A long time ago, I realized that as much as I love the energy of living and working in a city, I long for casual and remote places when I'm away. There is something about a destination that requires time and effort to reach that feels all the more rewarding when you arrive, especially when the staff greets you with fresh cold towels and an icy fresh ginger lemonade during the informal check-in process.
And that's the story of my landing at Mango Bay, after having flown from Nha Trang that morning to Ho Chi Minh City to catch a connecting flight to Phu Quoc Island. (An aside: if time is a precious commodity for you when traveling in Vietnam, Vietnam Airlines is the best and quickest way to city hop). Because Mango Bay is on its own stretch of Ong Lang Beach, away from the cluster of hotels and hostels on the island, they offer airport transfers (for a small fee), which was worthwhile in this scenario. After dealing with taxis, check-ins, boarding, and deplaning for half a day, it's a sweet relief to see the hotel sign without having to haggle with the hoards of drivers vying for your attention. Then I arrived at this:
This arresting structure is the center of the eco-resort, where check-ins, breakfast, and other activities occur. Sitting here looking out at the sea with a drink in hand made for a pleasant waiting experience while my room, one of the Plantation Bungalows, was readied.
I had the picturesque two-story bungalow above all to myself. All of the doors along the front and side open out, bringing true meaning to the open-air living. The bottom floor was a living area, with space for luggage, a small desk for tea. Upstairs was the bed, where the staff comes around nightly to pull down the mosquito netting, a staple in tropical locales.
Breakfast is included with the room rate and was a delight. In addition to the tea (or coffee if you're so inclined), heaping plates fresh fruit and breads, there are choices of American or English breakfast. Since I stayed two nights, I enjoyed every bit of both. I could have lingered at the scenic setting all day, eating fresh food, journaling, looking out at the pristine sea just feet away.
The thing that struck me most about Mango Bay was its dedication to preserving the natural setting it occupies. The walkways between bungalows are unpaved; just enough grass is cleared for one person at a time. While the food, drinks, and attentiveness are fantastic, the place isn't built up; it has a symbiotic relationship with its surroundings, including a snail that decided to make a home in my open air bathroom for the first evening. While I found that somewhat charming, not everyone would agree.
As a destination for wellness, Mango Bay offers spa treatments and daily yoga classes for their guests. Unfortunately, I had to forgo the yoga class because I had booked excursions around the island during my short stay.
Because of time, I was a bit torn about staying and enjoying everything Mango Bay had to offer and exploring the rest of Phu Quoc Island. I spent most of my three days on excursions but found nooks of time to experience the simple and serene pleasures of Mango Bay, like the hammock, or a quick happy hour drink. For families, there is no shortage of activities, from resort-led trips to kayak rentals and cooking classes on site.
I managed to sneak in a morning swim in the ocean on my last day here before catching my afternoon flight back to Ho Chi Minh City. Soaking in the clear, warm water while gazing at the scenic panorama was the perfect end to my Vietnam sojourn. I couldn't have been happier that this was my last stop before going home to Los Angeles.
It was terribly difficult to tear myself away from here. I could have easily stayed another week without leaving the resort...
Mango Bay Ong Lang Beach, Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam