After a 45 minute journey from Tan Son Nhat Airport in HCMC, tourists will reach Co Ong Airport on Con Son Island, the largest of 16 islands in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province’s Con Dao District.
Con Dao Island sits on the East Sea about 97 nautical miles from Vung Tau City and is endowed with stunning beaches shaded with evergreen trees, fresh air, clear blue water, and primitive forests with an abundant wildlife flocking to the island’s sandy beaches.
The road from the airport to the center of Con Dao island district is more than 13km, winding around the coastline with the sea on the left and on the right mountains and primitive forest. Along the road are scattered red paper flowers studded with white cherry.
The first impression of Con Dao center is a gentle urban area lying by the sea with clean roads under shades of almond trees and old bang lang trees. There is a lot of new infrastructure with offices, hotels, resorts, restaurants and residential houses which has livened up the area which used to be home to the gloomy images of the old prison.
There are no taxis or buses but tourists can take a xe om (motorbike taxi) at VND300,000 per day to go around the island and the driver will double up as your local guide.
Tourists can also hire a motorbike from VND100,000 to VND120,000 per day or a bicycle at VND30,000 per day if you are feeling adventurous.
There are also canoes priced at VND5 million and seating 20 people. Visitors can stay overnight in resorts, hotels or make a camp.
Although part developed, the island is still thinly populated which is great for tourists who can appreciate the primitive atmosphere and of course the scenery and forget for a few days the cramped city life.
Con Dao Island is also famous because of the notorious prison. In the second half of the 19th century, after invading southern Vietnam, French colonists founded Con Dao prison where they imprisoned patriotic prisoners and Vietnam’s political leaders and managed it with brutal aggression.
In the 113 years under French colonialism and American invading forces over 20,000 Vietnamese prisoners died at the jail and were buried at Hang Duong Cemetery.