The Ultimate Travel Guide to the Con Dao Islands

Con Dao archipelago, Con Dao Island in Vietnam

Experience the peaceful serenity of the paradise islands in the Southern part of Vietnam. Picture yourself unwinding on some of the most exquisite beaches in the world, surrounded by secluded bays and crystal-clear azure ocean waters. Snorkel above astonishing coral reefs and encounter protected endangered marine life. What was once considered a daunting Devil’s Island due to its horrific torturing of prisoners is now a renowned sanctuary celebrated for its breathtaking beauty. The Con Dao Islands comprise 16 unspoiled islands and 180 kilometres of breathtaking coastline. In this Con Dao travel guide, I share the best way to tour Con Dao and all you need to know to have an amazing experience.

Besides immersing yourself in the Island’s tranquillity, the best reasons to visit Con Dao are traversing its scenic hiking trails and relaxing on some of the world’s pristine beaches with secluded bays and crystal-clear waters. Embark on snorkelling and diving adventures, discovering the underwater paradise. The National Park is one of the largest protected areas for endangered species, including turtle breeding. Besides, the Island is home to the Best beach resort in Vietnam. As part of Ba Ria in the Vung Tau Province, Con Dao is only 100 kilometres from Ho Chi Minh City.

Turquoise water on Con Dao Beaches, Best Islands in Vietnam
Con Dao Beaches, Best Islands in Vietnam

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If you contemplate, is Con Dao worth visiting? The National Park and mangroves are home to Vietnam’s largest turtle breeding area and endangered species. Home to some of the top beaches in the World and diverse coral reefs with excellent diving. Along with the best Vietnamese island resorts. Investors have already discovered the Island, so you should see it before it changes. 

Spending at least 3 days on the Island will let you experience some pristine beaches, the National Park, the town and the surroundings. Of course, it would be great to stay longer, as Con Dao can keep you occupied for a week. Besides all the gems on the surrounding islands, you can visit the Six Senses resort, where Brad and Angelina lingered.

Depending on the experience you want, the best time to explore the islands is during the dry season, from March to August. While rain is possible in the summer months from March to September, the showers are usually short-lived. From June to August, the weather generally remains sunny and warm, with lush foliage, and the sea remains tranquil. November signals the onset of the windy season. Winds rough the sea, affecting visibility and diving, and boat trips are sometimes cancelled. The Con Dao Islands Weather in September and October is considered shoulder season and offers varying weather conditions. The Best Time for Turtle hatching on Con Dao is between May and October, the turtle-hatching season.

ATMs and banks are less readily available when travelling to remote destinations in Vietnam. Although there are ATMs and bank agents in some popular locations, it’s advisable to withdraw some cash. Cash always comes in handy when buying stuff from street vendors or local artisans. You can find atm in Con Dao Vietinbank at No 2 Lê Duẩn Street, Côn Đảo District, and Agribank at Phạm Văn Đồng Street, Côn Đảo District.

Money Tips: When it comes to currency exchange, to convert Vietnamese Dong (VND) to US Dollars (USD), remove three zeros from the VND amount and then divide by 23. Be cautious with the VND bills, as the 20,000 VND bill and the 500,000 VND bill both come in blue. Check out Everything to Know When Travel To Vietnam, which offers comprehensive advice and tips for exploring this beautiful country.

Here are your options for getting to Con Dao and transport on Con Dao.

The best option how to get to Con Dao Island is by plane. HCMC Saigon to Con Dao flights depart daily between Son Nhat Airport and Con Dao Airport. VASCO, a subsidiary of Vietnam Airlines, operates 45-minute direct flights to Con Dao Coong Airport (VCS). Flights from Ho Chi Minh City to Con Son Green Island, Con Dao, start from around $217. Search for the Best Flights to Con Dao.

Mekong Delta to Con Dao: The flight from Can Tho (VCA) in the Mekong Delta to Con Dao takes 60 minutes.

