Phu Quoc Island, Dinh Cau Temple, Fingernail Island, May Rut Island, Gam Ghi Island, Hon Thom, 4D3N CNY getaway 2019

Day 1

Phu Quoc Island, a name in which a lot of people find it difficult to pronounce is a small island situated at the southern tip of Vietnam.  The island with an area of 574 km2 is smaller than Singapore (721.5 km2).  When Air Asia started this new route to this island, we quickly booked hoping to get a good deal. However it was not so as the time we travelled coincided with the Chinese New Year. The Vietnamese also celebrate CNY.

We arrived at KLIA2 at around 7.00 am. Our flight to Phu Quoc was 12.10 pm. So we still had a few hours to while away the time. As usual, we went to Plaza Premium Lounge for our breakfast.

This newly open lounge is located next to Aerotel on the same floor as the old one, It has more variety of food. However it does not provide bath shower facility

Mom relaxed at the lounge while waiting for our flight

Finally we arrived at Phu Quoc International Airport at around 1.35 pm local time. (there is a time difference of 1 hour) Immediately we took a taxi to our hotel at Saigon Phu Quoc Resort & Spa at Duong Dong. Fare was 180,000 VD. Later we found out that the resort provides free airport transfer to the hotel! That’s the price you have to pay for not doing enough home work!

Coastal line of Phu Quoc viewed from the plane

Going to arrival hall at the airport

This resort is nestled between the caramel sand of Duong Dong beach facing the Gulf of Thailand and lush foliage with lots of coconut trees. It’s a perfect place to relax and unwind. After checking in, immediately we walked to John’s Tour which  is 1.9 km away to enquire about the 3 island snorkeling tour as walking is the best way to explore a place! This time we didn’t pre-book online before coming to Phu Quoc Island. For our previous trip to Sihanoukville, we booked online and found out later that it was much cheaper to book at the hotel or the tour agency there. So this time we thought that we could save some money by booking at the tour agency. But this time we were wrong as the charges are all the same, whether online or at the hotel or at the tour agency. Finally, we decided to book through the hotel as it will be easier to deal with as a hotel guest. It is USD 32 per pax for the 3 island tour inclusive of a lunch, snorkeling gear, hotel pick-up and drop-off.

the beach viewed from our room

On the way to John’s Tour while exploring the town of Phu Quoc

We then took a cab to Dinh Cau Temple at the city centre. This is a small but attractive temple located at the beach near to the town. There were a lot of visitors especially the locals as they were also having the New Year holidays. We tried some local delights, the Vietnamese  spring rolls and the mango mixed fruits salad at the hawker stalls along the road to the temple. We were waiting for the sunset at the rocks outside the temple. Well, it was awe-inspiring to catch the sunset at the temple.

Jetty near to Dinh Cau Temple

The crispy and delicious Vietnamese popiah sold along the road to the temple

Duong Dong beach where the temple is situated

The small Dinh Cau Temple

Entrance to the temple

In front of the shrine

This boat symbolises the temple is for the fishermen to seek good health and wealth and safe return from the sea

The light house guides the fishermen to return to their homes at night

The jetty behind the temple

The beautiful rocks next to the temple

The sun is sinking

Beautiful sunset viewed from the temple

The lifestyle of the Vietnamese people

Then we walked to the Phu Quoc Night Market. This is where a lot of tourists would not miss. It is very vibrant when the sun sets. There are a lot of sea food restaurants, fried peanut outlets as well as souvenir shops at the night market. There is also a unique rolled ice cream sold at this market. Of course we didn’t want to miss it. One cup of the rolled ice cream costs 30,000 VD. Actually it is quite simple to make. First they pour some milk on a freezing metal plate. Then they add the flavor you select like mango, strawberry or other fruits together with some jam. They chop the mixture with 2 scrappers until they are all minced, spread them evenly on the freezing plate. It freezes into ice cream, cut into strips and roll them up. That’s it! We also tried the coconut ice cream which is very popular in Thailand.

It’s still early at the night market. So not many people around

Tried this coconut ice-cream. This ice cream is also very popular in Thailand

Then it’s time for dinner. With a varied and abundance of sea food in this island, we wanted to try the sea food for dinner. But only two of us couldn’t order much. So we settled with a simple sea food clams and vegetables at the Nguyen Log Quan Seafood Restaurant and reserved our sea food buffet at the hotel the next night.

