Have you ever seen that movie The Terminal with Tom Hanks in it? Where the guy doesn’t have a visa and gets stuck in the airport?
Well, this story begins sort of like that.
Phu Quoc is part of a visa waiver program. Provided that you have a return flight leaving the country and you aren’t staying on the island for more than 15 days, you don’t need a visa. In addition, you can connect at Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City and transfer to a domestic flight to Phu Quoc, provided that you have a round trip ticket to the island and back out of Vietnam.
Well, all that may indeed be the case, but most of the immigration officials at Ho Chi Minh don’t seem to be aware of that program.
Upon arrival in Vietnam, I was asked for my visa, and, being that I did not have one, I was sent over to the immigration desk to apply for one or to confirm that I was eligible for the waiver. Nobody truly seemed to have any idea as to what the process was. Eventually, they asked me if I had my onward boarding pass, so I went online to check in for my Jetstar flight, since there was no Jetstar desk on this side of immigration. Once I had a boarding pass in hand (or more specifically, on my phone), the lady at immigration looked at it, went in the back for a while, and finally returned with a signed and stamped form, and I was escorted to the immigration checkpoint to allow them to stamp my passport and allow me into the country. All in all, it took nearly two hours and this was probably the most stressful two hours in all my travels in recent memory.
Once on the other side of immigration, I happily picked up my bags and headed over to the domestic terminal to check my bags for my flight to Phu Quoc.
Le Saigonnais Business Lounge
I cleared security and met up with my friend Cheryl, who had been staying in Ho Chi Min for the past few days and then headed to the lounge to wait for my flight.
The Le Saigonnais Business Lounge is part of the Priority Pass network, so I get free access for myself and two guests by virtue of my Chase Sapphire Reserve card.
The place was packed, but we were able to find a pair of seats eventually and make our way to the buffet.
The food was quite good, but the real standout was the dragonfruit that they had available. I was loving Vietnam already.
After a couple beers and catching up, it was time to board our flight to Phu Quoc.
On Our Way to Phu Quoc
Jetstar Pacific flight 273
SGN [Ho Chi Minh City] to PQC [Phu Quoc]
August 19, 2018
Depart: 7:15 PM
Arrive: 8:20 PM
This flight was on Jetstar and for the price, picking it was a no-brainer. Round trip, with 35kg of luggage and an exit row seat was only 2,826,000 VND or about $124 total.
As a low cost carrier, they charge for everything, but it’s hard to beat paying $16 for 77 pounds of luggage and $5 to upgrade to an extra legroom seat each way.
After a bit of a rain delay, we made our way to the gate and boarded the bus to take us to our remote stand.
The exit row seats were definitely a good pick, as they had far more pitch than the rest of the cabin’s 29″ seats. Below is a pic that I took on my return flight, which used the same aircraft as this one.
We took off without further delay and after a turbulent flight, we were finally in Phu Quoc.
Although I usually prefer full service carriers back in the states, I will definitely not hesitate to book Jetstar again when flying in the Pacific region. The flight was good, the seat was comfortable, and the crew was polite and professional.
Now that we were in Phu Quoc, it was only a 30 minute, 300,000 VND ($13.00) cab ride to our hotel.
Safe to say, I was loving this exchange rate already.
Next up, a 7-night stay at the 5-star JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort & Spa.