The island of Phu Quoc in Vietnam has gone through an unprecedented decade of growth, with the government intent on turning this once sleepy island into a “sleepless city”. I say unprecedented because I have never seen anywhere in Southeast Asia that compares to what is going on here (Sihanoukville in Cambodia would be the most comparable). One report says there are 372 projects with capital totalling approximately 16.5 billion USD.
[Ong Lang Beach stills evokes the old sleepy Phu Quoc days.]
My first visited Phu Quoc in 2015, and even then there were signs that big things were coming. Since then, I’ve kept hearing reports of Phu Quoc’s breakneck speed of development, along with the problems that go with such rapid over-development.
[Construction workers in Phu Quoc.]
It had been six years since I last visited, so I went back to Phu Quoc in March/April 2021 to see what is happening for myself. I had a list of projects to visit, but nothing could prepare me for what I was about to see.
To get a general overview of what is being built here, I’ve prepared a master list at Future Phu Quoc. This is a complete directory of every major development (under construction and completed), and it will be updated as needed.
This report is filed under the Construction Updates category, and it’s posted as a historical snapshot of construction at the time of my visit in 2021.
I’ve grouped projects into geographical regions rather than using official ward names, using the same format as the Future Phu Quoc post.
And if you haven’t already, subscribe to the newsletter to keep updated on construction and infrastructure in Southeast Asia.
Northwest Phu Quoc
The northwest of Phu Quoc is dominated by the Vietnamese conglomerate Vingroup. There are several projects here that are grouped together under the name Phu Quoc United Center.
This part of the island has only recently been developed, and the main road was still being been widened and upgraded when I visited.
Coming from the south, the Vingroup projects begin with Grand World Phu Quoc. There is a row of shophouses that announce that you have arrived, and as we will soon discover in the rest of this article, these are just a few of the hundreds of new shophouses in Phu Quoc.
Behind the shophouses is a road that leads to the beach, and another road that goes through a forest (a reminder of what used to be here). The road to the beach will be lined with hotels, and the first hotel here is Vinholidays 1 Phu Quoc. This was open for business, and I saw people checking in when I went by. It’s listed as Vinholidays Fiesta Phu Quoc (a 4-star hotel) on hotel booking sites.
Next door is Vinholidays 2 Phu Quoc.
These two hotels were surrounded by massive tracts of empty land that has yet to be developed.
As this is still a work in progress, there were workers everywhere.
The golden building here is the Teddy Bear Museum.
At the entrance to Grand World is a park with all kinds of Instagrammable art installations.
The main feature of Grand World is a Venetian canal lined with colourful shophouses.
And a grand bridge to go with the grand canal.
There will also be Venetian-style gondola rides.
The shophouses are in a variety of architectural styles and colour palettes, of which I do not know where they derived their inspiration.
Shophouses. Shophouses everywhere.
These photos were 3 weeks before Phu Quoc United Center opened. I was one of the only civilians walking around, with most people here being workers adding finishing touches.
Phu Quoc United Center officially opened on 24 April, and it is being promoted as Vietnam’s first-ever ‘sleepless city’. The sleepless aspect refers the night market (NightZone 68), open from 6:00 pm to 6:00 am daily.
There are some non-Vin operations within the United Center area that was already open, such as the Corona Casino and Radisson Blu Resort Phu Quoc.
Next to the casino is the Almaz Phu Quoc. This is an international food court, and it was also in the final stages of construction when I visited.
Back on my bike, I headed up to the Vinwonders theme park. The park is bordered by these medieval-style shophouses.
The street of the main entrance to Vinwonders has more shophouses and mini castles. These are all new, and there were no shops with any businesses when I visited. Real estate websites are advertising them as Fairy Town VinWonders Phu Quoc.
The Fairy Town shophouses form a square in front of the Disneyesque entrance to Vinwonders.
Vingroup is Vietnam’s largest conglomerate, with interests in real estate, mobile phones (Vsmart), and cars (Vinfast), among others. It also has its own hospital brand (Vinmec), and they have established a Vinmec next to the Vinwonders theme park.
Duong Dong is the main town of Phu Quoc, and up until recently, it was the capital of Phu Quoc. It’s a typical Vietnamese fishing port that has been left mostly unscathed from tourism development. Not having a large beachfront has kept the developers at bay.
In January 2021 Phu Quoc was upgraded to city status, so technically the island is now Phu Quoc City, and Duong Dong is a ward within the city. If Phu Quoc keeps growing then it could feasibly become one of the municipalities of Vietnam, which is a city separate from any province.
