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Holidays in the Con Dao Islands

A mixture of stunning natural scenery, enthralling wildlife and glorious isolation makes the Con Dao Islands one of the undoubted star attractions of any visit to Vietnam. Once offering only harsh conditions and confinement to thousands of prisoners, today this chain of around 16 islands and islets have transformed into a magical paradise – from their teeming jungles and lush forests to scenic bays and coral reefs. While luxury travellers and backpackers alike are now beginning to discover the delights of the Con Dao Islands, this still remains – for now – a largely quiet, tranquil place where you can relax and leave the cares of the world far behind.

The hub of activity on the islands is Con Son, a small and flat village that’s easy to get around. One of the most popular ways to get around the quiet streets of the islands is by hiring a motorbike – which are in plentiful supply. There’s also a handy minibus system connecting the town and airport.

Exploring the vast, quiet and breathtakingly beautiful beaches is one of the most popular activities on the Con Dao Islands, with the dramatic green mountains providing a perfect backdrop to the pristine white sands and the azure sea. While some areas are more popular than others, it’s never too difficult to find yourself a little exclusive slice of paradise to enjoy all to yourself.

Outdoor pursuits are also popular on Con Dao, including rainforest hikes and biking as well as water sports such as snorkelling, and the best scuba diving Vietnam has to offer. The beautiful coral around the islands is in generally good condition.

Thanks to the separation of these islands from the mainland around 15,000 years ago, wildlife on Con Dao has flourished and diversified in unique ways. It’s estimated that there are dozens of species unknown to science – in addition to famous native creatures such as turtles, cuttlefish and the dugong or sea cow.

You can also find out more about the islands’ brutal penal history and the political prisoners incarcerated here by visiting the remains of the old prison buildings, which have now been transformed into an interesting museum.

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