Island paradise

STRETCHING across 20km of beautiful sand and waves is Long Beach, also known as Bai Truong, located on Vietnam’s largest island Phu Quoc.

The island’s 574sq km is perfect for beach bums looking for their next seaside destination.

The resort and beach bar-rich Long Beach is just one of many destinations to explore while in Phu Quoc.

The beach itself boasts places like Rory’s Beach Bar, good for sipping ice-cold beer and cocktails with a view of the setting sun, and Crab House, a sports-themed American-style seafood shack popular for its massive lobsters and crab.

And the great news is AirAsia will fly direct to Phu Quoc from Kuala Lumpur four times weekly starting from Nov 2 to give Malaysians a chance to explore more of this Vietnamese island paradise.

The west coast, especially, boasts beaches worth your time, ranging from the more secluded Vung Bau Beach, to Hon Thom or Pineapple Island, the second largest beach in the district.

There you can visit the Hon Thom Nature Park, Phu Quoc Cable Car station, or lay out your towels on four of its beaches.

Meanwhile, Starfish Beach which is part of the bigger Rach Vem beach, famous for its floating huts, is also home to the pink starfish, easily spotted in the clear waters.

And located just 25km from the island’s capital Duong Dong is Bai Sao Beach, known for its unspoilt nature that is not only equipped with amenities, but has easy access to the An Thoi archipelago.

Comprising 15 tiny islands, the An Thoi archipelago is perfect to explore on a day trip.

Located on the southern end of Phu Quoc, the archipelago boasts not one, but two islands, with the name Fingernail Island, also known as Hon Mong Tay.

While both are heavenly destinations – one Fingernail Island in the northwest, the other in the south – Phu Quoc is best visited for snorkelling trips.

After some vitamin ‘sea’ and fun in the sun, make your way to Phu Quoc National Park, a Unesco Biosphere Reserve spanning over 314sq km of dense mountain ranges and native flora and fauna.

Or catch the sun rising in the quaint fishing village of Ham Ninh, where you can experience a slice of local fisherfolk life, and try delicacies like the sea cucumber soup, and other seafood going at bargain prices.

Take an easy 15-minute walk from the village’s main entrance and you will find the four-metre-high Suoi Tranh waterfall that is tucked amidst lush rainforest, caves, and rock pools.

More adventurous travellers can trek 15km beyond the waterfall to Hang Doi or the Grotto of Bats, a stalactite-filled cave with formations measuring 200m in height.

Phu Quoc is also known for its many pepper plantations ‘peppered’ all over the central and northern parts of the island, which have helped Vietnam to become the world’s leading exporter of black pepper.

Take a guided tour to one of the pepper farms for some culinary insight into what the whole process entails, before the pepper reaches tables all over the world.

And when hunger strikes, the Dinh Cau Night Market in maintown Duong Dong is a recommended spot for fresh seafood and local Vietnamese delights.

Must-tries include oc giac (snails), herring salad (goi ca mai), and melo-melo mango salad.

For more first-hand insights into Phu Quoc’s many wondrous beauty, book yourself a flight with AirAsia this November.

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