Con Dao Islands Guide, Tourist Attractions

Con Dao is a district of Ba Ria - Vung Tau Province in southern Vietnam, 45 minutes flight from either Ho Chi Minh City or Can Tho.

Con Dao District include 16 offshore islands which are 230km south of Ho Chi Minh City, and 185km southwest of Vung Tau City, 83km southeast of the estuary of the Hau River (the lower branch of the Mekong River in Vietnam). The biggest island in the group is the Con Son island (or Con Lon Island). The total land area of the islands is 76km2 and that of the biggest island is 51.52km2.

Con Dao Islands used to be notorious for the most brutal and most inhuman jailing of the Vietnamese patriots and Communists during the wars (First and Second Indochina Wars). Nowadays, Vietnam is at peace, and the island of Con Dao is a hidden paradise for the travellers who would like to imprison themselves on the pristine sandy beaches on the island.

A map of the Con Dao Islands
A map of the Con Dao Islands

The Con Son Island stretches from northeast to southwest. The Co Ong Airfield is located to the northeast of the island which is 15 minutes by bus from Con Dao Town which is located to the southeast of the Con Son Island. From Con Dao Town to the bottom-south of the Con Son Island it takes another 15 minutes by bus.

To the west of Con Dao Town is Con Dao National Park which includes a patch of tropical forest of 6,000 hectares and adjacent sea waters.

Tourist attractions on the Con Dao Islands

1/ Con Dao Town and An Hai Beach
The town is in the middle (from top to bottom) and on the eastern side of the island. The sea-front side of the town looking southeast with a beautiful waterfront road running northeast-southwest. There is a nice cafe on the road with amazing views of the sea.

A cafe on Con Dao Island Vietnam
A cafe on Con Dao Island Vietnam

To the southwest of the town is a strip of the white sandy beach of An Hai which runs for almost a kilometer. This is the most conveniently accessible beach to those staying in Con Dao Town.

There are several hotels and beach resorts on the An Hai Beach.

2/ The An Hai Reservoir and the Thanh Gia (Cross) Mountain
The reservoir supplies fresh water to the whole Con Son Island. Passing the reservoir, you’ll come to the base for hiking to the top of the Thanh Gia Mountain (577m) which is the highest point on the Con Dao Islands. It takes an average trekker an hour to get to the top of the mountain from the mountain base. The trek goes through a primeval forest.

3/ Con Dao National Park
From the center of Con Dao Town, follow Vo Thi Sau Street heading northwest past the Con Dao Church, then you’ll be on the right way to the wilderness of the Con Dao National Park. There are tour itineraries for those interested in learning about the flora and fauna of the national park. If you just like an easy relaxing time, then there is a trail through the forest to the waterfront where the rock-strewn beach of Bai Ong Dung is located. It is lovely peaceful landscape here.

4/ Bai Dam Trau Beach
Located to the west of the Co Ong Airfield, to the northwest of the Con Son Island, the beach is separated from outside by green plantations of cashew trees. This is a very lovely place for peacefulness and isolation. The beach has fine sand and the sea water is turquoise blue.

Sunset over Con Dao Vietnam
Sunset over Con Dao Vietnam

5/ Bai Bien Dong
This beach is located just southeast of the Co Ong Airfield, right to the northeast of the Con Son Island. This beach is lovely with a high green mountains on the back and with fine sand.

6/ Bai Nhat Beach
The beach is located to the bottom-south of the Con Son Island. This beach has the finest sand of all those beaches on the Con Son Island. As of writing there are no tourist facilities on the beach and it is totally deserted. This is the best place on the Con Son Island for adoring sunset.

Con Dao Vietnam
Bai Nhat Beach, Con Dao Vietnam

7/ The prison museums
There are several former prisons on the Con Son Island showing horrendous conditions back in time. These places are not for those with a weak heart.

8/ The temples, the Cemetery of Hang Duong
There are some temples on the Con Son Islands where locals come and pray for their safety while on fishing trips.

9/ The island boat trips and sea diving trips
There are several boat trips and sea diving trips for those who love to explore the islands, see how sea turtle lay eggs and hatch or exploring the colorful coral reefs around the Con Dao Islands. These trips take half a day or a full day.

The Cemetery of Hang Duong is where the patriots, who were political prisoners, rest forever. Most of them died young and their spirits are believed to linger around. It is a rumor that people come here and pray and find that their prayers and wishes come true. The best time to come here for praying is at mid night and the most sacred tomb is of Sister Vo Thi Sau (also called Aunt Sau by locals).

Beach vacations and family holidays on the Con Son Island
Paradissa is a luxury tour company in Vietnam offering several beach vacations and family holiday packages to the Con Son Island.

Accommodations on the Con Dao Islands
All tourist facilities are on the Con Son Island only. There is a wide range of hotels and resorts ranging from simple homestay, basic guesthouses to luxurious beach resorts of 5 star standards.

How to get to the Con Son Island
To travel to the Con Son Island you can take flights by ATR72 aircraft from Saigon to Con Dao or flight by helicopter from Vung Tau to Con Dao. The Co Ong Airport on the Con Son Island is 15 minutes by bus to the island center.

Alternatively you can travel to Con Dao by boat from Vung Tau City (4 hours’ boat trip), Can Tho City (4 hours boat trip) or Soc Trang City (2 hours’ boat trip).

How to get around
You can travel around the Con Son Island by scooter or bicycle. To travel from one island to another you can take speed boat trips.