Con Dao Islands: Vietnam’s underrated pearl

There are plenty of things to discover in Vietnam – everything from the rice terraces in the north, old imperial palaces in mid Vietnam and gorgeous coastlines of white sand beaches in the south. Although Phu Quoc Island has become quite a popular name amongst travellers, not a lot of people hear about Con Dao.

Con Dao Islands lies in the southeast coast of Vietnam and is a group of islands with white sand beaches, marine life and coral reefs. There are many diving spots here, and you can also go hike in the jungle, rent a scooter and ride along the deserted coast roads, take a trail to the colonial-era Bay Canh Lighthouse and see the spectacular panoramic views from the top. Con Dao is a tropical paradise in Vietnam which deserves more acknowledgement. You can get here by taking a flight from Ho Chi Minh City and the airport is about 15 kilometres south of Con Son Town.

Beautiful Beach in Con Son Island, Con Dao Archipelago
Beautiful Beach in Con Son Island, Con Dao Archipelago

It is far more quiet here than it is in Phu Quoc. Do not come here if you expect wild nightlife and crowded bars, but instead go to Con Dao because of the tranquility it offers and the more chilled ambiance. The beaches are a bit more rugged here, more wild than in Phu Quoc, and since tourism here has not really picked up yet, you may find yourself having the beach all to yourself.

The area is quite small, but there are plenty of things to see. Usually people stay here for about 4 days, but it also depends how fast you travel. If you know how to ride a motorbike you should rent one here. The roads are quite empty, in comparison to the rest of Vietnam, and the roads are well-maintained. If you want to, you could ride all around the island in just one day, but the best thing is to take your time and enjoy it to the fullest. The views will stick with you for a long time – it simply is that breathtaking!

To get the most out of this experience, you should take the opportunity and do a hike. There are several trails and most of them you can do independently. Some goes to Bang Beach, Hoai Duong Waterfall and Ong Dung Beach. If you are looking for the most scenic trek though, it is the one from Vong Beach to Dam Tre Lagoon. Beware that this is a longer trek though and takes  a few hours to complete, so make sure you pack food, snacks, plenty of water and sunscreen!

Six Senses Resort Con Dao Island - Biking around the reosort

Besides hiking and laying on the beach, you also have some of the best diving sites in Vietnam.  The water is clear and calm all year around, but November to January are the months with the worst weather conditions, so some trips can be cancelled. The best season is March to June. Diving here is an incredible opportunity to explore Vietnam’s marine life and coral reefs. You can go to Con Dao Dive Center and arrange a diving trip with them.

When it comes to where to stay in Con Dao, you have plenty of options, everything from more luxurious hotels to mid-range/budget hotels. Con Dao might be one of the more expensive places to visit in Vietnam, but this does not mean that you have to splurge. The standard here is quite high so the facilities are usually in very good condition and you will get value for your money. If you do not mind staying in dorms, you can find beds as cheap as $10. But you can also find more high-end resorts where a room costs $2,000. It all depends on your budget.

Snorkeling and skin diving in Con Dao island

The Con Dao Islands are definitely worth a visit because of the incredible nature, the pristine beaches and wild landscape surrounding the islands. It is not just an alluring beach destination, it is also one of Vietnam’s most beautiful tourist spots. Although this is one of the more unknown spots in the country, tourism will boom here soon as well. So do yourself a favor and visit it while you have the beaches all to yourself.

Just remember to apply for a Vietnam visa before you enter the country. Some European and Asian countries are in the visa-exempt list and can be in Vietnam up to 15 days visa-free. However, if you are not on the list or want to stay for more than 2 weeks, you have to get a visa. You have three options to choose from: Visa on Arrival, which is the most popular option, E-Visa (only available for certain countries), or go to your nearest Vietnam Embassy or Consulate.