Author Archives: Râu Cao

About Râu Cao

Traveling full-time since 2010. Hacking on the beach every January.

Hacker Beach #2 is a go!

It’s going to take place in January 2014 on Lamu island in Kenya – a quiet and beautiful retreat in East Africa.

Apart from this blog, we use Lanyrd for the attendee list, Twitter for short announcements, and a (yet to be approved) mailing list for the details for participants.

We’re also hanging out on IRC in #hackerbeach on Freenode.

As always, everybody is invited. Join us for a month of relaxed hacking on an island paradise!

Barbecue Party on Tuesday, Jan 8

We’ll have a barbecue party tomorrow night at Oyster Club, a windsurfing place and bar, down in the South.

The fun starts at 6pm, but it’s also a nice place to be in general, so you can go there in the afternoon already, if you like. You should notice, that there’s no wi-fi there, though. (But some hackers bought mobile data plans with Gigs of traffic included today. Just ask @bkero.)

We can now add venues to sessions on Lanyrd, by the way. So if you added something already, edit the session details to include your planned location.

See you all there!

Phu Quoc 101

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.

Getting around

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!

Welcome to Phu Quoc

Ladies and gentlemen, fellow hackers,

Welcome to Hacker Beach, episode 1! It’s about time to properly introduce you to Phu Quoc and Hacker Beach in general. From now on, this website will be the central hub for all things Hacker Beach, connecting all relevant information for our un-organized gathering.

In this first journal entry we’ll just give you a few pointers and links, with the next one being a more extensive Phu Quoc 101, containing more detailed information about places and conditions on the island.

Phu Quoc

Most of you probably looked up some general Phu Quoc facts already, so we’ll keep it short. Phu Quoc is the largest island of Vietnam, located in the far South, and actually closer to Cambodia than mainland Vietnam. From Ho Chi Minh city, you can either use a cheap 50-minute flight to get there, or go by bus and ferry, which takes about a day.

Some call the island Vietnam’s attempt to become king of Asia’s beaches, and with a government plan in place, that aims at 2 million tourists a year in 2020, development is going fast. Days before we arrived, the new international airport was opened (only for domestic flights for now), and new streets and resorts and are being built around the island. Development is still 20 years behind similar islands in e.g. Thailand, though, which makes it a nice and rather quiet tropical paradise for the time being.

If you want to know more, just check out Wikipedia or Wikitravel.

Hacker Beach

Hacker Beach came into being, when 3 nomadic hackers discussed their plans for a warm winter getaway over some beers in Berlin. As we all love unconferences and spontaneous gatherings, we thought why not invite more people to stay with us, and elude the frosty temperatures in Europe for a month. So that’s what we did.

We decided on rough dates, registered a domain and Twitter account, and told some people about our plan. But other than that, nobody organized anything until we actually met on Phu Quoc about two weeks ago. Today, we still haven’t planned much, but an amazing flock of hackers joined the party and booked their travels so far (16 attendees on Lanyrd by the time of writing), and we’re anxious to finally meet all of you during the next days and weeks.

Participate, contribute, make it yours!

As you have guessed by now, Hacker Beach is what you will make it! In order to get the ball rolling, and give you guys some tools for participation, we’ve set up a few things, that you can use and contribute to:

Lanyrd / Session Schedule

You can add any type of session or event to our Lanyrd schedule. Plan a talk, a workshop, an introduction to something, a hack night, or even a 2-day hackathon – whatever you want. We also have some plans for all-hands activities, like a day-long snorkling and fishing trip, a bbq party and more. You’ll find those on the schedule as well, of course.

Flickr Group

Add your photos and short videos to our Flickr group, where they can be followed and aggregated properly. Nobody keeps you from instagram’ing the hell out of Hacker Beach, of course, but this will be our (un)official hub for visual content. Hint: go crazy with the RSS feed and build fun stuff on top of it!

Hacker Beach Map

@skddc built a Hacker Beach map app, that works well on desktops, tablets and smartphones. You can fork the app on GitHub and contribute new places in a simple JSON format. If you like, you can also contribute new features (there’s a small idea list in the README). It’s built with leaflet.js, and hacking it is easy as pie.


The Twitter account will be our (near-)real-time channel for all news, updates, announcements. We’ll also answer all of your immediate questions there, as well as retweet anything interesting you post mentioning the account.


Need we say anything about the hacker’s favorite water cooler? Join us in #hackerbeach on Freenode!

This Journal

This journal is intended to be our channel to both you and the outside world, i.e. people not lucky enough to be able to attend Hacker Beach #1. We’ll post everything from summaries of interesting sessions and results of our hacks to small stories about Phu Quoc and life on the island.  Like with all other mediums, you’re invited to contribute! Just register an account and tell us, so we can give you admin rights.

Bring it on!

So now should you know how this all works. We hope you like the idea, and we invite you to make this the best month-long hacker gathering on a tropical island that ever was!

Welcome to Hacker Beach!