First revealed January 2022 | Phrases and photographs by Vietnam Coracle
Phu Quoc’s northern coast is by far essentially the most engaging, peaceable, naturally hanging and least developed a part of the whole island. Alongside the northern bays, there are not any resorts, large building initiatives, burger joints, or backpacker bars. As an alternative, there’s acres of dense jungle rolling down steep hillsides proper to the water’s edge, the place seams of white sand lie completely empty and the ocean is calm, clear, shallow and turquoise and the solar units between the Cambodian islands within the Gulf of Thailand. That is what most individuals need Phu Quoc to be – a abandoned, lush, tropical island fringed by sandy seashores and lapped by calm seas – and but most individuals don’t expertise it, as a result of they don’t go to the northern bays they usually don’t camp. Sleeping out on the sands of the northern seashores is an actual journey and an expertise that may stick with you for a very long time. Do it now, whilst you nonetheless can, and earlier than everybody else will get right here.
The place & Methods to Camp on the Northern Coast
On this information, I’ve centered on tenting on 4 northern seashores (Dragon Seaside, Rạch Vẹm, Rạch Tràm and Bãi Thơm). I’ve written an introduction to every seaside and created an annotated tenting map of the north. Generally, the tenting areas on this information require you to deliver your personal tenting tools, however I’ve additionally included a few spots on Bãi Thơm the place you possibly can both lease tents or keep in rustic seaside shacks. Ideally, the seashores are reached by bike (straightforward to lease on the island). The perfect months for tenting are the Southern Dry Season (November/December to April/Might), when climate and sea situations are perfect. Another time of 12 months, you danger being rained off by the monsoon. I’ve additionally written an Tools check-list and Security part.
Dragon Seaside (Mũi Hàm Rồng)
Rạch Vẹm (Starfish Seaside)
Rạch Tràm Seaside
Bãi Thơm Seaside
Security & Hazards
*Security & Duty: Wild tenting in Vietnam is likely one of the most memorable journey experiences you possibly can have. Nonetheless, campers ought to accomplish that safely & responsibly, taking care to not hurt the pure atmosphere or disturb personal property, and absolutely conscious of the dangers concerned. Please learn the Security & Hazards part earlier than deciding to camp.
Tenting on Dragon Seaside & the Northern Bays | Phu Quoc Island
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Solely accessible by boat, Dragon Seaside (Bãi Biển Hàm Rồng) is an extended, slim lip of white sand sliding into shallow, turquoise water backed by dense jungle with dramatic hills rising behind. There’s no improvement right here in any respect. It’s stunning. The beautiful 10-minute boat journey could be organized from any of the seafood eating places on neighbouring Rạch Vẹm seaside, simply to the south. I like to recommend taking the boat from Ngàn Sao Quán proper on the northern finish of Rạch Vẹm seaside, as a result of the household are pleasant, the boat is a vibrant, fairly little conventional fishing vessel, and the value is cheap: 100,000vnd per particular person for a gaggle of a minimum of 4 folks. You have to to politely negotiate first, and it’s also possible to park your bike there in a single day. Throw all of your tenting gear onto the boat and both prepare a time to be collected the following day or take the household’s telephone quantity and name them everytime you wish to be picked up.
Dragon Seaside has two rickety picket piers at both finish, however the boat can drop you anyplace you want alongside the sand. The northern finish is fashionable with day-trippers and it appears like there’s going to be a small homestay-style lodging there, so in order for you a peaceable, quiet and remoted campsite, persist with the southern finish. Not removed from the southern pier, a clearing within the jungle appears as if it’s an deserted ranger station or picnic website: perfect for a campground. Set again from the seaside and raised a metre or so above the ocean, the sandy clearing is within the shade of huge tropical bushes and appears immediately west for superb sundown views. Out within the distance, you possibly can see the jungle-covered hills and lights of Gành Dầu, the northwestern-most level of Phu Quoc, past which the Cambodian islands and mainland are clearly seen. Should you select to arrange camp on the seaside itself, beware that the tide is available in a lot that solely a slim slither of sand stays above the waterline. (It is best to be capable to discern the hide-tide mark on the sand.) You might go to Dragon Seaside as a day journey, however tenting here’s a a lot richer expertise: the place actually will get beneath your pores and skin and stays with you. It’s magical.
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Rạch Vẹm Seaside:
Accessed by way of an extended dust street, Rạch Vẹm is a country, largely undeveloped white sand seaside fringed by leaning coconut palms and shallow water, beneath which lie a whole lot of pink starfish (therefore its fashionable title: Starfish Seaside). The small fishing hamlet right here has been luring day-trippers to the seaside with glorious native seafood eating places housed in gazebos above the ocean, reached by way of lengthy, wooden-plank walkways. The southern finish of the seaside is kind of unattractive; the central part is fairly but in addition more and more touristy, together with kitsch props for social media posing; however the northern finish continues to be quiet, stunning and charming. After crossing the picket bridge, journey as far north as you possibly can alongside the sandy path till you attain Ngàn Sao Quán (Thousand Stars Shack). This isn’t solely essentially the most engaging beachfront on Rạch Vẹm but in addition an ideal seafood restaurant, level of departure for the boat to Dragon Seaside, and a possible campsite. To camp out on the sand right here – the place there are deck chairs and a few rudimentary swings hanging from casuarina bushes – it is advisable ask permission from the pleasant household at Ngàn Sao Quán. Alternatively, you might park your bike right here in a single day (providing the household a small price in change) after which stroll a number of hundred metres due north alongside the seaside the place you’ll discover some extra good potential campsites.
