Con Dao is an island in the south that has earned the nickname ‘’Prison Island’’ because it held political prisoners when the French controlled Vietnam. More recently in the time of South Vietnam that use was revived and the old prison buildings are now open as a museum.
Conditions were harsh because Viet Cong were Southern Vietnamese fighting against their own government and therefore received few favours. These days many former inmates and guards still live happily on the island. However the history of the island is not the main reason for a visit because Con Dao is beautiful and this Con Dao travel guide will tell you more. Con Dao is the largest of a group of islands.
Those with Vietnam travel plans should look closely at Con Dao even though it is remote or precisely because it is. It is likely to change as more and more people find out about it so why not be among the next visitors?
How to get there
Con Dao has an airport serviced by Vietnam Airlines so Ho Chi Minh links are excellent with transport easy to arrange on arrival though taxis are expensive. Those on Vietnam tour packages will obviously have all arrangements made for them.
The overnight ferry comes from Vung Tau Port (180 km away) several days of the week and docks at the port on the island, Ben Dam.The ferry is fairly small and it is regularly cancelled by climatic problems in the off-season.
Best time to visit
The main months for visiting Con Dao are between May and October. There are times when the seas are too rough for the small ferries but they will be outside those months. Likewise there are few diving facilities outside that period because of the strong winds and consequent rough and less clear water.
Things to see and do
The island is a beauty; it has developed separately from the mainland over the ages and hence has fauna that is not found just a short boat trip away. Forests, coral reefs and sandy beaches make the island a real gem and perhaps ideal for a honeymoon in Vietnam? Con Dao National Park is a real treat though the main reason why it remains in good condition is the relative lack of visitors.
It is its remotest that has been its main protection with 80% of the island untouched by development; black squirrel and crab eating macaque living in virgin forest and green turtle swimming in its seas.The dugong, or sea cow, is now extremely rare but you may be lucky to see one. The beaches are the main attraction:
• An HaiBeach is very scenic and located south of the dock area and the further south you go the quieter it will be.
• Lo Voi Beach is the other beach close to the town, justnorth of it in fact.
• Dat Doc Beach is really pretty and surrounded by mountains. There is the Six Senses Resort here.
• Ong Dung Beach is the place for snorkelling but there is an entrance fee.
• Dam Trau Beach is west of the airport.
The tomb of national heroine Vo Thi Sau is important. The Cemetery is regarded as a National Shrine with over 20,000 people regarded as heroes. It is important to dress respectfully if you visit it. Vietnam private tours will provide you with advice on such things when it is necessary.
There are good hiking trails with guides for self-help if you do not want to hire a local guide.
Diving is another popular activity with excellent coral reefs on view.
The fruit and vegetable market is fun and much more exotic than many travellers from overseas may have seen before.
Six Senses is a resort and there are government run hotels for those staying on the island. There are several cheap guesthouses and more are being built. Vietnam travel packages include accommodation where applicable. Many of the hotels will offer transfer to and from your entry or departure point.
Medical care is fairly basic so a simple medical kit is worthwhile. The cost of medical transfer is prohibitive and it will take time. Insurance is essential because Con Dao is remote.
Insect repellents are a barrier to the mosquitoes which are really only an issue outside the main tourist season.
You should also only drink ‘’bottled water.’’
Con Dao provides an excellent contrast from the bustle in the mainland towns and cities and hopefully our Con Dao travel guide has persuaded you to give it some thought.