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Con Dao - Serenity and Tranquillity

(No.10, Vol.6,Dec-Jan 2017 Vietnam Heritage Magazine)



Con Dao Beach
Photo: Huynh Lam


Welcome to Con Dao Island - a paradise of leisure and adventure travel. Con Dao was listed by the US-based Travel and Leisure Magazine as one of the 20 most mysterious islands in the world with its ‘sheer granite cliffs bordering deserted beaches and crystal-blue water’. Besides this, Lonely Planet has named Con Dao in its Top Asia spots for 2016. The magazine praised the islands’ tropical forests, The sea water is turquoise and has incredibly diverse marine species, from dolphins to sea turtles to beautiful coral reefs.



Malabar almond trees, recognized as Heritage Trees, casting their shade over Ton Duc Thang St, Con Dao.
Photo: Vu Dung


Strolling in Con Son Island
Con Dao District, Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province, includes 16 small and big islands, Con Son or Con Dao Island being the largest. The total area is 76 km² and it is 185 km from Vung Tau City and 230 km from Ho Chi Minh City.
The peaceful and pristine beauty of Con Dao allows one to avoid the noise, pollution and bustle of modern life. The cool breeze and fresh air make one feel relaxed. The atmosphere is ideal for walking or riding a bicycle or scooter to explore the mysterious island. The town is so calm and quiet as your roll along next to mossy fences, old houses, old French villas and historical relics, down the long and winding road along the blue sea, with big, ancient trees casting their shade in the street. Do not forget to go to Con Son Market to discover local culture and enjoy local specialities.
Splendid beaches: It is difficult to pull out yourself away from the crystal-clear sea while admiring the spectacular paintings of white sandy beach, mountains, sky and lush forest. If you are feeling lazy, you can spend the day sunbathing and swimming or enjoying the five-star services of a wide range of beautiful resorts. However, if you get on the large road and turn to a rough track, it will surprise you. Find the way to Dam Trau Beach, located outside the Con Dao National Park, or cross over the forest’s trail to Ong Dung Beach or Suoi Nong Beach. These are considered pristine beaches which have yet to be discovered by many tourists.
Snorkelling and discovering corals: Do not forget to try snorkelling to see schools of fish swimming around colourful coral reefs.
Fishing: Book a fishing tour on the immense blue sea. Fishing at day, or squid fishing at night and enjoy delicious seafood.
Con Dao National Park: The Park is one of 2,203 wetlands of international importance and the first marine Ramsar in Vietnam. The park’s total area is nearly 20,000 ha, consisting of 6,000 ha of terrestrial and 14,000 ha of marine habitat. It is home to 144 species of animals and 1,321 species of sea creatures, including 37 species listed in the Vietnam Red Data Book. The park is an ideal place for those who love climbing, trekking, discovering nature and sightseeing. It is an interesting experience when encountering animals in the forest, rare orchids, huge old trees and pristine beaches.



Heroic Vo Thi Sau Statue at Hang Duong Cemetery.
Photo: Vu Dung



Con Dao Prison.
Photo: Le Thang My


Historical Pilgrimage
Con Dao Prison: Awarded the title of Special National Relic in 2013, the prison system here was the largest prison in Vietnam. Con Dao Prison was established in 1862 and lasted until Reunion Day, 1975. French colonists ruled Con Dao for 92 years (1862-1954). Then, they handed over Con Dao Prison to Saigon in 1955. It includes many prisons, labour basements and tiger cages. Thousands of patriotic and communist soldiers were tortured until 1970, when this ‘hell on earth’ was revealed and shocked the world with its gruesome tortures. More than 40 years have passed since the reunion day, but its atmosphere is still blanketed by a dull colour of painful memories.
Hang Duong Cemetery: Built in 1992 and covers 20ha. This is the largest cemetery in Con Dao, where thousands of prisoners were buried. Among 1,913 graves in the cemetery are 793 which have specific names and addresses. The rest are anonymous. Hang Duong Cemetery is always crowded with visitors. Many of them come to the cemetery to pay tribute to the heroine Vo Thi Sau’s grave, the youngest prisoner under death sentence at Con Dao. Making a visit to the cemetery at night is the frequent activity of local people. It is believed that midnight is the moment that the living and the dead can be connected through the mind.

