Con Dao Islands

GENERAL INFORMATION

Population: about 5,000

Area: 75.15 km2

Province: Ba Ria Vung Tau

 

  1. The Best Time to Visit Con Dao Island
  2. The Prison Complex
  3. Other places to visit in Con Dao Island
  4. Where to Stay in Con Dao Island
  5. Con Dao Island Food and Gift
  6. Is Con Dao Island Safe?
  7. Con Dao Travel Tips

 

Offshore of Vung Tau, in the East Sea, Con Dao consists of a total of 16 small islands, located about 230 kilometers and 45 minutes by plane from Ho Chi Minh City.  Con Dao Island is sadly famous because it used to host a convict prison during the French colonial era, and later, during the American War.

Fortunately, nowadays Con Dao Island owes its reputation to Con Dao National Park, comprised of precious and rare marine products, turtles, etc. 

 

The best time to visit Con Dao Island

June to September is the rainy season in Con Dao and after that hot summers start. November to February are the driest months, there is always sunshine so very appropriate to visit Con Dao this time. If you want to go when the sea is calmest, March to June would be the best, even though this time is the rainy season but the rain in Con Dao is mainly a shower lasting no more than 1 hour, other times of the day are still sunny. This time is suitable for sea tours, snorkeling and exploring uninhabited islands.

 

The Prison Complex

Opening hours: 7am to 11am & 1pm to 5pm

 

The Con Dao Prison Historical Complex consists of 15 sites: Phu Hai Prison, Phu Son Prison, Phu Tuong Camp, French Tiger Cages, Phu Tho Camp, Phu Phong, Phu An Camp, Phu Hung Camp, Phu Binh Camp & American Tiger Cages, Separated Cow Shed, Ma Thien Lanh Bridge, 914 Wharf, French Governor’s Residence, So Lo Voi, and the Hang Duong Cemetery.

Visiting Con Dao Prison, all images of a severe prison with tiger cages, byre, farms, Phu Hai Prison, Ma Thien Lanh Bridge, and limekiln area…appear along with the brutality of colonialism and imperialism. Indeed, when visiting these prisons, you might be shuddered when witnessing hot and stuffy cells with the forms of slavery, most grisly tools of torture applied for people by people.

A great place for the history buffs, the Con Dao Museum is regularly visited by the locals and Vietnamese people who come here to pay their respects and offerings. Located at the Nguyen Hue Road (Tel: 091 669 27 89), this impressive museum has more than 2000 exhibits, including many rare documents, dioramas and excellent photographs, which comprehensively record the island’s history, including the French colonial era and of course the ‘prison period’. Modern displays including audiovisuals are used.

The older, more abridged version of Con Dao’s prison history is at the Revolutionary Museum (Ton Duc Thang opposite Quay 914, tel. 0254/383 0517, VND 40,000), where exhibits feature more photos and historical write-ups than actual artifacts. The majority of these images appear at the newer Con Dao Museum as well, so a visit to both venue is unnecessary. If you’re looking for a more con-densed version of the island’s history, this is the place. Entry tickets for this museum are also valid for the prison complex, so hang onto your receipt to show the guides at each respective location.

There is little to no signage in most of these places, which is why a visit to either the Con Dao Museum or the Revolutionary Museum is recommended in order to have a better understanding of the history associated with these aging buildings.

Other Places to visit in Con Dao Island

Con Dao National Park

Con Dao National Park is surely a good choice to stay close to nature and spread their eyes over flora and fauna. Con Dao National Park has an area of 25,043 ha, including 9,000 ha marine and 6,043 ha forest. It is founded on 31 March 1993 in Con Dao District, 180km from Vung Tau City. The park’s terrain is primarily hills and moutains. The highest peak is 557m, is called Thanh Mount. The ecosystem is classified as island tropical forest and is divided into two main types of woods. A few plant species are considered rare and precious including lat hoa, gang neo, gang long,etc. 

Con Dao National Park’s marine environment and forest…..

Dam Trau Beach

Situated at the edge of Con Dao National Park and near the Co Ong airport, the beach is an excellent beach with blue water, gentle waves, quiet space, golden sand, and fresh air. It is surrounded by old green pine trees, a prominent bamboo forest, and pockets of tropical jungle. In Dam Trau beach, tourists not only enjoy comfortable moments of sunbathing and swimming but also get to know its culture and history.

Camping on Dam Trau Beach is a great experience because the beach is gorgeous and clean. There is also good snorkeling 700m from shore which is the best spot on Con Dao Island to see an ocean sunset.

Bay Canh Island

This is the most popular spot, offering visitors the most varied experience. The archipelago’s second largest island has an area of 683 hectares, mostly covered by rainforest full of rare species, as well as some mangrove forest.

This is also one of 14 Con Dao sea turtles’ spawning grounds and the beach with the largest number of turtles laying eggs in Con Dao. During the breeding season (from April to September each year), at least 1-2 individuals, and the largest number from 20-30 individuals mother turtles come to nest and lay eggs.

Where to Stay in Con Dao Island

1. Con Dao Hotels

a. Con Dao Camping Hotel – One of the best-selling hotels in Con Dao

Centrally located on Con Dao Island, Con Dao Camping is just a stroll away from An Hai Beach and offers comfortable lodge accommodation.Van Son Pagoda is 700 meters away, while Con Dao Prison is 1.7 kilometers away. Guests can enjoy both Asian and Western cuisine at the all-day dining restaurant.

Address: 2 Nguyen Duc Thuan, Con Dao.

