People will wonder why you should choose the north of Phu Quoc Island instead of the more popular south.
Colorful fi shing boats at Ganh Dau Cape
Here’s why. The north is a vast area which has great potential for future tourism but for now it keeps its tranquil traits with primeval forest and wild river areas. A motorbike trip instead of the bus or taxi trip is a must for first-timers and those who love adventure.
From Duong Dong Town, the main location of Phu Quoc Island, tourists can rent a motorbike at any hotel or resort for US$5-US$6 and US$7 for scooters for eight hours accompanied with a map.
And on top of that it costs tourists VND50,000 to VND80,000 for petrol for a day trip. If female tourists are worried about security or getting lost, they can hire a local tour guide for VND250,000.
Sunglasses, mask, mosquito repellent, water and swimsuits are necessary items for your 36 kilometer trip to discover numerous cracking spots including Hon Que Viet (Vietnam’s village spirit) ancient house, pepper farm, Phu Quoc National Park, Ganh Dau Cape, Nguyen Trung Truc Temple, Dai Beach and Ong Lang Beach.
At Hon Que Viet, run by Robinson Tourist Company, you can discover a typical ancient house of north people through the architecture, decoration, interiors and numerous statues of Buddha, women in ao tu than (four panels traditional dress) and stone dogs in front of the eaves. It is free entrance and there’s a big souvenir shop featuring items such as traditional hats, wooden statues of buffalos, rush fans and brocade handbags for visitors to choose from.
On the way to Phu Quoc National Park (Ganh Dau Ecological Preserve Area) travelers can find verdant pepper farms. After driving 15km, you will notice a street on the left side across the primeval forest with a street sign stating 17km to Ganh Dau. The road has a rugged surface so tourists should be careful.
Phu Quoc national park is located in the northeast of the island and belongs to Kien Giang Province’s three communes of Bai Thom, Cua Duong and Ham Ninh. It covers an area of 31,422 hectares and is home to hundreds of flora and fauna and a forest, river, streams, waterfalls, mountains and hills and is divided into three areas. One is strictly protected, another is ecologically restored and the administration-service-scientific research area.
Tourists have to park their bikes and walk to discover the site in an atmosphere of birds singing. Sometimes you can make an ‘ah’ when you see some moi snakes crawling out of the forest path. And do not miss the two 300-year-old trees with huge knots on their trunks. It’s a shame that some morons have defaced these beautiful pieces of history with sharp objects.
After leaving the park, you can head to Nguyen Trung Truc Temple in Ganh Dau Commune where you can worship Vietnam’s national hero who was caught and killed by French colonialists after a battle in 1861. The temple opens daily from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. with free entrance. Two kilometers from the temple is Ganh Dau Cape where you can experience the simple life of fishermen and admire the curved beach or enjoy some fresh and cheap seafood. If you stand on the beach you can see Cambodia in the distance or you can rent a boat to Mong Tay Islet which lies next to the sea border with Cambodia and dive in the water and explore the depths for just VND400,000.
Next to Ganh Dau Cape is Dai Beach which stretches 15 kilometers along the northwestern coast line of Phu Quoc. It was named world’s top wild beach by Australian travel website http://www.concierge.com in 2008. I can assure you no-one will disturb you while you are lying in the shade or swimming in the pure water.
As our voyage was now complete it was time to head back 36km. As tourists pack their bags they will also be packing away some great memories of the dusty roads, great locations and visitor areas and the sandy beaches of the north island.
A tourist admires a stone dog at Hon Que Viet ancient house. The dog is a typical feature of ancient houses in the north of the country
A view from the front of Nguyen Trung Truc Temple in Ganh Dau Commune where people worship the national hero who died in 1861
One of the two 300-year-old trees in Phu Quoc National Park – Photos: Kieu Giang