With a rich history, a tropical climate and mouth-watering cuisine, Vietnam is a country that boasts a lot. Somewhere near the top of this boastful list is its beaches. While the mainland has its fair share of stunning stretches, the island beaches can't be beaten.
The beaches are best accessed by scooter or motorbike which can be rented from any major town. On a recent trip to Vietnam and for all of their unique charms, I fell in love with the five beaches below. Pack a picnic and enjoy!
Sao Beach, Phu Quoc
A picturesque and tranquil spot. This beach is a bit hard to find but worth it. It's about a 20-minute motorbike drive from Phu Quoc centre. A quaint restaurant, as you approach the sand, serves up small snacks or a bigger lunch if you're so inclined.
A short stroll down the beach will bring you to a tree swing where a local man charges $1 to sit and take a photo on it! My mascot Steve got one sneaky shot for free, though.
Steve on a swing at Sao Beach, Phu Quoc
Long Beach, Phu Quoc
The main stretch of beach on the island and onto which most of the hotels and bars face out is Long Beach. Depending on where you're perched and what mood you're in, you can find tranquility or a buzzing atmosphere. You can indulge in beauty treatments too. Locals offer massages, manicures and even hair threading from the breezy shade of their umbrellas, right on the beach.
After you've pampered yourself, walk along the water to Rory's Beach Bar for a beer and some great music. Rory also serves up an Australian-style beach bar menu if you're feeling peckish.
Rory's Beach Bar, Long Beach
This rocky beach is only accessible by foot and starts with quite a steep walk down a guided path. Park your motorbike at the top when you reach the 'Ong Dung Beach' sign and begin the descent. Make sure you bring plenty of water for the return hike.
Steps down to Ong Dung Beach
Along the trail, there are signposts with tidbits of information about the surrounding trees or resident animals. These offer a welcome respite from the trek and a chance to down some much-needed H20.
Once you reach the bottom, though, here's what you see:
Ong Dung Beach, Con Dao
It's quite rocky here but beautifully peaceful. There's a little house/bar too that offers cold drinks and snacks. They also supply the local monkeys with packets of dried noodles to munch on. If you're lucky, you'll make friends with one, and he'll join you for the upwards climb when you're leaving.
A monkey eats some noodles at Ong Dung Beach
Ong Dung beach also offers some of the best snorkeling on the island. Just make sure to go when the tide is in, or else you'll be navigating slippery rocks through half a kilometre of knee-deep water to reach a spot where you can see anything.
Dam Trau Beach, Con Dao
Perfectly golden-white sands, postcard-worthy turquoise waters and two rustic bamboo beach bars. Spend the day here and watch the planes come into land on the tiny runway behind the beach.
It's the perfect spot to watch the sunset and this was my absolute favourite beach.
Sunset at Dam Trau Beach
Dam Trau beach is about a 30-minute drive from the town centre, and it can be tricky enough to get here on a motorbike - the trails are sandy and uneven. So make sure a confident and well-seasoned bike rider is at the helm.
Lo Voi Beach, Con Dao
Although not the most beautiful beach, Lo Voi is just beside Pier 914 (named after the amount of prisoners who died building it) so it's central and has some decent bars and cafes just across the street. Convenient for a pick-me-up after a morning dip.
When the school and work days end, you'll see lots of the locals rushing here for a cool down swim which is fun to witness - a mass of people of all ages descending towards the water.
And on the other side of the pier, there's this:
All photos courtesy of Kim Gillick.
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