In Duong Dong there is a new urban area called Bac Duong Dong (North Duong Dong) that appears to have started.
A new pier is being built here that can accommodate cruise ships. It was meant to be finished in 2017, but they were still working on it when I visited. At the pier construction site was this image of what future Duong Dong might look like.
The row of buildings that is in line with the pier is where the old airport used to be. There have been plans to turn the airport into a modern new urban area, but so far the old runway remains as a shortcut across town. When I visited there were workers cleaning up an old canal.
Long Beach is the main beach of Phu Quoc, and most of the beach that is close to Duong Dong has been developed already.
Driving south from Duong Dong, the most noticeable new project is the abandoned Sheraton Phu Quoc Resort. This is near the airport road, so this is one of the first things that arriving passengers see. Not a good look.
The new projects of Long Beach begin south of the airport. Like the Vin United Center in the north, projects here are dominated by single developers that have split large blocks of land up into separate projects. I stayed at the Sonasea Shophouse area in the Sonasea Villas & Resort Complex. The developer of this area is CEO Group.
[The masterplan for Sonasea Villas & Resort 2 by CEO Group.]
I was staying in a section that was established before the pandemic, so there were some shops open. There were other shophouse rows that had not been opened (or were still waiting for buyers).
The Sonasea Paris Villas is one of the sections of this CEO Group area.
This block comprises over one hundred shophouse villas sorted into rows of different colours.
Construction was complete and the villas looked ready to move in.
Most of these were still empty, with only a few properties being occupied. I saw one that has been turned into a guesthouse, and another one was a cafe.
To the south of the Sonasea area is Milton Europa Village. The Milton development area includes the completed Pullman Hotel.
As you’ve probably worked out by now, the overriding theme of big projects here are these European-style towns. From Venice to Paris, we now have these half-timbered shophouses in the Ye Olde Englande style.
Working my way down the coast, the next superblock is the Phu Quoc Marina project by BIM Group. Phu Quoc Marina is divided up into different sections, and it will eventually look something like this.
The first section I visited was the Waterfront block.
Waterfront is made up of over one hundred shophouse apartments in what could best be described as a Mediterranean-style town.
This mini town has a uniform architectural style with all the buildings painted in the same light green colour.
This was also at the tail end of the construction process, and it was at the point of starting to populate the buildings with tenants.
There is a great French bakery here with a real French baker making the pastries.
[Au Bon Pain at Waterfront.]
This is a pedestrian-friendly town with underground parking.
The car park even has proper mobility access points in the town squares.
Something that has stood out for me while wandering around these new developments has been the number of transplanted trees. Where did all these trees come from? Is there a specialty tree farm on the island, or are they importing them from the mainland?
I was here in the last month of the dry season, and I saw water trucks watering trees at most of the places I visited.
I will be curious to come back and see what this looks like when is fully occupied, and if it ends up looking like the promotional video.
Waterfront is next to the InterContinental Hotel, and non-residents can go to the rooftop bar if they buy a drink ticket. From the rooftop, you get a better idea of the scale of Waterfront.
[Waterfront viewed from InterContinental. The Pullman is the building after the Waterfront.]
On the other side of the InterContinental is the Regent Phu Quoc. This was also in the final stages of construction.
Marina Square is another section that has been modeled on a European city.
Like the Waterfront, the major construction work at Marina Square had been finished and the buildings were painted.
The European city theme continues.
The buildings were still just concrete shells when I visited. No work had been done on the interiors, such as the installation of lifts.
Until then, you can take the stairs.
Like I said at the start of this article, shophouses are an ongoing theme in this remade modern Phu Quoc.
In addition to mini European neighbourhoods, the other dominating style in Phu Quoc is the cookie-cutter housing developments.
Palm Garden Shop Villas Phu Quoc is another section of the Phu Quoc Marina, and it features rows of identical shophouse villas.
Here is Palm Garden as viewed from the InterContinental. The empty lots that surround it will also be developed in the future.
Sailing Club Villas are next to Palm Garden, and it was also making good progress with construction.
Continuing my motorbike journey south, the scenery is characterised by miles of green construction fences. I stopped to take photos of project boards and to mark them on the map.
Some of these sites look like they stalled years ago, and there isn’t any useful information online about them.
These projects might have changed owners or names. I have listed them on the Future Phu Quoc guide as part of the construction history. One site that was active was Sim Island.
The images on the construction fences depict another mini-city in the making.
