According to the U.S.-based National Geographic Traveler magazine, the heart-shaped Phu Quoc island of Vietnam ranked third in the list of best winter trips 2014.
The periodical noted that there’s no reason to hibernate this winter when there are new beaches, slopes, sports, and festivals to discover. This year’s list of best winter trips is a global collection of 15 editor-recommended destinations.
Some of Vietnam’s best beaches are on Phu Quoc island, making them closer to Cambodia than the Vietnamese mainland.
Phu Quoc once housed the so-called “coconut tree prison” (now a museum), where Vietcong prisoners of war were held through 1973. What’s bringing international travelers and, so far, restrained development to Phu Quoc today are its warm, turquoise waters; secluded, deep sand beaches; and lush, mountainous interior (protected as a national park). Read more Tourists flock to Phu Quoc prison.
Most resorts are located south of Phu Quoc International Airport on Long Beach, and provide airport transfers to their guests. The most convenient way to travel around the island is by motorbike taxi (Xe om) or (with extreme caution) by motorbike.
The magazine also suggested tourists to visit the bustling Dinh Cau Night Market to try whatever local fishermen hauled in that day (sea urchin, prawns, clams, squid, scallops, sardines). Held most evenings near Cau Temple in Duong Dong, the market has dozens of stalls and is a good place to shop for souvenirs (although most items aren’t produced locally).
Phu Quoc is Vietnam’s nuoc mam (fish sauce) capital. The island’s signature (and powerfully pungent) sweet-sour Phu Quoc fish sauce is the essential Vietnamese condiment and, in 2013, became the country’s first product granted the European Union Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status. Read more The special delicious taste of Phu Quoc Fish Sauce.
Other ideal destinations include Paris (France); Lake Baikal, Siberia, (Russia); Santa Margherita Ligure (Italy); Nosara Beaches (Costa Rica); Winter Wolf Viewing, Lamar Valley Yellowstone National Park (the US); Gold Coast, Queensland (Australia); Winter Festivals in Miami, Miami Beach, and Coral Gables, Florida; Muscat-to-Salalah Coastal Route (Oman).