– Family package
– Hideaway Escape
– Sweet Escape
31st December 2023
CHEN SEA IS PHU QUOC
Make it your destination
So what is “Dolce Far Niente” that even licensed clinical psychologists declare as paramount for your balance and happiness. Well the definition of Merriam-Webster dictionary is “Pleasant relaxation in a carefree idleness” Literally it means “sweet doing nothing” and it starts to sound better. Sweet idleness sounds better as well but the meaning is “sheer indulgent relaxation and blissful laziness”
Even better we prefer “the Art to enjoy doing nothing”
There should be an understanding that we are not talking about doing nothing like in laziness. Doing nothing in this context is an event in and of itself.
“Dolce Far Niente” should be a privilege moment that you share, like with your loved one, so to indulge yourself in activities that you have no time to handle in your everyday life especially when glued to a social media.
The pleasure to sleep, rest, recuperate, contemplate nature or a sea eagle going fishing, a horn bill calling his mate as it is time to join back the nest, sipping a cocktail as you watch the sunset and listen to the small swell, eating sane and tasty food (like Foodies do), breathe non polluted air and feel what is then happening to your lungs. Enjoy a walk, a swim, a spa treatment, a nap in a hammock, enjoy what you never have the time for.
Let Dolce Far Niente be at Chen Sea. Indulge yourself in the Art of doing nothing, there is so much to do and enjoy.
Ong Lang Beach : A string of small beaches rather than one long one, Ong Lang may not have that postcard-perfect look you may expect, whose ingredients are a crystal clear calm water lapping an ultra-white powdery sand. On the other hand, the sand is thick and yellowish, peppered with clusters of black rocks and the occasional mangrove tree. There are more humble casuarina trees than photogenic coconut palms. On top of that, you may have the occasional cow staring at you with mild interest. Perhaps Ong Lang is a “less gentle” kind of beach, but it has its own rustic charm, even though it’s backed by a dozen resorts. Go to Ong Lang beach to look for a piece of sand under a tree, all for yourself.
Dai Beach : This beach is a long stretch of powdery, cream-colored sand, backed by a stretch of grass under old trees and newly planted palms. Beside this, you’ll find almost everything you can think of, all in one place. A large hotel including a casino, a shopping street, an amusement park, a zoo and even a ferry wheel, all under the name Vinpearl, synonymous with large Chinese group tours and family-oriented fun. Go to Dai beach if you, or your wife and kids, miss hotel buffets, shopping malls and entertainment.
Sao Beach : Post any picture of this postcard-perfect beach on Facebook and Instagram and you’ll be instantly envied by everybody. Beaches like this are normal in the Maldives but not in Vietnam. Ultra-white powdery sand, coconut palms reaching the shoreline and a crystal-clear still water where small fish, starfish and crabs can be spotted. What else can you ask for? This is Phu Quoc most stunning beach. Go there to take pictures of the ultimate, perfect tropical paradise
Khem Beach : Another postcard perfect beach, much larger than Sao and it is also one of Phu Quoc’s beaches with white sand. Khem is very pristine and clean, due to the fact that until 2014 it belonged to an army restricted area. It has been developing slowly with low-impact resorts which contribute to keep it clean. Even though it may be crowded on weekends, it’s too beautiful to be considered over-developed. Another unique feature of Khem is the sea: it has a unique emerald color, not found anywhere else. Go there for good seafood and to socialize at the beach bars.
Ganh Dau Beach : This is a truly beautiful, white sand beach fringed by coconut palms. Naturally sheltered and shaded, with a very calm, shallow water, Ganh Dau is the stereotype of the tropical beach. Developed but not a lot, with empty stretches of sand if you wish to be totally alone, it has also a nice restaurant and discreet, fine bungalows. This is how nature and development should gently blend. Go there to stay.
Cay Beach : Undeveloped, known only by local fishermen, shaded by coconut palms and empty. Very empty. Cay Sao is one of Phu Quoc’s hidden gems. Hidden until somebody will develop it. Problem is, it’s a bit hard to find. Go there to feel proud, as you have found a place nobody knows about yet. And hurry up.