I have been following Phu Quoc construction projects online, and once you follow one, the others start targetting you in Facebook advertising. This has actually been a useful way of finding out about new projects. Strangely though I’ve not heard anything about Sim Island, so I was staggered to see what it proposes to look like.
One project that has been relentless in its Facebook advertising towards me (or at least by the real estate agents) is Meyhomes Capital Phu Quoc. Now that you’ve clicked this link, you too will be getting targetted Facebook advertising. You’re welcome.
Work was underway here, but I was getting stern looks from security guards so I didn’t dare drive any further.
This is what Meyhomes Capital Phu Quoc will eventually look like. I’ve written before about how developers shouldn’t be able to build big projects on illogical street layouts. I’m going to have to write another article about this for Phu Quoc.
Next to Meyhomes Capital is a block of empty land for Minh Thanh Khang.
This is also a new urban residential area.
Southern Phu Quoc
Southern Phu Quoc is home to the port town of An Thoi, and instead of the long beach of Long Beach, the beaches are smaller and tucked away in coves.
Phu Quoc is now bookended by projects from two of the biggest developers in Vietnam. In the north is Vingroup, while in the south it is dominated by Sun Group, who specialise in hotels, resorts, and amusement parks.
Sun Group was founded by Le Viet Lam in 2007. Before that, he was in Kharkiv Ukraine, where he was a partner in an instant noodle business with future Vingroup founder Pham Nhat Vuong. Both Lam and Vuong had studied in the old USSR, along with many other Vietnamese at the time. Another prominent figure who studied in Soviet-era Moscow was the CEO of VietJet Air, Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao (Vietnam’s first female billionaire).
I couldn’t find if the Vingroup and Sun Group founders are amicable rivals, but their projects at either end of Phu Quoc have similar qualities to each other. In the Vingroup north end, it’s Grand World, while in Sun Group south it’s Grand City. And both of them have copied features and buildings from Venice.
Driving from Long Beach, the first project I visited was Sun Grand City New An Thoi.
Like Marina Square and Waterfront at Phu Quoc Marina, Sun Grand City New An Thoi is built in a uniform grand European apartment style.
And like the projects at Phu Quoc Marina, these apartments were practically finished.
Once again I found myself at a site where I was the only non-worker.
These projects were planned years before the pandemic. Most of the developers in Phu Quoc have opted to build through the pandemic, hoping to be ready for when the world opens up again. Who would have predicted that we would still be without international visitors by mid-2021? And at this rate it doesn’t look like Vietnam will open up at all in 2021.
Some sections are already occupied, with a few cafes here and there open for business. It will be interesting to revisit in the future and see how it looks once it fills in. Will enough people be enticed from Old An Thoi to move to New An Thoi? It would also require people to move here from the mainland if this is to be a success. It can’t all be holiday rentals.
My next stop was Sun Premier Village Primavera. This is separated from New An Thoi by a hill.
Most of the work here is also done. The tower appears to be inspired by St Mark’s Campanile, though it’s not an exact replica.
The Primavera project has stylised itself on a crumbling Italian village on the Amalfi Coast.
Most of the shophouses are finished here as well, adding to the massive supply of shophouses that are about to become available in Phu Quoc. Most of the shops here so far are real estate agents.
Primavera is set on a little bay, and it is this view of Amalfi-meets-Venice that I have been seeing advertised everywhere in Vietnam.
Behind Primavera is the second stage of this development with the Hillside apartment towers and (more!) shophouses.
There are four apartment blocks that will tower over Primavera, with the hill giving a boost to the views.
The Sun Premier Village Primavera, Sun Grand City Hillside Residence, and Shophouse The Center will eventually look like this…
[Sun Group’s vision of Southern Phu Quoc (balloons not included).]
On the east coast side of An Thoi is the Phu Quoc Emerald Bay area. The entrance is marked with an Art Deco gate with the fake year of establishment of 1921.
The two big projects here are Melodia and JW Marriott.
Melodia Boutique Shophouse is another European-style shophouse project.
The style is similar to the Marina Square project.
This was also at the final stages of construction, and once again I was here wandering around by myself.
I was there to see one of the first shops to set up. I definitely need to come back to see how this all works out.
New World Phu Quoc Resort was getting ready to open as well. This was previously the Sun Premier Village Kem Beach Resort.
The New World resort has a large frontage on Kem Beach.
That concludes my Phu Quoc construction report for 2021. Since I’ve compiled this report I’ve discovered more projects that are planned, so I will include them in my next annual report.
If you found this report useful, subscribe to the newsletter to get more reports like this. Your support keeps me fuelled on coconuts while I drive around in the tropical heat.