War History Tour
It’s difficult to believe that such a beautiful island had such a violent history. Formerly a prison camp, the Con Dao Museum’s photographs, artwork, and relics depict the brutal conditions on the island before its liberation, when the French, Vietnamese, and Americans all used Con Dao as a place to keep “enemies.” Trai Phu Hai Prison, with its looming guard towers and thick, high walls, is one of many former prisons around the island.
Visit a “tiger cage,” where, from 1940 to 1955, prisoners were kept in open pits and monitored from above by their jailors –just like tigers at a zoo. Additionally, there is also a cemetery which honors the nearly 20,000 Vietnamese who perished in the struggles against the French and American governments.
National Park Wildlife
Con Dao’s National Park extends from forested hills to vibrant coral reefs. Macaques and black squirrels abound, as do more exotic animals including the white-rumped shama, greater racket-tailed drongo, the rare pied imperial pigeon, and the even rarer red-billed tropical bird.
Dive off Con Dao for a glimpse of its stunning coral reef – generally considered to be the best diving in Vietnam. Here, divers can find sea cows, once thought to be dolphins by the locals. There are rays, cobia, cuttlefish, turtles and giant barracuda, as well as a wide variety of tropical reef fish.
Enjoy a tour of the island via bicycle as you set your own pace over a mix of flat and hilly terrain.
Hike and trek your way through the jungle. Some of the longer hikes require guides, who can point out some of the indigenous wildlife. Pause for lunch as you breathe in the fresh air and enjoy this unspoiled corner of Southeast Asia.
A vital turtle breeding program can be found on Bay Canh Island, which lies near Con Dao Island. Watch the turtles as they hatch, and cheer them on in their subsequent race to the ocean. Overnight stays can be arranged.