For a completely unique experience visit one of the many fish sauce distilleries in either Duong Dong or An Thoi towns. Phu Quoc is famous for its production of very high quality fish sauce which is exported worldwide and is a major contributor to the islands economy. Fish sauce or “nuoc mam” is a dipping sauce which complements most Vietnamese meals to add a saltiness flavor. It is made from combining anchovies, salt, and water and sometimes the pepper grown on the island and fermented through various stages for six months up to a year before being drained from the large barrels into different grades from the top quality lighter colored sauce to the basic cooking sauce, both of which are high in protein. Phu Quoc produces over an incredible 12 million liters of fish sauce each year and has around 85 factories on the island, so it’s well worth visiting one of the many factories on the island.
Most factories in Duong Dong are located along the river and they will let you have a look at the large storage barrels which flow into smaller vats and then plastic containers to the bottling process. Fermentation begins in huge barrels once a year with huge weights being placed on the fish stock. About 3 months later the precious liquid slowly drips from the tap, only to be poured back on top to continue the process. It takes around six months to achieve the final product.
Some factories also have a small shop selling different grades of fish sauce. Please note that when departing Phu Quoc by air, carrying fish sauce on the airplane is not allowed and some airlines have banned it altogether because of risk of breakage and the pungent fumes that are extremely difficult to remove. You can however purchase some fish sauce at the airport in the departure lounge, and they currently organize delivery for you to Ho Chi Minh City.