Phu Quoc is a paradisiacal island bordering to Cambodia and is just a flight away from Ho Chi Minh City. It’s the largest island of Vietnam and boasts pristine beaches, evergreen forests, a relaxing atmosphere and some of the most beautiful sunsets you’ll ever see. The national park on the island is UNESCO listed and is therefore relatively untouched. However, you won’t be alone in Phu Quoc. Tourism here has grown immensely and you’ll find everything from budget hostels to luxurious resorts, bohemian bars, quaint cafés and western restaurants. It’s become one of the most popular places to visit in Vietnam and you can access it either by taking a flight or go via the ferry.
Once in Phu Quoc, the best way to get around the island is to rent a motorbike. If you’re not very used to riding one, don’t worry! The roads here are quite empty, developed and easy to practice your skills on. But if you still feel uneasy thinking of driving around by yourself, there’s plenty of tours you can do and buses you can take to get to your favorite white sand beach.
When it comes to food, the island is mostly known for its fresh seafood which you can find in almost all restaurants and street stalls. When the sun has set, head over to the night market and choose from many restaurants where you can sit down for an authentic Vietnamese meal and a cold beer.
Phu Quoc is certainly one of the most captivating and pleasant places to visit when you’re going to Vietnam. If you’re planning on exploring the rest of the country, you are required to apply for a visa, if you’re not on the visa exempt list. However, if you want to spend your entire vacation in Phu Quoc, there is no need to get a visa. As of 2005, the Vietnamese Government allowed tourists to stay on the island for up to 30 days without a visa to Vietnam. Phu Quoc is designated as a Special Economic Zone and is the only place in Vietnam where citizens from all nationalities have the right to stay visa free.
You must meet the following requirements in order to be eligible for the 30 day visa exemption.
- Your passport must have a validity for 6 months from the day you arrive to Phu Quoc.
- You must fly from an international country to Phu Quoc via the Phu Quoc International Airport.
- You cannot stay for more than 30 days on this island. Proof of return ticket must be presented to the immigration officers, proving that you will be leaving the island within 30 days. Your onward destination cannot be Vietnam. Fail to do this and you may not get the “Visa Exemption Stamp”.
If you’d like to continue traveling to mainland Vietnam, you are required to apply for a visa. This can be done in three ways:
1. Visa on Arrival – VOA
This is the most preferred option for many travellers. It’s easy, quick and affordable. To apply for a VOA, all you need is your computer and internet. If you get a Visa on Arrival, you are allowed to enter Vietnam through any of the 5 international airports: Da Nang, Khanh Hoa, Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Hai Phong. You can only travel by air if you get a VOA, meaning you can’t enter Vietnam by bus, car, and so forth.
You also have the option to buy “On Arrival Support” which is a very good option for those who wants to check in to Vietnam faster. You can choose between a Standard Support and a VIP Support.
The e-Visa is a single entry visa that’s valid for 30 days, from the proposed date of entry that you indicated on your application, and is issued in PDF format. Citizens of 80 countries are allowed to apply for this type of visa. The e-Visa is highly popular because everything is done online, it only takes about 3 business days to get the visa and you can enter via 28 different ports. However, if your visa is denied, you won’t get a refund. This type of visa is also non-extendable. If you want to stay in Vietnam for longer than 30 days, it might be better to get a Visa on Arrival.
3. Apply for a visa through the Vietnamese Embassy or Consulate
The reason why applying for a visa with the Vietnamese Embassy or Consulate might not be recommended is because it’s not as convenient if you don’t live close to the embassy. It means you will have to spend time on transportation and money. You also need to remember to bring all the necessary documents, such as passport, and if you happen to forget anything, you need to start the process all over again. It’s time consuming and you usually need to pick up your passport in the embassy or consulate. Also, be kindly advised that the fees and procedures are subject to change depending on where you apply.