The Con Dao archipelago is about 180km from Vung Tau and 230km from Ho Chi Minh city. It is a distric of Bà Rịa–Vũng Tàu Province, in southeasternVietnam and has a local population of around 6,000 ( in 2010). The main island of this group of islands is Con Son, was a much-feared former penal colony until 1975.
Most of the archipelago is now a National Park with some good and wild beaches, clear water with pristine coral, lush tropical forest with many flowers, coconut groves, and few travelers. The Con dao archipelago is served by Cỏ Ống Airport.
On 16th of June, 1702, the English East India Company founded a settlement on the island of Pulo Condor off the south coast of southern Vietnam, and on 2nd of March 1705, the garrison and settlement were destroyed.
The Con Son Island (also known as Con Lon Island – the largest island in the group), very famous for its prison built by the French colonial government early in the nineteenth century. From then until 1975, the French colonial administration, followed by the Saigon government, incarcerated political prisoners in brutal conditions, often in tiny underground boxes known as the ‘Tiger cages’. The Hang Duong cemetery holds the remains of the many prisoners that died there.
Since 1975, a small town has developed on the western side of Con Son island in and around the old penal colony complex.
In 1984, Con Dao became a National park of Vietnam, which was subsequently enlarged in 1998. Endangered species protected within the park includes the green turtle, the hawksbill turtle, and the dugong. Ecosystems represented in the park includes sea -grass meadow, mangrove and coral reefs.
Con Dao archipeloga is definitely a place for nature lovers, but also an opportunity to visit an unspoilt tropical island before development. A National park, an old penal colony complex and several beautiful and wild beaches are waiting for travelers to explore here.