Mango Bay

Phu Quoc Island, Saigon & South, Vietnam Book from US$139

A secluded eco-friendly island escape with sandy coves, delicious food and a wonderful laid-back vibe
Mango Bay, on the mid-western coast of Phu Quoc, is only a short drive from the island’s main town, but it feels like it’s miles away. You arrive at a place that is half jungle forest, half Swiss Family Robinson, and wholly relaxed. Surrounded by nature in all its glory, it’s quite likely you’ll see a cow drift past your window and certain that a chorus of birdsong and cicadas will serenade part of your day.

Originally built as a private weekend retreat by 3 expats living in Ho Chi Minh, Mango Bay is now a hamlet of thatched huts spread across a wild garden that leads down a gentle slope to the sea. Its success lies in it complementing rather than competing with its surroundings, and in not trying too hard to ‘do the hotel thing’ - staff are friendly and informal. This is an ideal refuge from the energy of Ho Chi Minh, its simple charms and excellent rates attracting friends, families and couples alike. It's not for everyone as it’s long on nature and short on snazzy gizmos, but for us, this was its appeal.

Highs

  • Standing in the open-air shower, looking at your own little patch of jungle - there’s a real sense that you’re living with nature
  • Playing chess over cocktails, while watching the sun glide below the horizon (this is one of the only places in Vietnam where you can see the sun set, as it’s west facing)
  • The sea is the ultimate temperature - you can while away hours just bobbing around in the shallows, or snorkelling and kayaking
  • Phu Quoc has an extremely chilled beach vibe, which we found a welcome release after quite frenetic travelling on the mainland. The jungle-hut feel of Mango Bay magnifies this, and there's a wellness room for massages
  • We really enjoyed the food - it’s Vietnamese, largely home-grown and absolutely delicious

Lows

  • Limited mod-cons: no air-con, TVs, room service or swimming pool
  • Though you’re in the jungle, your neighbours are right next to you. The Plantation Bungalows felt the most private and spaced out
  • The extra beds are reputedly not very comfortable so groups may want to book more rooms instead
  • Some won't like the fact that bugs can enter your room through the wall frieze, though the beds are netted

Best time to go

The nicest time to visit is from November to May, the hottest months being April and May with temperatures getting up to 35 degrees. The rainy season is at its worst from July to September, but it is not a total washout; it's a combo of wet and dry spells/days.

Our top tips

  • There’s enough to do here for 3 days but probably no more, and it's definitely worth taking a moped to drive around the island and search out new beaches or you may feel a bit cabin-fevered
  • The fan in your bedroom is inside the mosquito net facing down the bed. If you don’t want to sleep in a wind tunnel, move it so it blows widthways!

Great for...

Beach
Cheap & Chic
Eco
Family
Foodie
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Island Resort
  • 45
  • Restaurant and bar (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
  • Kayaks and snorkelling equipment
  • Footballs and cricket bats
Room:

Rooms

Mango Bay consists of rustic rooms and bungalows dotted around the flower-filled gardens and linked by a series of pathways - you might need the torch provided to find your way back after dark. Most rooms are a single-room thatched cottage, with a wooden decked balcony and loungers or sofas at the front, and a bathroom out back.

It’s fairly simple; beds are basic and there’s definitely a whiff of camping about the whole thing, but it’s also tasteful, comfortable and extremely relaxing. You can see the sea from some bungalows, and all are a 2-minute stroll through the garden to the beach. We liked the little touches, too: Thermos flasks, which can be filled with tea or coffee at the restaurant (free of charge), and an icebox, which will be filled with ice and soft drinks/beers on request.

There's no air-con, partly due to the owners’ eco-friendly concerns and partly due to the rooms not being air-tight (a wooden frieze runs along the top of the walls and is open to the elements). This allows for a cacophony of insect noise and the odd visit from an unexpected bug, but there are fans and beds are covered by a sturdy mosquito net. Bathrooms (shower only) are at the exterior of each bungalow and are half-open to the elements, which enhances the glorious living-with-nature feel.

Veranda Rooms are the cheapest; a little terrace of adjacent small twin/double rooms with a shared veranda out front. These are great if you're on a real budget, but there’s little privacy and a main pathway runs right past your front door.

Next up are the Rammed Earth Bungalows, which are naturally cool due to their eco-friendly construction. Some are detached but others are only semi-detached, which makes for quite an intimate set-up. The Fisherman Bungalows are great for families as they have a double and single bed. There's also a 2-bedroom Family Bungalow (double and twin) with space for a rollaway bed, too.

We'd recommend going for a Plantation Bungalow. They're a little more expensive, but well worth the upgrade to not feel on top of your neighbours. Divided into Sea View and Garden View, they feel spacious inside and can also fit a rollaway bed. The Bay View Villas, which we haven't seen yet, are also particularly roomy, as they're split over 2 levels.

