Phu Quoc or Nha Trang – Which beach is best?
If you prefer to meet lots of people, socialize and party as well as enjoy the beach then head to Nha Trang. But if you want more of a remote and idyllic place to relax then Phu Quoc is the place to head. Here is a little bit about our time in both. Nha Trang is very built up and busy with a real ‘holiday’ feel. There are tons of restaurants, bars and shops all catering for the tourist crowd. The prices are still really reasonable. You pay a little more to eat on the beach front but still nothing compared to prices at home. It has a very backpacker feel.
The beach isn’t by any stretch of the imagination the most beautiful beach you will see in your life but it has golden sands and calm waters, meaning it is pleasant enough and you can easily lose a few days there. Sunbeds are cheap and you can hire one for the whole day for less than a £1. Annoyingly you are asked if you want a massage, food, bracelets and other souvenirs every few minutes but I think you soon get used to blocking it out and avoiding eye contact with the sellers! On one side of the beach there is a war memorial statue and the other side is where you can catch a cable car to their popular theme park, VinPearl Land. I didn’t do it this time but when I came to Nha Trang three years ago we went and I seem to remember it was a fun day out.
Another popular thing to do in Nha Trang if you aren’t content with just sitting on the beach is to go to the Thap Ba Mud Spa. The mud is said to be really good for your skin and have healing and anti-aging properties. The spa itself is rather luxurious with a big central lake and gardens. You bathe yourself in the pools of mud for around 15 minutes. After you sit in the sun and wait for the mud to dry before showering it all off. The price includes access to all the pools and Jacuzzi's for the rest of the day so it is definitely worth the money.[hr style=”2″ margin=”20px 0px 20px 0px”]
In contrast to Nha Trang, Phu Quoc is a remote island in the very south of the country. We flew there as we were short for time but you can get a ferry that takes around 3 hours. Annoyingly when we arrived it was raining and our first impressions were somewhat tainted as it wasn’t the tropical paradise we were expecting. Our taxi driver couldn’t find our hotel (even though it is a small island) and to top it all off I ordered a less than average bowl of Pho for lunch that had a bug floating in it! We decided the rain couldn’t stop us from having a night out and so in the evening we headed to a nightclub that we had read holds a really good indie disco on a Saturday night. Yet in keeping with the day's luck, when we got there the door was boarded up and no one was around. So it was a very slow start to our time in Phu Quoc but it does get better.
When I opened my window the following morning I saw palm trees, blue skies and the ocean and was reminded why we were here. The only thing I did find was there is just not many people around, I am guessing most people stay in their resorts because you just don’t get many tourists walking around and even the restaurants and bars at night are pretty empty. To be fair it is low season but I didn’t expect it to be quite as quiet.
We spent a day at Vin Pearl land, which like Nha Trang’s, is an entertainment theme park. Again, there was no one there. It was like a deserted Disneyland and quite eerie walking around with hardly any people about. Having said this, we walked on every waterslide and every ride without a single queue all day so for that it was really good. It did start to get busier about 2pm so I think the locals come when the temperature gets a bit cooler. In hindsight that was probably a wise idea as our feet were scolding walking around the water park in the heat of the day and we had to run, hop and jump from slide to slide.
Although it was the next evening that made me really fall in love with Phu Quoc as we witnessed the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen. It was incredible and just at the beach down from our hotel. The sky went from piercing blue to flickers of yellows and golds and then it started to bleed in burnt oranges and reds. It was picture perfect. After sunset we ate at the night market which is full of fresh fish and seafood at a very affordable price. Lots of locals eat there. There wasn’t that much in the way of shopping compared to other markets we have been to but I think it will develop as the place gets more touristy. It is still very much up and coming as a holiday destination. If I went again in three years I expect it will have completely changed.