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Rạch Tràm Seaside:
Essentially the most northerly sandy seaside on the island, Rạch Tràm is likely one of the few areas on Phu Quoc that is still completely undeveloped. A large, newly paved street leads all the best way to inside 100 metres of the bay. The southern part is house to Rạch Tràm fishing hamlet and the seaside shouldn’t be very engaging, however the northern reaches are wonderful. A brief dust street leads by the bushes and out to the white sands and calm shallow water, simply south of the Biên Phòng border patrol station. From right here, you possibly can journey somewhat approach due north on a sandy path close to the ocean till it meets a stream. Park your bike right here and carry your tenting gear north alongside the seaside till you discover a appropriate campsite. Studded with palm bushes, behind which dense jungle grows all the best way up a steep hillside, the seaside is lengthy, stunning and empty. The water is calm, shallow and clear with a number of boulders within the bay to swim out to and soar off. Cambodia offers a dramatic backdrop to the sensational sunsets you get right here. When selecting a campsite, watch out to not pitch your tent too near the ocean, as a result of the tide is available in a good distance throughout the evening.
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Bãi Thơm Seaside:
Stretching for a number of kilometres alongside the northeastern-most coast of Phu Quoc, Bãi Thơm seaside is a beguiling mixture of shallow, tidal bays, inlets, and tree-lined seashores. The water may be very shallow and never as blue as different northern bays, neither is the sand as wonderful and white, however Bãi Thơm has loads of appeal and an interesting laid-back, sleepy appeal. What’s extra, though the street alongside a lot of Bãi Thơm is paved, the world stays very sparsely populated and undeveloped. Simply north of Bãi Thơm village, an extended, sandy seaside could be accessed by way of some small dust roads. End up a patch of sand beneath the whispering casuarina bushes and make camp. Alternatively, there are a number of cheap and casual seaside homestay-style lodging within the village and south alongside the street, providing the selection of low cost seaside shacks, tent rental or make-your-own-camp on their property for a small price. One such place is Luna Seaside, a stunning spot run by a heat and welcoming northern household; or strive Bãi Thơm Retreat additional south, and several other different locations round Hòn Một Islet. This space is ripe for exploration and excellent for unbiased travellers on a finances and with a tent. Discover and revel in. (Most locations alongside this coast, together with Luna and Thơm Retreat, additionally serve glorious, recent seafood.)
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Beneath is a quick (removed from exhaustive) tools check-list for tenting on Phu Quoc Island. I’ve written this assuming that the majority travellers will deliver their very own tools, however there’s additionally the potential for renting a tent someplace on the island (ask round) and King Kong Mart is an effective place to seek out nearly every thing else. To a sure extent, the success of your tenting journey hinges on how ready you might be. I haven’t coated every thing right here – just a few necessities and elective extras which I personally like having with me. Should you’ve camped in different places in Vietnam, you’ll have already got the tools right down to an artwork. It definitely isn’t essential to have all the fashionable, stylish tenting devices and equipment in an effort to have a extremely profitable tenting journey. In reality, to a sure diploma, you possibly can find yourself making your self too snug should you deliver an excessive amount of tools; after which it doesn’t actually really feel like tenting anymore. Nonetheless, having the fundamentals does make all of the distinction – being too chilly at evening, for instance, is fairly depressing. The next record is rambling and in no specific order (the annotated image beneath may also be useful):
Test-Listing: Tent or tenting hammock (I a lot favor the previous, however each that can be purchased in Vietnam; strive the FanFan shops in a number of cities, or hammocks could be discovered at King Kong Mart on the island), cellular phone and native SIM, USB power-bank, flashlight (with further batteries or a USB-charged flashlight is an effective choice), money, a camp range, firelighters (cồn khô in Vietnamese; out there in most native shops), a few cigarette lighters, meals and snacks (dried and tinned meals is best, however you could be surprisingly artistic in relation to tenting meals), huge bottles of water (5-6 litre bottles can be found in most shops), thermos flasks (for storing boiled water), espresso and tea, your most popular alcoholic drink, socks (underrated tenting asset – nice for strolling round your campsite with out getting sandy ft), a mat for sitting on, studying materials or a Kindle, long-burning candles (comforting at evening, safer, much less effort and fewer attention-drawing than a campfire), mosquito coil and bug spray, guitar/ukulele (elective), cutlery, a very good knife, waterproof rain-suit (simply in case), sunscreen, toothbrush, towel, GIVI field or bungees for securing your baggage in your bike, inflatable sleeping mat or yoga mat (makes all of the distinction should you really wish to get any sleep), sleeping bag or some sort of protecting, moist ‘child’ tissues (nice for cleansing utensils), hand sanitizer, passport, plenty of widespread sense.
