Coconut Tree Phu Quoc Prison
An Thoi town, Phu Quoc island, Kien Giang, VietnamMore information Prices
Admission is 3,000VND. Visitors should tips for guide 100,000 - 200,000 vndOpening hours
Daily: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
The Coconut Tree Prison (also known as the Phu Quoc Prison and Cay Dua Prison) in An Thoi Town was once an active prison built and used by the French and then later by the Americans. It once housed more than 40,000 north Vietnamese soldiers who were beaten and tortured there during the American-Vietnam war. Today it is a museum/historical site and on March 27, 2015 it was recognized as special national heritage site in Vietnam.
History & location
The coconut tree prison which is also known as “Phu Quoc Prison” is located in An Thoi Town, Phu Quoc. The name “coconut tree” originated from the Indochina War; when French colony was dominating Vietnam and the resistant war against French becomes very strong. At this time, the prison had four areas named “A”, “B”, “C” and “D”; which was believed to keep over 14,000 prisoners. However, when the Indochina War finished, most of the prisoners returned to their families according to the Geneva Accords.
As the Vietnam War started, the U.S troops rebuilt the place into a new prison but kept the same name. The new prison had separate areas for men, women and the elder. As time passed by, until 1966, a new part of the prison was built to imprison more Vietnamese soldiers. The new part of the prison had 12 main areas. Each area was divided into four different sub-areas “A”, “B”, “C” and “D”. The protection security was very strict with tight supervision all the time.
Vietnam War started after French War, American army rebuilt Phu Quoc prison to continue keeping Vietnamese. In this time the women, children and the old people were kept in here. US army decided to expand Phu Quoc prison with more 12 areas to keep Vietnamese soldiers. Vietnamese suffer from strictly rule in Phu Quoc Coconut Tree Prison, they had to work very hard in the day time and they had to live with poorest condition in Phu Quoc prison.
Phu Quoc prison close when Vietnam had the independent from American in the year of 1975. Today Phu Quoc prison is one of famous place for traveler when they come to Phu Quoc Island. It is the Vietnamese National Historical site. “The coconut tree prison” has become a place for tourists to visit since 1996. In the same year, it was recognized as a “national historical heritage”.
Tourist can witness the War Crime. Phu Quoc prison exhibit many objects showing about Vietnamese prisoner suffer from French and American rule.. You will have chance to see how French and American army torture Vietnamese and they used many ways to torture such as: electric shock, Tiger cage, crucifixion, boiling prisoner to death, or breck the teeth with hammer…Phu Quoc Coconut Tree Prison nowadays attract 10, 000 tourists every year. You Can flight from Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi to Phu Quoc island. Join some activities in Phu Quoc Island like: water sport, fishing, swimming with clean and blue water, or relax on natural beach, visit Phu Quoc Coconut Tree Prison.
The Coconut Tree prison is the living evidence for the war crime. There are plenty of exhibits presented in the prison for visitors to learn more about the war. There are still some torture tools that was used in the past on prisoners. For example, you can witness the “Catso Tiger cage” which was used to capture the prisoners inside. Since it was closed all the time, the cage was completely dark and it is extremely hot in the morning while completely cold at night. The prisoners after being released from the Tiger cage would be blind. His/her physical and mental health conditions were strongly affected. Besides, there are more torturing activities which reflects the cruel inhuman activities of the enemies in the past like crucifixion, boiling people till death or directly breaking one’s teeth with hammer waiting for you to witness.
Every year, the coconut tree prison attracts about 10,000 visitors. Many of them are former-prisoners. There are also a lot of young people and especially the foreigners coming here to know more about the destructive war in the past and appreciate the peaceful life we all have now.
Visitors can pass by the coconut tree prison with the tour. However, you can also visit here by yourself. The tour guide service is always available if you ask.
What to expect
Tourists who visit this museum will see an actual outdoor prison setup complete with barb wire, tiger cages, and mannequin guards and prisoners.
Tourist will also get a chance to go through an underground escape tunnel. The Coconut Tree Prison today is basically a re-enactment of the atrocities that happened in the past. Admission is only 3,000 VND per person and it will take you approximately 30-40minutes to tour the museum.
How to get there
The Coconut Tree Prison is located about 25kms from Duong Dong Town and 5kms north of An Thoi Town is near both Sao Beach and Kem Beach. The road to the prison is freshly paved making it easy for you to travel by motorbike or bicycle.
Need to know
- Across from the prison is a war memorial depicted by giant blue waves and a hollow human silhouette.
- Most tour operators stop here on their “Land tour of the south”.
- There is a gift shop next to the museum that sells souvenirs as well as dried fish