Geography: Verdant and topographically varied, the island offers the visitor an array for landscapes, ranging from sandy beaches and coves to forested mountains, river plains and smaller islets which together make up an archipelago of 26 islands. The island's variety extends to its maritime heritage, Phu Quoc having both an active fishing industry and good quality coral reefs, most notably to the south and northwest of the island.
The population, numbering around 85,000, has traditionally beeb associated with the sea, and the island's most the striking cultural traits remain the fishing communities of the two main towns, Duong Dong and An Thoi as well as host of smaller and very distinctive fishing villages dotted around the island. The island has also however attracted considerable migration from to respond to growing opportunities in the service industries spurred on by tourism.
In the centre and south much of the original lowland tropical evergreen forest cover has been cleared leaving behind a mix of agricultural and secondary forest landscapes and a variety of rural, settlements. These areas contrast with denser and more extensive rainforest areas in the north which national conservation laws protect and whose scenery is particularly striking when combined with the natural coasting and rivers.
Phu Quoc is geographically familiar to Vietnamese people, particularly in the south of the country where its tropical island status and mountainous character contrasts sharply with the flatlands of the Mekong Delta. Internationally it is an almost unknown destination, with only specialist features of the island, notably the Phu Quoc fish sauce "nuoc mam", Phu Quoc pepper, "ho tieu" and Phu Quoc dog (unique ridgeback breed) having and international recognition.
Strategic Location: Located 10-degree North latitude, Phu Quoc is a tropical island whose closest landing point in Vietnam by sea is the town of Ha Tien, also in Kien Giang province and is 46 km away. Rach Gia city, the capital of the province is 120 km away and be reached by sea and by air (25 minute fly). Ho Chi Minh City is some 500 km away and is accessible by air (60 minutes fly).
Economy: Phu Quoc is famous for its two traditional products: fish sauce and black pepper. The rich fishing grounds offshore provides the anchovy catch from which the prized sauce is made. Pepper cultivation is located inland in the center of the island. More recently a pearl farm was established.
Tourism plays an important part of the economy with the beaches being the main attraction. Phu Quoc is served by Phu Quoc Airport which air links to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)'s Tan Son Nhat Airport and Rach Gia's Rach Gia Airport. A new international airport is going to be built here. Phu Quoc is also linked with Rach Gia and Ha tien by fast ferry hydrofoils.
Brief history of the island: In the early 17th century, Phu Quoc was a desolate area, where Vietnamese and Chinese immigrants earned their living from sea cucumbers. From 1782 to 1786, Phu Quoc became a stronghold of Lord Nguyen Anh, later Emperor Gia Long, in his confrontation with Tay Son forces. Between 1841 and 1847, 12 villages were recorded on the island, including Duong Dong, Gach Dau and Cua Can.
In 1869, the French occupied it and set up rubber and coconut plantations in the island. From 1967 to 1972, a P.O.W detention camp of 40,000 inmates during the war covering on 400 hectares was built at An Thoi by the Saigon regime.
Population records suggest a very small population on the island: in the late 19th and early 20th Century less than 1,000 people resided on Phu Quoc, mostly distributed among small fishing communities. By the end of Second World War the population was still less than 5,000. Architectural evidence suggest the some concentration of population occurred in Duong Dong , where some trading activities were started under the French occupation. During the American war the resident population had risen only to between 12,000 and 17,000, although during this more sinister phase of the island's history a large prisoner population, made up of captured resistance fighters, had emerged. The Cay Dua former prison remains one of the most visible historical records of the island from where some 40,000 prisoners were repatriated to the mainland at the end of the American War in 1975.
After being liberated on 30 April 1975, Phu Quoc has been converted into an ideal tourist destination for nature and sea lovers.
Climate: The island's monsoonal sub-equatorial climate is characterized by distinct rainy (June to October) and dry seasons (November to May). The annual rainfall is high averaging 2,879 mm. In the northern mountains up to 4,000 mm have been recorded. April and May are the hottest months with temperature reaching 35 °C. Trips to Phu Quoc can be made all year round, but the best time is dry season when the sky is always sunny, clear and blue.
Traditional Customs & Festivals: Like special events everywhere, the local festival days based on the lunar calender falling on Oct.,16 (Dinh Cau Temple); Nov., 20 (Thuy Long Thanh Mau Temple); July 15 (Temple consecration ); July 30 (Sung Hung Ancient Pagoda consecration); Ham Ninh Lady's spirits memory; Oct.7 & 8 (Su Muon Pagoda); Sep. 25 & 26 (Suoi Da Pagoda; Sep. 26 & 27 (Ganh Gio Pagoda); August 27 (Nguyen Trung Truc monument's day) ; July 27 (Phu Quoc jail martyr Vietnamese monument's day); Jan. 15 (Gia King's Temple day); From Oct.3, 1997 (Many local people died in the Storm no. 5 ); May 16 (Bon Canh Temple day).
Phu Quoc has worldwide been famous for its two traditional products: the pepper and fish sauce. The numbers are quite surprising: hundreds of fish sauce workshops (annual output: 10 million liters) and countless pepper gardens (total area: 500 ha). Visitors to pepper gardens will be captivated by word of "itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny coins" of patient growers while at fish sauce workshops, they will be amazed at the sight of dozens of bulky barrels being lined up and waiting to be jammed with fresh fish. You will be tempted to try a few pungent green pepper coins and half a spoonful of the tasty salty sauce.