Phu Quoc: Asia’s hidden paradise
lastminute lovely, Kirsty takes a trip back in time to Phu Quoc, Vietnam to review two amazing properties. Shhhh, you better get in quick if you want to visit this idyllic spot before it’s discovered by everyone else.
I was told Phu Quoc is like Phuket or Bali 20 years ago and that pretty much sums it up. The streets are refreshingly quiet, for somewhere just 45 minutes flight from the chaos of Ho Chi Minh City, and there are only a smattering of hotels – plans are underfoot for development so get there soon if you can.
Unlike other islands I’ve visited in Asia, there isn’t a bustling life after dark. Instead we found fresh seafood, friendly locals and relatively un-crowded beaches (some with more cows than people).
For the first half of our stay we were lucky enough to nab a Beachfront Villa at Chen Sea Resort and Spa. It’s about ten minutes in a taxi from the township.
The resort boasts an amazing pool area, private beach and heaps of places to laze around – including an am-a-zing swing day bed (my favourite things in the world) and those egg-like swing things – brilliant!
If you want to spend your break disconnecting from the outside world, this is THE place on Phu Quoc. We spent our time, ignoring resort activities such as kayaking, boating and Tai Chi and just chilling out. The most exercise we had was strolling to the restaurant for a delicious buffet, that is when we didn’t order in (sooo lazy I know!).
If you want more action on your holiday, the second half of our stay might be more appealing to you, which was closer to the town at Long Beach Resort.
The rooms are huge and quite striking being all decked-out in timber finishings, styled by the former owners who named the property the ‘Ancient City’.
This hotel is a huge property, complete with its own micro brewery and private beach.
The beachfront is the heart of the resort. You can relax under the thatched beach umbrellas and get a massage during the day and eat there of an evening followed by drinks and a dance on the sand to the Philippino cover band who entertain every night – oh yeah.
Want more fun on the beach? I highly recommend the cooking class with French Chef, Hugo. We cooked three amazing courses on the sand at sunset and ate them all fresh. I’ve included the recipes below, they will be pretty amazing at home but in this setting they were just perfect.
Aside from relaxing at beautiful resorts we did get out and about in Phu Quoc. Here are my top five recommendations:
Visit the night markets – for amazing seafood (HUGE prawns) and a genuine, local atmosphere.
Buy pearls – Phu Quoc is renowned for its local pearls. Visit the factories or buy cheapies at the markets. Either way, remember to bargain hard and with a smile. If the pearls are cheap they generally ARE cheap – but that doesn’t mean they aren’t pretty.
Learn some Vietnamese – Our favourite phrase “Dat Qwan” translation: expensive!
Brave the day market – It’s mostly produce so not much to buy for home, however just walking through is an experience. It’s crowded, and not for the feint hearted (especially vegetarians) but a real look at the local life.
Get off the island – Weather you are a diver, snorkeler, fisherman/woman or just a cruiser, you are on an Island and the sea is the main event – so take a day trip on a boat and don’t miss it.
Recipes courtesy of Long Beach Resort
Dark chocolate truffles deep fried with caramelized banana and banana shake (serves 2)
120 gr dark chocolate
12 baby bananas
15 gr of cream
10 gr of cocoa powder
4 slices of bread
1 pinch of cinnamon powder
40 ml of milk
10 gr of unsalted butter
1 table spoon of sugar
- Break up the chocolate and add to a small bowl with the cream. Microwave until melted
- Add coco powder to melted mixture and make 6 chocolate truffle rolling them in your hand with cocoa powder. Keep refrigerated for 2 hours
- Make fresh bread crumbs by sifting the bread through a strainer
- Cut 2 bananas in half lengthwise and caramelize them by frying them in a pan with the half a table spoon sugar & butter
- Cut 4 bananas widthwise into 6 small pieces about 1.5cm wide
- In a blender mix the remaining bananas with milk, half a table spoon of sugar and the cinnamon powder. Keep refrigerated.
- Whisk the whole egg in a small bowl add slowly the chocolate the truffles followed by rolling in the fresh bread crumb.
- Repeat this process three times.
- Gently deep fry the coated truffles in a deep fryer at 200 c (being careful not to let the chocolate out)
To serve, place the 3 banana pieces on a plate and add a deep fried chocolate truffle on each. place the caramelized banana on the plate and serve with the banana shake.