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Security & Hazards:
Tenting is a number of enjoyable, however there are a number of precautions to take and potential hazards to pay attention to. Tenting continues to be a reasonably area of interest exercise on Phu Quoc and anybody who decides to strive it ought to accomplish that as responsibly as attainable. Beneath are some things to remember when tenting on the island:
Fires: It ought to go with out saying that should you make a campfire on the seaside it is advisable be extraordinarily cautious, particularly within the dry season, when every thing is crisp, brittle and straightforward to ignite. Right now of 12 months, the jungles are arid and hearth can unfold rapidly and simply. Be smart: should you make a campfire, preserve it small and beneath management, and don’t take something as a right. Sand is nice for extinguishing a hearth if it will get uncontrolled.
Tides: All the time test alongside the seaside for indicators of the high-tide mark earlier than pitching your tent: should you camp too near the ocean, you may discover the water lapping at your tent in the midst of the evening and half your campsite washed away. On the northern seashores, the ocean recedes by about 5 metres throughout low-tide, and the east coast experiences an much more dramatic change in water-level.
Trash & the Atmosphere: Sadly, litter is a big downside on Vietnamese seashores and within the ocean, particularly ‘informal objects’, corresponding to on the spot noodle packages, mushy drink cans, water bottles, sweet wrappers, and little sachets of shampoo. The northern seashores on Phu Quoc Island are comparatively clear, however nonetheless endure from flotsam and jetsam washed up on the sand. Trash shouldn’t be solely discarded by folks residing regionally but in addition by travellers: certainly, among the worst-affected areas in Vietnam are the most-popular vacationer locations, together with fashionable tenting spots. Set an instance by ensuring you permit your campsite spotless. Attempt to restrict the quantity of single-use plastic you eat whereas tenting by bringing alongside objects corresponding to flasks, reusable meals containers, and a water filter. Any litter you do generate, tie up in a bag and eliminate correctly within the nearest city the following day. (I’ve written extra about reusable journey objects on this web page.) When going to the bathroom outdoors, dig somewhat gap within the floor and canopy it up once more.
Private Security & Possessions: Vietnam is mostly a really secure nation through which to journey. Nevertheless it’s nonetheless sensible to watch out together with your most dear possessions. At evening, lock the wheel of your bike and preserve it near your tent if attainable. If you fall asleep, be sure you have all your most necessary and invaluable possessions with you inside the tent, corresponding to cash, passport, telephone and many others.
Animals & Wildlife: A part of the enjoyment of tenting is mendacity in your tent at evening, listening to the refrain of animals and bugs outdoors. The one animals you’re more likely to encounter are bugs and canine. Even so, don’t depart meals outdoors your tent at evening: clear your utensils, stash your meals in a container, and tie up your litter in a bag. Snakes and mosquitoes are in all probability essentially the most harmful animals on the island, neither of which like hearth. Snakes, apparently, don’t like heavy footfall and are unlikely to hunt out a spot of human exercise. (I’ve seen many snakes on Phu Quoc, however none after I’ve camped.) For mosquitoes, burn a coil all through the night and evening, and convey bug spray should you want it.
Individuals & Authorities: I’ve camped dozens of occasions throughout Vietnam: I’ve by no means been informed not to camp and I’ve by no means had an issue with folks or native authorities. Nonetheless, as a basic rule, strive not to attract consideration to your self: wild tenting continues to be fairly uncommon in Vietnam, so anybody who sees a traveller (particularly a overseas one) organising their tent in the midst of nowhere will naturally be curious and even, in some circumstances, suspicious. Attempt to be as inconspicuous as attainable: it’s greatest to ensure nobody sees you organising camp and that you simply aren’t seen from any street, lane or pathway. It’s because you don’t wish to entice the curiosity of any passersby. Should you do encounter anyone, the precise factor to do is to ask permission to camp: in nearly each state of affairs in my expertise, folks might be pleased to allow you to (albeit confused as to why you’d wish to). And, clearly, take note of your environment: be sure you’re not tenting on somebody’s farmland or near a army submit.
Driving Off-Street: To be able to attain among the seashores on this information, it’s essential to journey on dust roads for brief distances. Driving off-road could be powerful, gradual and harmful should you’re not used to it, or if, like me, your bike wasn’t designed for such use. Nonetheless, with care and persistence even an previous computerized like my bike can do it. Experience slowly and punctiliously, as a result of punctures and falls are extremely doubtless should you journey recklessly off-road. Additionally, driving on dust roads is a lot simpler within the dry season: the identical roads when moist could be extraordinarily tough and treacherous.
*Disclosure: I by no means obtain fee for something I write: my content material is at all times free and unbiased. I’ve written this information as a result of I wish to: I like tenting on Phu Quoc Island and I need my readers to find out about it. For extra particulars, see my Disclosure & Disclaimer statements and my About Web page
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