Con Dao – The earthly paradise is one of the world’s top 10 most charming and pristine islands, as voted by Travel & Leisure. Since the islands were used as a preserve of political prisoners many years ago, Con Dao is now presented as a solid evidence for many legends from the heroic history of Vietnam’s Revolution, especially the infamous Con Dao Prison. Hence, there is no doubt the islands have become Vietnam’s star destination attracting oceans of tourists every year. Let’s our Con Dao travel tips guide your way through Vietnam’s most stunning islands to enjoy many fantastic experiences waiting to be discovered.
Con Dao and Sai Gon have similar weather with two distinguish seasons: dry season and rainy season. Though in each period Con Dao has its distinct attractiveness, consider the following time carefully before scheduling your trip to Con Dao islands:
• March – September: March to September is the best time to visit Con Dao because this is Con Dao’s rainy season with sun showers lasting only 30 – 60 minutes. After washed off by the showers, the islands become amazingly beautiful and pure, the blazing sunrays are much less intense. The sea, therefore, is calmer and more peaceful, creating such a serene scenery and a more comfortable ambience than in the dry season.
• October – January: This might not be the perfect time for a trip to Con Dao because of the unpredictably raging sea. Therefore, service fees are fairly escalated and there is a small chance for visitors to go sunbathing or go swimming. However, Con Dao has other well-known destinations suiting visitors as well, such as the historical heritages, national heroes’ monuments, Con Dao’s national park, etc. Still, these months should be more carefully considered as the unsettled weather might be visitors’ challenge to enjoy their best stay in the island.
There are two best ways to get to Con Dao Islands:
To visit Con Dao by sea transport, first take the shuttle bus Kumho from Saigon (if you are from Hanoi, it is best to travel by air) from Mien Dong Coach Station to Vung Tau. After arriving Cai Lo Port, buy boat tickets to Con Dao. The departure time is 5 pm and the arriving time is 5 am next morning. Therefore, follow our Con Dao travel tips to schedule ahead your itinerary to reach Cai Lo Port before 5 pm.
Since it would be an overnight boat trip, there are food stalls in the cafeteria serving until midnight. Even though the bottom deck is quite stuffy, it is the best place for anyone with their seasickness to avoid the boat’s unstable movements.
Another useful tip to travel Con Dao is it is allowed to bring along your vehicles such as bikes or motorbikes on the boats. This can be a big helper in both time and money savings. Therefore, fill up your petrol tanks and carry some extra fuel, just in case, because the petrol’s price is quite high-costed on the islands.
To buy boat tickets in Cai Lo Port, you can directly contact with the box office (064.3.838664) or Vung Tau box office (No. 1007/36, 30/4 Street, District 11, Vung Tau; Phone No.: 064.3838684). Remember to choose a round trip ticket or contact Con Dao box office (064.3830619) to buy a return ticket. The price is normally 400.000 VND/ ticket/way and can get higher in holiday seasons.
Only Vietnam Airlines and Air Mekong currently have flights to Con Dao. Normally, there must be a transition in Ho Chi Minh City, even though Air Mekong has flights straight from Noi Bai Airport to Co Ong Con Dao Airport on Wednesday and Friday. The reason is that the number of passengers might be insufficient and the transition in Ho Chi Minh City can add enough passengers for the flights. The time for transition is quite short so pay close attention to the next flight’s notification.
It is 12km from Co On Airport to Con Dao’s city center by taxi or motorbikes. If you have already booked a room in advance, call the hotel to pick you up.
Motorbike is the best transportation to get around Con Dao islands with its low-costed fee and its flexibility. There is only one gas station on the island, so be aware of your petrol levels and carry extra fuel. The price for renting a motorbike is 100.000 – 120.000 VND
Besides motorbikes and taxi, visitors can rent bikes or go on foot to get around the island. Some hotels and resorts also offer electric car renting for groups, but the prices are pretty high.
Many hotels, hostels and resorts with reasonable prices, prompt services, are available on Con Dao islands for your options. A tip to travel Con Dao is it is important to choose the hotel meeting your needs and close to the city center for a more convenient transportation and dining out. Check out the list below for your hotel references:
• Six Senses Con Dao: (5 star) – Dat Coc Beach, Con Dao Dist.