Had a simple dinner at this restaurant

Beer in Vietnam is also very cheap, it costs about MYR 3.00 per bottle.

2 dish dinner

It was crowded after dinner

Rolled ice-cream

We continued to explore the night market until around 9.00 pm when we took a cab back to the hotel.  Altogether we walked a total distance of 9 km according to my pedometer installed in my hand-phone.

Day 2

This was an exciting day for us as we were going to the 3 islands to snorkel. After a sumptous breakfast, we explored the hotel compound.

Authentic pho noodles at the Saigon Phu Quoc Resorts & Spa

The hammock in front of our chalet

 At 9.00 am, the tour agency bus came to the hotel to pick us up. On the way, we also picked up some other guests from other hotels. Some of the tardy guests were not punctual. So we wasted a lot of time waiting for them to turn up. Altogether there were 30 of us from different nationals, both Asians and Europeans. The bus took us to An Thoi, a small fisherman town at the southern tip of Phu Quoc Island to board the boat at around 10.20 am. In the boat, the English speaking tour guide Mr Kulir gave a comprehensive briefing on the use of snorkeling gears, the safety measures, the do and don’ts  and also the need as well as the importance of coral conservation.

Getting into the boat for our island trip

Know what? The French couple in this picture came to the bus stop by riding pillion on a small motabike! We asked them how they managed to sit on the bike, they just laughed and said they also didn’t know how! Lol!

We passed by many small islands on the way to Fingernail Island

Our tour guide Mr Kulir gave a briefing of the use of snorkeling set on board

We arrived at the first island, Mong Tay Island or Fingernail Island for our snorkeling activity after about an hour of navigation. The corals here are not abundant but they are quite colourful, mostly green and purple corals.  We snorkeled about 45 minutes before proceeded to our second destination, the Gam Ghi Island which is a private island. This coral area is larger compared to the previous island. After docking the boat, I spotted some ‘pooh-pooh’ floating at the right side of the boat! It was so disgusting. Nevertheless, I also jumped down because we were told that the coral here is much more beautiful than the first island. Of course I was extremely careful as not to ‘breath-in’ the ‘pooh-pooh’ through the snorkel tube!  I realized that there were not many fishes at both the islands! The visibility here was also not so good. We spent about 1 hour here.

Finally in the water of Vietnam!

In the boat after the first island snorkeling

There is no cliff-jumping in this trip. However, the guests still can jump from the upper deck of the boat to enjoy jumping!

It was lunch time after this snorkeling session. Surprisingly, there is a kitchen in the boat. The chef was busy cooking for us when we were happily snorkeling. The lunch was quite plentiful with prawns, fish, squids, chicken, vegetables, soup, water melon and drinking water. Alcoholic drinks can be purchased on board.  

Our lunch on board

After lunch, we proceeded to the third island that is May Rut Island. This time we didn’t go down as the scorching sun was taking a toll on us. So we took a small boat provided by the tour agency to the island to explore the beach. There were a lot of tourists over here and the beach was littered with a lot of trash! We just hung around the beach and took some pictures before we were back to the boat again. At around 3.00 pm, we started our journey back to the main land. Another hour of bus ride took us back to the hotel.  Our tour guide, Mr Kulir speaks quite good English. He always takes good care of the guests. Overall, it’s an enjoyable trip which is worth the money. 

At the back is one young couple. The man is from Kuching, Malaysia while his wife is from Vietnam. So actually there were 3 Malaysians in this trip! Always feel happy to meet fellow Malaysians in other country!

At May Rut Island

Relaxing at May Rut Island

After a refreshing shower at the hotel, we strolled along the caramel beach to catch the sunset.  This beach is quite steep and is quite difficult to walk on the sand. A lot of hotel guests were swimming at the beach. Finally we managed to catch the awe-inspiring sunset. Dinner was at the hotel beach front with sea food barbeque. There was quite an abundance of sea food available, ranging from prawns, squids, oysters, crabs and fish. They also served pork and a wide selection of fruits as well as rice and Vietnamese spring rolls. All in it was USD16 per pax. What disappointed me is there was no live band performing at the beach.  Or else it would be more lively!

