Editor’s Revision on 7/9/2015: Mercure Phu Quoc Resort Hotel is part of the Accor Hotels Group. We made the correction to this post as we originally wrote “Novotel” instead of “Mercure” in our post.
We spent our Saturday exploring Phu Quoc island by boat and enjoying the island view from the ocean. We will now start exploring the unique offerings of the island on our trusty moped.
On Sunday, we headed to Mercure Phu Quoc Resort Hotel’s breakfast buffet before exploring the other sites. We were wowed by the selection and quality of food at the buffet. There is an abundant of fresh fruits, local selections as well as continental breakfast. The only drawback we saw were the pastries. They just did not taste like they were freshly baked. This is an ongoing observation for most of the hotels that I have been to in Vietnam.
The best fish sauce in Vietnam comes from Phu Quoc Island so it was mandatory to tour the local fish sauce factory. The distillery of Nuoc Mam Hung Thanh is located on Duong Dong. There is no admission ticket to enter the distillery. The distillery stores giant old fashion vats of the smelly fish sauce. For a few USD, the local will be happy to tell you all about how fish sauce is made on the island. If you decide to purchase these pungent souvenirs, you must checked in your baggage. It is forbidden to carry fish sauce onto the plane for the welfare of your fellow passengers’ noses.
Phu Quoc also produces Sim Wine (also known as Rose Myrtle Wine). It’s made with local fruit from the Rose Myrtle tree. Most locals drink Sim Wine with seafood. You can buy the wine at Bay Gao Store (124 Duong 30/4, Duong Dong Town/Tel: 077.3847374). My advice is to check for the concentration content of the fruit within the wine. Our boat captain informed us that most places now dilute the wine with a few other ingredients. The locals make it for their own consumption.
The other popular tourist attraction that you can do is to tour the pearl factory on the island and see how pearls are harvested. We opted out of this as we have been to quite a few places in the past. My advice is that the pearls you are buying here might not all be harvested locally. Our boat captain informed us that the manufacturers are also importing fake or low quality pearls from China and mixed them in with their own selections. These places might not be forthcoming about it even if you ask. Bargain appropriately based on this knowledge.
You can check out the Phu Quoc Pearl Farm at Duong Bao Hamlet (Phone: 0773 988 99). It’s more of a gift shop where they also explain how the process is made. It’s not actually a farm. They used the word factory and farm liberally in Vietnam.
We headed back to the Mercure to use the free kayak off the coast for a while. The water is clear and calm so anyone can do it with ease.
After an hour of this strenuous exercise, it was time to head to the spa for a massage. In general, the spas in Vietnam are a bargain compared to the US and you can have a five star experience at a fraction of what it would have cost you. At the Mercure Phu Quoc Resort Hotel’s new spa, you can select your choice of massage and the essential oils.
You follow your masseuse to a private room where she will work her magic on your sore muscles. The spa just opened that weekend so they had a few kinks to work out. Overall, we had a good experience.
With only a few hours left, we walked down Mercure Phu Quoc Resort Hotel’s private beach to catch a few more rays and swim. We looked down at our watch and it was sadly close to our departure time.
A quick shower and packing up, we headed to the restaurant for lunch. We reordered the famous Phu Quoc marinated raw sardines with herbs, fresh vegetables and rice papers to make our spring rolls. The Mercure Phu Quoc Resort Hotel’s restaurant does a really good version of this dish. That was followed by tall glasses of icy, sweet Vietnamese coffee and it was time to head back to Saigon. Even though the hotel is only 10 minutes away from the airport, you must still show up an hour before the flight.
I hope you have a chance to visit Phu Quoc and experience Vietnamese hospitality.
Look out for La Vie Partagee’s recreation of these recipes!
For Part I of the Weekend Unexplored: Phu Quoc Island, click here.
Author: Thai-Anh Hoang
Featured photo: http://www.andy-le.com