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Looking for a dream destination that is still pristine, rich in history, and a little shrouded in mystery? If yes, then you should visit Con Dao Islands in Vietnam. Located south of the mainland, this chain of islands provides clear sand beaches, temperate rainforest, and sombre war memorials. This island is a brilliant spot for divers, historians, and anyone who wants to take a break and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Whether you crave snorkelling or diving in the vibrant marine world or exploring the haunting remnants of the prison, Con Dao is a must visit destination for all kinds of travellers.

History Of The Con Dao Islands

An image of Poulo Condore prison in the Con Dao Island of Vietnam.

Image Credit:David McKelvey for Wikimedia Commons

The Con Dao Islands are not only beautiful but they also have a rich history that makes them even more interesting to visit. The Khmers once lived here but during the colonial period, the French took over and turned the islands into a prison known as “Poulo Condore.” The French used the islands as a prison for Vietnamese political prisoners and the history of the prison can still be seen in the remaining prison structures. After independence, the islands changed their fate from the dark history they witnessed before to the paradise that is now attracting tourists from all over the world.

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Why Visit Con Dao Islands?

Whether you’re drawn by the allure of its natural beauty, historical depth, or the promise of adventure, Con Dao Islands have something to offer every traveller. A visit to these enchanting islands is sure to leave you with unforgettable memories and a deeper appreciation for this hidden gem in Vietnam.

1. Natural Beauty

con dao islands

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Con Dao Islands Tour has its appeal based on the fact that it remains largely unspoiled. There are 16 islands in the archipelago and all of them are characterised by beaches, jungles, and clear sea. It is also endowed with lots of natural resources, and this makes it a perfect place for people who love nature. The untouched beauty provides a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

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2. Secluded Beaches

 Beaches of Vietnam offer relaxing gateway.

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Leave the large groups behind and enjoy the solitude and beauty of the place. The beaches of Con Dao are mostly secluded, which is ideal for those who desire to relax and escape the hustle and bustle of the world. It is such a beautiful feeling to imagine having a beach that is so clean and unspoilt that nobody else is allowed to use it.

3. Rich Flora and Fauna

The Dugong, one of the animals found off the shore of Con Dao islands.

Image Credit: Geoff Spiby for Wikimedia Commons

The plants and animals found in and around Con Dao are as varied and interesting as the island’s human inhabitants. The islands are also inhabited by the Con Dao black giant squirrel and the dugong, which is a rare species. The marine life is also diverse, with colourful coral reef formations that support schools of fish, sea turtles, and rays. Bird watchers will be able to watch and photograph many species of birds, including the Nicobar pigeon, which is endemic to the island.

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4. Culinary Expedition

Banh Khot, a traditional Vietnam dish is must try.

Image Credit: manda_wong for Wikimedia Commons

The food of Con Dao is a combination of traditional Vietnamese cuisine with French style, which is quite expected due to the history of the place. Fish is the focus here, and it’s as fresh as it gets, caught from the sea and straight to your plate. Local food has also changed over time but has retained its traditional feel with some fusion of modern foods. Some of the must-try delicacies include “bun rieu cua” which is crab noodle soup, “oc len xao dua” which is sea snails sautéed in coconut milk, “banh khot” which is mini savoury pancakes, and “goi ca mai” which is fish salad. Food in the island has also been influenced by Vietnamese recipes but with a French twist due to the colonisation.

Top Attractions In Con Dao Islands

Plenty of attractions in and around Con Dao Islands are must-see to enhance your travel experience.

1. Con Son Island

Con Son Island beach located close to Con Dao Islands.

Image Credit:Tycho for Wikimedia Commons

Con Son Island is the biggest and the most populated island of the Con Dao archipelago. It is a combination of the natural and historical attractions in the region. Here, you can explore Con Son Town – the town boasting cute streets and architecture reminiscent of French colonialism. One of the attractions you should not afford to miss is the Van Son Pagoda, which is located on the hill and has a beautiful sea view. Many hiking trails on Con Son Island also pass through the tropical forests, over hills and mountains, to hidden beaches and stunning viewpoints. Con Son is situated about 230 kilometres south of Ho Chi Minh City and can be reached by a flight of about 45 minutes or by boat.

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2. Con Dao National Park

 Dense jungle of the Con Dao National Park.

