Con Dao Island: 12 Best Things to Do for a Memorable Trip

con dao island

Con Dao Island is a hidden paradise in the sea, just a short distance from Vietnam’s southern coast. These islands provide a serene escape from the busy life’s hustle and bustle. In this guide, we will take a closer look at what makes the Con Dao Islands special, exploring their beautiful scenery and interesting history to help you plan an amazing trip.

Location

Con Dao Island archipelago comprises 16 untouched islands situated about 180 kilometers off the southern coast of Vietnam. These islands are part of the Ba Ria – Vung Tau Province, which is roughly 100 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City.

Best Time To Visit

Con Dao Island welcomes visitors year-round with its tropical climate. However, the two distinct seasons offer different experiences. The dry season, lasting from November to April, shines with clear skies, sunshine, and comfortable temperatures (25 – 32°C) is the most favorable time. This prime tourist season allows uninterrupted exploration and water activities for beach lovers and outdoor adventurers.

Conversely, the rainy season (May to October) might be your pick if you prefer a quieter and more peaceful experience. While occasional showers may occur, they are usually brief, leaving space for sunshine. The island boasts a unique serenity during this season with fewer crowds.

How To Get There

Waterway

Speedboats depart daily from Vung Tau, Can Tho, and Soc Trang with varying travel times and fares.

  • From Vung Tau: The best option for this trip is the Con Dao Express 36 – Vietnam’s first top-rated high-speed boat. The cost is $31,17/pax for weekdays and $37,48/pax for weekends. The ride from Vung Tau to Con Dao usually takes about 3 hours and 45 minutes.
  • From Can Tho: Travelers departing from Can Tho have access to boats departing from Ninh Kieu Pier, tickets for this route are priced at $27,22.
  • From Soc Trang: For those departing from Soc Trang, ships departing from Tran De port provide a faster route to Con Dao, with a travel time of just 1 hour and 45 minutes. Weekday tickets for this route are priced at $15,39, while weekend fares are slightly higher at $17,75.

Airway

For those preferring air travel, Con Dao has its airport, and flights from Hanoi, Saigon, and Can Tho supplied by Vietnam Airlines. Once you land, the airport is only 12 km from the town center. Most homestays and hotels on Con Dao provide free shuttles or taxis to get you from the airport to your accommodation, making it easy to start enjoying your time on the island.

Top 12 must-try experiences on Con Dao

Relaxing with stunning seascapes

Relaxation is one of the top things to do in Con Dao. There are plenty of ways to unwind and recharge during your stay:  Lounging on the sand, taking a sunset stroll, or treating yourself to a spa day. The island with pristine beaches and lush scenery provides tourists with the perfect setting for letting the stress melt away.

con dao island

Cooling off by swimming and snorkeling

Con Dao is well-known for its fantastic swimming and snorkeling spots. Tai Island is the top spot to check out marine life in Con Dao. The coral reefs here come in different shapes and colors, making them stunning. If you want to snorkel, there are tours available. They provide all the gear you need, like life jackets, goggles, masks, and fins, and teach you how to dive properly.

snorkeling

Hiking around Con Dao National Park

Con Dao National Park is a fantastic place for people who love wildlife. It is home to a wide variety of plants and animals in the forest, including rare and typical ones like the Con Dao deer mouse, black squirrel, and ebony squirrel.

con dao island

The park is perfect for trekking lovers. You can take short hikes to see cool stuff like caves, different pristine beaches, and an old tree that has been around for centuries. But the best trip is when you hike to the top of the park. On days when the weather is clear, you will get an amazing view of the whole island from up there.

Chilling out on An Hai Beach

An Hai Beach, the main beach on Con Dao Island, is famous for its long stretch of soft, white sand and calm, crystal-clear waters. Although it can get pretty busy, especially in the late afternoon before sunset, you can escape the crowds by walking further south along the beach.

con dao island

Visiting the historic Con Dao Prison 

A trip to Con Dao Island is only complete with exploring the sad remains of its difficult history at the Con Dao Prison. This historic place serves as a powerful reminder of the past, giving visitors a chance to learn about the struggles and strengths of the Vietnamese people.

con dao island

Visitors can explore the main prison, called the Phu Hai Prison, which is the largest and best-preserved of the island’s prisons. Walk through the old prison cells, see the “tiger cages” where Vietnamese political prisoners were beaten and mistreated, and learn about the awful conditions of the more than 20,000 prisoners who died on the islands.

Taking an island-hopping tour on Hon Bay Canh

One of the most remarkable experiences you can have on Bay Canh Island is seeing the incredible sight of sea turtles laying their eggs. The best time for this activity is from September to November every year when hundreds of mother turtles come back for their reproduction.

con dao island

If you miss turtle season, there is still plenty to see on Bay Canh Island. Covered in lush forests, it is a wildlife haven. Visitors can go snorkeling among colorful corals like plates, tables, branching, and block corals, all protected by Vietnam’s conservation efforts.

