Though I had heard much about the unique beauty of Phu Quoc, I could not help being amazed at its nature and specialities during my recent holiday to the largest island in Vietnam.
The tear-shaped island is part of Kien Giang Province, which lies 45km from Ha Tien and 120km from Rach Gia. It stretches 50km from north to south and 25km from east to west at its widest.
Having been to Ko Samui in Thailand, I understood why my friends always said Phu Quoc Ilsland was more natural and untouched than the popular Thai tourism destination.
Pearl farms are must-see attractions. Visitors are shown every aspect of oyster breeding, including the process by which mother-of-pearl dust is coated by a special substance inside the oyster to form pearls
A guide will also demonstrate how to cut open an oyster to extract a pearl.
The farm showrooms display various kinds of pearls, including those in white, ivory, yellow, black and even red, as well as in all shapes such as circular, water drop, heart-shaped, square, triangle and lozenge.
Naturally produced pearls are much more valuable than man-made ones, yet their shapes remain rather rough. Man-made pearls are often more beautiful as they are shaped better, are more shiny and finer in colour, my local guide explained.
However, he said that only 20 per cent of pearls sold in shops and showrooms on the island were native to the island. Most are brought from other localities in the country or imported from China.
"Phu Quoc pearls are distinguished by their colour and shine," he said. "Natural pearls can heal scratches on the surface themselves. An easy way to recognise real pearls is by scratching them against each other. There should not be any scratches as a result, only some mother-of-pearl dust."
Explaining the reason for such quality, my guide told me that the crystal clear waters surrounding the island offers the best living conditions for shelled molluscs like oysters and snails, many of which can produce beautiful pearls.
This is why the island has been nicknamed "Pearl Island".
Dinh Cau Night Market
Dinh Cau Night Market, located in the centre of town, boasts around 100 food and souvenir stalls, draws a multitude of visitors from right across the island.
Delicious smells make both domestic and foreign mouths water. Fresh seafood on charcoal stoves, bowls of vermicelli in alluring soup, boiled snails, squid and shrimps served with Phu Quoc's renowned fish sauce remain unforgettable memories to me.
Reasonable prices is another feature of the Dinh Cau night markets.
On leaving Phu Quoc Island, the salty smell of nuoc mam (fish sauce) and black pepper farms, (where locals use waste matter from fish sauce production to enrich the soil), seemed to permeate the island, instilling in me a strong impression of both its land and sea.
Travel Tip shared by Lan Nguyen