Phu Quoc’s warm, shallow and calm waters are just perfect for snorkeling. The most visited locations, as they are the easiest to reach, are all located in the north-western corner of the island. But the truly amazing ones are in the deep southern part, in the tiny archipelago of An Thoi. Here are some of our recommendations, choice is yours…
Turtle Island : One of the largest islands on the western side of Phu Quoc, Turtle Island is the most famous snorkeling site of all. Majority of underwater life is found at the depth of less than 7 meters, making it an ideal place for snorkelers and beginner divers. These shallow waters host hundreds of multicolored soft corals, anemones and tropical fish, an amazing underwater paradise that will impress even well-traveled snorkelers. There is plenty of sand and shade to relax in between underwater explorations.
Fingernail Island : Also known as Hon Mong Tay, this small island is located at the southern end of Vung Bau beach and can be reached by kayak from the beach. As it’s not far, one may be tempted to swim, but due to a strong underwater current swimming is not recommended. The islet is surrounded by a shallow reef, rich in marine life. At a depth of 5 meters the sandy bottom meets large underwater boulders and rock formations, which are the habitat of big puffer fish, octopuses, shrimps, crabs and parrot. This is a good spot for spearfishing.
An Thoi Archipelago : This tiny archipelago in the southern part is made of 15 islands and islets, they are where the most stunning beaches are hidden. Established as a marine park and protected by UNESCO, it is visited by various boat tours offering snorkeling as part of their packages. As they generally stop at one island only, to reach the most beautiful spots, you are recommended to rent your own boat and perhaps stay or camp overnight on a couple of tiny islands that offer very basic accommodation and food.
Mot Islet : Located in front of Bai Thom beach, the little Mot islet is a snorkeling spot that can be reached by walking at low tide on a rocky natural bridge connecting it to Phu Quoc. Sea urchins and sharp rocks can be an unpleasant way to end your excursion, so proceed slowly, watch where you put your feet and don’t go barefooted. Hard corals, anemones and plenty of reef fish are the residents of these shallow waters.
Nudibranchs Garden : This is one of Phu Quoc’s unique attractions, a diving and snorkeling site that you can’t often see. In these warm and shallow waters nudibranchs have found their perfect habitat and the variety of species is enormous. But what are they? Also called sea slugs, these soft-bodied molluscs display an amazing mix of stripes and spots, all in bright, neon-like colors and come in all sorts of shapes and size, up to 6 cm. As these are among the most colorful creatures on Earth, we recommend you don’t miss this experience. If you plan to invest in an underwater digital camera, this is where you should start using it.
Phu Quoc Island used to be a remote, lesser known destination only 10 years ago. Now it is heading at full speed towards a touristic and economic boom. It’s time to see what it has to offer before it’s too late, or too expensive. Here you have the absolute must-see and must-do activities for the little paradise known as Phu Quoc Island.
Experience local Life at Ham Ninh Village : Ham Ninh Village is the stereotype of the unspoiled Asian fishing village. With many houses built on stilts, a wooden rickety pier and dozens of colorful fishing boats, the place is an Instagram-lover wet dream, especially at sunset and/or at low tide, where the landscape changes dramatically. Even though nowadays fishermen are shifting to the more lucrative tourism sector, there is still plenty of fresh seafood at the village restaurants. Tip: try the local crabs and the sea cucumber soup.
Pray at local temples : Thanks to its unique history, Vietnam has a greater variety of places of worship than any other Asian country. Buddhist temples, Taoist pagodas, Catholic churches abound all over the country. And there is also a home-made religion known as Cao Dai. Phu Quoc temples covers them all. The Din Cau Taoist shrine is an oddly-shaped rock where fisherman pray to before going out at sea, devoted to Thien Hau, the Goddess of the Sea. The Ho Cuoc pagoda is an impressive complex by the sea, a great spot to watch spectacular sunrises. The Cao Dai temple is perhaps the most unique religious site on Phu Quoc Island. Founded in 1919, Cao Daism is a monotheistic religion which combines Hinduism, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Christianity, and Islam. And Phu Quoc is where it was created. The temple is a multicolored affair you must not miss.
