Vietnam is planning to experiment with allowing tourists in. Tourists are allowed to travel temporarily to the resort island of Phu Quoc. The Vietnam visa is also valid on Phu Quoc.
Vietnam hit hard by delta variant of Covid-19
After more than a year of very low infection and death rates due to the coronavirus, Vietnam was hit hard by an outbreak of the delta variant of the virus this spring. Vietnam suddenly experienced thousands of new infections per day and hundreds of deaths from coronavirus. This situation was made even more difficult by the low vaccination coverage in the country. The Vietnamese government was forced to implement very strict measures. For example, until recently, Vietnamʼs largest city, Ho Chi Minh City, was subject to a particularly strict lockdown. Residents were not even allowed to leave their homes to go shopping for groceries. Items were delivered to their homes by the army.
Currently, the Covid-19 numbers in the country are slowly falling again, although vaccination coverage is still low. In order to help the ailing tourism sector, the Vietnamese government has announced that it will open Vietnam to tourism again in stages. In November, Vietnam wants to reopen the island of Phu Quoc to tourists. Initially, 2,000 to 3,000 visitors per month will be allowed on the island. If the experiment goes well, this number will be increased to 5,000 to 10,000.
Why Phu Quoc?
Phu Quoc is located southwest of Vietnam and directly south of Cambodia. The island is also known as the Pearl Island and is a popular holiday destination for expats living in Ho Chi Minh City. It is not surprising that the Vietnamese government has chosen this period to reopen Phu Quoc to tourists. November to March is the dry season on Phu Quoc, and during these months the number of visitors on the island is at its highest. The island has many resorts, hotels, cafés and bars. However, more than 70% of the islandʼs surface is covered in forest. This also makes Phu Quoc an excellent destination for nature lovers who like to hike.
Different visa requirements
Phu Quoc has different visa requirements than Vietnam. Travellers who fly directly to Phu Quoc airport do not need a visa for Vietnam. This applies to stays of up to 30 days. However, this means that you cannot land somewhere else in Vietnam first and then head to Phu Quoc. You must remain on the island throughout your stay. Your passport must also be valid for at least 6 months upon arrival at Phu Quoc.
Still need a Vietnam visa?
If for any reason you cannot meet the above conditions, you are required to apply for a Vietnam visa for your trip. The visa can be applied for online. You fill in the digital form and then pay the fee. You will then be asked to upload the required documents. Once everything is approved, the visa is delivered by email within a week on average.
Activities on Phu Quoc
On Phu Quoc there is something for everyone. Phu Quoc is mainly known as a resort island. Many resorts are located near Ong Lang Beach, one of the most beautiful and famous beaches on Phu Quoc. Apart from resorts, one can also find all kinds of restaurants and cafés here. Ong Lang Beach is especially popular in the evening to see the sunset on the island.
From November to May, the waters around Phu Quoc are crystal clear and therefore ideal for diving and snorkelling. The most popular diving site is Ong Lang Beach, as most resorts have their own diving programmes and equipment. But those who donʼt mind travelling a bit from the resorts will find the best dive sites on Turtle Island and the island of An Thoi. Both locations can be reached by boat from Phu Quoc.
The further away you are from the resorts, the more uninhabited the surroundings. On the majority of Phu Quoc, you hardly find any traffic on the road. One can explore the vast wilderness outside the city centre on a rental motorbike or by car. Especially the hills in the north are rich in nature. These hills are also home to pepper plantations, such as at Khu Tuong, where guided tours are offered to see the plantations up close.
Conditions for travellers
Vietnam does not allow just anyone to travel. With the outbreak of the delta variant of the coronavirus still fresh in the memory, the Vietnamese government has imposed strict conditions on who may visit Phu Quoc in November. As mentioned earlier, only a limited number of travellers are allowed in. Only tourists on charter flights are eligible. Commercial flights are not yet allowed into Vietnam. Travellers must be fully vaccinated. The second dose must have been administered at least 14 days, but no more than 12 months, before arrival.
In theory, a Vietnam visa can be applied for; however, visa applications will not be processed until the entry ban has been lifted. In order to apply for a visa, a number of conditions must be met: including a passport that is valid for 30 days after the expiry of the visa and at least one nightʼs stay in Vietnam must have been booked.