Con Dao islands - the hidden gem for your great escape in Vietnam

Con Dao islands - the hidden gem for your great escape in Vietnam

Con Dao Islands are new among international travellers and really a hidden paradise in Vietnam for its unspoiled landscapes with tranquil sandy beaches & pristine bay as well as valuable experiences you will get when travelling to this island....Let's read about it and plan a great journey there......

Con Dao islands - the hidden paradise of beautiful landscapes & rich historical values.

With a total area of 76 sq km, Con Dao is an offshore archipelago including 16 mostly uninhabited islets, which belong to Ba Ria - Vung Tau province, in the Southeast region of Vietnam.The group of those islets create a beautiful bay that you can well admire from Con Son island- the biggest & only inhabited island in Con Dao archipelago.Each of those islands boasts its own unspoiled sandy beaches & tranquil beauty which are great for your relaxed & interesting holidays when doing trips to Con Dao islands.Stay in Con Son island, you can sunbathe or swim on a number of pristine beaches along its coastal line or take part in the jungle's hike to explore Con Dao national park's rich fauna & flora.From Con Son island, to reach the other surrounding islets, you can join in day boat tours with swimming or scuba diving activities to discover the marine life of intensive coral reef, sea turtles & different types of fishes vividly in emerald sea water.

Besides its natural landscapes, Con Dao islands offer you rich insights of its tough history during French & American Wars.This island was used as the prison to imprison the political Vietnamese who did struggles against French colony & American government.With their notorious mistreatment & execution to the prisoners, Con Dao prisons were ever considered as "The Hell On Earth" among Vietnamese communists at that time.Travelling to Con Dao archieplago, you can visit the typical historical sites such as prisons & cemeteries revealing about the black past of this land.

Let's visit Con Dao islands - "the Hell on Earth" in the past & "the Hidden Paradise" now for your lifetime Vietnam trip of great memory......

Things to do & places to visit in Con Dao Islands.

Below are the list of things to do & places to visit we would love to recommend, you can visit when doing a trip to this hidden paradise of Vietnam

1. Full exploration of Con Son island - the biggest one in Con Dao islands

Con Son Island is the biggest & only inhabited one in Con Dao archipelago.Currently,there are about 7000 people living on this island with the the half of the population are military forces.The island is 21 km long & 8 km wide with the sightseeings distributed along the coastal line.One side of the island starting with Ben Dam harbor is popular with historical sites of prisons, museum & temples in the town center, other side of the island is tranquilly pristine with beautiful bay, untouched sandy beaches, high-ending resorts and Con Dao airport.

La Voi beach - Con Dao island

a.Relaxed swimming or sunbathing on upspoiled sandy beaches.

Along the coast of Con Son island, there are many beaches of different sizes & qualities for your leisure escapes to swim or sunbathe.If you book your stay in famous resorts such as Six Sense Con Dao resort or Poulo Condor Boutique can play around their own private beaches.Otherwise, you can hang around in public beaches dotted around the island such as Dam Trau, Bai Nhat, Dat Doc, An Hai beaches.Most of them are soft & clear water with golden or white sand smoothy sloping down by constant waves but the most renown one is Bam Trau beach (a long, picturesque sweep of sand shaded by casuarina trees and near the airport).

Con Dao islands - Thanh Gia mountain view

The view from the trek to Thanh Gia mountain

b.Motorbiking along the stretch of Con Son island & hiking on its trails to jungles.

While in Con Son island, you can flexibly rent a motorcycle to travel around this island on your own pace with stops for great view down the bay or visit the places of interest : beaches, historical sites or hiking sites to the forest.There is only one main road snaking along the seaside, the road condition is good, sometimes with steep passes and less traffic, that could be a nice adventure for your exploration of Con Son island.Remember to fuel your moped fully in case to walk with your vehicle on the way because there is only a petrol station in town.If you love hiking, at Con Dao national park headquarter, you can get a map which show you about proper trekking routes you can follow and do on your own.You can ride a motorbike or taxi to the trailheads and follow one of those hiking routes : Hike to Ong Dung beach ( 500 m down stone steps, chance to encounter some local monkey), Thanh Gia Mountain Trail (trek to conquer the highest peak of Thanh Gia mountain at 577 metter high, opportunity to have a great view of Con Son town, surrounding bay & beach), So Ray Plantation Trail (moderately strenuous trek in 1 km long on steep hill & rougher trails to reach the plantation & observation tower for a good view of surrounding area), Hang Duc Me Cave | Holy Cave ( 500 m hiking route thru the jungle to visit a cave with a statue of Virgin Mary insdide, then to Bang Beach & Dat Tham beach - 6km)........

