Con Dao – A Tranquil Paradise Rising from “Earthly Hell”

July 18, 2020 7 mins to read

Con Dao (also known as Con Son) is an island located in Ba Ria Vung Tau province, about 230 km away from Ho Chi Minh City. Once a haunting nightmare for any Vietnamese before the year 1975, it was a land amidst the open sea, known to very few, where people were said to go and never return. Hence, the journey to Con Dao often carried heavy connotations, with phrases like “earthly hell” deeply ingrained in the narrative.

That haunting memory perhaps still lingers strong in the generations that followed, where the mention of “Con Dao” evokes thoughts of the earthly hell, the renowned Con Dao prison infamous for its brutal tiger cages. In this spiritual land, countless national heroes fell,… Amidst these historical scars, Con Dao also emerges as a captivating island adorned with rare, pristine beauty, a sanctuary for those seeking peace away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Here, amidst the raw and untamed landscapes, lies a tranquil haven, beckoning souls to find solace and serenity, offering respite from the urban chaos.

Let’s explore the serene beauty of Con Dao through this article with!

1. Getting to Con Dao

As an island district 170 km from Vung Tau, you can reach Con Dao by either boat or plane. (Schedule from Saigon to Con Dao).

By Boat

You have two options: boats from Vung Tau or Soc Trang.

  • Cat Lo Port, Vung Tau: Boats depart at 5 p.m. the previous evening and 7 a.m. the following day to Tran De Port (Con Dao). These large boats, mainly for passengers and cargo, can accommodate motorcycles. However, be cautious if you’re not accustomed to boat travel, as seasickness is common.
  • Ben Dam Port, Soc Trang: In mid-2017, another option became available, the Superdong fast ferry. Two ferry shuttles between Ben Dam Port (Soc Trang) and Tran De Port (Con Dao) are open daily at 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. The travel time is 2.5 hours. To take this ferry, you can take a Phuong Trang bus from Saigon to Soc Trang (use the shuttle service to get to the Superdong ticket office and port; remember to book both ferry and shuttle tickets in advance through Superdong’s website hotline). If you travel on calm days, there should be no issues, but be cautious on windy or stormy days as seasickness may occur.

By Plane

It is quicker without worrying about seasickness, though the travel cost is about 3-4 times higher than by boat. Vietnam Airlines collaborates with Vasco and Bamboo Airways to operate direct flights to Con Dao. You can fly directly from Ho Chi Minh City or Can Tho to Con Dao. If from Hanoi, you must transit to one of the cities above.

From Ho Chi Minh City, there are usually 4-5 flights daily, with a baggage allowance of up to 20 kg of checked luggage and 7 kg of carry-on baggage free of charge. The flight time is approximately 55 minutes. The plane landed at Co Ong Airport, and it took about 40 minutes to reach the city center from the airport.

2. Getting Around Con Dao

Transportation options in Con Dao are diverse, including taxis, electric vehicles, and motorcycle rentals. When traveling to Con Dao, renting a motorcycle is convenient; prices range from 100,000 VND to 120,000 VND per scooter. However, when traveling from the airport to the city center, the hotel owner recommended that I use an electric vehicle (20,000 VND per km). Riding an electric car is comfortable, allowing you to enjoy the sea breeze and scenery. The sun in Con Dao isn’t scorching, and with mountains and trees on one side and the sea on the other, it’s pretty pleasant, so you don’t have to worry about getting sunburnt or feeling excessively hot.

3. Where to Go When Visiting Con Dao?

Immerse Yourself in the Bustling Morning at Ben Dam Port

Starting the Con Dao tour, this island welcomes you with gentle sunlight on the last spring day, a sea breeze carrying the characteristic scent of the ocean, giving you a comfortable and relaxed feeling. About 15 km from the town center, perhaps the busiest place in this peaceful land in the morning is Ben Dam Port, where tourist boats, groceries, and goods arrive on the island.

