The Con Dao Islands (also known as Poulo Condore) are an archipelago of 15 islands situated in the South China Sea, around 250 kilometres, or a 45-minute flight, from Ho Chi Minh City.
The island is famed for its grizzly past: due its remoteness, the French used the main island of Con Son (the largest island in the group) to keep anti-colonial protestors prisoner. The South Vietnamese continued the tradition, sending political dissenters and activists to the 11 prisons which were also used in the American War. One third of the current 6,000 population are Vietnamese soldiers based in barracks dotted around the island.
Con Son is largely mountainous and covered in forest, with ample opportunity for hiking through the jungle and looking for wildlife. The island is also home to a coastline of steep, rocky hills and long sweeping coves, boasting some excellent spots for swimming and snorkelling.
The best source of information is the National Park Headquarters, located about five minutes' drive from Con Son town on Vo Thi Sau Rd. From here you can organise trips to other islands in the archipelago, hire a guide for trekking (required) and get permits to enter certain parts of the forest. Three tourist hotels are available on Con Son, all on Ton Duc Thang Rd which follows the beach and the harbour around Con Son town.
One of only two terrestrial and maritime National Parks, the Con Dao archipelago became a national park in 1993 and five years later the park was expanded significantly into the surrounding waters. Because of this protective status, the waters escaped some of the destructive fishing practices that have marred many other marine areas in Vietnam.
Partly as a result of this protected state, the island is very popular with divers with over 1,000 hectares of coral reefs and over 1,300 marine species so far identified. Rainbow Divers is the only dive-shop on the island.
Despite these considerable assets and its proximity to the mainland, the islands are still largely untouched by mass tourism. Saigon Tourist though is transforming its resort on the island into a four-star, 90-room complex which is expected to open in 2007 while the government plans to turn Con Dao into a 'high quality and economic tourist area by 2020' -- so now may be the time to experience this destination in its still undiscovered state.
Download your Con Dao Islands PDF guide
Travelfish members are able to download our custom-built PDF guidebooks to many of the destinations on Travelfish.org -- including Con Dao Islands. Once downloaded, guides are stored in their Member Centre for ease of access when travelling and can also be downloaded onto their computer. Already a member? Sign in at the top right. Not a member? Sign up here.
Please consider supporting Travelfish by booking your accommodation with Agoda.
Agoda offers a best online price guarantee and a small commission may be payable to Travelfish if you make a reservation with them by following a link to Agoda from Travelfish.
Text and/or map last updated on 21st August, 2009.
Jump to a destination
- Hot spots
- Hanoi, Ha Long Bay & Cat Ba
- Sapa, Bac Ha & Dien Bien Phu
- Phong Nha Cave & Vinh
- Da Nang, Hoi An & Hue
- Dalat & Kon Tum
- Mui Ne & Nha Trang
- Saigon & surrounds
- My Tho, Can Tho & Phu Quoc Island