Con Dao Islands, also known as Con Dao National park, are an archipelago of 16 mostly uninhabited islets just off the southern coast of Vietnam, each of which offering expansive beaches shaded with evergreen trees. Great for savvy travellers looking to escape bustling city life, the main island also boasts miles of coastal roads, hiking trails and a wide range of outdoor activities.
The main (and only inhabited) island, Con Son was once the site of French-run prisons for Vietnamese involved in the independence movement. Most of the derelict prisons are located in Con Son Town, where you can visit the prison cells, and infamous tiger cages. Many locals visit Con Son to pay their respects to revolutionaries such as Vo Thi Sau, the first women on the island to have been executed by the French.
Aside from this rather bleak part of Con Son, the island has plenty of unspoilt beaches where you can enjoy a day of sunbathing, swimming, and dining on fresh seafood. Closest to the town is Bai An Hai Beach, which connects Ben Dam Harbour to several beachfront resorts and fishing villages. If you prefer privacy, rent a motorbike and make your way south towards Mui Ca Map (Shark Cape) and Nhat Beach to enjoy fine white sands and breathtaking views of the ocean.
Island-hopping and diving are popular activities on Con Dao Islands, where you can explore most of the uninhabited islets and spot various wildlife such as stingrays, barracudas, moray eels, and dugongs. Due to its status as a national park, you need to arrange your trip with Con Dao National Park Headquarters (29 Vo Thi Sau, Con Dao District, Ba Ria - Vung Tau Province). Hon Bay Canh Island is renowned for its turtle breeding grounds, so if you’re visiting between June and September, you may even get a chance to watch turtles laying their eggs.
Best Time to Go
The best time to visit Con Dao Islands is during the dry season (November to February), but if you’re looking to see turtles nesting on Hon Bay Canh Island, visit between June and September. February till July is ideal for diving excursions as the waters around Con Dao have visibility averaging between 20 and 30 metres.
How to Get to Con Dao Islands
Con Dao Islands, particularly Con Son, are accessible within an hour’s flight from Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnam Airline’s VASCO is the only airline with regular flights to the island, with roundtrip tickets priced around USD210 for adults, USD160 for children age 2 to 11, and USD25 for children below 2 years old. Con Dao Aiport is 15 kilometres south of Con Son Town, with the majority of luxury resorts and hotels offer roundtrip shuttles to guests. Some drivers charge about VND 50,000 to non-guests, making it a cost-effective way of getting to your destination.
Con Dao Islands
- Location: Ba Ria – Vung Tau Province