They say vacation on the island of Phu Quoc, Vietnam ain’t what it used to be, but I can’t speak to that. They say Phu Quoc’s natural beauty is being overrun by fancy rich-bitch resorts and Chinese casinos, but I have nothing to compare it to, because I went there for the first time for New Year’s 2023.
Con: Phu Quoc is Overrun
OK: preamble aside, rich-bitch resorts besmirch Phu Quoc’s white sandy beaches and tranquil cerulean waves like pus-filled boils on the face of its glittering-golden sunset coast. And, yes, I’m talking about the sunset side: the whole West coast of Phu Quoc island is loaded with expensive hotels, which teem with leathery, sweating, slow-metabolizing, margherita-slurping, shade-squatting, sunscreen-squelching foreigners. But to be fair, I don’t know what Phu Quoc was like before, so.
Pro: Phu Quoc’s Best Kept Secret: Raw Fucking Honey
If you want to know Phu Quoc’s best-kept secret — at least, in my opinion — you should check out its Raw Fucking Honey. We rode past an old couple on the side of the road — wait, should I tell you how to rent a motorbike in Phu Quoc with no passport or license or anything?
Pro: How to rent a motorbike in Phu Quoc with no passport or license or anything
When you get out of the airport, go right. There’s a bunch of dudes who hang out outside the airport. They’ll rent you one. They just take a picture of your ID so you don’t trash their shit.
Back to the Raw Honey
We were just riding around and we saw a local couple on the side of the road with a big plastic bag hanging from the handlebars. Some other people were stopping by and talking to them. My partner and I did the same. The local couple turned out to be bee farmers. They sold us a liter of raw honey, and a whole bunch of fucking live fucking bee larvae.
You may be wondering what it was like.
I’m telling you, the stuff smelled weird. Not foul, but for sure unlike anything I’ve ever smelled.
During the course of the sales negotiations, the man of the old couple pointed to the larvae, which squirmed and lolled in their comb, pointed to a bicep he was making, pointed to his crotch, and then smiled winningly, even winking for good measure. Of course, at that point, I had to buy the larvae comb. If I didn’t buy it, he might think I was overcompensating, as if to say, “I don’t need your bees because my crotch is already very very strong” — on the other hand, I worried that if I accepted his offer too eagerly, he would perhaps think my crotch weak. Slyly, I sniggered at his antics, yet continued to look interestedly on.
In the end, I bought 2 million dong’s worth of raw honey and becombed larvae. And I don’t know whether or not it made my crotch any stronger, mostly because of how strong my crotch already was to begin with. I will say that it was goddamned delicious. Also, it was real.
We were worried it would be made out of sugar or something, but the honey passed two tests. First, it didn’t turn black when we burned it with a lighter. Second, it didn’t crystallize in the fridge. So that silenced the haters who are always going “who spends two million on honey” and “what makes you different than all the other sunscreen-squelching tourists.” To the former, me, and to the latter, perhaps less than I would like to admit.
Pro: The Frenchie Murderer
This one’s sort of a quirky pro, especially if you like history and niche stuff that you can find off the beaten path.
You may not know this, but Vietnam was a French colonial possession throughout the 19th century (actually, Vietnam has a long, proud history of resisting foreign rule, but the details of that are another story). Anyway, being so fiercely proud, it is no wonder they built Den Tho Cu Nguyen, a shrine of religious worship to a Vietnamese resistance fighter named Nguyen Trung Truc.
During colonial rule, Nguyen Trung Truc took up arms against the French occupation of “Indochina,” killing a bunch of colonizers before finally getting caught.
The property was spacious, with massive potted trees in cement pots and sticks of musty incense wafting into the haze of the afternoon. The sky was blue; the air was hot; Nguyen Trung Truc’s shrine had no walls. A metal safe stood against the wall. I donated 20,000 VND. I know, I know: the honey was way more. But to be fair, the spirit of Nguyen Trung Truc never promised to make my crotch any stronger than it already is.
Pro: The Untouched Parts of Phu Quoc Island
So if you want to go to some pristine, untouched Phu Quoc beaches, why not follow in my footsteps and check out Thom Beach Bar? Nestled against he north coast of the island, Thom beach bar features sand, coconuts, these floating chicken/duck things, and a freaking beach cat.
Beach cat aside, I honestly can’t recommend too much food there. It’s kind of basic. But it’s not bad either. And the coffee is good. I mean, coffee is coffee, am I right?
Coffee snobs need not respond.
To restate, if you want to experience some of the local culture of Phu Quoc Island, especially on the coast, you want to travel to the northern part of the island.
Go to Phu Quoc!
Whether you live in Vietnam and are looking for a tent holiday or weekend getaway, or whether you live abroad and are thinking about cheap beachy touristy destinations, you want to look up travel to Phu Quoc!
My obviously unfair judgments about tourists aside, if you like being comfortable, stay in the south — especially the southwest, where you can find plenty of bars, catch some rave music, and witness breathtaking sunsets. On the other hand, if you prefer staying off the beaten path, travel north.
As for me, I did a little bit of both, and my trip was all the better for it.