• Photo: Tannenberger | Dreamstime.com

Phu Quoc Island

The white-sand beaches, turquoise waters, swaying palms, and laid-back feel of this beautiful island in the Gulf of Thailand have made it one of Vietnam's most popular resort destinations. Unfortunately, this means the 48-km- (30-mile-) long tropical island is at risk of being overdeveloped, with many new resorts opening in recent years—each one bigger than the last—and many more under construction.

Despite the grand plans investors have for Phu Quoc, its local charm remains, and well-traveled types say the island reminds them of Bali 30 years ago. There are many deserted beaches that are ideal for exploring by motorbike (or taxi), several of the resorts welcome non-guests to their waterfront restaurants, and the resorts themselves do offer a range of amenities to make for a relaxing tropical island pampering holiday.

Phu Quoc, or Koh Tral as the Cambodians call it, is much closer to Cambodia than it is to Vietnam.

Note: since March 2014, foreign passport holders who arrive on Phu Quoc via an international flight or boat will be eligible for a 30-day visa exemption. The exemption only applies to Phu Quoc, so any onward travel to the Vietnamese mainland requires a visa.

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