Con Dao Island

Overview
Con Dao islands is about 180km far away from Vung Tau  with local population of around 5,000. During the war years, Con Son Island was a feared former penal colony. The archipelago is now National Park famous for beautiful beaches with pristine coral, lush tropical forest, coconut groves.

History
Con Son is the largest island in the archipelago, known as “Poulo Condor” and regarded as a Southeast Aisan “Devil’s Island. In the 19th century, French colonial authority built Con Son prison complex. The infamous Con Son prison complex was established by the French colonial authority early in the nineteenth century. Since then the French colonial administration is under the Saigon government’s management in poor conditions. The prisoner often lived in tiny underground boxes named “tiger cages”.

In the colonial period Saigon regime used Con Dao. Throughout the colonial period and its being used by the Saigon regime, Con Dao was only place of the prisoners, some of soldiers, their guards, and administrators. Until May 1975, the truths of the appalling treatment of inmates were discovered.

Then, on the western side of Con Son a small town was developed and around the old penal colony complex.

Possible activities

There is a small museum which used to be the French Governor’s residence overlooking the main bay. Islands’ history is covered in four rooms. Tourists can find the archipelago’s general information in the first room, the second room named “Hell on Earth”. On the walls, there are photographs, paintings depicting the inhuman treatment.

They lived more brutally under the Saigon regime. Prison administrators and their guests’s life contrasted totally with the life of the inmates. Tourists also see the instruments of torture various artifacts, memorabilia and examples of the instruments of torture are on display – particularly the inmates made paper weapons and costumes as props for New Year celebration performances.

Photographs of prominent Vietnamese agitators and revolutionaries were painted in the wall of the third room, and other prisoners who served time and later rose to prominence after liberation. And makeshift weapons also displayed here. Coming to the final room, tourists will see the pictures of the years after war.

The main island is ideal to camp, do hiking and trekking. On the outskirts of the town-  the National Park Headquarters you can find information about suitable trails and paths. When coming there tourist has opportunities to scuba diving and snorkeling. On the seafront, there is the Diving Centre. There are beautiful beaches on Con Son. You can go on foot, but to be feel its beauty, tourists should hire a motorbike. Besides, a big number of beaches exist on other islands

Getting there
Presently, it is more convenient for tourists to visit Con Dao. There has a fast boat service connect Vung Tau to Con Lon. Inn May 2004, Vietnam Airlines had six flights per week from Ho Chi Minh to Con Dao.  It takes about 50 minutes with the earphone, and about 12 hours with a boat.

Facilities
No taxis and no motorbike taxis on the islands, however it is easy to hire a small motorbike to go travel the island. The prices are little higher on the mainland.

It is difficult to find the hotel there; the best hotel is lower than our local standard. Restaurants in Con Dao are so few. Tourists are attracted by tales of exotic fruits in abundance here. However, the seafood is first-rate.

Weather
Con Dao is in the East China Sea, so it has a weather patterns different from those on the mainland. From July to September is the wet season. In this season, there often have violent squalls with strong winds to about 100m, even they take place about half an hour.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CFApfR4XRdA


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