Image Credit: Tycho for Wikimedia Commons

It is a perfect destination for those who are interested in nature and wildlife. It covers the land and water and has areas that are home to many species of animals. Hike through the thickets to see the Con Dao black giant squirrel and other endemic species or dive into the colourful coral reefs that house fish, turtles and the rare dugong. Green sea turtles also lay their eggs here and it is a spectacular sight to see a turtle release itself on the beach. Con Dao National Park is home to numerous trails and marine activities that can allow visitors to experience the natural environment of the island fully. This park is roughly 9.32 miles from Con Son Town.

3. Con Dao Prison

 Remains of the Con Dao prison on the islands.

Image Credit: Tycho for Wikimedia Commons

A visit to Con Dao Prison is a must to witness the bravery of Vietnamese people during the independence war. It was mainly used as a detention camp for political prisoners and was notorious for its inhuman treatment of inmates. Tiger cages are the most notorious structures that clearly depict the plight of the prisoners. At the present time, the prison has been turned into a museum and those who wish to tour the place will be able to learn a lot about the island’s history. Visiting these dark corridors and yards, one can sense the prisoners’ spirit and struggle vibrations. This prison is well situated close to Con Son Town, making it easy to access.

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4. Phu Hai Prison

Phu Hai Prison in Vietnam.

Image Credit: TDA for Wikimedia Commons

Another historical site that can support the narrative told by Con Dao Prison is Phu Hai Prison. This prison is a French construction and is one of the oldest prisons in Vietnam, with many political prisoners incarcerated over the years. Here, you can also find historical displays and relics reflecting the lives of the inmates and people’s struggle for independence. Phu Hai Prison is located close to Con Son Town and serves as a historical site of interest for the islands.

5. Dam Trau Beach

 Dam Trau Beach, near Con Dao Islands in Vietnam is best for swimming and sunbathing.

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Dam Trau Beach is often listed among the most beautiful beaches of Vietnam. It lies on the coast with a strip of golden sand bordered by green forests and clear water. It is a perfect place for swimming, sunbathing or just lying in the hammock and enjoying the beautiful scenery. This beach is just close to Con Dao Airport, so tourists can visit this place at the beginning or at the end of their trip. The beach is famous for its calmness and beautiful sunsets, so it is loved by tourists. If you are searching for a quiet place to relax or beautiful scenery for your Instagram-worthy travel photos, this beach will not disappoint you.

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How to Reach Con Dao Island

There are several ways to reach Con Dao Island. Here are a few options for travellers to consider:

By Flight: Perhaps, the most convenient way of getting to the Con Dao Islands is by taking a flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Con Dao Airport. The flight is short, about 45 minutes. The route provides picturesque views of the coastal landscape along the way.

By Ferries: For those who are not in a hurry and would like to enjoy some beauty of nature, there are ferries from Vung Tau to Con Dao. This option takes longer but will offer a different view of the islands. Be sure to check the ferry schedules in advance, as the timings vary depending on the season.

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The Con Dao Islands are one of the most beautiful destinations that can boast of the combination of untouched nature, historical landmarks, and tranquillity. Be it the rich vegetation of the Con Dao National Park, the moving history of the island or the golden sandy beaches of the island, Con Dao is sure to leave you with an experience of a lifetime. Are you ready to unveil this secret place? Plan a trip to Vietnam today!

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Frequently Asked Questions About Con Dao Island

What is the most common cuisine at Con Dao Island in Vietnam?

Seafood is considered to be a king on the island of Con Dao as fresh fish is used in a variety of mouth-watering dishes.

What is the best time to travel to Con Dao Islands in Vietnam?

The best time to visit Con Dao Islands is during the period of March to June when the Con Dao Islands weather is pleasant and the sea is relatively calm.

Is English widely spoken on the Con Dao Island?

English is not widely spoken, especially among older population and i rural areas. However, staff at hotels, resorts and tourist services usually speak som English.

Are there any vegetarian options available in Con Dao?

Indeed, there are vegetarian meals on Con Dao Island as some restaurants offer vegetarian meals for clients.

Is it possible to get cheap hotels and other types of accommodations in Con Dao Islands?

There are guesthouses and hostels for budget travellers on Con Dao Islands, although the prices are still higher than in other parts of Vietnam.

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