Going on a sunset cruise

Taking a sunset cruise is one of the most enchanting activities in Con Dao. You will witness the island’s natural beauty bathed in the warm hues of dusk. It is the perfect setting for a romantic outing, great for celebrating special moments with champagne or cocktails while enjoying intimate time together.

sunset cruise

Visiting Hang Duong Cemetery

Hang Duong Cemetery may not seem like a typical vacation spot but it is worth checking out despite its solemn vibe. This place holds a lot of history – about 20,000 Vietnamese prisoners passed away on Con Son island, and around 2,000 of them are buried here. However, only 700 of these graves have the names of the people laid to rest.

con dao island

Exploring Island Lord’s Life in Chua Dao Palace 

Chua Dao Palace (Dinh Ong Lon or Dinh Tinh Truong) is situated at Ton Duc Thang Street in Con Dao District, Ba Ria – Vung Tau Province. This palace has a fascinating story to tell. Back in the day, it was where the Island Lords lived and worked. They were the big shots who ran things in Con Dao. Nowadays, it is a reminder of the island’s past. You will see how different life was for the wealthy Island Lords compared to the harsh reality faced by revolutionary prisoners who were locked up there.

con dao island

Conquering the highest Thanh Gia Mountain

As the highest point on the island, Mount Thanh Gia rises 577 meters above sea level. The adventure starts with a short journey to the foothills, then enjoy a scenic 6-kilometer hike to the top. A trip to Mount Thanh Gia is not just about nature; it is like a journey into Con Dao’s history and culture. Explore this sacred spot to feel the echoes of the past in the mountain and its surroundings.

thanh gia mountain

Wandering through Ong Dung Primeval Forest

For adventurous nature lovers exploring Con Dao Island, trekking through Ong Dung Primeval Forest is a must. This experience lets you dive into the island’s pristine beauty. Along the well-marked trails, you will be surrounded by tall trees, dense greenery, and the sounds of birds and insects. It is a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle, providing a breath of fresh air and a chance to recharge.

Ong Dung Primeval Forest

Savoring unique local cuisine

Con Dao’s food scene blends fresh seafood, bold flavors, and classic Vietnamese dishes.

  • Fresh seafood: Con Dao is well-known for its variety of fresh seafood like lobster, fish, prawns, crabs, and sea ​​snails. Do not miss out on trying dishes like steamed clams, fried fish, and grilled squid.
  • Local cuisine: Try other dishes such as cobia hotpot (lau ca bop) or rare specialties from the Con Dao sea area: oc vu nang, ca mu do, sa sung.
  • Street food: Take a stroll through the town and sample the diverse world of Vietnamese street food. Enjoy treats like banh mi, banh xeo, banh beo, bun cha,…

street food

Where To Stay In Con Dao Island

Six Senses Con Dao

Six Senses Con Dao is the first top-rated beach resort where you can enjoy luxurious villa getaways with stunning scenery. It has been named one of the world’s best eco-lodges by National Geographic Traveler, offering a peaceful retreat in harmony with nature’s beauty.

Orson Hotel & Resort

Orson Hotel & Resort in Con Dao is a well-known 4-star getaway, mixing Russian-style architecture with Vietnamese tradition. Its natural surroundings and classy white decor make it a top choice for families looking for a fantastic vacation spot.

Villa Maison Con Dao

The Villa Maison Boutique Hotel is situated in the center of Con Son Town, making it conveniently located near transportation, the sea, and local attractions. The hotel features a garden, and all rooms offer views of the lush greenery, providing guests with a peaceful setting to relax.

Marina Bay

Marina Bay, one of the most popular Con Dao resorts, is located on Nguyen Hue Street, across from a beach park and tourist boat pier. It is a great spot for beach activities and exploring the city’s attractions.

The Secret Resort

The Secret Con Dao welcomes guests to explore its hidden treasures. With its breathtaking scenery and fascinating history, the resort promises a luxurious 5-star experience, ensuring guests’ comfort and enjoyment throughout their stay.

Tips When Visiting Con Dao Island

  • When traveling to Con Dao, Indian tourists should pay attention to the following things to avoid unnecessary troubles during the trip:
  • Wear proper, modest clothing when visiting spiritual or historical sites on the islands.
  • Do not make light of or joke about spiritual matters on the sacred island.
  • Follow beach regulations and listen to lifeguards when swimming, as the waters have strong waves and currents. Be extra mindful of any children in your group when at the beach.
  • Stick to marked trails when exploring the forests of Con Dao. Do not wander off the path, as it is easy to get lost and encounter danger.

We hope that with the comprehensive guide above, you have gained more useful information. To explore beautiful Con Dao island thoroughly, be sure to plan your holiday through our website. 

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