Phone: (+84) 254 3831 555

Reference price: 30 US$ /night

b.Villa Maison Con Dao Boutique Hotel – Friendly as your home

Located in Con Dao, 400 meters from Ben Dam, Villa Maison Con Dao offers rooms with amazing garden views and terrace. The hotel has a great restaurant with a nice menu and the staff is also very friendly and proposed nice activities. This  little paradise to discover

Address: 46 Nguyen Hue, Con Dao.

Phone: (+84) 643 830 969

Reference price: 70 US$ / night

2. Con Dao Island Resort 

a.Saigon Con Dao resort – Favorable and beautiful resort

Conveniently located in Con Dao Islands, Saigon Condao Resort is a great resort to explore this vibrant city. Only 1 kilometer away, the resort can be easily accessed from the airport.

Saigon Condao Resort is renowned for its quality services and friendly staff. The resort recreational facilities, which include an outdoor pool, pool for kids, tennis courts, garden are designed for escape and relaxation. Saigon Condao Resort is an ideal place of stay for travelers seeking charm, comfort, and convenience.

Address: 18-24 Ton Duc Thang, Con Dao

Phone: (+84) 254 3830 336

Reference price: 60 US$ / night

b. ATC resort – Where to get away from bustling areas

Whether for business or pleasure, ATC Con Dao Resort is a great choice for your stay in Con Dao Islands. Only 1.5 kilometers from the city center, the resort’s location ensures that guests can quickly and easily reach many local points of interest. This modern resort is in the vicinity of popular city attractions and popular attractions.

Address: 8 Ton Duc Thang, Con Dao

Phone: (+84) 643 830 456

Reference price: 60 US$ / night

c. Six Senses Con Dao resort – An amazing experience in Con Dao

The island’s sole luxury lodging, this resort, as a secluded beachfront property whose lavish rooms and exclusivity are second to none. Each split-level villa comes with a private infinity pool and panoramic ocean views as well as high-end amenities, including satellite TV, a BOSE sound system, and butler service.

 

Address: Dat Doc Beach, Con Dao District, Ba Ria Vung Tau Province

Phone: (+84) 254 3831 222

Email: [email protected]

Reference price: 430 US$ / night

Con Dao Island Food and Gift

Food.

Oyster Porridge (Chao Hau)

The main ingredients of an oyster Porridge are rice,a little sticky rice to create consistency and match, fresh oysters caught from the sea, then cleaned, marinated with spices and sautéed. When the porridge is cooked, fried oysters are spilled into the porridge and seasoned them to taste.

Moon Crab (Cua Mang Trang)

The moon crab is a kind of strange shaped crab with many red spots on its back that are in fresh pink. If you look more closely, you will see that it is similar to the moon, perhaps because of that, it is given the name.  Apart from being served with the mixture of salt, pepper, and lemon, the crab meat is also used to cook soup or noodles. In general, its taste is definitely fragrant and unique.

Sa Sung

Referred to as a species of sea creature, Sa Sung has become the ingredient of many delicious dishes in Con Dao Island. We can find a large number of Sa Sung units from March to July, so don’t miss this food when coming here in that time. The dishes made from Sa Sung include salad, soup, fried vegetables, crispy, porridge, or simply grilled Sa Sung with chili sauce.

Gift.

Not only like a tourist center, Con Dao is not the best place to shop for souvenirs. Even though, shopping is quite interesting on this island.

Eagle nut jam

Eagletree in Con Dao is a forest tree, leaves and fruits are very big. 

Eagle nut jam is a famous specialty of Con Dao. The taste of jam is often crispy, fleshy, fragrant and very interesting, which is a special gift of this place.

 

Seafoods

seafood in Con Dao is very fresh, clean, delicious and reasonable price. Special products like Vu Nang snail, sa sung, dry fish, oyster porridge, etc can be your gifts on the island.

You can go to Con Dao Market, located in Con Dao town to find something to buy. Go and visit the Con Dao Market.

 

Is Con Dao Island Safe?

Con Dao is remote. As in all of rural and most of developed Vietnam, medical care is rudimentary. Evacuation by helicopter to Saigon takes 5 hours, costs USD5,000 and must be prepaid in cash. So if you are considering travel here, consider getting good travel insurance. If you find that insurance is not available in your home country, consider an online company from the USA, they do cover people from all over the world for as little as USD1 a day.

There are some stray dogs around and people do get the occasional nip. The dogs become aggressive and territorial at night, and during the day they can be found sleeping in the middle of the road. Walking the streets at night alone is not smart anywhere. When confronted by dogs, do not act scared or run. Stand your ground and yell at them, bend down as if to pick up a rock, and they will run like they are on fire.

Mosquito season is Feb-Apr. The mosquitoes are not abundant, nor are their bites particularly painful. Regular mosquito repellent is available and it works. Purchase in the pharmacy, across the street on the left side of the market under the name Soffell.

Con Dao Travel Tips

  • The service in Con Dao also depends heavily on the supply of the land, so it is quite expensive and the most limited thing is the night entertainment activities. Therefore, you should be well-prepared that this is a vacation and discover an island that is still very unspoiled, the service is not as complete as the mainland.
  • You should prepare high-heeled shoes if you want to go to the forest to explore, anti-allergy drugs, commonly medicines, some fast food because in the evening it is very hard to find food
  • There is a more economical way for tourists to go to the wharf by themselves at 6:00 am or 2:00 pm, when the train arrives to buy fresh seafood at very cheap prices. Fresh seafood can be brought to the hotel thanks to their processing.
  • If you want to eat rice, you can go to Con Dao market area.
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