Introducing Con Dao IslandsView Gallery
Vietnam is book-ended to the south by the admirably unspoilt Con Dao Archipelago, a confetti-like spray of sixteen emerald-green islands, cast adrift in the South China Sea some 185km south of Vung Tau. The sleepy nature of the archipelago belies some tumultuous history – under French occupation, Con Dao was home to the most feared prison in the country, and haunting remnants of that time are still visible. However, more come here to get away from such negative thoughts, and since regular flights began early this century, the archipelago has taken its first steps to welcoming tourists.
Con Son island, the largest in the group, is a laidback get-away with some striking colonial buildings, alluring beaches and challenging treks in the rugged hills of the national park. Trekking in the national park, diving off the surrounding islands, watching sea turtles laying eggs and lounging on the uncrowded beaches are some of the alternative activities.
The Con Dao Islands, also known as Poulo Condore, situated at about 185 km from Vung Tau , and 230 km from Ho Chi Minh City ; the group includes 16 mountainous islands and islets. Con Dao Island is famed for its grizzly past: due its remoteness, the French used the main island of Con Son (the largest island in the group) to keep anti-colonial protestors prisoner. The South Vietnamese continued the tradition, sending political dissenters and activists to the 11 prisons which were also used in the American War. One third of the current 6,000 population are Vietnamese soldiers based in barracks dotted around the island.
What to do ?
The Con Dao islands have a history of repression: The French, Vietnamese and Americans have all used the island as a place to keep 'enemies', and so it's only fair you commence your stay with a round-up of the island's brutal past. Start at the museum on Ton Duc Thang and be sure to ask for the guided tour and also Phu Hai Prison, Hang Duong Cemetery and the 'Tiger Cages' -- cells used to keep prisoners in brutal conditions. All of this can be completed in a couple of hours leaving plenty of time for adventuring. If you're had your fill of Vietnam's wartime attractions, don't fret -- there's a lot more on offer. The islands offer an escape into the great outdoors, taking you from the noise, pollution and people of the city into a world of deserted beaches and peaceful countryside. With 16 islands such as Con Lon, Hon Bay Canh, Hon Cau, Hon Trung, Hon Vung, Hon Ngoc, people have said that Con Dao is as attractive as Ha Long Bay. Traveling to Hon Tai islet, tourists can climb the mountain, watch monkeys, bathe in the sea and dive to view coral reefs. Going over a wooden bridge into Con Dao Natural Reserve, tourists have a chance to take tiny turtles on their hands. This season, tourists should stay overnight on the island to see turtles giving birth. Con Dao Island is also famous for its nice beaches shaded with evergreen trees, fresh air, clear blue waters, and primitive forests. Some of those beaches include Dam Trau Hang Duong and Phi Yen where visitors can relax and enjoy the warm temperature. Clean, smooth sand banks, blue sea, dolphins jumping and racing after boats, tropical almond trees swinging in a cool sea breeze, peaceful narrow roads, and forest covering most of the island, make Con Dao seem like heaven to visitors from far and wide.
See more Con Dao Islands travel guide at here.