Larger groups should try and bag Reef House, which has 2 double bedrooms (both with ensuite shower rooms), a large terrace with sofas and a hammock, and an open-plan living/dining space. Meals from the restaurant can be brought to you here - an added bonus. It's super popular, so book early if you want it; there's space for a rollaway bed, too.

Features include:

  • Beach towels, beach rugs & flip-flops
  • Cots Available
  • Energy-free ice box for storing drinks
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Internet access
  • Mosquito net
  • Toiletries
  • Torch
  • WiFi

Eating

The On The Rocks restaurant is the heart of the hotel, and one of the best on Phu Quoc. It’s got a chilled, relaxed vibe and comfy sofas, so people tend to congregate here during the day and evening. They play music, which most people enjoy, but some may find it intrusive (a mix of jazz, Cuban and reggae).

The Vietnamese food is delicious; the chef cooks up a storm using Mango Bay’s home-grown vegetables and locally sourced meat and fish. This isn’t generic hotel food, it’s mouthwatering and authentic. The pork in clay pot and crab stir-fry were favourite meals of our trip. There’s a good choice of Western food, too, like pasta and pizza, which will keep kids happy. However, we'd give the puddings (except for the ice cream) a miss - they're not the best. Breakfast is simple but good - juice, coffee, bread, fruit. Eggs are available on request, and the omelettes are great.

There's also a beach bar along the bay, where you can have lunch and dinner, plus amazing cocktails from barman Tin Tin. The menus are reduced versions of the main restaurant’s, although there's the added option of cooking your own mini BBQ, which is fun.

Unless you're staying in Reef House there's no room service, but you can, if you order the day before and pay extra, get them to bring breakfast to your balcony if you prefer to start the day in solitude.

If you want a change of scene, we've heard that Sakura, a 10-minute walk away, is excellent.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children meals
  • Cooking classes
  • DIY BBQs
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Laze on the beach and swim or snorkel in the lovely warm shallows. If you get restless, there are badminton and cricket kits and beach footballs to borrow for impromptu sport, or you can hire a kayak

  • Lose a few hours in the wellness centre (a small bungalow in the middle of the garden), where you can have beauty treatments and great massages

  • Learn how to cook authentic Vietnamese food with Mango Bay's chef; great fun and you get to eat your 3-course meal at the end of it

  • Visit the hotel's butterfly and rare orchid garden, and if you’re particularly enthusiastic about nature take a guided trek through the surrounding jungle. You’ll definitely see lots of birds, possibly a monkey or 2, and there’s a waterfall where you can sometimes swim

  • If you're feeling adventurous, hire a moped (just watch out for lorries!) and drive down to the beautiful Sao Beach in the southeast: idyllic white sand and turquoise waters

  • Or head to Long Beach and visit Pearl Gallery; a small shop selling locally cultivated pearl necklaces and earrings. Wall panels describe (in English) how the the pearls are obtained from oysters

  • Hire a traditional fishing boat to pootle around the island

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Badminton
  • Beach football
  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Cooking classes
  • Kayaking
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming
  • Well being
  • Wildlife

Kids

This is a great place for children with lots of space to explore, and especially families with a green ethos. Besides its own butterfly garden, there are also vegetable and flower gardens, which are fun for an inquisitive child. The sea is shallow, safe and warm. We saw a group of 2 families, which seemed to work really well. Children under 5 stay for free, and extra beds and baby cots can be provided. The property is pushchair-friendly.

Best for:

All ages

Family friendly accommodation:

Nearly all rooms could work for families and there are heaps of extra beds available.

The Fisherman Bungalows have a double and single bed. The 2-bedroom Family Bungalow has a double and twin room, plus space for an additional bed. Plantation Bungalows have space for a rollaway bed; some Rammed Earth Bungalows share a terrace. Larger groups should try and bag Reef House, which has 2 double bedrooms (both with ensuite shower rooms), a large terrace with sofas and a hammock, and an open-plan living/dining space. Meals from the restaurant can be brought to you here - an added bonus. It's super popular, so book early if you want it; there's space for a rollaway bed, too

Babysitting:

English speaking babysitters available on request

Baby equipment:

  • 8 cots available
  • High chair
  • Stair gates for all stairs (if needed)
  • Baby bedding
  • Night light

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

  • Pizza and pasta on the menu
  • Food is available all day
  • Special mealtimes can be arranged on request
  • Bottles can be warmed up

Kids Activities on site:

  • Outdoor playground/play equipment
  • Playroom with drawing table and games
  • Games room
  • Mini football
  • Buckets and spades to borrow

  • A butterfly garden

  • Beach cricket kits

  • Kayaks for hire
  • Beach football and badminton

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Farm animals nearby

Families Should Know:

Helpfully there's a mobile phone signal everywhere on property

Distances:

  • Airport: 20 minutes
  • Hospital: 25 minutes
  • Nearest shop: 10-15 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
9/
Food
9/
Service
8/
Value
9/
Overall

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