Visiting the starfish kingdom in Phu Quoc
Update: Feb 18, 2022
Anytime I visit Phu Quoc, I always go to Rach Vem fishing village, located in the north of the 'jewel island', about 25km away from the main town of Duong Dong.

The scenery here brings me peace and tranquillity thanks to clear blue waters, tasty food and the opportunity to take beautiful pictures with starfish.

The village consists of 180 families on makeshift houses by the sea. Their main livelihood is fishing.

Starfish on Rach Vem Beach. — VNS Photo Le Huong

In recent years, some restaurants with floating cages of sea products have appeared in the area, offering another stable income for locals from tourists.

Floating restaurants are built hundreds of metres from the shore by firm bamboo pillars installed on the sea bed. Each 25-30sq.m room is covered with corrugated sheet metal, or bamboo and wood. The floating sensation is unmistakable.

Locals are friendly, gentle and frank, and may tell lots of interesting stories to strangers.

Vu Duc Cuong, a boatman at Con Sao Quan Restaurant, said he earns extra money from canoe services, carrying tourists from the shore to nearby Ham Rong Cape.

He also fishes offshore in low tourism season.

“The best season here is from September to March, when the waves are not too high and the weather is cooler,” he said.

A wooden way leads to restaurants on the sea. — VNS Photo Le Huong

Swimming in smooth and clear waters by the village or Ham Rong Cape is highly recommended to nature lovers.

There is no sound of vehicles, only nature in its true meaning.

Walking along the seashore is also relaxing to city dwellers, who have been fed up with crowds and noises of urban areas.

Watching sunset or sunrise in the village is also another unique experience.

“I feel as if the time stopped for me to enjoy the spectacular landscape of the village under yellow, orange and purple light from the sky in sunset,” noted visitor Nguyen Quoc Binh from Ha Noi.

“The cool fresh atmosphere brings me the ease deep inside my soul,” he said.

Binh said he often watches the sunset here and has dinner at one of the floating restaurants.

Photographer Huu Huyen from HCM City said he had a unique, self-designed tour with a local fisherman early in one morning, to catch the first ray of sunlight.

People like to take photos with starfish in Phu Quoc. — Photo

Huyen said he enjoyed seeing the sun emerge from the sea, and took a lot of photos of local fishermen’s labour at the sea.

“I think I have recorded the most honest moment of life here, with weather-beaten men busy at their daily routines,” he said.

Starfish is another gift that nature presents.

Between October and April, one can see starfish flocking in the local sea.

Rach Vem beach is a favourite place for starfish, as it is not too crowded.

“Playing and swimming with starfish is quite entertaining, not only to children but also adults,” said Le Thu Ha from the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong. “In clear water, and white sand, highlights are red starfish, which is precious scenery that I believe no one can describe in any words, find in no movie, or photo.”

Like Ha, Luu Khanh Vy from HCM City takes a lot of pictures to post on Facebook and Instagram.

“All my followers in the social networks are wowed by the scenery here,” she said. “I think Viet Nam possess scenes as magical as anywhere in the world. I’m so proud of that.”

A sea urchin dish, a local delicacy, which is good for health. — VNS Photo Le Huong

Dishes at the village are not diversified in forms and styles like those offered in the island’s centre. But they are processed from fresh seafood. Highly recommended dishes include simply processed ones like steamed, baked, grilled and stirred in fat seafood.

The simple way of processing will keep the natural freshness of the crab, shrimp, oyster, sea urchin, squid and so on.

So remember to visit Rach Vem when visiting Phu Quoc, you will find another Phu Quoc: not so crowded, civilised, urbanised and noisy.

All you need to prepare is a swimming suit, sun cream, a hat, sunglasses and an open soul to nature, for sure.

Many visitors share the same wonder with me: will the area remain natural the same long or short?

Sunset as seen from Rach Vem Beach. — VNS Photo Le Huong

By Le Huong