Last updated October 2019 | Words and photos by Vietnam Coracle
The Best Spot on Phu Quoc Island’s Most Popular Beach
Sao Beach (Bãi Sao) is probably the most famous place on Phu Quoc Island, and one of the best-known beaches in Vietnam. A long, arcing bay of fine white sand, washed by butane-blue waters, and fringed by leaning coconut palms, Sao is the kind of beach that most people would imagine a tropical island to look like. However, as tourist numbers have risen and development has increased, Sao’s popularity now threatens its appeal. Trash blights its shores, jet-skis pollute its waters, and large crowds descend on its sands during the high season months. But one portion of Sao Beach remains as gorgeous as ever (well, almost): Paradiso Beach Club Bar & Restaurant is by far the prettiest, classiest, most tasteful place for chilling, eating, drinking, and bathing on Sao Beach.
MAP: Paradiso Beach Club, Sao Beach, Phu Quoc Island | 9am-6pm daily | 0297 627 9988
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Formerly Không Sao Beach Bar, Paradiso is located at the northern end of the beach, sign-posted to the left off the main Sao Beach road, and accessed via its own private paved lane. A brightly-painted, wide, two-storey beachfront villa, Paradiso sits in a prime position on Sao Beach: away from the clutter, crowds and trash of the central section, with blue seas lapping at the bottom of tall, swaying palm trees, and fine white sand. If you’re going to hang out on Sao Beach, Paradiso is the place to go.
The bar/restaurant is breezy and spacious, open on three sides, with a large seafront patio on which to enjoy an iced coffee, gin & tonic, plate of shrimp in tamarind sauce, bowl of sweet and sour fish soup, and many other drinks and dishes. Prices are what you’d expect: a little higher than they should be. But, given the fabulous location and decent quality, it’s not too bad. However, Paradiso have obviously become fed-up with people coming onto their grounds just to take a few hundred selfies, not buying anything, then leaving to upload their photos on social media. To counter this, Paradiso charge an extortionate parking/visitor fee of 100,000vnd. This is essentially an entry ticket. But, if you make any purchase at all (a coffee, juice, snack, sunbed), then the admission price is waived. A lot of travellers are annoyed by this. While I can see their point, it’s worth noting that Paradiso keep their beachfront fairly clean, and their entire property is better-kept, tidier, and more attractive than anywhere else on Sao Beach. In fact, for me, if it wasn’t for Paradiso Beach Club, I wouldn’t bother coming to Sao Beach at all. At the moment, Paradiso is Sao Beach.
There are comfy loungers available to rent on the sand (or in the sea when the tide is coming in), showers on the beach, and an extremely weathered table tennis table in the bar if you get tired of swimming in the beautiful, safe, shallow sea. Like everywhere else on Phu Quoc Island, the future of Paradiso looks precarious: a large new resort is being constructed to the north, and the continued destruction of the natural environment could mean that lovely Sao Beach may soon lose its appeal completely.
Strangely, most visitors to Sao Beach tend to stay around the busy central section, which leaves Paradiso comparatively nice and quiet. It’s particularly beautiful here in the mornings, before most day-trippers have arrived and the light is sharp and fresh, or late afternoons when most people have left. The swimming is excellent, the food is quite good (although the drinks are only O.K), the location is gorgeous, and the building is attractive. I hope it lasts a bit longer.
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