Con Dao

Con Dao islands are a group of 16 islands. The largest island is known as Con Son.

Con Dao served as a prison island for political prisoners during the French colonial era, when it was known as Poulo Condore, and in later years the Saigon regime imprisoned opponents of the regime in the infamous cells known as the “tiger cages”. The old prison buildings are still standing and are open to the public as is a small museum tracing the island’s history.

The prison system is not unlike the prisons on Phu Quoc except that Viet Cong was held here during the American war while the prisons on Phu Quoc were for the regular North Vietnamese Army. Being traitors to their own country (The Republic of South Vietnam) the conditions on Con Dao was especially harsh. Surprisingly jailers and former inmates live here in peace.

Besides having an interesting history, (Marco Polo even stopped over) Con Dao is also an island of immense natural beauty with forested hills, deserted sandy beaches, and extensive coral reefs making for some excellent diving. The Islands are located within an hours flight from Ho Chi MInh City

My wife and I went on a three-day holiday to Con Dao in December 2020. We hired a scooter and visited all the main sites, including the prisons, the beaches, the pagoda, the National Park, and riding around the coastal road that surrounds most of the Island. This Island really is spectacular and I would firmly recommend anyone to go and visit it. For more information, please do contact me.

Author: Piers Midwinter
I am an artist and a teacher. I am currently teaching at a Cambridge International School in Vietnam.