Shop like a local at the fresh markets : Markets in Asia are often nothing more than tourist traps, where locals don’t buy anything anymore but rather sell junky souvenirs to tourists. But Phu Quoc markets haven’t fallen into that category – yet. The Dinh Cau Night Market and Duong Dong Market still retain the flavor of a real local experience, with busy, wet, dirty and hopelessly messy alleys where buyers and sellers bargain hard and noisily. Seafood, household items, veggies, fruits, meat, semi-processed foods: perhaps there isn’t a lot to buy for a tourist, but these Phu Quoc markets are great for people watching.
Splash around at Suoi Tranh Waterfall : If you have had an indigestion of stunning beaches, or if you can’t stand the fierce tropical sun and salty seas, do something alternative and refresh yourself in a waterfall shaded by old trees. Suoi Tranh is Phu Quoc waterfall and it’s definitely a place to enjoy. Although not very high or spectacular, it is located in a quiet, lovely spot surrounded by lush rainforest, with really few people around. Find your rock pool and listen to the sounds of nature. Then, if you love to hike, you can look for the Hang Doi Cave, a few kilometers after the waterfall.
Looking at a map of the area that used to be called Indochina, Phu Quoc appears more of a Cambodian than a Vietnamese island. Rumors of an agreement between the two countries to allow a ferry service from the resort town of Kampot have been heard for a decade but nothing concrete has happened so far. How to get to Phu Quoc from Cambodia is what this post is about.
Assuming you will start your journey in Phnom Penh, there are two ways to reach the border crossing at Ha Tien: directly, with a straight bus journey, or step by step, visiting other nice cities along the coast and then, on the last leg, crossing into Vietnam from the town in Kampot.
There are several bus companies to choose from. They are all more or less the same in terms of standards and fares differ very little. It is better to buy tickets at their offices (all located near Psah Thmay) rather than in small travel agencies, as you may end up waiting for all passengers to be collected from various parts of the city, which generates long delays and it is not such a very good way to start.
Another alternative is to use one of the ubiquitous minivans that depart when full and, in theory, travel faster than coaches. Though, keep in mind that legroom is minimal and reclining seats are not so reclining. Please be warned: air conditioning is great, when it works. If it breaks down, as it sometimes happens with buses and minivans, you are going to travel in a 4-wheels sauna. So if you opt for the minivan, check if windows can be opened.
The third option is the shared taxi. Many years ago, when Cambodia’s infrastructure was battered by years of war, this was the only option, in the form of white Toyota Coronas from the 80’s. Nowadays taxis are mostly Lexus 4×4 and Toyota Camry and instead of sharing the journey with as many as five peasants and their livestock, now you travel comfortably with only two or three upper-class Cambodians, or other tourists. Alternatively you can pay a forfeited fee and have it all for yourself.
A final tip if you want to do something that very few people have done so far: as the dilapidated railway network has been partially repaired, there are now regular trains to Kampot on weekends. Inquire at the railway station in Phnom Penh.
Once in Kampot, you can do the trip on a do-it-yourself basis, organizing every step, or just book a minivan from a travel agency in Kampot. Once you reach the border, the pier for the ferry to Phu Quoc is about 7 Km away. Therefore, by leaving Kampot in the morning you will be at your hotel in Phu Quoc in the early afternoon. If you purchase a transfer from a tour operator the ferry ticket is included and they will make sure you won’t miss its departure. If you do it alone, you will have to take a tuk tuk, taxi or motodop to the border, which is about 1 hour away.
After crossing into Vietnam, again you have a choice of tuk tuk, taxis and motorbike taxis eagerly awaiting to take you to the jetty or to the right bus station for your onward travels to Ho Chi Minh City and other nearby provinces. At this junction, strong negotiation skills are essential.