Thom Beach, Phu Quoc Island

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Phu Quoc is home to some of Vietnam’s best beaches, and for many years it was Vietnam’s best-kept secret. Not any more. Developers have realised the island’s potential and Phu Quoc is now booming – and not always in a good way. The island still has a few wonderfully low-key, unspoilt spots: quiet stretches of coast accessible by dodgy dirt road, set against a backdrop of dense jungle. Long Beach is the main star and the rest of the tear-shaped island can be explored in two motorbike loops — allow at least one day for each half of the island. Here’s a guide to exploring Thom beaches.

>> A guide to exploring Phu Quoc beaches.

What to expect

Located on the far north east of Phu Quoc approximately 35kms from Duong Dong you will be find a long stretch of uninhabited beach. While not one of most attractive of beaches, it is quite remote and getting here will be quite challenging, best option is by motorbike.

Bai thom via phuquocxanh.com

You may not know

Visitors to this most north-westerly beach are still very sparse on the ground and public facilities almost non-existent. Bai Thom offered the closest views of the Cambodian mainland. Thom Beach has a stark beauty about it. Silent, still, hot, sparsely populated, and filled with the scent of cashew fruit and the sound of midday cicadas, there’s something beguiling about this remote northern tip of Phu Quoc Island. Most of the beaches are hidden from view, reached via dirt tracks, and the water’s very shallow and tidal here. Thom Beach hasn’t seen much development yet but for a few food shacks and a mid-range resort with simple, clean rooms and a seafood restaurant. Once or twice a day the red dust on the dirt road is disturbed by vehicles coming off the car ferry from the mainland, at Đá Chồng Port, just a couple kilometres to the south. There are plans for a sprawling resort here, and, now that the highway to Duong Dong Town is finished, perhaps it won’t be long before slumbering Thom Beach is awoken.

Bai thom via phuquocxanh.com

Once upon atime…

Once upon a time the Vietnamese military restricted access to Bai Thom Beach, but those days are thankfully over. Even so, visitors to this most north-westerly beach are still very sparse on the ground and public facilities almost non-existent. One Vietnamese blogger who rode up the long dirt road to Bai Thom in 2008, Hai Le, called it “a neglected beach”. Hai Le went on to state that Bai Thom offered the closest views of the Cambodian mainland. Obviously it is this proximity to Cambodia which made Bai Thom such a sensitive place for the Vietnamese military, given Cambodia’s claim to ownership of Phu Quoc, and their invasion of the island in the 1970s.

On a small dirt road past the Bai Thom turn-off, on the rocky coast overlooking the Cambodian shore, you will find the restaurant that Alleged Traveller found in 2008. The Alleged Traveller wrote: “We ordered the fish cooked with salt and chili and found a seat in a shady spot right on the water.” The Alleged Traveller concluded it was one of the finest dining experiences he/she had ever had.

Thom Beach has a stark beauty. Silent, still, hot, sparsely populated, and filled with the scent of cashew fruit and the sound of midday cicadas, there’s something beguiling about this remote northern tip of Phu Quoc Island. Most of the beaches are hidden from view – reached via dirt tracks – and the water’s very shallow and tidal here. There’s not much to do yet, but the area is ripe for exploration. So far, Thom Beach hasn’t seen much development, but for a few food shacks and a couple of simple resorts and seafood restaurants. Once or twice a day, the red dust on the dirt road is disturbed by vehicles coming off the car ferry from the mainland, at Da Chong Port, just a couple kilometres to the south. But, now that the highway to Duong Dong Town is finished and they are starting to pave the road along the east of the island, from Thom Beach to Ham Ninh Village, perhaps it won’t be long before slumbering Thom Beach is awoken.

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