When we visited Phu Quoc the other day, we followed the recommendation of many seasoned travelers, renting a bicycle and spending a day exploring the southern island.
We also did what they advised: cycling for around 20 kilometers from Duong Dong town to Ham Ninh fishing village.
And what a challenge the trip was!
The route, like many others in Phu Quoc, is full of slopes. So, while it cost us just VND100,000, or less than US$4.6, to rent a bicycle for a day, we had to expend a lot of energy to reach the destination. But what we gained during the trip was well worth the hardship.
In fact, we could not help stopping many times to take photos of beautiful landscapes that have yet to be overrun by tourists.
The smiling, friendly local boys who gave us directions also won our hearts.
Ham Ninh is a typical fishing village with its blue sea, white sand and boats anchored along a wharf. But it also boasts a mountain more than 300 meters high which gives it an exotic beauty.
After taking photos of the landscapes to our heart’s content, we looked to fill our stomachs with fresh seafood.
The cheapest and best way to enjoy seafood in Ham Ninh, as well as many other places in Phu Quoc, is to buy it directly from fishermen and then ask locals to cook it in return for some money.
Must-eats in Ham Ninh are flower crabs, mantis shrimps and squids, which are usually boiled and eaten with a dipping sauce made of salt, pepper and lime juice. As simple as it may sound, it is the best way to enjoy freshly caught seafood.
For those who want to buy gifts for families and friends, common options are seahorses and nam tram – a kind of fungus common in Phu Quoc that is also known as bitter bolete to English speakers.
Trai mo qua, a mulberry-like fruit often used in traditional remedies for aches caused by rheumatic disorders, is also popular with tourists.