Transport from Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) to Phu Quoc Island
The tropical island of Phu Quoc, located in the Gulf of Thailand 45 km southwest of the Vietnamese mainland near the Cambodian border, should definitely be included in your itinerary when visiting Vietnam. Mainly forested hilly terrain give this 48 km long island an unmistakable character. Here you will find beautiful tropical beaches and taste excellent local cuisine rich in seafood and fish. Just a few years ago, unknown Phu Quoc was similar to Thai Phuket at its very beginning of western tourist invasion. However, even here, the negative influence of massive tourism is beginning to appear, and slowly, but inevitably the secret sea pearl becomes one of the famous Vietnamese resort destinations. It is not too late, yet. So far, the island still preserves its virginity and offers excellent conditions for a cheap holiday!
How to get to this island?
If you fly directly from the Czech Republic (Europe) to Phu Quoc Island, use the visa exemption to stay up to 30 days. If you are traveling through the Vietnamese mainland, read all about obtaining a tourist visa here. Phu Quoc International Airport, located in the southern part of the island, is located just 7 km away from the center hub - the Long Beach. The government has already approved public transport on the island, the buses have been purchased, but they are still waiting for them to be put into operation (as of November 2018). Use a cheap shared air-conditioned van (about 50,000 VND per person) or a metered taxi (approx. 120,000 VND, approximately 12,000/km) to travel to your hotel/resort.
Transport from Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
Vietjet Air flight
The fastest and most convenient route is via air. A 1-hour flight with Vietnamese Vietjet Air will cost you an incredible 22 USD and more (per person plus 13.40 USD per bag). If you are staying in Saigon in the area of touristy Pham Ngu Lao street in District 1, use the air-conditioned public transport bus 152 or 109 with a stop on Pham Ngu Lao, in front of Park 23/9 (map), to get to the airport. Buses have visibly marked fixed fares (5,000 VND - 152 or 20,000 VND - 109) on the front door. Depending on the driver's mood, you might pay an additional charge of 5,000 VND for each backpack. Learn more about timetables and public transport stops location in Google Maps.
Long haul bus and boat, Ho Chi Minh - Ha Tien - Phu Quoc
Somewhat more lengthy, but adventurously more satisfying is the following (and cheaper) route. You start in Ho Chi Minh City, District 1. Take bus 02 (Ben Thanh - Ben Xe Mien Tay, bus stop) at the bus stop located a two-minute walk away north of Park 23/9. Bus 02 takes you to the central bus station Mien Tay (50 min).
Walk through the entrance gate of the station. From here you will see a number of individual sales counters. Find the Futa Bus counter located entirely on the right side of the row (front facing view). Here you can buy your ticket. Eventually, you can exchange your prepaid online reservation for an official ticket. If you decide to book online, I strongly recommend Baolau (https://www.baolau.com/). On Baolau, you can book trains, long-haul buses, and ferries to travel in all Vietnam. The web site is clear, trustworthy, in English and you pay a low commission (about 20K VND).
Once you have your ticket, take a left behind the building and continue straight ahead to the Futa Bus terminal. You can not miss the terminal because it is surrounded by circulating red Futa buses. For your convenience, there are waiting-halls available, featuring displays informing you real-time about buses arriving at the terminal and buses ready for departure.
The bus ticket price of Ho Chi Minh - Ha Tien (port city) is 180,000 VND per person. Online about 209,500 VND.
You can choose between numerous daily and several nights connections. The journey takes between 8 and 9 hours. We chose the daily option, as we would not sleep on the bus jumping through the holes anyway. We headed off at 10.30 AM and arrived in Ha Tien at 6.30 PM. Ha Tien Bus Station is located near the bridge, about 2 km south from the city center. The route is easy to walk. We stayed at simple but clean Hung Kiet (200,000 VND, map).
In the morning we walked through the bridge back to the harbor (about 2 km).
In regards to transport to Phu Quoc, you have a choice of two options, a slow ferry (3 h, 185,000 VND, Thanh Thoi, www.thanhthoi.vn, Binh An, www.binhanhatien.vn, port location) and fast boat (1,3 h, 230,000 VND, Super Dong, www.superdong.com.vn, port location). You can buy a Super Dong ticket either directly at the port or online on Baolau (260,500 VND).
Why suffer on a slow ferry if for additional 2.25 USD you cut your travel time by 50% and besides you get much higher comfort (air conditioning, water included).
The slow ferry anchors on Phu Quoc Island in the remote Mui Da Chong port (map), while the fast Super Dong takes you to the southern port of Binh An (map). From Binh An, it's only a short drive to Long Beach or Duong Dong zone (about 11 km). After arriving, continue across the long pier to the beginning of the harbor. Various touts and taxi drivers (well behaved) might harass you on the way. If you travel on a budget, I recommend taking a shared air-conditioned van, which will take you right in front of your hotel for 50,000 VND per person. Taxi ranges from 150K - 200K VND.
Rach Gia - Phu Quoc
Rach Gia is another port city, from which regular boat lines sail to Phu Quoc Island. To reach Rach Gia, you can take a Futa bus again from Saigon without a problem (6.25 h, 155,000 VND). From there, a fast boat Super Dong takes you to Binh An port on Phu Quoc Island (2.5 h, 350,000 VND). This is a more expensive option to the previous Ha Tien - Phu Quoc route.
Mien Tay bus station in Ho Chi Minh
Futa bus Sleeper Ho Chi Minh - Ha Tien