Bamboo Cottages: Off-the-grid eco-living on Vietnam's Phu Quoc Island
After spending over three weeks travelling from Hanoi to the south of Vietnam, we were excited to get to Phu Quoc.
A tropical island close to the Cambodian border, the island is a short flight (or longer boat ride!) from the Vietnam mainland.
The sandy beaches and lapping waters weren’t the sole reasons for visiting, though. My friend Nicky and I were heading to Bamboo Cottages, Vietnam’s first solar-powered resort and an establishment dedicated to sustainable living.
History & Location
Vung Bau Bay is a quiet, clean stretch of yellow sand untainted by beach vendors and loud bars. Put simply, it's the perfect spot for a relaxed getaway.
The Vietnamese-American family who own the land used to holiday here. Their original vacation home is now Bamboo's restaurant, and the site has expanded into a beautiful environmentally-friendly resort.
Given it is around one hour from the airport and thirty minutes to Duong Dong town, there are only a handful of other accommodation options and restaurants in the area - which we loved, though some may find this isolating.
From the moment we arrived, Bamboo Cottages' commitment to sustainability was clear.
Recycled wine bottles replace plastic water bottles, allowing guests to refill water for free at their convenience in the common area. The resort is 100% solar powered, meaning that a lack of sun may lead to a lack of power, especially in the rainy season. Wifi, however, is available 24/7.
Our Bamboo Cottage
We spent four peaceful nights in a Seaview Garden Cottage. The photographs on Bamboo Cottages' website do not do the space justice; even with two double beds, our light-filled room was sizeable and airy.
The decor is rustic and minimal, and the rooms extremely clean, despite the amount of sand we accidentally traipsed in every day. Our large open-air bathroom meant that we enjoyed our warm showers with tittering geckos on the walls (which, after three weeks in Vietnam, was not strange to us, but be prepared!)
Air conditioning is replaced by the cool sea breeze and standing fans, which we rarely used. We had a partial view of the ocean, but as the beach was around twenty steps away, this really wasn't a problem...
Besides the Seaview Garden Cottages, guests have the choice of a cosy Woodhouse (pictured) and two large villas - the 'Cashew' Villa even has a bathtub and kitchenette!
Despite the lack of other restaurant options nearby, we expected to dine outside of Bamboo at least once during our four night stay. But we didn't. Why? Because the food was so darn good!
Ingredients are fresh and locally sourced, and head chef Mr Long's menu boasts a variety of traditional Vietnamese dishes, Asian fare and Western classics. Alongside the small but well-thought à la carte menu, there is a set menu which changes daily, meaning you needn't eat the same meal twice during your stay. The eggplant claypot is the dream!
The prices are closer to Western than many other restaurants in Vietnam, but it is by no means overpriced for the quality of food and portion sizes.
The restaurant also regularly organises seafood BBQs, BBQ buffets, communal 'Family Dinners' and also cooking classes.
Bicycles are available, and within a ten minute ride we found a long patch of golden sand with no one else in sight! For the more adventurous who wish to explore the whole island, scooters can be rented.
Yoga is offered daily, and there is the option to have a Traditional Vietnamese or Swedish massage at the beach or in your room.
In the common area, there's also board games, books, a pool table and a guitar to enjoy.
Oh, and there's even a 'Punch Hour' on some days. Sixty minutes of delicious free booze - er, yes please.
You absolutely must - and I mean must - take a kayak out to Fingernail Island. A mere twenty-minutes paddling brings you to a small sandy island and abundant coral reef, which you can snorkel independently. We saw plenty of marine life, including one of the biggest jellyfish I've ever set eyes on. It's body was about the size of a watermelon.
We caught a flight to Phu Quoc from Can Tho, which takes around 50 minutes and cost us VND 1,395,000 / USD 60 in March 2017. Our return flight took us to Ho Chi Minh City in 1 hour for VND 825,000 / 35 USD.
We opted for a private transfer to Bamboo Cottages, which costs $20 each way for a 4-seater vehicle and takes around an hour.
As this is a secluded part of the island, public transport and even private taxis are limited. It's advisable to hire a scooter from Bamboo, book a private driver or get a local taxi driver's contact details for exploring further afield.
Prices & other details
- Villas start from $65 per night in low season, and $115 per night in high season, including breakfast
- Bicycles, kayaks and snorkels are available for hire, for free, providing you book them out at reception. It's advisable to do so in advance
- There is free yoga daily, with mats provided
- Cooking classes, group dinners, motorbikes and massages are available at extra cost
- Visit their website for more information
For the lowest rates, book with Agoda as we do when travelling in South East Asia.
Across Land & Sea received one complimentary night at Bamboo Cottages. As ever, all opinions, photographs and typos are our own.
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