The Con Dao Islands are a beachside paradise located just off the coast of southern Vietnam near Vung Tau. Year-round you can enjoy the island life with rewarding things to do. The secluded region of Con Dao is renowned for its captivating natural beauty and the atrocities that took place on the islands during the Vietnam War.
Situated in the Southeast of Vietnam, Con Dao is a group of 16 mesmerizing islands and islets. Every island, whether inhabited or deserted, has something to offer. Furthermore, the islands are composed of magmatic rocks from different eras, which only add to the adventure as you explore this beautiful cluster of scattered islands.
Con Dao’s Best Things to Do
Con Son is the most populous area in the area and while there’s a lot to check out in Con Doa, most tourists prefer staying in the town of Con Son. There are a number of luxury hotels in Con Dao, including 3, 4, and 5-star accommodations.
Here are the top things to do in Con Dao Islands, Vietnam, in no particular order:
Catch Some Sun at the Beaches in Con Dao
Con Dao is all about beaches. The sight of the turquoise water of Con Dao sparkling under the sun is a captivating one that you will remember for years to come. This is why visiting the beach is a must when you are in Con Dao. Since it is a group of islands, you will find multiple beaches and long stretches of sand. In fact, the mesmerizing beaches of Con Dao are one of its main attractions.
While some beaches are easily accessible by road, others may require you to walk or hike for a while. Moreover, whether you are looking to soak up some sun and get the perfect golden suntan or want to indulge in adventurous water sports – Con Dao is the place for you!
If you are staying in Con Son town, you don’t have to go far to take a dip. The town sits right in front of a beach so you can walk to the waves in just a few minutes from anywhere in the town. However, keep in mind that while Con Son town beach is good, it’s not the best one in Con Dao.
To reach a wide stretch of white sand with fewer crowds and a cleaner beach, walk north or take the Nguyen Van Cu, which is the coastal road, to reach Lo Voi Beach. The shallow water of this beach makes it one of the best places to have a refreshing and serene picnic.
If you are up for a little hike and want to explore the relatively less developed side of the island, you should consider visiting Bang Beach (Bai Bang) and Dat Tham Beach (Bai Dat Tham). If you are in luck, you have the entire beach to yourself.
The cherry on the top – these beaches are cleaner and more serene than most other beaches, allowing you to enjoy the natural beauty of the landscape to its fullest without manmade distractions. Apart from these, there are multiple other beaches that you can visit including, Dat Cot, Dam Trau Beach, and Suoi Nong Beach to explore the unexplored beaches of Con Dao.
Go Diving or Snorkeling
Con Dao is the perfect place for adventure junkies who enjoy water sports and would love to explore the world beneath the surface of the ocean. In fact, it is known as one of the best diving spots in Vietnam. During a dive, you can expect to see the usual tropical reef suspects, stingrays, batfish, clownfish, turtles, and even moray eels.
Head out to Ong Dung Beach if you are in the mood for snorkeling. It is an easy walk and you can rent all the equipment you’ll need from dive shops in town. The dive shops also offer PADI certification which means that you can even take dive or snorkeling courses to brush up your skills before heading out to the sea.
Keep in mind that diving generally takes place from March to October. However, the best time to go snorkeling in Con Dao is during April and May. For the rest of the year, the winds put a halt on all the diving fun!
Go Hiking in the Con Dao National Park
The Con Dao National Park is a major tourist attraction. If you enjoy spending time outdoors, you are sure to fall in love with this park. It is a vast natural reserve, featuring an extensive system of fauna and flora. In 2006, the park was even recognized as a site of natural and cultural heritage by UNESCO.
You can take a scenic walk through the jungle, hike up the Thanh Gia Mountain to enjoy the panoramic view of the landscape, observe various land and aquatic animals, camp overnight under the beautiful night sky, and do so much more. Keep in mind that the best time to visit Con Dao National Park is from March to June.