The Saigon to Soc Trang bus departs from the bus station in Ho Chi Minh City and travels to the tiny village of Soc Trang, which takes around 5 hours. From there, you need to catch a ferry to Con Dao. You can travel by bus from Ho Chi Minh City to Soc Trang and then take the Con Dao Express Ferry to Con Dao.

Pre-book an airport transfer from Dao Airport to Con Dao Centre to make your transportation in Vietnam less stressful.

Tour Con Dao Con Son town is small and easy to navigate on foot or by bicycle. There are many options, but the best way to tour Con Dao’s surroundings is by bike, motorbike, or taxi. Exploring the Island by yourself is an easy and enjoyable experience.

Con Dao is home to a multitude of unique and picturesque beaches, each with its distinct charm. It can be quite a challenge to decide which ones to visit. Here are the top 10 beaches in Con Dao that are worth visiting.

Dam Trau Beach, Con Dau Island
Dam Trau Beach, Con Dau Island

Known as one of the best, the Dam Trau Con Dao Beach, Vietnam, is situated on the National Park outskirts in the Ba Ria – Vung Tau Province. Voted by Travel & Leisure magazine among the 25 best beaches in Southeast Asia. Renowned for its soft sand, unique cliffs and lush forest, snorkelling above the coral-rich reefs in shallow, clear azure waters with excellent visibility.

The Dam Trau Restaurant and Bar offers fresh seafood, ice-cold beer, and other refreshments. Customers who order a meal there can also use the loungers for free. Adventure through the jungle, conquering Dam Trau cliffs to reach Secret Beach. The most captivating feature of this hidden gem is the ancient eagle tree standing beside the lake. 

How to get to Dam Trau Beach? Drive towards the airport. 1-2 km before you arrive, a sign on the right indicates Dam Trey Bay. Turn right off the main road. After about 15-20 yards, a bumpy dirt track heads right again. A 30-minute drive from Con Dao town and is so close to the airport that sunbathers view the planes landing and taking off on the nearby runway. 

Nestled along a brief forest path from Dam Trau Beach, Secluded Suoi Nong Beach, also known as Hot Springs Beach, provides a tranquil haven with lush greenery. The hidden gem is away from the bustling crowds and offers a sanctuary for those searching for a peaceful getaway off the beaten path. Its unblemished natural charm makes it a perfect location for soaking up the sun and marvelling at the unspoiled beauty that envelops the beach.

The beautiful Bia Nhat Beach is characterised by its crystal clear turquoise water and distinctive rocky shoreline, featuring numerous pools and crevices teeming with small fish. It is also famous for its sunset vistas and the phenomenon during high tide, when the entire sandy beach disappears.

Nhat Beach offers no amenities or shade, so take your refreshments, water, and snacks. The best time to visit is early or late afternoon, and keep an eye on the tide calendar. Nhat Beach is 6 kilometres outside the town and reachable by road. 

With its lush vegetation, curved Bay with golden sand, and sapphire blue ocean, it’s understandable that Travel & Leisure Magazine nominated Six Senses Hotel and Spa as the Best Resort in Southeast Asia. Captivating Bai Dat Doc Con Dao beach is located approximately 4 kilometres east of town and is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. 

Tucked beneath the majestic foothills of a rocky mountain, it earned the name “Đất Dốc. The Beach boasts a kilometre of pristine, white sand and offers many activities like cycling, kayaking, surfing, jet skiing, and snorkelling to observe the vibrant coral reefs.

Basket boat on Lò Vôi Bay beach, Con Dao Island
Basket boat on Lò Vôi Bay beach, Con Dao Island

Located in the northwestern part of Con Dao, Lo Voi Beach is a coastal gem and one of the hidden gems of Vietnam that will leave you in awe. Embraced by a majestic mountain, the Beach creates a serene atmosphere. The most enchanting moments are at sunset or sunrise when gentle rays paint the Beach in hues of orange and cast a glow over the water.

