The roads here can be rough, but that helps make the mountainous north feel like being on an even more remote island. For the $30 to $50 range, I’d argue Bo and Mango Bay are the island’s best.

Close to perfect, set on the south end of the undeveloped (as of yet) Cua Can beach, the Bo has 11 bungalows strewn atop a hill overlooking the water – each reached by flower-lined paths in an appealingly wild garden. The restaurant serves good food by the lawn facing the water, where hammocks sway in the sea breeze. Marie runs the place, a Vietnamese-French woman who speaks French and English, who came into Phu Quoc a decade ago, way ahead of the curve. The fan-cooled bungalows are basic, but nicely kept up – with blue-and-gold shutters, mosquito nets, plank-board floors, intricately thatched roofs and a porch to take in the bird chirps. Waterfront bungalows cost more. There’s murmurs of a golf course off the nearby beach, so go soon – it’s practically a private beach for the moment. This is where I’ll stay the next time I’m back.
Tel 077-986-142, 0913-640-520;; bungalows $30 to $45

Set along a mostly rocky kilometer-long patch of beach with sandy patches nearby, the Mango Bay offers style with their bungalows. Best are the ‘rammed earth’ bungalows ($50) with a thatch roof looming over a speckled concrete floor, poster bed with mosquito net, and the tall clay-made, adobe-style walls that keep the room cool. The bathrooms are half outside, with a bamboo-fence ‘garden’ surrounding the open shower. ‘Verandah’ rooms are cheaper ($25) but a bit darker inside. All rooms are fan-cooled. There are hammocks on the shared porch. Staff rent motorbikes, and have free snorkel equipment to use.
Tel 0903-382-207, in Saigon 08-914-3345;; bungalows $25-50
Book Mango Bay online

For total isolation and total style, the six-room Wild Orchid is a private paradise, with a square-pavillion style building with corner rooms and a giant wrap-around porch. One room is by the pool, all surrounded by a young garden with views of northern mountains and the private beach below. It’s the only offer on the beach north of a nature preserve at Ganh Dau village. The water here has some sea grass, but couldn’t be more turquoise. Rooms have glass doors and lots of light, plus details like framed 1904 maps of the island on the walls. Coming in means planning ahead – if you’re wanting to take boat trips or rent motorbikes: taxis, motorcycle guys and fellow guesthouses often don’t even know this is here! Also reserve ahead so that Ms Minh, who cooks the meals, can stock up on food. Staff can arrange boat trips and arrange a driver or motorbike or cooking squid on the beach.
Tel 0903-717-270;; [email protected]; rates for one/two/six rooms $170/220/400

A cheapie up north, the friendly café/bungalow spot on Vung Bau beach has $10 bungalows and appealing sitting areas in the palm shade – the beach is a bit narrow, but you can also ride a couple kilometers north to Dai Beach. If you’re on a motorbike ride, it’s a good place to stop for lunch too.
Tel 0918-288-647; bungalows $10