Con Dao - bay view

The view of Con Son bay by motorbike along the coast.

c.Visiting historical sites in Con Son Son islands : Pier 914, French Prison, American Prison, Hang Duong Cemetary, Con Dao Museum.

During Vietnam wars with French & American,between 1862 and 1975, tens of thousands of political prisoners were imprisoned on Con Son Island.Travelling to Con Dao islands, it will be good to visit those following historical sites to understand about the dark past of this land.

The Pier 914 was built in 1873 in 100 metter long in seafront promenade for the ships to dock and unload provisions and prisoners from the mainland.This pier is welknown as the Wharf 914 because 914 prisoners lost their lives constructing it.It is really a historical witness to mark the arrival time of any prisoners, if lucky, they were still alive, then their happy leaving time on 4th May 1975 when Vietnam got the country's reunification & independence on 30th April 1975.

Con Dao islands - pier 914

The historical pier 914 named after the number of prisoners died when building this whalf in 1973

A few blocks away are located Con Dao prisons which were likened as "The Hell On Earth" for any Vietnamese political prisoners.A visit to those prisons can give you some historical perspective, and makes you appreciate how this island, which today appears to be a travel paradise, was a dark and hellish place for thousands of prisoners for over a century.In Con Son town, there are many prisons you can visit but the most visited prison sites are Phu Son, Phu Hai & Phu Tuong, you will get to know how hard the life was for prisoners, brutal tortures they put up with such as malnourishment, irons, beatings, tiger cage.... as well hard labour they had to do.Under the bad treatment & notorious execution, an estimated 20,000 prisoners lost their lives on this island.Most of the dead were dumped in the shadow of a mountain behind Con Son town.In 1975 their remains were collected and buried in Hang Duong Cemetery.

Con Dao island- prison

Hard labour & brutal torture to the prisoners by the guards

Since 1975, prisons was closed, Con Dao islands have become a spiritual travel site among local Vietnamese to memorize national heroes or relatives who were imprisoned or died on the island. Perhaps,Vo Thi Sau is the most famous one among the victims in Con Son prison.Taken part in anti-French struggle at the age of 14, she was eventually captured by the French and imprisoned on Con Son island.In 1952, at the age of 19, she was executed.Her braveness & patrioticism is highly appreciated & widely taught in our school system.Her grave is set in Hang Duong Cemetery where Vietnamese come to pay their respects with offerings, including combs and mirrors which symbolize her youth.

Con Dao island - Vo Thi Sau grave

For a deep insight of this island, Con Dao Museum is a unmissable place which show you about the detailed information of Con Dao islands' long history with illustrated photos & videos.

d.Visit local temple & pagoda in Con Son island : Lady Phi Yen Temple & Nui Mot Pagoda.

Lady Phi Yen temple ( also called An Son temple) is a small temple built in the late 18th century to worship Lady Phi Yen, the wife of Nguyen Anh Lord (the first king in Nguyen dynasty later on).The story goes that Phi Yen accompanied her husband Nguyen Anh on their exile escape to Con Dao islands after being defeated by Tay Son brothers.Nguyen Anh planned to seek the French support to regain his power in Vietnam's mainland.Knowing about that,she advised him not to do that way but he was angry to accept, threw her into an isolated cell on an island ( now Hon Ba islet) to kill her.

Con Dao - Lady Phi Yen Temple

Lady Phi Yen temple - Con Dao 

Hearing that Tay Son rivals approached Con Dao islands, Lord Nguyen Anh escaped again by boat.At that time,Prince Cai ( the son of Lady Phi Yen & Nguyen Lord) cried to follow the mother.With the thought that the prince will be the same personality as his mother, Lord Nguyen Anh threw Prince Cai into the sea.Cai got drowned & his body floated to Co Ong beach & was buried by local fisherman on Con Son island.There is a temple to worship him on the island as well.

Lady Phi Yen, with the help of mythical creatures (a monkey and a tiger), she survived and came to live nearby her son's grave.Her life even got more tragically on a local village's festival when she was unsuccessfully raped by a slaughter.Traditionally, a good wife never betrays her husband, no matter what he’s done. Not wishing to be disloyal to Nguyen Anh, Phi Yen refused the approaches of her suitor and threw herself into the sea.Today, unlike her husband, Phi Yen is revered as a faithful, loyal wife and a loving mother.She is worshiped as a sacred saint on Con Dao Islands at An Son temple.