The remote Beach of Bai An, also known as An Hai Beach, is about 10 minutes from the town centre. It is excellent for swimming and relaxing, playing Volleyball, or venturing off on a hiking trail. The tranquil Con Dao Beach features fishing boats moored in turquoise waters and majestic swaying casuarina trees along the sandy shores. It is one of the least populated beaches on the island, with hotels on its northern side.

As one of Co Dao’s secluded beaches, Bai Ong Dung is ideal for snorkelling near the shore. This exotic paradise boasts lush tropical rainforests, mangroves, vibrant coral reefs, and extensive seaweed beds. Its beautiful sandy Beach features a breathtaking rocky coastline with century-old trees.

How to get to Bai Ong Dung Beach? It is located about 2 kilometres northwest of the National Park. For those who like to hike, it’s a one-hour walk through the rainforest from the National Park to Bai Ong Dung Beach. 

The charming gem of Ca Map Cape is known for its beautiful sunsets, shimmering blue ocean, and beach adorned with majestic cliffs. Also called Shark Cape Beach due to its resemblance to a shark’s fin when viewed from above, it is an imposing icon on Con Dao. Located near Nhat Beach and along Ben Dam Road, less than eight kilometres outside town.

On one side, a rocky cliff looms; on the other, an expansive and breathtaking coastline stretches as far as the eye can see. In addition to enjoying the Con Dao beaches, camping, and admiring beautiful sunsets, you can sit around campfires, meet new friends, and enjoy fresh fire-grilled seafood.

Swaying Palms and soft white sand on Con Dao beach Vietnam
Con Dao beach Vietnam

Nestled along the renowned Co Ong Road, Tau Be Cape Con Dao Beach is among the top beaches in Asia. This captivating landscape boasts crystal-clear blue waters and dramatic, rugged cliffs. With its enchanting and picturesque setting, Tau Be Beach is one of the best beaches to visit for sunset.

How to get to Tau Be Cape Beach? From Con Dao, Tau Be Cape is situated along the famous Co Ong Road, about 7 kilometres east of the town centre. 

Located east of Con Son Island, Bay Canh is a hidden gem boasting stunning beaches, pristine old-growth forests, meandering mangroves, and a sanctuary for sea turtles.

  • The Island boasts the gorgeous Bo Dap Beach, known for its vibrant coral reefs.
  • Between April and September, Big Sand Beach, or “Bai Cat Lon” on the Bay Canh Islet, comes alive as a bustling hub when countless turtles migrate to the area for nesting.
  • Another attraction on the Island is the exhilarating French-era lighthouse on the eastern tip of Bay Canh, reachable within a two-hour trek. Although challenging with a steep 325-meter climb, this trek rewards intrepid hikers with awe-inspiring panoramic views of the surrounding landscape that are truly unforgettable.

To access Bay Canh, visitors can embark on a leisurely wooden boat trip from Ben Dam wharf in Con Son town, which will take approximately 45 minutes, or opt for a shorter 15-minute canoe trip. During the northeast monsoon, boat trips typically head straight to Cat Lon Beach.

You will most likely visit the town on your first Day. If so, visit the information centre and get yourself a map. A day in Con Son town begins with the lively marketplace bursting with activity. The air is perfumed with vibrant lotus flowers carefully arranged alongside juicy mangoes and other tantalizing fruits. The market is also filled with fresh crabs, squids, fish, and colourful vegetables, adding to the lively and bustling atmosphere. Enjoy breakfast or Vietnamese cuisine and explore the town on foot.

One way to experience the surroundings is to rent a bike. Don’t hesitate to venture and even get lost. Follow the road wherever it leads you and explore intriguing places your journey may lead you to. It’s safe and thrilling to wander off the beaten path and immerse yourself in the adventure. Besides the serene Van Son Pagoda or other temples, go with the flow and do what you want.

