Con Dao – Must Sea Islands in Vietnam
For island loving travelers who always loved the idea of spending a couple of days just lying on a deserted beach, trekking through jungles, and swimming in clear waters, Con Dao has to be on the bucket list. Reached by a 1-hour flight from Ho Chi Minh City, even getting to this small group of islands is quite an adventure. The plane descends down to the water and suddenly the runway appears just in time for a place to land.
Con Dao is a small, sleepy cluster of islands about 125 km off the coast of South Vietnam near Saigon (HCMC). In addition to a fringe of perfect white sand beaches, these islands are best known for their amazing variety of marine life and colorful coral reefs. A perfect place for travelers looking to obtain their PADI scuba diving certification, Con Dao is an optimum place to enjoy snorkeling and diving excursions.
The history of the islands is also something worth mentioning. Con Son, the largest island of the group, was developed as a prison for political prisoners during the French colonial era. Known then as Poulo Condore (derived from the Malay word pulao or island), it is where prisoners were confined in “tiger cages”, notorious holding cells watched by guards like tigers in the zoo. Nowadays, the old prison buildings are open to the public.
For Vietnamese, the island has a completely different meaning. Vietnam’s national heroine, Vo Thi Sau’s grave is located on Con Son. Pilgrims head to her grave every night to pray and make offerings– a peaceful moment for visitors to Con Dao to witness.
Con Dao has a unique enchantment. Being a small place, full of history and a hidden paradise, it’s the reason why Vietnamese people love these islands and recommend a visit as a side trip after a tour of the hustle and bustle of Saigon.
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