The island's main town and chief fishing port on the central west coast is a tangle of budget hotels catering to domestic tourists (though foreigners are allowed), street side stalls, bars and shops. The old bridge in town is a great vantage point to photograph the island's scruffy fishing fleet crammed into the narrow channel, and the filthy, bustling produce market makes for an interesting stroll. Most visitors come for the night market, seafood and the best glimpse at local life on the island.
The distillery of Nuoc Mam Hung Thanh is the largest of Phu Quoc's fish-sauce makers, a short walk from the market in Duong Dong. At first glance, the giant wooden vats may make you think you've arrived for a wine tasting, but one sniff of the festering nuoc mam essence jolts you back to reality. Take a guide along unless you speak Vietnamese.
Most of the sauce produced is exported to the mainland for domestic consumption, though an impressive amount finds its way abroad to kitchens in Japan, North America and Europe.
Not far from Sao Beach in the south of the island, Phu Quoc's notorious old prison, built by the French in the late 1940s, contains a small museum that narrates (in English) the gruesome history of the jail. Much of the site comprises mannequins of Vietnamese soldiers in chilling reenactments, such as being forced to stand and starve in exposed, outdoor barbed-wire cages. A war memorial stands south of the prison on the far side of the road
With displays on Vietnamese medicines, Stone Age tools, a boatful of barnacle-encrusted ceramics, oddly compelling shell-covered furniture and a small room devoted to the island prison, this dusty private museum is an oddball introduction to Phu Quoc history and culture. But did the marine fauna section really require the untimely demise of 14 hawksbill turtles?
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