Uncover a hidden paradise renowned for its tranquil ambience and inviting beaches.
An archipelago of 16 islands and islets just off the southern coast of Vietnam, Con Dao is a veritable retreat, and surely one of the most ideal places imaginable to experience the serene side of Vietnam. Although easily accessible with a short flight from Saigon, the islands remain largely untouched, and mass tourism has yet to tarnish the supreme natural beauty of the landscape, making it the perfect place in which to reflect and relax after the dizzying clamour of the city.
Home to some of the area's best beaches and most spectacular scenery, life here seems to move at a slower pace than on the mainland. The majority of the islands are uninhabited, ideal for exploring or island-hopping tours. Sheltering plenty of secluded bays and untouched sandy coves, in many cases you'll have the beach to yourself.
Over 80% of Con Dao is protected national park. The rugged terrain and rich forests allow for excellent hikes, whilst the pristine seas harbour thriving coral reefs which are ideal for diving. Take a trip to Bay Canh Island to discover the largest population of nesting turtles in the country, whilst treks through the area's rainforests will be rewarded with sightings of a wide array of rare fauna including the endemic black squirrel and the crab-eating macaque.
Visiting Con Son, the largest of the Con Dao islands, is like stepping back in time. The only inhabited island, this collection of small fishing villages and sleepy towns cultivates an unutterably charming aesthetic. The beaches are blessedly quiet, the streets almost traffic-free and lined with pretty French colonial buildings, vibrant flame trees, and fragrant bougainvillea. Well worth a visit, its boulder-strewn Bai Nhat beach, only accessible at low tide, is among the most picturesque in the country, whilst the Con Son market is a great spot to stop to pick up local streetfood or souvenirs. Home to an infamous penal colony up until as recently as 1975, the remains of the prison buildings litter the island, and can now be visited for a humbling insight into the area's fraught past.
Con Dao’s tropical climate means the islands are temperate all year round, and experience two seasons - the dry season and the rainy season. With over 80% of the island covered in rain forest, regular rainfall is to be expected during the wet season, which can come in short, heavy bursts, as is typical for tropical climes. Humidity averages around 80 - 90% so light comfortable clothing is recommended, but don't forget hats and strong sun lotion as you are only eight degrees from the equator. Although the warmest times of the year are typically June, July, and August, with temperatures reaching up to 37°C, the onshore breezes make it feel cooler. March, April and May have less wind, with an average temperature around 33°C.