Phu Quoc

Phú Quốc is the largest island in Vietnam, and they say that Phu Quoc is what Phuket would be if it hadn't been overrun by development. The island is now Vietnamese, but has been fought over for centuries. In the last episode on May 1, 1975, a squad of Khmer Rouge soldiers raided and took Phu Quoc Island, but Vietnam soon recaptured it. This was to be the first of a series of incursions and counter-incursions that would escalate to the Cambodian–Vietnamese War in 1979.

The island was apparently voted to be "The Cleanest and Most Beautiful Beach of the World" by ABC News at the end of February, 2008. However, this is about to change. There are extensive plans to develop Phu Quoc, including high-rise residential areas, several new towns and suburbs, complete rebuilding of Duong Dong, and moving the airport from the centre of Duong Dong about 7 kilometres south, and making it an international airport. The main north-south road is already being upgraded to a 2+2 lane highway. Phu Quoc may be something completely different in 10 years if the current plans do materialize soon.

The command economy means that the government can shift people - they have moved all the local people (mainly fishermen) from the sea front areas to further inland in order to free up the coastal belt for development. Personally I don't think that the Vietnamese Government have worked out how they will attract tourists who would otherwise have gone to Thailand, without the need for visas and bureaucracy that is necessary for Vietnam.

Phu Quoc is famous for producing the best nuoc mam or fermented fish sauce in the world, should you be into fish sauce. Phu Quoc is also famous for its pepper. The rich fishing grounds offshore provides the anchovy catch from which the sauce is made. Pepper cultivation is located inland in the centre of the island. More recently pearl farms have been established.

Tourism plays an important part of the economy with the beaches being the main attraction.

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We disembark at Phu Quoc with little green men watching as we leave the ship, and quite amazingly as we land too. One pounced for my ID when I was wading ashore.
Once ashore we got in a bus- the roads are yet to be upgraded for international traffic. First stop The Pearl Farm, an "opportunity" to buy pearls. The beach was very ..
..beautiful though. Then back in the bus and down to the "reconstructed" prison, said to be a model of one run by Americans and S Vietnamese in the Vietnam War
Then back down the centre of the island to the Fish Sauce factory, where they ferment thousands of gallons of it. And finally goodbye to Phu Quoc.

 

On to Koh Kut

Cruise Hanoi to Singapore on Orion II