Vong Beach, Phu Quoc Island

Bai Vong Beach, on the east coast 15km from Duong Dong, is emerging as an alternative gateway to Phu Quoc. Since it is on the east coast, this would be a good place to stay in the wet season, when the monsoon blows from the west, and seas on the west coast get choppy. It costs only 190,000 Vietnamese Dong (US$10) to make/complete the voyage to Ha Tien, on mainland Vietnam, using a Cantho Vinashin ship. Introduction of the ferry service should spur economic development in the greater Bai Vong region, since it is rather isolated from the rest of the island due to poor roads. Bai Vong might be only 15km from Doung Dong across the middle of Phu Quoc but it is hard, bone-crunching ride. If you are coming from the north, you will find Bai Vong just past the Ham Ninh fishing village. It is a gem of a beach with warm water and motorbike trails in the sand. There are supposed to be some local restaurants here too.

If you do decide to stay here or at any of the other Phu Quoc beaches, be sure to pack your sunglasses and plenty of sunscreen. When the sun is shining the glare can be blinding, and your skin will quickly fry. It used to be said that only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the tropical sun but foreigners of other nationalities have committed the same offence on Phu Quoc. Go for a walk on the beach in the middle of the day in dry season and you will burn the soles off your feet. More sensible souls retreat at this time to their hammocks or deck chairs or even watch a Korean TV drama or Hong Kong kung fu movie in their rooms, or take a siesta. You will notice that the Vietnamese women forced to work on the beach in the daytime liberally wrap their heads with towels to protect themselves from the sun. They know the conditions.

It is not only mad dogs and Englishmen who frequent Bai Vong, there is the occasional mad Japanese visitor as well. Read Masaru Amano’s account of crossing Indochina by bicycle, which included a tour of Phu Quoc. After departing Bai Vong by ferry, Amano wrote: “My impression of Phu Quoc Island is pretty good. Beautiful beaches, friendly people are main attractions, but I think I will come here with someone next time. It is hard place to be alone especially if you are young enough.”

To enhance the seclusion, much of the east coast is covered by national park (known in Vietnamese as the Vuon Quoc gia Phu Quoc). It is this national park which descends on the sandy shores of Bai Vong, and wild animals may be seen descending as well, for example the flying gray fox, a bat with a wingspan of two meters. It is said to be the biggest bat in the world.

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