Con Dao (Vietnamese: Côn Đảo) is an archipelago off the coast of Ba Ria – Vung Tau. This 76 km² archipelago includes 16 islands, the largest being Con Son island. Besides being spiritual tourism, Con Dao is a secluded paradise off the southern coast of Vietnam where you’ll find white sand beaches, scenic bays, coral reefs, vibrant jungles, and some of the best scuba diving in the region. Below are suggestions for your trip to explore Con Dao.

What is the best time to explore Con Dao?

Similar to many other islands in Vietnam, you should avoid explore Con Dao during the stormy season – usually October, November, and December. The speedboats and canoes are also limited during the rough sea or strong wind. However, the sea to the west and southwest of the big island is still calm, so visitors can switch their sightseeing to this area with equally beautiful natural landscapes. 

explore Con Dao

From March to September is the best time to explore Con Dao. Although sometime it’s raining, but the sea is calm and the wind is small on the eastern and northeastern islands. Tourists should visit the remote island during the day, where it is filled with golden sunshine and blue sky, suitable for scuba diving and taking photos. There are often showers in the afternoon, suitable for visiting covered monuments on the big island. Also, turtles come to lay eggs a lot from June to August offering visitors a great choice to admire this amazing natural phenomenon.

turtle in Con Dao

How to get here?

Airplane is the fastest means to get from Ho Chi Minh City or Can Tho to Con Dao (only about 55 minutes). And Vietnam Airlines is the only airline operating this route. 

For the boat trip, you have to come to Vung Tau Harbour or Tran Đe Harbour (Soc Trang province). The fare cost around 600,000 VND/ticket. Travel time is 3 hours 30 minutes from Vung Tau or just more than 1 and a half hour from Soc Trang. Although it takes longer, this will be an interesting experience for those who like to explore Con Dao by speed boat.

speed boat to Con Dao

Con Dao express

What to do on the islands?

The Con Dao is an archipelago of 16 islands and islets, some of them mostly uninhabited. This is a great destination for those looking to escape bustling city life with plenty of things to see and do here.

Con Dao National Park

Con Dao National Park

Con Dao National Park is founded on March 31, 1993, with an area of ​​20,000 hectares. The ecosystem is classified as islands and tropical forests and is divided into two main types of wood. The flora included 882 high-class plant species (562 genuses, 161 families). Côn Đảo has 144 species, 14 of which are in the group of precious rare animals. The sea in Côn Đảo is divided into three ecosystems: seagrasses, mangroves, and corals – which is a home of nearly 2,000 species of sea creatures, reptiles, sea birds… Especially sea turtles are large in quantity and some of the marine species are listed in Vietnam’s Red Book such as blue whales and dugongs.

Coming here, visitors can explore the park through a wide range of tours such as climbing, going fishing, diving, trekking, riding, and sightseeing…

Visit the famous prison

Con Dao prison

Con Dao prison was built in 1862 by the colonial French and later run by the South Vietnamese and Americans.

It was hell on earth for people fighting for the independence of Vietnam.
Prisoners were held in several prisons and treated in horrible conditions. They were beaten, tortured, and kept in “tiger cages”. More than 20,000 people were executed at this prison. The prison is ranked a special historical relic of national importance by the government of Vietnam.

Furthermore, it’s preserved as a museum to tell future generations of the horrors endured here. ​Every year, thousands of Vietnamese, of all ages, come to visit and pay their respects to the former inmates of the prisons, many of whom are considered great national heroes. 

Explore beautiful beaches and bays

Con Dao beach

Con Son Bay has 14 islands of different sizes, many of which are ideal coral viewing locations that tourists do not want to miss. With the location far away from the mainland, visitors will have the opportunity to explore beautiful beaches and bays include:

Dam Trau Beach – the most beautiful beach in Con Dao with poetic scenery is an ideal place for swimming and diving to see coral.

coral in Con Dao

An Hai Beach with clear blue water, you can see the sea bottom. In the morning, when the fishing boats return, visitors will witness the bustling life of people on the island.

Lo Voi Beach with its pristine scenery, fresh air, clear water reflecting the cloudy sky is also the most beautiful beach at one end of the island.

Dam Tre Bay is so wild and beautiful, visitors can also explore mangrove forests or watch swiftlets build nests during the breeding season.

The scenery of these beaches is very poetic, suitable for those who want to go away to explore, picnic, and there are many corners for people who like to take “virtual life” selfies.

Explore beautiful islands and islets

There are many different large and small islands and islets. Therefore, every tourist’s journey to explore Con Dao cannot lack the exploration of beautiful islands.

Con Dao

Hon Cau is one of two islands with fresh water in Con Dao. This place has white sand beaches surrounding the base of bow-shaped mountains. On the sandy shore are rows of coconut trees and maple trees swaying in the wind. All create a pristine and peaceful scene.

Hon Tre Lon is the main breeding ground for sea turtles. This is also an extremely ideal place for tourists to dive to see coral – an experience not to be missed for tourists interested in what fun Con Dao has to offer. The rich vegetation makes this place like a green paradise that many tourists look forward to exploring.

turtle in Con Dao

Hon Bay Canh has the second largest area among the islands in Con Dao. The island is covered with primeval forest canopy, so the climate is cool and fresh all year round.

This is where the most turtles lay eggs in Con Dao. Bay Canh Island is also a place for tourists to dive to see coral or splash in the cool water.

Also, there is only one way to travel between these islets – by boat. A boat trip to outlying islands can be arranged through some of the hotels or tourist agents.

Enjoy specialties of Con Dao

Con Dao seafood you should try to enjoy is red lobster, shrimp, red grouper, dried squid, snales… and other types of sea fish.

Takeaway specialties are widely sold at Con Dao market, including fresh and dried seafood and souvenirs. Tourists like almond seed jam and ginseng wine the most. The taste of Con Dao ginseng is mildly sweet, pungent and fragrant. The local often use ground ginseng roots to soak in wine, stew chicken, and stew duck for nourishment…

Source: collected by An