During these months the weather is just perfect to enjoy this mountainous region. Also, when you are in the park, don’t forget to check out the Ong Dung beach and indulge in various water activities.
Address: Côn Đảo, Ba Ria, Vung Tau
Explore Nui Mot Pagoda
The island is home to a number of pagodas and temples that hold significant cultural and historical values. Nui Mot Pagoda is one of the places that must be on your list. It is regarded as one of the most impressive Feng Shui pagodas in Vietnam. Since it is located high on a mountain, the panoramic view of the town that this place offers is truly breathtaking.
Hiking Adventure to the Dam Tre Bay
Tucked along the Northeast coast, Dam Tre Bay is a hidden gem of Con Dao. The place is completely mesmerizing; however, the hike to reach the destination is even more enthralling. The hike is kind of tricky and you will have to time is with the tides, otherwise, you can be left stranded. This adds to the thrill of the hike and makes it truly adventurous.
It is advisable to hire a guide to make sure your hike goes according to the plan. Keep in mind that the scenic hike along the rugged coast and dense, bamboo-covered hills generally takes around an hour one-way so make sure you are up for it!
Pay a Visit to the Hang Duong Cemetery
On the eastern edge of the town, lies a reminder of the war, the resting place of hundreds of Vietnamese prisoners. The place holds significant historic value and has strong sentiments attached to it. One of the most renowned heroines of Vietnam, Vo This Sau, is also entombed here. She was the first woman who was executed in Con Dao by the firing squad.
Every year, numerous pilgrims visit the cemetery to pay their regards, place offerings at the tombs and burn incense.
Address: Côn Đảo, Ba Ria, Vung Tau
Visit the Phu Hai Prison
For years, the islands of Con Dao served as a prison for thousands of people. The brutal atrocities carried out in the prisons are unspeakable to this day. The Phu Hai Prison is one of the 11 prisons that are dotted around the region. The prison is a colossal complex with multiple detention buildings and even solitary rooms for dangerous prisoners.
It’s believed that during the French era, over 200 prisoners were crammed in each detention building. No wonder, a walk through the Phu Hai Prison is a chilling experience that will leave you thinking for a long time.
Address: Le Van Viet Street, Con Son Island, Con Dao
Check out the Con Dao Museum
Con Dao is more than the ideal spot to have a beach vacation. It also has deep cultural and historical roots. The Con Dao Museum is a historical relic, featuring artifacts and documents from the times of war. It reflects and the brave and heroic acts of the Vietnamese people and acts as a reminder of the brutal tortures that took place during the war.
Address: Đường Nguyễn Huệ, Côn Đảo, Bà Rịa, Vũng Tàu
Tiger Cages at Con Dao Prison
Another reminder of the brutal war, tiger cages were built in 1940 by the French to imprison political prisoners. The prison cells are built in the ground with iron bars for a ceiling, where the guards could poke the prisoners with sticks like the tigers in the Victorian zoo. These cages were built away from the prison and weren’t discovered until 1970.
Today, walking through the aisle at Con Dao Prison with cages on both sides in the ground is both frightening and chilling. Despite its disturbing history, the tiger cages hold historic significance and deserve a place on your list of places to visit in Con Dao.
Address: Nguyễn Chí Thanh, Côn Đảo, Bà Rịa, Vũng Tàu
Plan a Trip to Bay Canh Island
Con Son town is the hub of tourism in Con Dao. However, it’s not the only island of interest in the region. When you are in Con Dao, make sure you visit the other islands and islets to experience the archipelago to its fullest. One of the islands that should be on your list is Bay Canh Island.
Situated to the East of Con Son, it’s the second-largest island of Con Dao and offers multiple activities to tourists. The island is covered with thick rainforests, which will allow you to witness unmatched natural beauty and diversity, and have a real wilderness experience.
It’s the best place to observe various species of turtles. Head out to the Cat Lon Beach in Bay Canh Island to have an up-close experience with the turtles.
Now that you know all the interesting places to visit in Con Dao, make sure you make the most out of your trip!