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Phu Quoc, Vietnam


I’m not usually a fan of glitzy resorts but this one is so over the top it deserves some attention. However, in the interests of balance I’ll also write a bit about the rest of the island it’s located on, which provides a contrast to the resort.

Phu Quoc is an island in Vietnam, a country I’m very fond of and a popular destination for Australians generally. With a flight time between Sydney and Ho Chi Minh City of less than nine hours, we regard Vietnam and other South-East Asian nations as almost “local” compared with the much longer journey times to other continents.


Phu Quoc lies just off the Cambodian coast in the Gulf of Thailand. The easiest way to get there is to fly from Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), but if your trip includes a tour of southern Vietnam and Cambodia, as mine did, you can also arrive by ferry from Ha Tien or Rach Gia.


Vietnam’s Vingroup operates the Phu Quoc United Center, an entertainment and resort complex – with multiple hotels, a golf course, a theme park and always-open shopping malls – said to rival Las Vegas.


Covering an area of 1,000 hectares, it’s been open only a couple of years and has already been recognized by the Vietnam Record Association with five national records – the largest complex with diverse entertainment and resort forms, the largest bamboo construction, Vietnam’s first teddy bear museum, 3D multimedia show with the most Vietnamese historical references and Vietnam’s largest floating multimedia show inspired by European culture. It sounds like a case of create your own record!

The complex is designed to be an all-in-one destination for travellers, with a range of accommodation options including Vinpearl, VinOasis and Radisson Blu, Vietnam’s largest theme park, VinWonders; Vinpearl Golf, Grand World Shopping City, Vinmec Hospital and more.

The sleepless city

Grand World, which has been named “the sleepless city”, is situated at the centre of the new super complex and features impressive if garish architecture with lively shopping streets, diverse entertainment centres and night markets. A Venice-inspired canal runs through the complex. All services and activities at Grand World operate 24/7 on 365 days a year, offering endless celebrations and festivities for visitors.


As mentioned earlier, highlights at Grand World include Vietnam’s largest Bamboo Legend structure. This work is built from 42,000 bamboo trees from the Tay Ninh region, carefully selected to ensure aesthetic values and sustainable practices. Its dome patterns reflect the communal house in Vietnamese villages - a unique, recognizable national trait.


The project covers an area of up to 7,000 square metres and a height of nearly 15 metres. Below the bamboo structure, there is a 700-square-metre design constructed from reflective materials, which produce mirror-like effects that make the whole piece sparkle on the water surface.

The designer of Bamboo Legend is Vo Trong Nghia, one of the few prominent architects specializing in bamboo structures around the globe. He is said to have contributed significantly to the introduction and popularization of Vietnamese bamboo to the world.

Right next door is the 1,500-square-metre Teddy Bear Museum, the eighth version of its kind in the world, apparently, and the very first in Vietnam.


Culture-seekers will enjoy watching many of Vietnam’s traditional festivals replicated at Grand World such as the whale worship, boat racing and Nguyen Trung Truc festivals. Nguyen Trung Truc was a Vietnamese fisherman and leader of the resistance movement that opposed French colonial forces in the late 19th century. He is highly revered in Vietnam.


Connected to the sleepless city is VinWonders, South-East Asia’s largest theme park where visitors can try out more than 100 rides and see a diverse range of performances.


Catering to a diverse clientele, Phu Quoc United Center provides more than 10,000 rooms between its hotels. The super complex also houses five-star facilities for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (which I thought I’d spell out as not everyone is familiar with the misleading acronym MICE) at Vinpearl Convention Center, and an 18-hole golf course at Vinpearl Golf.


United Center won’t appeal to those looking for a traditional Vietnamese experience, but Phu Quoc has a lot more to offer including gorgeous white-sand beaches and more conventional resorts all along the palm-lined south-west coast. And to the north-east a large chunk of the island is a national park with mountains, dense tropical jungle, hiking trails and wildlife.

Recognised as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2010, Phu Quoc National Park covers more than 32,000 hectares of wilderness, accounting for 70 per cent of the island's total land area. Several endangered species are found here including the silvered langur, slow loris, pygmy loris, crab-eating macaque, stump-tailed macaque, small-clawed otter and fruit bat.

The following pictures illustrate some of these attractions.


The silvered langur. Photo: Bioexplorer

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Stump-tailed macaque. Photo: Erik Karits, Pixabay


Bustling Duong Dong is the largest town on the island but its shops and stores cater mainly for the local market, so don’t expect to find all your favourite western products on the shelves.


Duong Dong Market is near the waterfront in the centre of town and is the largest market in Phu Quoc. Most of the island’s fishing fleet is moored nearby. At the market you can buy fresh seafood from friendly locals who offer good prices. The seafood is so prized the stalls are always crowded with Vietnamese traders buying fish packed in styrofoam to take back to the mainland.

In summary, Phu Quoc has a number of diverse attractions and should not be overlooked by visitors to Vietnam simply because it falls outside of the regular city circuit. All in all it has something for almost everyone.


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