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
Besides having an interesting history, 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.
Con Dao is a shining example of good conservation. 80%
of the land area of the archipelago is a National park
offering primary jungle teeming with interesting life
such as the endemic black squirrel and the crab eating
macaque. Beautiful beaches and hidden lagoons are also
to be found here, with very few tourists Con Dao is a
paradise off the beaten track. For now at least.
Most of the surrounding marine are is a no-take marine
protected area (MPA). The level of protection and care
shown to this island is evident in the pristine reefs
that surround it, home to a large variety of marine life
incomparable to anywhere else in Vietnam.