Phu Quoc, Vietnam: Visit Before It Becomes Phuket

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

“Like Phuket before it became Phuket.” Anyone notice how this saying is quickly becoming the de facto description to use to describe an island in Southeast Asia that is, amazingly, undeveloped and seemingly undiscovered by tourists? (I recently wrote about this article about Boracay, Philippines — an island that also got the Phuket treatment). This description also popped up in this recent LA Times article about Phu Quoc, the small Vietnamese island that straddles the border with Cambodia.

“Phu Quoc, once known mainly for its pungent fish sauce and wartime history, is the hottest new tourist destination in Vietnam, a slice of tropical perfection with mile after mile of wide, uncrowded beaches, dense jungle, virgin rain forests and a lazy, laid-back atmosphere that reminds a visitor of what Phuket, Thailand, was like a generation ago.”

Which is not to say this is bad. There’s a reason people lust for the Phuket of yesteryear: they loved it. So what better compliment can you pay to an undiscovered place than that? Coincidentally, I just finalized my own plans to visit the island as a bookend to my trip to the region that begins next weekend.

But, alas, all good things must come to an end (and I haven’t even seen it yet). As the article sadly explains, things, however they are now, won’t last long. “The government has a master plan to develop Phu Quoc into a high-quality eco-tourism destination by 2020, when it aims to attract 2.3 million visitors a year. An international airport is scheduled to open in two years to accommodate nonstop flights from Japan, Thailand, Singapore and Hong Kong. Roads and bridges are being rebuilt and a deep-water port is being dug at An Thoi.” Another reason to get there soon.

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