Enjoy the Serene Noon at Dat Doc Beach

Doc Beach is considered one of the most charming beaches in Con Dao, a place not to be missed when visiting Con Dao. With gentle waves, clear blue water, and a long, smooth white sand beach lined with trees and rocky mountains, Dat Doc Beach retains its pristine, serene beauty, loved by many tourists.

Dive into the Sunset at Shark Cape

Contrary to its name, this seaside point is neither “ferocious” nor a habitat for sharks. It’s simply a stopping point located near the southern end of Con Dao. With fresh air, crystal-clear blue water, and unique rock formations arranged by nature, this stopping point appears fresh and novel to tourists. Shark Cape, along with Nhat Beach, Ben Dam, and the beginning of the road to Hon Ba with picturesque landscapes, inspire many photography enthusiasts when visiting Con Dao.

Visit Van Son Pagoda – One of the Most Beautiful Pagodas in Vietnam

Van Son Pagoda, also known as Nui Mot Pagoda, nestled amid the mountains of Nui Mot, facing Con Son Bay and An Hai Lotus Lake, is considered one of the most beautiful pagodas in Vietnam. Van Son Pagoda has undergone renovation and restoration through the tumultuous war years. Today, the pagoda is not only a cultural monument, a scenic spot, and a historical relic of Con Dao district but also a place for people and tourists to pilgrimage, practice good deeds, and pray for the souls of heroes and martyrs who sacrificed for the country.

4. Con Dao – A Peaceful Land from Landscape to People

One remarkable aspect of traveling to Con Dao is that you don’t have to worry about theft or robbery; the locals here are amiable. Although food on the island needs to be transported from the mainland, the prices are reasonable, and there’s no overpricing.

Con Dao is perfect if you’re looking to escape the city hustle for a few days. This untouched, beautiful land and its highly hospitable locals are always ready to welcome you.

In conclusion, invites readers to journey to Con Dao, where the tumultuous past has given way to tranquility and natural allure. The untouched landscapes, hospitable locals, and peaceful ambiance make Con Dao a perfect retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Côn Đảo - thiên đường du lịch

Con Dao – tourist paradise (Photo Collection)

Không khí trong lành trên Côn Đảo

Fresh air on Con Dao (Photo Collection)

Khám phá Côn Đảo bằng xe máy là lựa chọn tuyệt vời

Explore Con Dao by motorbike is a great choice (photo Collection)

Tới Côn Đảo bằng tàu giúp tiết kiệm chi phí

Going to Con Dao by ship helps save costs (Photo Collection)

Phượt Côn Đảo và khám phá khung cảnh hoang sơ nơi đây

Phượt Con Dao and explore the unspoiled scenery here (Photo Collection)

Hoàng hôn ở Côn Đảo

Sunset at Con Dao (Photo Collection)

Côn Đảo về đêm bình yên và nguyên sơ

Con Dao at night peaceful and pristine (Photo Collection)

Côn Đảo nhìn từ trên cao xuống

Con Dao seen from above (photo Collection)

Tham quan chuồng cọp - nhà giam nổi tiếng khắc nghiệt nhất

Visiting the tiger cages – the most famous famous prison (Photo Collection)

Bãi Đầm Trầu - bãi biển đẹp nhất Côn Đảo

Dam Trau Beach – the most beautiful beach in Con Dao (photo Collection)

Bãi Lò Vôi hoang sơ ở Côn Đảo

The unspoilt Lo Lo Beach in Con Dao (Photo Collection)

Bãi Ông Đụng đẹp mê hồn

Ong Dung Beach is breathtakingly beautiful (photo Collection)

Bãi Nhát đẹp mộng mơ

Beautiful dream beach (Photo Collection)

Vườn quốc gia Côn Đảo

Con Dao National Park (Photo Collection)

Cua mặt trăng - đặc sản Côn Đảo níu chân du khách

Moon crab – Con Dao specialty attracts visitors (Photo Collection)

Mứt hạt bàng - đặc sản Côn Đảo níu chân du khách

Nut jam – Con Dao specialties grabbing tourists’ feet (Photo Collection)

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