The Con Dao National Park, with its emerald jungles and mangroves, is a breathtaking sanctuary for marine life and home to 72 globally rare and endangered species. Among them are the bow-fingered gecko (Pulo Condore Bow-fingered Gecko), the Con Dao black squirrel, the spoon-billed sandpiper, the leatherback turtle, the green turtle, olive ridley, and the hawksbill turtle. Along with more than 1,400 marine species and 340+ varieties of corals, look out for birdlife, black squirrels, monkeys, geckos and other wildlife. Besides well-maintained trails leading to secluded beaches where you can snorkel and swim. Whether you hike independently or join a tour, don’t miss the opportunity to trek through the park.

Tip: When you reach the Bay, someone will check your ticket. They also have refreshments, which you can buy, but don’t count on that; instead, take some refreshments. Remember to bring enough water, snacks, sunscreen, and a hat. Head out and explore the Bay. It’s mainly coral, which has lots of life.

There is no better way to explore the unspoiled islands of the Archipelago than on a Con Dao boat trip. An island-hopping adventure on one or more of the many exciting Con Dao excursions is tremendous fun and a memory for life. Most of these Con Dao tours are via a speedboat and allow you to absorb the awe-inspiring beauty of these tropical paradises fully. Altogether, snorkelling, swimming, basking in the sun and enjoying coconuts on the most beautiful islands in the World.

  • Join a Tai Bay Canh Island hopping experience to explore the Islands
  • In addition to exploring Bay Canh Island and Tai Island, visitors can embark on an adventure to Trac Island.
  • Don’t miss a Tour to Hike in Con Dao National Park.
  • Journey to Bay Canh Island, also called Phu Cuong Island, is the second largest Island of the Con Son archipelago. Embark on a Con Dao travel adventure to discover hidden gems of Con Dao. Explore the beauty of Hon Tai, Bay Canh, and Hon Cau on a Bay Canh snorkelling tour.
  • Explore the picturesque Islands on a day-long boat trip to Bay Canh Island and Tai Island. Engage and learn about turtle conservation and immerse yourself in the breathtaking warm waters, snorkelling and swimming.
Boat on Con Dao Beach at sunset, Con Dao Island Vietnam
Con Dao Beach Con Dao Island Vietnam

One of the most incredible experiences in Con Dao is observing the magnificent sea turtles at the astonishing Sea Turtle Conservancy on Bay Canh Island. Hundreds of sea turtles go from the Philippines to Con Dao yearly to lay their eggs. These extraordinary creatures can lay up to 100 eggs each. The turtle nesting season in Con Dao spans from May to October, with the peak nesting period occurring from June to September. So don’t miss turtle watching when you tour Con Dao during turtle hatching season.

To witness this extraordinary event, consider the Sea Turtles’s Conservation Tour to Bay Canh Island or a Con Dao Turtle Tour organized by the Con Dao National Park office. Although the turtles lay eggs on Cau Island, Tre Lon Island, and Tai Island, the most important nesting site is on Bay Canh, where baby turtles emerge from the sand before dashing towards the sea.

Whatever you plan to do, do not miss a snorkelling experience above a paradise of colourful corals with exquisite marine life. Famous snorkelling beaches are Dam Trau Beach and Dat Doc Beach. Don’t miss a Bay Canh snorkelling excursion to one of the best Turtle beaches.

Considered one of the best diving spots in Vietnam, Con Dao diving promises one of your best diving experiences ever. Besides the most beautiful coral reefs with diverse coral- and marine life, you can expect encounters with turtles, dugongs, holothurians, and Chaetodons. The reefs boast over 1,300 aquatic species and an accessible shipwreck. Although the Island experiences two distinct seasons, each offering unique diving conditions, the best time for diving is from January to June, with visibility of up to 30 meters. Remember to take sun cream and wear reef shoes, although you’re not supposed to trample on reefs.

There are three dive centres on the Island: Rainbow Divers, Dive!Dive!Dive and Con Dao Dive Center, near the Con Son town Pier, is near the market. Visitors are also welcome to contact them for weather updates before your tour to Con Dao. Their WhatsApp number is +84 975 947 685. 

