Ps - a favorite wood-fired pizza chain with unique toppings. Home Pizza had similar pizzas, though one stood out to us that were a bit skeptical about at first but ended up loving it at first bite! The Hmong Duck Pizza is a must try if you go to this restaurant. It doesn't have cheese on it, but it was a flavor explosion in your mouth - a bit of sweetness from the sauce, a hint of spice from the chili, some savoriness from the duck and seasonings. Oh, and my husband was raving about their local beer that comes in a 1L jug/canister - great price and good flavor! (this photo was taken from their website because we ate the pizza too fast to take a photo of ours, lol!)
Chuon Chuon Bistro & Bar
- This was a happy accident. On Lunar New Year, not much was open and we were looking for a place for lunch. We saw a sign for this place and drove up the hill to see if it was open. Lucky for us, it was! When we stepped inside, we understood why it was at the top of the hill - for the amazing views! There were trees growing around and through the deck, as if we were in a giant treehouse on top of a hill. We could see the mountains on one side and the harbor on the other.
The food was amazing, too! We went for brunch and were pleasantly surprised at the nice presentation of their coconut coffee and fresh juices. The pancakes were delicious, though a bit small compared to what Americans might be used to. The eggs benedict was by far our favorite! Go for a drink, go for brunch or lunch or dinner. They have quite a few options and the views are beautiful. Get a seat on the outside deck if you can.
The Bench Eatery & Bar
- a great place to have a beer flight of Vietnamese craft beers while playing some board games. The food was delicious but small portions - mostly tacos and chicken wings. We were still hungry after ordering tacos and chips and guacamole and chicken wings, so we added a burger with fries as well. All of the food was flavorful - just make sure not to come too hungry, or be prepared to order a lot of different menu items to be full. Come for the beer and the games
WHAT TO PACK: bathing suits (extra ones if you're able, as mine wasn't always dry by the next day), extra towels for when you go to other beaches (I highly recommend those compact travel towels), sunscreen (we like BaboBotanicals
), bugspray for the evenings (I recommend doTERRA TerraShield spray
), a backpack for towels and change of clothes if you go to another beach
If you're thinking of going to Phu Quoc and have questions, feel free to ask. We loved it so much - it was very difficult to leave!