The resort is a collection of more than 50 luxurious villas with private infinity pools and unobstructed views of the sea. There are day spa services, fitness facilities, library lounges, etc ensuring a pleasant stay for every visitors. It is only 2 minutes’ walk from the beach and 8km from Con Son Airport. The resort is also accessible via a 50-minute domestic flight from Ho Chi Minh City, which the resort can arrange for.
• Con Dao Resort: (3 star) – 8 Nguyen Duc Thuan, Ba Ria, Vung Tau, Con Dao
Con Dao resort is only a few steps from the beach, offering 10 bungalows with free Wi-Fi and private parking. It also features an outdoor pool, on-site bar, restaurant & sports facilities such as beach volleyball and tennis. It takes 25 minute to drive from Con Sown Airport.
• Con Dao Camping: 2 Nguyen Duc Thuan, Con Dao Dist.
Only 10m away from An Hai Beach, Con Dao Camping impresses visitors with its cabana-style accommodation. The hotel’s dining restaurant serves both Asian and Western dishes. Car and bicycles can also be hired for guests to explore the island. Van Son Pagoda is 700 m from the property, while Con Dao Prisoner is 1.7 km away. The nearest airport is Con Son Airport, 15 km from the property.
• Sai Gon Con Dao Resort & ATC Resort: – Ton Duc Thang Street
These are also great resorts with ocean view, good room services but no private beaches. However, they are quite close to the city center.
There are many must-visited destinations on Con Dao islands with stunning islands, pristine beaches and historical heritages, etc.:
• Con Dao Prison: This should be the first destination in your trip to Con Dao islands. Coming to the Con Dao Prison, visitors can broaden their knowledge about the heroic history of national heroes and understand why it is called “Hell on Earth”.
• Dam Trau Beach: As soon as reaching the Dam Trau, visitors surely cannot help being indulged in the turquoise water and the golden sand. Dam Trau Beach is only 200m away from Con Dao Airport. There are many scalable rocks that lead visitors to a secluded bay.
• An Hai Beach: Surrounded by the mountain ranges and palms trees, the sea often gives off a sense of calmness and tranquility with clear and cool water. It is only 10-minutes’ walk from the city center. Seawater is clear and blue as crystal and the beach is soothing because it is sheltered by mountains. An Hai beach has long white sand stretches, where is ideal for travelers to rest and explore the natural landscapes of Con Dao.
• Dat Doc Beach: Dat Doc Beach attracts tourists with long sandy beaches, flat and smooth, with clear blue sea water. Passing through small trails deep in the forest, Dat Doc Beach appear with untouched image, covered by green forests and canyons reaching out to the coast made up the small beach that is romantic and privacy.
• Ong Dung Forest: This is home to nearly 300 species of plants and animals typical from the North and South and many other rare spices.
• Bay Canh Island: It is considered the second largest island among Con Dao’s collection of 16 islands. Entirely covered by the tropical forest, the island features a stunning ecology system with many vibrant coral reefs.
• Dam Tre Bay: Surrounded by mangrove forests, Dam Tre becomes an ideal habitat and nesting place for many species including swift birds and seabirds. There is also chances where visitors can go diving deep down the blue water to enjoy the vivid coral reefs.
• Con Dao Museum: The museum features many artifacts, images and materials from the French colonial period, enabling visitors to have a deeper understanding of Con Dao’s history.
• Others: Phu Son Prison, Phu Hai Con Dao, Hanh Duong Cemetery, Lady Phi Yen Temple, etc.
Not many luxurious restaurants existed on Con Dao islands but roadside diners with reasonable prices and fair dishes. Therefore, the main dishes representing Con Dao’s cuisine are the fresh seafood such as squid, prawns, fish, etc.
Shopping options are very limited, and you will only find fresh and delicious local specialties, especially fruits and vegetables at Con Dao Market and shop for necessities at its surrounding shops. Unlike markets in bigger tourist hubs, this is not a site to go shopping, instead of a place to stop by for a few essentials.