ATTRACTIONS - Motorcycle Trips

Also see Boat Tours.

Motorcycle Bridge, Phu QuocOther than sitting around your hotel – which that, and a snorkel tour, can easily make for a good three days or more here – it’s fun to rent a motorbike and take out on the island. Remember, Phu Quoc is big – and getting from one side to another can take some time, and often you’ll be covered in red dust once you get there.

Your hotel will likely rent bikes for a standard rate of 100,000D ($6.25) per day, or a bike for 40,000D ($2.50) per day. Carole Restaurant (see Restaurants) rents motorbikes for 80,000D ($5) per day.

Southern Loop

An easy day trip loop of the southern part of the islands takes in three very different things (all very Phu Quoc in their own way): a ‘hidden’ beach with great seafood, a crystal clear waterfalls in thick jungle, and the smelliest factory you can imagine at one of Phu Quoc’s famous fish-sauce plants.

Start by going to Duong Dong town and pay tribute to the claim-to-fame for the island: nuoc mam (fermented fish sauce). The local brew is so revered that mainland Vietnamese and even Thai companies have slopped on ‘Phu Quoc’ on a bottle to make it more marketable.

Fish sauce barrel, Phu Quoc Dozens of NUOC MAM FACTORIES are in town, most strung along the canal the runs inland from the town’s port. Generally they’ll let you poke around the giant barrel vats of fish sauce, where tubes run from spouts into smaller vats and then into plastic jugs by the hundreds. Nearby is a room where clear bottles are filled, then labeled, and shipped off by boat from the canal. Take 4 Thang 30 St west, towards Ham Ninh port town on the east coast, and look for corrugated-metal buildings to the left – one is KHAI HOAN (tel 077-848-555; Hung Vuong St); turn left on Hung Vuong St (at a light) and you’ll see it to the left. You can by a bottle for 8000D ($5), but if you’re flying out of Phu Quoc you can’t pack it or take it on the plane.

From Duong Dong, head west on 4 Thang 30 St towards Ham Ninh. About 7km east is SUOI TRANH, a 12-foot waterfall reached by a 15-minute hike on a stone path in pretty dense jungle, all surprisingly untrashed. The entry looks like something out of Jurassic Park, with a huge wood-carved sign, statues and fake waterfall. The falls drip dry after rainy season – don’t bother in January until the rain picks up again in May or so. I was lucky – on a mid-week day in November, I was alone but for the deafening one-note whistle of jungle bugs to accompany my dunking at the cool clear falls. On weekends, it crams with Vietnamese picknicking and goofing off. It’s 1000D ($0.07) per person to get in, 1000D ($0.07) to park your Honda.

It’s not really a secret anymore – some groups drop by here after a snorkel tour – but on the east side of the island, BAI SAO (Star Beach) is a relatively untouched white-sand beach that, many swear, is the island’s best. Much of it is timing – sometimes it’s turquoise gorgeous, sometimes rougher waves offshore (very) occasionally bring in trash from the mainland. From just east of the waterfall, take the paved road turn-off south towards An Thoi town, the southern port. About 20km south you reach the village of Cau Sau, where – a couple hundred meters after the bridge – a ‘Quan An My Lai’ sign leads a bumpy 2km down to the waterfront at Ai Xiem (tel 077-990-510), a great little seafood restaurant with kayaks and intertubes to use. (Seriously big portions of fish or squid are about $3.75 to $5.75.) It’s quieter and sunnier here before 1pm or so.

From Cau Sau go south about a kilometer and veer right to catch the dirt road towards Duong Dong town and the ‘long beach’ resorts. It’s a nice ride, with palm trees and locals’ homes lining the beach most of the way to Duong Dong.

Northern Loop

The mountainous north is another half-paved, half-dirt route that takes in a nature preserve, some of the island’s best remote beaches and a bridge only motorbikes can cross – easily filling a day with stops for food and the beach. From Duong Dong town, head north on the paved road towards ‘Bai Thom.’ At the 15km mark (note the blue label atop the distance markers on the side of the road), a road points toward Ganh Dau (19km west). After 5km, a dirt path leads to RACH VEN VILLAGE, a 2km ride, where you can reach Phong Lan guesthouse (see Accommodations/North Phu Quoc) and a patch of white-sand beach few people know about.

Continuing back on the paved road towards Ganh Dau, the road weaves along a large NATURE PRESERVE, for the time being totally undeveloped but for the roadside markers and paved road that sees little traffic. At GANH DAU VILLAGE, at Phu Quoc’s northwestern edge, you can get gas, noodles, water and a haircut. Follow the sign 500m (actually more like 1km) to ‘Gio Bien’ for a beachfront restaurant with caged monkeys and an OK beach from where you can see Cambodia.

Don’t linger long, as better beaches await. Follow the road past the boat docks in the center of the village, till it turns south on the west side of the island and turns dirt and bumpy. Soon you can see long DAI BEACH, passing fishing villages with huts with rice-bag walls. Continue a couple kilometers on, near the southern end of the beach, is the family-run Duong Vien restaurant (see Restaurants), named for the pine trees that stand over the patch of golden sand and shallow water offshore. Nothing else is developed for miles, so you can often get a good patch of beach to yourself (probably my favorite on the island) – and the food’s good too.

A couple kilometers more south, the road passes Mai Phuong restaurant/bungalows (see Accommodations/North Phu Quoc), on the southern end of VUNG BAU BEACH. It’s a little more narrow, but has palms. It’s a friendly place with a couple German shepherds that like the water, and hanging bamboo seats that dangle and sway from palm trees. The folks here can set you up with an intertube, a snorkel trip or a plate of fresh squid.

The dirt road eventually winds into CUA CAN VILLAGE, after passing a rickety plank bridge that only one motorbike can take at a time. Watch for the battered Duong Dong sign that points right toward an arched wood bridge over a big canal; the turn comes after the road veers left in town. There’s a gas station on the south side of the arched bridge. From here it’s 11km back to Duong Dong, passing turn-offs to Bo Resort and Mango Bay Resort (see Accommodations/North Phu Quoc).

If you’re doing the circuit in reverse, watch for the turn-off to the bumpy dirt road to ‘Mango Bay Resort’ just north of Duong Dong town – it’s to the left on the road towards Bai Thom.