After dinner, we strolled along the beach to let the sea breeze caress our faces! It was so relaxing away from the hustle and bustle of the city!

Enjoying the beautiful sunset

Look like Vvy!

Seafood buffet dinner at Sunset Restaurant in the hotel

Day 3

We checked out early after a sumptuous breakfast at the hotel as we were going to An Thoi for the world’s longest cable car ride to Hon Thom Island or commonly known as the Pineapple Island. We bought the cable car ticket at the hotel as there was a promotion going on. It costs 200,000 VD per pax. The normal fare is 300,000 VD. We took the 9.00 am Sun World free shuttle bus at the Galaxy Hotel which is just a two minute walk from our hotel. We intended to drop-off at Novotel Resort to drop our baggage and took the 10.40 am to An Thoi. However, due to some miscommunication, he didn’t stop at Novotel and went straight to An Thoi.  We told the driver about our intention and he gladly took us to Novotel Resort on his way back. We could not check-in as it was too early. So at 9.50 am, we took the shuttle bus again to An Thoi to board the cable car to Hon Thom Island. The ride was spectacular with breathtaking view of the coastal line of several islands nearby in the Gulf of Thailand. Altogether it was 7.9 km long. It took about 25 minutes to reach Hon Thom Island. At Hon Thom Island, there are buggies to take you to the sea side where you can take part in several sea sports like water scooter and kayaking. There is also a water theme park for kids. Actually they are building a theme park at this island. We didn’t stay long as we wanted to take the cable car back before 12.00 pm as the cable car would cease operation from 12.00 – 1.30 pm. We didn’t want to spend so much time here. But when we reached the cable car station at An Thoi, the shuttle bus had already left. So we missed it. In the end we took a cab back to the hotel for a fare of 250,000 VD. In Phu Quoc, the taxi uses meter to calculate the taxi fare.

At An Thoi cable car station

The Vietnamese also celebrate the CNY of the pig

Decoration outside the cable car station

Notice the hundreds of boats at the sea below?

Buggy tram to take you to the sea side from the cable car station at Hon Thom

At the sea side of Hon Thom island

We then checked-in Novotel Resorts and Spa. Encompassing an area of 72 hectares and situated along the Truong Beach, this resort is well designed with beautiful landscaping. There are two swimming pools at this resort at different levels. This is a perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Lunch was at the hotel. After lunch, we had a rest at the hotel. 

We were delighted to get a call from the front office informing us that they would be sending a complementary cake to our room to celebrate soul mate’s birthday the next day.

At 5.00 pm, I went for a swim at the infinity pool while soul mate went to the gymnasium for a workout. After that, we sat at the beach front to enjoy the sunset before having some Banh Mi, a Vietnamese baguette bread stuffed with pork and vege together with French fries for dinner at the Ocean Bar.

This photo will tell you that Phu Quoc is a very safe island. In Malaysia, the ATM machines are installed inside the bank building. There will be bollards outside the entrance to prevent the ATMs from carried away by trucks! Lol!

Mirror image of the beautiful sunset

Sunset viewed from the infinity pool

Day 4

There’s no itinerary for today as we would be checking out to the airport. After breakfast, we strolled along the sandy beach to enjoy the morning breeze and serenity. The sea was calm and the beach was very quiet, with only a few hotel guests swimming in the water.

Morning scenery at the hotel swimming pool

Enjoying the serenity of the sea

At 10.45 am, we went to the lobby to check-out. I casually informed the receptioniest that the cake they promised never came! The receptionist, Nhi who called me yesterday was apologetic as they were too busy attending to the hotel guests. Actually they had already prepared the cake. As there’s still time before going to the airport, the Manager-on-duty Lisa, Nhi together with another staff celebrated mum’s birthday at the hotel lobby.  A simple gesture goes a long way!

Celebrated mom’s birthday at the hotel lobby with hotel staffs

Arrived at the Phu Quoc International Airport at 11.45 am by hotel shuttle for our flight back to KL at 1.35 pm. Indeed it was a very memorable and enjoyable trip as Phu Quoc is a beautiful island with lovely and friendly people!

Tam biet Phu Quoc! It means good bye Phu Quoc in Vietnamese!

Note: MYR 1 = 5600 VD

 

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About HP Lim

An experienced Form 5 chemistry teacher from Johor Bahru.