Trip to Ho Chi Minh and the Island of Phu Quoc

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fountainhall
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#1 Trip to Ho Chi Minh and the Island of Phu Quoc

Post by fountainhall » Mon Mar 04, 2019 5:48 pm

Last summer the Marriott chain was one of the last to change its frequent stay points system. Like the airlines and hotels that preceded it, in future you'd have to spend more cash to earn less points, and redeeming more points would be necessary for the same number of nights. So I decided to blow all my stack of points on one trip.

I had thought of splurging the lot on a week at the Marriott in Hua Hin or Rayong. Then I thought that was more than stupid as I could easily visit both and stay in much less expensive hotels. Having been to Hanoi and enjoyed that visit, I decided to go Ho Chi Minh for 3 nights and hope there would be a nice Marriott resort somewhere else in Vietnam. That's how I discovered Phu Quoc, a small kite-shaped island that actually sits under Cambodia although it belongs to Vietnam. The nearest town of any size is Sihanoukville! The 2-year old Marriott Resort on Phu Quoc looked wonderful and had been garnering fabulous reviews. So the rest of my points were spent on 5 nights there.

I was not nearly as taken with Ho Chi Minh as I was Hanoi. My hotel was right on the river and so had nice views. But the temples and pagodas did little for me. Even though I arrived on a Thursday and had both Friday and Saturday nights, I opted not to bother with the gay bars or saunas. The apps had been busy and so I managed two encounters at my hotel. One wanted his taxi fares which was perfectly understandable. The other nothing, and so I took him up to the rooftop bar for drinks and snacks so he could see the great view. The apps I found most busy were Grindr with Blued not far behind. Almost no hits on either Hornet or Jack'd. Both encounters were pleasant, if not up to Thai standards. Unfortunately one mid-20s english teacher hit me up on my last evening. He looked stunning - sent me lots of photos and said he was only into much older guys. Alas it was by then 11:00 pm on my last night and just too late for me.

Phu Quoc is a 30 minute flight from HCM or you can take a 3 hour jetfoil. It was a total revelation for me. Smaller than Phuket, it reminded me a little of what Phuket was like 30 years ago. The nice new airport is in the middle of the island and the Marriott on the south. It was only 16 minutes to get to the hotel. And what a hotel! I absolutely adored my 5 days. It is only the second hotel/resort in my entire life where I did not want to leave and would have gladly stayed on. But then at around US$600 for a basic room at this time of year, that would have been out of the question. I still cannot believe my sea view room was free!

Although I know most readers are probably looking for hotels around 5% of that price, I do urge you to consider Phu Quoc. There is a daily flight from BKK on Bangkok Airways as well as other connections from HCM and Hanoi as well as Air Asia from Kuala Lumpur. There are dozens of small hotels on the island, many of which get excellent reviews and come in around $30 a night.

If you do have points in the Marriott programme or have been left a stash of cash by a relative, do check the Marriott. Although it is spread over quite a large area, there are only 240 rooms which is small for such a location. The rooms - and especially the bathrooms - are stunning, each with a balcony and large daybed. Sipping an espresso and looking at the view of the ocean after getting up each morning was magical. The beach itself is pristine white powdery sand and the sea clearer than you will see anywhere in Thailand now. The hotel's private beach is about 1 km long and there is a large net with a radius of 500 meters around the beach to keep out trash. I understand that beach pollution is bad in some areas but most hotels, and certainly the Marriott, have their own beach cleaners. Certainly I saw not one piece of plastic over 5 days.

The staff are great. I chatted to one of the beach waiters, only 19 and hailing from a town in the centre of Vietnam. Two of his former schoolmates were also working at the resort, one definitely gay but of course untouchable in such a hotel. My beach friend, not gay, spoke pretty good English and was fun to spend time with. He told me the Obamas had stayed at the hotel on a visit some months ago. I did get some contacts on Grindr and Hornet, but sex was not on my agenda for those days. Surprisingly, I though, one message came through from Secret Bar announcing that it is a gay bar in the main town close to the airport. I heard there is also a gay hotel. And I assume many of the hotels at all ends of the price range are gay friendly.

Although few readers are likely to visit it, I'll post just a few photos of the Marriott.

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#2 Re: Trip to Ho Chi Minh and the Island of Phu Quoc

Post by Jun » Mon Mar 04, 2019 6:55 pm

Thanks for the recommendation Fountainhall. Did you travel around the island much ?

I considered visiting Phu Quoc several years ago, but have not visited yet.
When looking at what to see, google bought up more than one website that was showing some quite spectacular waterfalls. The only problem was the photos showed the Kuang Si falls near Luang Prabang in Laos (which I have visited). So I had doubts about the remaining photos on the sites.

I may well be visiting Vietnam and Phu Quoc within the next 12 months.

fountainhall
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#3 Re: Trip to Ho Chi Minh and the Island of Phu Quoc

Post by fountainhall » Mon Mar 04, 2019 8:10 pm

The only part of the island I saw was the dual carriageway from the airport to the Resort! Being located at the south end of the island, I was not particularly interested in venturing out of the complex to see other parts. I was too happy enjoying the Resort. I did think about taking a small boat to go around the island on one of my days. But the Resort's Dive Centre only organised boat trips for those wishing to snorkel or visit some of the 15 islands further south. By the time I had thought about getting them to organise my little boat trip, it was too late!

All I was told is that 70% of the island is a National Park. The Suoi Tranh Waterfall is a 4 meter falls within the park but I did not see it.

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#4 Re: Trip to Ho Chi Minh and the Island of Phu Quoc

Post by Gaybutton » Tue Mar 05, 2019 7:04 am

Fantastic photos. Thank you very much for posting them for us.

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