Young Pioneer Tours

Whats it like visiting Phu Quoc prison

While Phu Quoc is mainly renowned for its beaches and relaxation there are a few sites related to dark tourism and the Vietnam war, principal among them being Phu Quoc prison.

And while the island of Phu Quoc is not usually on most tourist radars, both the island and the prison can be visited as part of a wider tour that also takes in Cambodia.

How to get to Phu Quoc

Phu Quoc, which is the biggest island owned by Vietnam lays just off of the coast of Cambodia. The main port to get to the island is Hai Tien, which is just one drive from Kampot and quite literally on the border with Kep.

This means that the border town of Hai Tien can also pretty much be reached train from Phnom Penh. You can then cross the border than take a three hour ferry to Phu Quoc.

You can read our wider guide on how to get from Kampot to Phu Quoc here.

What the Phu Quoc Prison

Phu Quoc Prison (Vietnamese: Nhà tù Phú Quốc also known as An Thoi POW Camp) was built in 1949 by the French in their war ti keep hold of their Indochinese colonies.

It was lately taken over by the government of South Vietnam who made use of it during the Vietnam War. It was particular used to house senior North Vietnamese communists, as well as Viet Minh and Viet Song fighters. According to the Red Cross it was home to some of the most brutal torture and inhuman treatment by the so called American puppet regime.

It was eventually closed after the reunification of Vietnam, before being reopened for tourists interested in the retail to victory.

What it is like visiting Phu Quoc prison?

Phu Quoc prison lies about 20 km from the main beach drag of Phu Quoc and just outside of the capital and main hub of Duong Dong. To get here is easy enough using the popular Grab hailing system, with entry – as with all communist monuments being free of charge.

On arrival you will be greeted by the site of a huge prison camp with watchtowers, barbed wire and plastic dogs guarding a large camp complete with buildings and the like.

Once you enter you will find a fairly macabre set of examples of how the heroic Vietnamese were treated by their American puppet overlords – a phrase often used to refer to the South Vietnamese.

And this is very much a theme that is continued with the overall rhetoric being extremely pro-communist, anti-American as well as extolling the numerous virtues of the Vietnamese Communist Party.

And as stated the site is indeed free to visitors, much in line with how communist historical relics are treated in China and beyond. The theory being that yes you can charge exorbitant rates for sites of national beauty, but anything related to the party is of almost god like importance. Quite what the communist slogans mean in a post Doi Moi market orientated Vietnam is of anyones guess.

And that is the skinny on Phu Quoc prison, a place we do not currently have on a group tour, but can indeed visit as part of an independent tour to Vietnam or Cambodia.

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