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Travel & Leisure

Paradise in waiting: Vietnam's 'sandbox tourism' stirs to life

Flights to resume Jan. 1 as Phu Quoc aims to rival Bali but omicron looms

Vietnam began trials of vaccine passports in Phu Quoc, but beaches and bars were still nearly empty in December. (Photo by Lien Hoang)

PHU QUOC, Vietnam -- Before there were daily flights to the island of Phu Quoc, passenger Ly Nhu would arrive on a slow boat from mainland Vietnam seated beside vegetables and other cargo. But two decades of tourism and construction had transformed the past solitude of the island into a distant memory for Nhu.

After the pandemic closed Vietnam to vacationers, though, Phu Quoc began feeling a little more like its former self: a quiet outpost where Nhu could walk the beach for miles without meeting a soul.

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