Con Dao Travel Guide

Located an hours flight south of Ho Chi Minh, these stunning collection of rocky forrest laid islands are with out a doubt Vietnams best kept secret. The French colonialist built here a polotical prison in the end of the 19th century and it would be stand until the end of the American Vietnam war where it was used by the Americans as well. It is believed that over 20,000 Vietnamese were murdered on this island. This dark history makes the island frequently visited by local Vietnamese who come here to pray for the lives tragically lost on this island. The Vietnamese government even subsidises the trips of relatives of the prisoners to come here to pay there respects.

Photo: Lonely Planet

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Now it is an ideal paradise escpae from Ho Chi Minh accessable with a quick one hour flight from Saigon or you can opt to take the ferry leaving just outside of Soc Trang, a 6 hour bus ride from Ho Chi Minh and a 2 and a half hour ferry from Soc Trang.  Con Dao consists of 16 islands in total, at 76 square km.  Pristine isolated beaches can be found all over this island, with

Dam Trau Beach

 

Around the island you will find plenty of pristine sandy clear water beaches to explore. Each unique in their natural beauty and habitat. Dam Trau, pictured above is one of the first beaches that you should check out. Located just a 20 minute scooter ride north of the island . The great thing about Con Dao is the ease of reach of every beach and attraction. You will never get lost and will always be a 20-30 minute ride away from everything on the island.

Con Dao Prison

 

 

Put into use in 1882, Con Dao prison was built by the French and is today on of the oldest and largest relics left standing from the French colonization period. The torturing and inhumanity that happened here is now notorious but today it stands as a musuem for visitors to connect and reflect on the dark history this island is representful of. An absolute must see on this island it can be easily reached from the main town with a 20 minute scooter or car ride.

Con Dao National Park

 

 

Listed as a national park in 1993, Con Dao National park consists of 20,000 hectares of land, compromising nearly 6000 hectares of forrest and 14,000 hectares of protected marine area. There are several excellent options for hikes you can do some even without a guide.

Ong Dong Beach: difficulty level; easy. 1.4 km of paved trail and stairs. Soy Ray and Ong Dung Beach Loop: Moderate: total distance 7.4 km ; rugged trail and stair. Hang Duc Me Cave Shrine , Moderate; total distance 5, 6.2 or 6.8 km, paved stone and concrete rail.  Dam Tre Beach: Moderately challanging: total distance 11 km; mix of beach, paved stone and concrete trail and rugged trail.

Take note that you need to get a ticket each time you enter the national park. The entrance is free but they want you to get the ticket as there is a military presence here.  They want to keep track of where you go in the park as some places are off limits.

 

Go to Con Dao before the Crowds Come

It is inevitable that the crowds will begin flocking to this tropical paradise soon. The experience of feeling as if you are on a lost island is what makes Con Dao one of the most attractive island destinations in the world. Weather that happens in one year or three years is the question. That is why you absolutely need to put Con Dao on your Vietnam travel to do list.