As promised yesterday, here’s a short 101 for your stay at Hacker Beach. If you have additional questions, just add them as a comment, and we’ll answer them and/or amend the post.
If you’re flying directly to Phu Quoc, be sure to get some Dong at your arrival airport on the mainland. The new international airport on Phu Quoc is only open for 2 weeks, and doesn’t have an ATM yet, and the taxi drivers don’t accept USD.
At the ATMs on the island, you can get up to 2,000,000 VND in a single transaction (~ 70 EUR or 95 USD). If you need more, e.g. to pay for your room, just do multiple transactions.
There are 3 ATMs close to Thai Tan Tien (the guesthouse, where the first hackers are staying), all located on the opposite side of the street around John’s Tours.
There are loads of licensed taxis on Phu Quoc, colored in light golden and green/white, and sporting a license paper in the front window. They are completely safe to use, not too expensive, and they will rigorously obey their taxi meter. Easy going.
The most convenient way to get around by yourself over a longer span of time is renting a motorbike, of course. As typical for SE-Asia, motorbikes are the default means of transportation on Phu Quoc. Pretty much every place around you will rent them out for about 100-150 K a day. It’s much recommended to purchase gas from a proper gas station in Duong Dong instead of the street-side vendors. A full tank will set you back around 100K. We’ll have another journal entry on traffic on Phu Quoc, but for now just note: there are hardly any traffic rules, so keep to the right hand side of the street, and constantly look out for any moving obstacles.
You can also rent bicycles. One hacker already fell off one, riding downhill with the brakes not working properly, though. So be careful on those as well!
Apart from a low risk of acquiring Malaria from one of them, they’re mostly annoying as hell. But they will only come out in the early evening and morning, so you don’t need to use repellent during the day. Just don’t forget putting it on at about 5pm, and you should be rather safe. Also watch out for the tons of insects in the air, when riding a bike between 5 and 7pm.
Pretty much every guesthouse and resort along the beach has a beach-front restaurant with decent Vietnamese food. You can’t do much wrong there. When you need a change, try one of the many French places, or e.g. German food at German B (check out the map for recommendations and add your own). In the evening, some places on the beach have barbeques with fresh seafood and some chicken and meat. The most extensive seafood menus are offered at the restaurants on the night market in town.
Power outages are a very common occurrence on Phu Quoc (we’ll also have another entry on that topic). Basically the government will shut off different parts of the island every other day for a few hours roughly between 12 and 5pm. A lot of places run generators during the outages, but don’t count on that being the case every time or during the whole outage. John’s Tours on the main street always has a generator running immediately, so that’s a good place to stay online.
Apart from working in your room or on the patio, we can mostly recommend German B to get stuff done. They have fast, reliable wi-fi, power outlets everywhere, and large tables, where you can comfortably hack with a group of people. As already said, when the power is off, John’s Tours is a safe bet to stay online. When you find more good places for groups of hackers, put them on the map!
SIM cards (Update)
All carriers in Vietnam offer some kind of pay-as-you-go plan with 3G access. The easiest way to get one is buying a TouriSIM e.g. at John’s Tours. It comes with English instructions and an English-speaking helpline, that doubles as a mobile tourist info. It’s 200K (~ 7 EUR / 10 USD), and includes a data flat rate.
Viettel (there are rumors it has better 3G) is a bit tougher as there is no English website. Buy a SIM card for 65K VND, add some more money (instructions on the voucher) and get a data package. For 200k VND you get about 3.5 gig traffic a month. SMS exactly “3G ON” to ’161′. After you’ve loaded up your dong, SMS ‘MI 200′ to ’191′.
We hope this was helpful to some of you. If you think we’ve omitted an important point, let us know in the comments, so we can amend this entry. And now:
Hack the island!