Con Dao’s turquoise waters sparkle like a jewel, and they’re best enjoyed from one of the island’s many beautiful beaches. Some are ideal for vegging out while others require an adventurous hike. One thing’s for sure: it will never be crowded. Here’s a rundown of all the island’s noteworthy ... Read more about Con Dao's beaches .
An archipelago of 16 islands and islets, most of which is national park, Con Dao’s remote location, crystal clear waters and modest tourism scene make it Vietnam’s best diving spot. Other popular dive spots in Vietnam – Hoi An, Nha Trang, Whale Island, Phu Quoc – will claim they’re the best, but we spoke to several instructors around Vietnam and they all told us Con Dao really takes ... Read more about Diving and snorkelling .
With nature pushed to the brink in other parts of Vietnam, Con Dao’s 16 islands and islets are a refreshing enclave of protected wilderness. On Con Son Island there are four hikes travellers can do on their own (without a guide). We don’t want to be overbearing and have to tell you things like “wear proper footwear, not flip flops”. But with very little solid information for travellers ... Read more about Hiking in Con Dao National Park .
Located along the primitive northeast coast, Dam Tre Bay offers bamboo forest, rugged landscape and a rocky beach, which visitors will likely have all to themselves. But the hike is tricky as you have to time it with the tides or else you can get ... Read more about Hike to Dam Tre Bay .
A longer hike, a bigger reward: Bang Beach and Dat Tham Beach are remote, isolated beaches on the undeveloped western side of the island. Part of Con Dao National Park, the pleasant hike through the forest on paved trail can be 5, 6.2 or 6.8 kilometres long, depending on if you choose one or both ... Read more about Hike to Bang Beach and Dat Tham Beach .
Whether you want snorkelling or want a hike with an ocean swim as a reward, Ong Dung Beach will satisfy both. It is a relatively easy hike through Con Dao National Park, 700 metres one way on paved trail taking you to the unspoiled western coast of the island. You can make it a more challenging by doing a loop that includes So Ray ... Read more about Hike to Ong Dung Beach and So Ray Plantation .
With 16 islands and islets, Con Dao archipelago deserves some serious marine exploration. The islands are part of the national park which means access is restricted and therefore keeps mass tourism in check. But if you are willing to splurge a little, you can go where few tread, see the islands’ unique biodiversity and get up close to sea turtles. Bay Canh Island (Hon Bay Canh) to the east ... Read more about Hon Bay Canh and Con Dao’s other islands .
For 113 years, Con Dao was not the beautiful tropical idyll that you see today, but rather a prison where thousands endured pain and suffering. While travellers are drawn to the island’s water, sun and sand, a visit to the Con Dao Museum and at least one of Con Son Island’s many prisons is a must. Learn why it was known as “hell on earth” and “the Devil’s Island of ... Read more about Prisons .
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. 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 ... Read more about Hang Duong Cemetery & Vo Thi Sau’s grave .
Con Dao may be a present day paradise, but its recent history is the stuff of nightmares. From 1862 to 1975, Con Son Island was a brutal prison used first by the French, then the American backed government. Horrific doesn’t begin to describe the treatment and torture the prisoners suffered. A visit to the free Con Dao Museum is an essential primer for this dark chapter and it should be your ... Read more about Con Dao Museum .
Van Son Pagoda is an “if you have some time” kind of stop. Perched into the side of a hill, it offers a peaceful pause and a view to the ocean and town against a backdrop of mountains. From town, head west on Nguyen Duc Thuan Street. At the fork, veer left, continue then veer right – at this point you should see the rooftop of the temple. It’s a climb up a flight of stairs to the ... Read more about Chua Van Son (Van Son Pagoda) .