Photo: Con Dao beach scenes.

Hang Duong Cemetery & Vo Thi Sau’s grave

Our rating:

Most Vietnamese tourists visit Con Dao to pay their respects to the more than 2,000 prisoners who died in the prisons here and to worship Vo Thi Sau, schoolgirl anti-French resistance fighter and the first woman to be executed by the French on Con Dao.


Photo of Hang Duong Cemetery & Vo Thi Sau’s grave

Vo Thi Sau, who is now a national martyr, was born in 1933 in Ba Ria-Vung Tau province. At the age of 14, she took up arms, joining a local anti-French resistance group and lobbing a grenade that killed a French officer and injured 14 soldiers. She wasn’t caught but was later arrested in 1950, during another attack, and sentenced to death. Out of fear of a backlash, she was not executed on the mainland but brought to Con Son Island, spending one night here before the sentence was carried out. She was executed by firing squad on January 23, 1952, at the age of 19. At her execution, it is said that she refused to be blindfolded, fearless until the last. She is now a celebrated symbol of patriotism, spirit and sacrifice and is regarded as a guardian angel or a saint.

Hang Duong Cemetery contains her grave as well as more than 2,000 graves of other prisoners who died in the brutal prisons on the island. Some bear names while others sadly do not. Remains that have been found in mass graves on Con Dao have also been moved here. Every night hundreds flock to the cemetery and hold vigil to honour the dead. It’s considered most auspicious to do so at midnight, with pilgrims arriving by the bus full between 23:00 and 02:00, all bearing offerings – we saw everything from fruit and flowers to a whole roasted pig. It’s a quiet, sombre affair. Non-Vietnamese visitors are welcome as long as they are appropriately dressed and discreet. Women should have their legs and shoulders covered, men should wear trousers and a shirt, otherwise you will be sent away by an attendant. Remember, people come from all over the country for this, sometimes as often as once a month; it is incredibly important.

Prayers and offerings are made at the central obelisk and crowds swell around Vo Thi Sau’s grave to the left as people wait for their turn to make offerings and pray for something in return. The air is thick with the perfume of incense as people wander around the entire cemetery placing incense sticks and even cigarettes at the graves. Fake or paper cut-outs of things that a spirit may need are burned: money, clothes, jewellery, shoes, mobile phones and umbrellas.

If you visit the cemetery during the day, you’ll be able to get a closer look and see the original gravestone attached to the front of Vo Thi Sau’s shrine which was roughly carved for her by other prisoners.
There’s also a tiny museum dedicated to Vo Thi Sau at the French police post, where she was imprisoned for her only night on the island before her execution. The photos and simple captions don’t add much to the history that we’ve provided but if you want to take a look, it is located on Le Duan Street, just north of Le Van Viet Street and the VietinBank ATM.


How to get there
Hang Duong Cemetery is located in the northeast corner of town on Nguyen An Ninh St, less than a kilometre from the town centre.

By .

Location map for Hang Duong Cemetery & Vo Thi Sau’s grave

What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Con Dao Islands.
 Check prices, availability & reviews on Agoda or Booking
 Read up on where to eat on Con Dao Islands.
 Check out our listings of other things to do in and around Con Dao Islands.
 Read up on how to get to Con Dao Islands, or book your transport online with Baolau.
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
 Planning on riding a scooter in Con Dao Islands? Please read this.
 Browse tours in Vietnam with Tourradar.


Like what you see? Then you’ll love our newsletter

The Travelfish newsletter is sent out every Monday and is jammed full of free advice for travel in Southeast Asia. You can see past issues here.


See below for more sights and activities in Con Dao Islands that are listed on Travelfish.org.


Top of page