An Thoi and the southern archipelago

An Thoi is the southern sea port town of Phu Quoc Island and increasingly popular among tourists. There are several points of interest nearby. The Coconut Tree Prison that once was hell on earth and now serves as an educational centre about war crimes and torture, Sao Beach and Khem Beach, the first one of the most famous white sand beaches of Vietnam, the second one supposedly off-limits and destined for 5-star development, Phung Hung fish sauce factory with it’s natural fish sauce and pungent aroma, and of course the southern archipelago with several interesting islands as well as countless tiny ones. The reef is a popular diving spot and snorkelling tours are offered by cheerful fishermen at the harbour.

An Thoi Harbour on Phu Quoc
An Thoi Harbour on Phu Quoc Island

An Thoi Town

An Thoi is, right after Duong Dong, the second largest town on Phu Quoc Island. There is a ferry connection from An Thoi to Rach Gia on the mainlands. The town is also a point to depart for the famous An Thoi Islands, which we often call the southern archipelago. The harbour town has many things to offer, even if the choice is smaller than what Duong Dong or the Long Beach strip along Tran Hung Dao street has to experience.

There are not too many hotels and guesthouses near An Thoi, but the advantages of staying here are the proximity to Sao Beach and the islands with their reefs and diving opportunities. So, diving fiends may find that the town has what they desire. The local market offers everything from fresh fruit to fresh or dried seafood, fish sauce and other things you expect at Vietnamese markets.

If yo arrive by ferry from Rach Gia on the Vietnamese mainlands, taxis and motorbike taxis are generally around to carry you to your desired destination. The bus stops in An Thoi as well, but we found the buses timetable too lax, even for Southeast Asian standards.


An Thoi Islands

An Thoi Islands, or the southern archipelago as we usually call them, are a beautiful sight and just off the southern tip of Phu Quoc. They are a great place for sightseeing, swimming, fishing, snorkelling, scuba diving or just to hang out with friends on a party cruiser. Whether you charter a boat for several people or accept the offer of a local fisherman to take you on a snorkelling tour is up to you, but you should definitely check out the pristine beauty of the boulder-seamed isles and islets in the archipelago. That’s what a tropical dream is made of.

If you don’t trust your own Vietnamese negotiation skills (or the captains English for that matter), you can book all kinds of tours at your trusted tour desk or dive centre.

The group consists of 15 islands. The largest one is Hòn Thom, Pineapple Island with a length of around three kilometres. Other named isles contain Hòn Dua, Hòn Roi, Hòn Vông, Hòn Mây Rút, Hòn Dam, Chan Qui and Hòn Mong Tay. Hòn is, as you may have guessed already, one of the Vietnamese word for island.

Most short trips will take you to Hon Dua, the Coconut Island, and the two long isles of Hon Dam Trong and Hon Dam Ngoai, because they are closest to An Thoi. Snorkelling and diving trips are best during dry season because the water is clearer and calmer, while rainy season makes the water a bit murky and sudden rain may be uncomfortable. Other websites claim that there are “no island tours during rainy season”, but that’s nonsense.

Right now most visits to the archipelago are based on agreements with local tour operators and fishermen, but development plans are underway and parts of the area may be turned into some sort of splish-splash resort in the coming times.