Now there are three boats cruising from Cat Lo Port, Vung Tau City to Ben Dam Port, Con Dao Island. Boats CD09 (VND150,000) and CD10 (VND200,000) depart from 5 p.m. and arrive at Con Dao Island about 6 a.m. in the next day and vice versa. Boat CQ-03 (VND390,000 a seat and VND590,000 a bed) departs from 8 a.m. and arrives at Con Dao Island at 4 p.m. and vice versa.
Working with many partners and supporters, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) implements a large and diverse portfolio of conservation projects worldwide. Combining the latest science with the traditional knowledge of local communities, these projects work to reverse habitat loss, restore ecosystems and improve people’s well-being. Since 2014, Vietnam-based IUCN has been running a Marine turtle Conservation Volunteer Programme in Con Dao National Park, Nui Chua National Park in Ninh Thuan Province and Hon Cau Marine Protected Area in Binh Thuan Province to raise community’s awareness of marine turtle conservation.




Con Dao Beach
Photo: Le Thang My

Picturesque sightseeing, crystal water, stunning beaches, fresh seafood and honest people…
Con Dao takes travellers’ hearts with many moments of quiet and peace.


Strolling in Con Son Island
Con Dao District, Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province, includes 16 small and big islands, Con Son or Con Dao Island being the largest. The total area is 76 km² and it is 185 km from Vung Tau City and 230 km from Ho Chi Minh City.
The peaceful and pristine beauty of Con Dao allows one to avoid the noise, pollution and bustle of modern life. The cool breeze and fresh air make one feel relaxed. The atmosphere is ideal for walking or riding a bicycle or scooter to explore the mysterious island. The town is so calm and quiet as your roll along next to mossy fences, old houses, old French villas and historical relics, down the long and winding road along the blue sea, with big, ancient trees casting their shade in the street. Do not forget to go to Con Son Market to discover local culture and enjoy local specialities.
Splendid beaches: It is difficult to pull out yourself away from the crystal-clear sea while admiring the spectacular paintings of white sandy beach, mountains, sky and lush forest. If you are feeling lazy, you can spend the day sunbathing and swimming or enjoying the five-star services of a wide range of beautiful resorts. However, if you get on the large road and turn to a rough track, it will surprise you. Find the way to Dam Trau Beach, located outside the Con Dao National Park, or cross over the forest’s trail to Ong Dung Beach or Suoi Nong Beach. These are considered pristine beaches which have yet to be discovered by many tourists.
Snorkelling and discovering corals: Do not forget to try snorkelling to see schools of fish swimming around colourful coral reefs.
Fishing: Book a fishing tour on the immense blue sea. Fishing at day, or squid fishing at night and enjoy delicious seafood.
Con Dao National Park: The Park is one of 2,203 wetlands of international importance and the first marine Ramsar in Vietnam. The park’s total area is nearly 20,000 ha, consisting of 6,000 ha of terrestrial and 14,000 ha of marine habitat. It is home to 144 species of animals and 1,321 species of sea creatures, including 37 species listed in the Vietnam Red Data Book. The park is an ideal place for those who love climbing, trekking, discovering nature and sightseeing. It is an interesting experience when encountering animals in the forest, rare orchids, huge old trees and pristine beaches.



Fishing on Con Dao



A mother vích, green sea turtle, giong back the sea after laying eggs at Con Dao National Park.


A baby turtle coming back the sea at Con Dao National Park.
Photos: Nguyen Hai Van/IUCN Viet Nam


Turtle tours: Con Dao is the home of sea turtle. There are 17 beaches that have reported sea turtles hatching. Several large spawning areas include the sand flats on Bay Canh, Hon Cau, Hon Tai and Hon Tre Islands. The sea turtle nesting season in Vietnam lasts from April to October. It is an emotional experience to stay overnight to watch the turtle mothers giving birth and gain new awareness of sea turtle protection specifically and environment protection in general.


By Estella Kha
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