Nui Mot pagoda - Con Dao

Van Son Tu Pagoda - Con Dao

Nui Mot pagoda is also Van Son Tu (Mountain Cloud Pagoda) to worship Buddha.It is also a popular place attracting locals & tourists coming to visit.You need to climb on steep steps to Nui Mot pagoda where you can pray Buddha for good bless coming and for the panoramic view down to Con Son town & its surrounding islets on the sea.

2.Boat trip to visit other islets from Con Son islands.

Trip to Con Dao islands, if more time you have & outdoor adventure you love, you can take part in boat tours to visit other outlying islets in Con Dao archipelago.There are 15 other islets surrounding Con Son island such as Bay Canh islet, Ba islet, Tre Lon islet, Tre Nho islet......Each of them features their own landscapes of pristine beaches, eco-system & marine life, you can well explore on a day or half day trip with swimming or sunbathing on untouched beaches, viewing pristine bay & scuba diving to explore rich marine eco-system here.Coral reef systems in Con Dao can be said to be the most abundant in Vietnam.Also,if travelling on the right time between June & September, you can experience sea turtles laying their eggs at night in Bay Canh islet ( need to book in advance thru Con Dao national park head quarter).Boat trip to surrounding islands promises to bring you many interesting travel experiences.

Con Dao - experience turtles laying eggs

Experience turtles laying eggs in Bay Canh islet

When is the deal time to visit Con Dao islands?

Con Dao has a tropical climate, hot & humid all the year around due to its proximate position to the equator.There are two seasons in Con Dao islands : rainy season (from April to October) and dry season (November to March).Whatever time to visit, it is fine because different time of year, you can expect to experience different beauty in Con Dao island.

Bay Canh island- Con Dao

Bay Canh islet where you can experience turles laying eggs & scuba diving

In dry season between November and Feburary, the climate is pleasant & dry, it is fine to visit Con Dao islands.However,due to the polar winds, the sea of Con Son island is sometimes with large waves, it will be hard for your journey to Con Dao islands by sea, at the meantime, the West and Southwest of the island, the sea surface is still soft and less affected by sea wind.In rainy season, it is pretty hot and constant with rain but the shower is fast to come & fast to go so it is not a big matter.However, for the experience to witness the turles laying their eggs & hatching in Bay Canh Islet, you should arrange your visit between June and September. From March till July is ideal time for diving excursions when the waters around Con Dao are with glass- clear visibility averaging between 20 and 30 metres - great to view the rich marine life.In the months between September & October - stormy season, the weather sometimes become extreme with rough sea & strong winds due to the effects of typhoons,you should check the weather in advance to make sure of your smooth travelling by sea & leisure travel experiences in Con Dao islands.

Hon Ba - Con Dao

Ba islet where Lady Phi Yen was left as the story

How to get to Con Dao islands?

Con Dao is an archipelago located in the East Sea of ​​Ba Ria - Vung Tau Province, Vietnam, 45 nautical miles from the Hau River and 97 nautical miles from Vung Tau city.You can easily book the tickets and get to Con Dao islands by sea to Ben Dam harbour from Tran De port ( in Soc Trang province) or from Cat Lo port (in Vung tau city) & by flights from Ho Chi Minh city or Can Tho city.

Travel to Con Dao islands by Air

The most convenient & fastest way is by booking flight tickets departing from either Ho Chi Minh city or Can Tho city ( up to your travel plan convenience) with Vietnam Airlines.In case, you start from other city of Vietnam, you need to take a flight to Can Tho city or Ho Chi Minh city, then connect another flight to Con Dao island.Just in 45' flight, you will be in Con Dao airport.

Speed boat Vung tau to Con Dao

Speed hydrofoil Vung Tau city to Con Dao islands

Travel to Con Dao islands by Sea.

There are two sea routes to reach to Con Dao islands by hydrofoils, you can consider the options : Tran De Port in Soc Trang Province - Ben Dam harbour ( Con Son island) or Cat Lo port in Vung Tau city to Ben Dam harbour ( Con Son island)

With the speed hydrofoils, whatever routes you choose, you will reach Ben Dam port ( Con Son island) in 3 hour journey on sea.Check google map to see which routes are more convenient for your journey.

Explore Con Dao islands with Golden Holiday Travel.

Heaven from hell" and "hell in the middle of paradise" - that is the unique and exciting experience that you will get when traveling to Con Dao - one of the mysterious island and the most intriguing planet. Do not be embarrassed, take your backpack and go to the island of "heaven on earth" right now! In need of local travel support, please, contact us at +84.988451530 ( whatsapp, viber) or email to

Need local support, please, let us know!

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