Feb 14, 2017

Visiting Phu Quoc, Vietnam

Phu Quoc is a Vietnamese island that is off the coast of Cambodia.  I wonder if it will someday be contentious. It is the largest island in Vietnam and on the fast track for tourism development.  In fact, they would like it to, one day, rival Thailand’s Phuket Island as an island getaway.  I have known
about it for several years and finally decided to visit this year.  We flew into Saigon (AKA Ho Chi Minh City) and stayed at one of our favorite hotels – the ParkRoyal.  The prices are reasonable – even for Orchid Club Level which includes complimentary airport transportation, breakfast, cocktail hour; and, amazingly, four pieces of laundry per person per day. Along with that they have a wonderful pool and spa plus the staff is excellent.  It is an excellent base for visiting the area.

The Vietnam Airline flight from Saigon to Phu Quoc was less than
an hour. They have a new airport which is still in the expansion state in anticipation of the travel boom they are hoping for.  I find it hard to pick a hotel and have been very lucky so far.  We decided to stay at the Paris Hotel (not a name that seemed appropriate but the owners are French).

 The price was reasonable enough so we could book the best room which we were hoping had a balcony where we could enjoy adult refreshments and watch the sun set.  As it turned out there was no balcony but the room was large with a sitting area and wonderful views of the Gulf of Thailand.  One evening we watched a glorious sunset and then early in the morning the setting of the full moon. Part of the restaurant has a long narrow stretch above the beach that serves as an alfresco restaurant which was a great place to watch the sunset. The hotel had other pluses: a lovely pool, a great complimentary breakfast and the beach was perfect for walking.  

The hotel is reached by a bumpy dirt road but the grounds are well
landscaped.  Behind and to the side of the hotel two other hotels are being built.  It was actually interesting watching the workers. They used very little mechanization so there was a minimum of noise – just the tap-tap of a single hammer which made it sound like the “Little Old Shoemaker” - even so we could see the progress daily. There were no beeping trucks or other noisy equipment.

John celebrated his birthday while we were there.  We try not to let the hotels know when we have a birthday because they go overboard. While we were on the island we checked out some other hotels and loved the La Veranda McGallery Hotel.  It was out of our price range but perfect for a birthday. The grounds were amazing and so lush that each building was
surrounded by foliage accessed via a brick walkway with eachbuilding in a “secret garden.” We sat on the wide veranda of the main building which was designed to look like a colonial mansion typical of the time when Vietnam was French Indochina.  They had a live trio of Filipino singers who sang all the American favorites from our era.  The sublime ambiance was interrupted for a short time by an impressive tropical thunder and lightning storm. When it was over the moon came out and the air was cool and fresh. A great evening.