Con Dao - Asia's Paradise Island

1. General info
Located off the coast of Southeastern Vietnam, Con Dao (also known as Con Lon, Con Son) is known as one of the most beautiful and mysterious islands in the world.
This island district has a total area of 76km2 with 16 large and small islands. This land has been mentioned since 1292 after Marco Polo finished his voyage from China to India. Then, in the 18th century, it was operated as a trading post for large ships traveling between India and China, known as the Pulo Condore.
During the war between Vietnam and the Colonials, Con Dao was known as a political prison. Today, Con Dao is a land that records the history and relics of the war in the past. On the other hand, Con Dao attracts tourists for a great relaxing holiday by its untouched natural scenery with the beautiful long blue beaches, green coconut trees and white sand. With a population of about 7000 people and a limited number of tourists, this is a great place to escape from the bustle of the city. Thanks to the natural advantages and historical relics, Con Dao is now an enticing destination for domestic and foreign tourists.
 
2. Best time to visit
Con Dao has a tropical monsoon climate, it’s hot and humid all year round with temperature ranges from 28-37C degrees. Like other lands with the same climate type, there are two seasons in this island: the rainy season and the dry season.
The rainy season in Con Dao lasts from May to November. The highest rainfall is in August and September but it’s very short rain, lasting about 30 minutes to 1 hour. The beach in this season is calm with the light waves. From July to September, the weather is a mixture of heat, humidity, rainfall and blue skies. In October and November, it has monsoon and high humidity.
The dry season runs from December to April, it’s cool with the average temperature of 27C degrees and less rainy. However, between December and January it’s windy and the sea often gets rough and has strong waves, so it’s not suitable for beach activities.
The ideal time to visit Con Dao is from February to June, especially for those who love diving and exploring the ocean.
The weather, temperature and the waters are suitable for diving, snorkeling, and surfing. Or if you are interested in hiking and trekking, you can also do it around Con Dao island in June and July.

Con Dao Island

3. Attractive places to visit in Con Dao
- Con Dao prison
Known as one of of the 10 most brutal prisons in the world and used to be dubbed “the living hell on earth”, Con Dao prison is the biggest and most famous tourist attraction on Con Son Island.
The prison was built in 1861 for the purpose of jailing those considered dangerous to the colonial government.  For more than 100 years during the French and American wars, nearly 20,000 political prisoners were jailed, abused, tortured and sacrificed there. This prison system includes small prisons such as Phu Son, Phu Hai, Phu Tho, Phu Tuong, Phu An, Phu Phong, Phu Hung, Cow Cages and the most famous site in this prison are the "tiger cages". Currently, Con Dao prison was restored as an important national historical site with unforgivable evidence about the crime of colonialism and imperialism in the past.
- Con Dao Museum
Con Dao Museum is one of the famous historical sites attracting visitors located in the center of Con Dao district. Here, you will have the opportunity to explore prehistoric times, view artifacts and documents (including information and photos). All of this reflects a period of heroism of the Vietnamese people and denounces the brutal tortures of the colonialists and imperialists.
- Van Son Pagoda
Van Son pagoda, also known as Nui Mot Pagoda, is one monument that American imperialism built in 1964 to meet the spiritual needs of the living local people on the island. This is a place to remember the patriots who sacrificed for the independence of the country. Although the pagoda is small, it was built on a hill, so it will be a great place for you to enjoy the panoramic view of the South of Con Dao.
- Con Dao National Park
As a natural reserve area on Con Dao Island, Ba Ria - Vung Tau province, Con Dao National Park is a destination attracting visitors every year. The park has an area of 6ha of land and 14ha of water. This is home to over 800 species of plants and animals, … in which the most special is the coral system and especially the sea turtle. If you are a nature lover, this is an ideal place for you to spend time on trekking and exploring.
- An Hai Beach
An Hai beach is known as one of the most famous beaches with great scenery in Con Son town. The beach is very clean, untouched, fresh air with mountains and primeval forests. It offers visitors many outdoor activities such as swimming, lying in the sun, walking around the coast and occasionally overlooking the fishing boats.
- Dat Doc Beach
Dat Doc beach is a beautiful beach in Con Dao, located not far from the center of Con Dao district. This place attracts the visitors with long sandy beaches, flat and smooth, with blue sea water. A part of Dat Doc beach is famous and luxury Six Senses resort which is like paintings in space of sea and mountains. Coming to Dat Doc beach in Con Dao, besides immersing yourself in cool water or lounging along the coast, you also have many chances to explore and enjoy the charming landscape.

