Con Son Island
The biggest island of Con Dao archipelago, and the only inhabited, Con Son island is famed for its pristine nature and the hospitality of people. Not only holding the nice bit, the island also carries the dark past of what is called “Hell on Earth” period.
Unlike other well-known tourism destinations such as Phu Quoc or Nha Trang, thanks to dodging travelers’ radar for a long time, the island still retains a secluded, serene world that is waiting to be discovered. With mild scenery, cool weather, and limitless activities, Con Son can be a perfect island for your memorable trip.
Con Son island belongs to Con Dao archipelago, east of Ba Ria Vung Tau province. Con Son is one of the biggest islands in the Southern part of Vietnam. The total area of the island reaches 51.52 km2.
How to get there
Traveling to Con Son by plane can be considered the most comfortable means. There are direct flights from Hanoi, Hai Phong, Vinh, Can Tho, and Ho Chi Minh city to Con Son island, provided by Vietnam Airlines and Bamboo Airways. The average flight time is 2 hours. The airport is rather small with few trips a day, therefore, no need to wait, check-out time can be saved.
By speed boat
Southern guests can ride speed boats to Con Son island. It will take about 2.5 hours to reach the island from Tran De pier in Soc Trang. From Cat Lo pier in Vung Tau, the time will be 3 hours. The boat allows vehicle transfer, so arrive 30 minutes early to park yours.
Try to avoid going by speed boat at the end of summer, as this time the sea can get quite rough.
Visitors can choose to depart from Vung Tau by normal boat. However, this option is not time-saving, as the whole journey can last for 12 hours. Normal boats are also not suggested for prone to seasickness travelers.
Best time to visit
To experience Con Son island to the fullest, it is best to travel from March to September. This time of the year sees comfortable weather, lesser rain, and a more gentle sun. Moreover, the sea during this period is quite calm, making rooms for exploration activities.
Attractions in Con Son island
Con Dao prison
French colonists and US imperialists had kept many Vietnamese soldiers in captivity during wartime at this “Hell on Earth”. Each cell in Con Dao prison held more than 100 of the country's bravest.
Con Dao prison is the home of many inhuman levels of torture, varied from physical to mental. The most brutal is the “tiger cage”, in which prisoners are chained down to the ground by steel cuffs, despite weather conditions.
Con Dao old prison
Dam Trau Beach
Con Dao has a glut of stunning beaches, including An Hai, Lo Voi, Dat Doc, Ong Dung, or Nhat beach (only appears once a day at dusk). However, the most crowd-free beach goes to Dam Trau in Con Son island.
The beach is framed by an ocean of rocks of different sizes and shapes. This sun-kissed beach has not received much exploitation, hence, the romantic and quiet feeling glazes every corner. Day or night, Dam Trau beach is absolutely worth your travel.
Dam Trau beach
Con Dao National Park
Coming to Con Son island without checking in Con Dao National Park is such neglect. The preservation land takes up to 6.000 ha while the underwater part takes up to 14.000 ha. One step into the park, you are in a mysterious tropical forest with many strangely-looking plants and creatures.
Con Dao national park
Nui Mot Temple
Nui Mot Temple, also known as Van Son temple, is considered one of the most beautiful religious architecture of Vietnam. Situated in the Southern region, however, the temple holds a distinguished structure of the Northern land.
Nui Mot temple
The temple front faces the vast ocean while the back leans to the green mountain. Nui Mot temple provides a high ground for panorama viewing of the whole island.
Thanh Gia peak
Thanh Gia peak is located at the Southwest of Con Son island. This name has slowly slid into the forgotten land if not thanks to the younger explorers. As the peak is the highest place of the whole Con Dao, the dirt tracks leading here are hard to conquer, even for an adventure master. Need not worry, the peak offers a rewarding view for climbers who finish the challenge.
You can view the island from all directions: the rocky beach in the east, the harbor and the town in the north, the cliffs in the west. All the lush is now under your feet.
What to do
Immerse in the clearest water
Con Son island does not outburst with entertainment like other tourist islands. What lures people here is the unimaginable clear water. From one standing point, the coastline looks boundless, clean, and utmost peaceful. Not one single soul coming here and not being stung by the grandeur of the bluest water.
Spend your day and night swimming in the cool water to make your stress walk away. Hold your breath and dive deep under to see the colorful coral reefs. Dip your toes in the calming ocean to admire the beauty of twilight. You will not be disturbed by others, as the sight of travelers is short. You know you can not say no to this island experience.
Experience the unhurried life
If you need a more profound exploration of the island, follow the footsteps of the locals, boat to offshore bays, and smaller islets. You can witness fishers’ daily lives, how they cast their net, and at the same time, swimming, diving, and getting to know the marine ecosystem. Exploring inland markets also offers a great opportunity to breathe in the smell of an unhurried life. Every morning the markets are taken by mountains of fresh seafood, local fruits, and the steamy smell of breakfast. Rangers sit side by side on the plastic stools, sipping spoon by spoon noodle soup. This busy sight disappears by nine and once again rises up after two in the afternoon.
Once the sun casts its leftover energy, pearl seekers and fishers paddle to home, leaving the markets empty again. The island starts to sink in the night.
Ride along the island for majestic scenery
Con Son island has only one main road running across the inhabited zones. When the evening breeze eases off the day’s heat, it will be the ideal time for a motorbike tour. Hire one from the local stores and ride along the coastline. Lotus lakes, orange cliffs, and unspoiled white sand beaches are all present. Remember to stop by the beach to enjoy the cinematic sunset.
What to eat
Con Son Island also surges with plenty of kinds of seafood. This seafood paradise offers one-of-a-kind limpet snails, coral grouper, and red lobster, cooked straight from the boats. Seafood noodle soup, varied in types, is another dish you should try. One thing is for sure, these specialties are not easily found on other islands.
The island is also famous for its fried country almond seed. This can be your chewing snack during your island journey or brought back home as a souvenir for families and friends.
Where to stay
In Con Son island, most hotels and homestays are converged in the central town, except for a few top-notch resorts situated at the isolated beaches.
Sixth Senses Con Dao and Poulo Condor Boutique Resort are the two luxuries on the island. The two boost the highest quality service in a stunning landscape surrounded by nature.
- Location: Con Dao, Vung Tau
- Best for: All visitors
- Entrance: N/A
- Hours: All Day
- Distance to city center: 0.0km (0.0 mi)
Tigers Cage Prison is the largest and oldest prison in Vietnam. The prison camp is located in Ba Ria Vung Tau province and was built in 1940.
Phi Yen temple is also known as An Son shrine and was first built in 1785 as a place to worship Madam Phi Yen (Le Thi Cam) the concubine of Lord Nguyen Anh.
Nhát Beach is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Con Dao.