The town of Con Dao is home to some haunting historical relics, including the old Con Dao prisons where political prisoners were held captive and subjected to unimaginable torture. These three prisons—Phu Hai, Phu Binh Camp, and the infamous French Tiger Cages—during the French colonial era and continued to be used during the Vietnam War. These sites hold a painful and tragic history. While it’s difficult for me to delve into the details, you can visit the Con Dao Museum in town to gain a deeper understanding of the harrowing legacy of Devil’s Island, as it came to be known.

Situated on the eastern edge of town, Hang Duong Cemetery is the final resting place for around 20,000 Vietnamese prisoners who died on Con Son. Out of the nearly 2,000 graves in this solemn location, only 700 bear the names of those buried here.

Located a short distance from the market, the unique Den is a café cum restaurant on Con Dao Island. Guests love the vibe, friendly service, and culinary expertise. Enjoy some delightful fusion of Italian and American cuisine, authentic Vietnamese dishes, and coconut shrimp curry. Besides homemade banh mi, they serve outstanding tacos. Depending on your time on the Island Tour, Con Dao nightlife is fantastic.

Located in Vietnam, the “Roof of Côn Đảo” is a tranquil mountain covering approximately 2 hectares with an elevation of 577 meters above sea level. Situated about 3 kilometres from the town centre, the Con Dao tour to the mountain base marks the beginning of an exciting hike. As you reach the summit, you’ll traverse through a lush tropical jungle, typically taking around an hour to complete. At the top of the Roof, enjoy the breathtaking panoramic views and an unforgettable experience beyond the usual tourist paths.

Con Dao provides various accommodation options to suit all preferences and budgets. Whether you’re looking for a luxurious resort, a comfortable hotel stay, a cosy guesthouse, or a budget-friendly hostel, Con Dao offers them all. If you want to be at the centre of the action and activities on the Island, staying at a hotel or homestay in the heart of Con Dao is a good idea.

Luxury Six Senses Resort: Experience world-class service at Six Senses Con Dao – Turtle Island Paradise. To book at the amazing Turtle Island Resort, visit The Six Senses Resort.

Recommended middle-class hotels: The Con Dao Tan Son Nhat Hotel is located on the beachfront, just 200 meters from Lo Voi Beach. It provides 24-hour service and WiFi. Additionally, some rooms feature a balcony with a beautiful sea view. To view prices and to book, please visit the Con Dao Tan Son Nhat Hotel.

  • Con Son Island Hotel is a relaxed hotel in a perfect location, only 3 minutes from the Beach. It offers a clean room with a comfortable bed, ice, cold beer, and Scooter rental. To book, go to the Con Son Island Hotel.

Budget: Rooms or Backpacker options: Con Dao Backpacker LoCo Camping.

Ideally, a week in Con Dao would be better, but if you only have three days to tour Con Dao, the best things to do in three days, depending on your preferences. Let’s dive into it straight away. If you’re looking for a Two-Day itinerary in Con Dao, I suggest you leave out some of the things below.

  • Get up early and explore the town with its bustling market.
  • Visit the Prison, Museum and Cemetry if that interests you.
  • Explore the surroundings of Con Dao if you have energy left.
  • If not, do not stress; relax and enjoy a beach bar and night out in Con Dao.
  • Hiking experience tour in Con Dao National Park (on your own or book a tour).
  • Visit Turtle beaches for swimming and snorkelling.
  • Adventure to Trac Island.
  • Experience Con Dao nightlife
  • Island hopping – boat trip Con Dao tours.
  • Visit Six Senses Resort.
  • Have a great time in Con Dao at night, planning your return to the Island.

Besides the beautiful Islands, don’t miss Traveling around Vietnam and check out the following related posts:


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3 Comments

  1. cool place to visit time permitting. keep it up.

  2. Very informative , much appreciated

  3. A very interesting read, thank you. One will definitely not be board in the Con Dao Islands.