Con Dao beach

- Nhat Beach
Nhat beach is the most beautiful beach in Con Dao, located on the main road connecting Ben Dam port and Con Son town. The unique feature of this beach is that visitors only see a few hours a day, Nhat Beach only shows itself at low tide, the rest of the time submerged beneath the lapping waves. When the tide relents, visitors will see the long sparkling white sand with beautiful scenery. Bai Nhat in Con Dao is on the top of 6 pristine beaches of Asia: Tropical (Indonesia), Furuzamami (Japan), Talalla (Sri Lanka), Kanawa Island (Indonesia) and Bako National Park (Malaysia). This is a worthy destination for many tourists coming to Con Dao.
- Dam Trau Beach
Located 15km north of the center of Con Son town, Dam Tram beach attracts visitors by its softest and deepest sand in Vietnam. The beach still retains its pristine and deserted features, so it attracts many visitors. The large boulders are probably still the most prominent feature when mentioning Dam Trau beach. With calm and peaceful space, this is an ideal place to watch the sunset, an experience not to be missed when you arrive at Con Son island.
In addition, there are other attractive places that you can visit when arriving at Con Dao island such as Phu Son Prison, Phu Hai, Hang Duong Cemetery (where there are graves of more than 2000 martyrs and Vo Thi Sau tombs), Phi Yen Temple ...

Visiting Con Dao Island

4. Interesting activities in Con Dao
Besides visiting historic sites and charming beaches in Con Dao, you can try some interesting activities as below:
- Watching turtle nesting on the island
With an area of 14,000 hectares of water area, Con Dao is famous for this activity since 14 out of its 16 islands are observed to be turtle nesting sites. For most visitors to Con Dao Island, watching turtles nest is one of the most important and interesting activities.
Every year during the breeding season (lasting from May to October), thousands of sea turtles come to the sand to lay their eggs. The feature of Con Dao turtles is that it breeds at night, so if you would love to watch the turtle nesting, you can be patient to spend a full night on the beach. However, you also need a little good luck because the turtle is very sensitive and easily frightened.
- Fishing
With many species of sea fish and 16 islands, Con Dao is always an ideal destination for those who are interested in fishing. Unlike fishing in Nha Trang or Phu Quoc, the fishes and squid in Con Dao are often hidden behind rock falls but they are easy to catch. You can choose to fish during the day or night depending on the temperature and weather conditions that suit your itinerary. Every fishing time will bring a different experience. The best places for fishing in Con Dao are Nhat beach, 914 Pier, Ben Dam Port, Mui Dai Cape, …

Fishing in Con Dao

- Boat trips and water sports
For your unique experience, you can choose a tour or customize your boat trip around Con Dao on many other islands, stop for island exploration and water sports. Besides enjoying the beautiful scenery of the sea and nature, this is a great opportunity for you to swim, immerse yourself in the marine world with many species of fish.
If you are a fan of sports, this is the perfect place to dive and snorkel that bring vivid images of marine species such as dolphins, green turtles and tortoises, ...
- Trekking and hiking
Besides the beautiful beaches, Con Dao is famous for the national park with an area of 6 ha on land on 14 ha wetland and mountains surrounded. So these are advantages for visitors to have many activities on their trip. Then from Park, you can also take the trail along the So Ray mountain to explore the diversified plants in this primeval forest, enjoy the fresh atmosphere. On the way to trekking, you can see many wild monkeys or the black squirrel, one of three mammals endemic to Con Dao.
 
5. Specialties
When you have a trip to Con Dao, one of the best things Con Dao offers is the tastiest and freshest seafood as it was meant to be eaten. Shellfish is popular on the island. Red lobsters and moon crabs make regular appearances on the menu of restaurants.
Some good local restaurants are recommended such as Thu Ba on Vo Thi Sau street, Phuong Hanh Restaurant on Nguyen Hue street, Tri Ky Restaurant on Nguyen Duc Thuan street, Saigon Con Dao Resort Restaurant, …
Besides, if you like famous Vietnam foods with an authentic taste, please find Pho Nam Dinh, Diem Tam or Quan Ngoc Minh.
Street food at the night market will be a new experience for you. For you information, the night market will start at sunset every day and it is located on Tran Huy Lieu street (stretching from Red Hotel to the beach.)
 
6. Travelling to Con Dao
- By air

Con Dao is located 230km away from Ho Chi Minh city, so the first option and the most comfortable one is to fly there. However, please note that there is only a small airport in Con Son – the main island of Con Dao and only Vietnam Airlines operate the direct flight there, so the number of tickets is limited. You can choose one of two options: Ho Chi Minh – Con Dao or Can Tho – Con Dao (the number of flights in Can Tho is less). Each flight takes about 45 minutes to Con Dao airport. From here, it’s easy for you to get a car within 15 minutes driving to the small town of Con Son.
If you are in other cities such as Hanoi, Da Nang, Hai Phong, ... to get to Con Dao, you need to book one more flight to Ho Chi Minh City, then from Ho Chi Minh City to continue to fly to Con Dao. 
- By speed boat
From Ho Chi Minh city, you will transfer to Vung Tau or Can Tho, it’s around three-hour driving. The speed boat will depart from the port of Vung Tau city/ Can Tho with travelling time from two hours 30 minutes to four hours.

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