Con Dao is not only a famous prisons system with many camps, such as Phú Hải, Phú Tường or Phú Bình ... and the confinement method is hard to imagine as tiger cages, cow barn ... but also the beauty of wild nature and the blue beaches. They are to explore the diversity of primary forest Ông Đụng – Sở Rẫy, to recognize rich nature when fishing at Bông Lan island, squid fishing in Tàu Bể cap,  to be fascinated with the beauty of the sea before the colorful coral reefs at Hòn Tre or seeing turtles laying on Bảy Cạnh island at night.

OVERVIEW OF NATURE IN CON DAO

- Located in South-East of the East Sea (Vietnam), 97 nauticals from Vung Tau, Song Hau (Can Tho) 54 nauticals  and Ho Chi Minh City 120 nauticals, Con Dao is an archipelago that consists of 16 islands with a total area of ​​76 km square (the largest island is Con Son, an area of ​​51 km square).

- In history of Vietnamese before the 20th century, it was often called Con Lon Island or Côn Nôn. Former name in the English or French book is Poulo Condor. Perhaps Vietnamese people read out, the name appeared in Con Dao because of this name

- Look on a map, Con Son Island like a bear getting out of the South China Sea. Con Dao is known for beautiful beaches, blue sea and long sand-bank shaded by rows of ancient tropical almond tree. Con Dao National Park is known for its biodiversity, primary forests, rich flora and fauna and diversity with many colorful fish swimming around the multi-storey, colorful coral reef. In forests there are many endemic species, such as, orchid, black squirrel, red squirrel, chanting birds ... Especially, Con Dao is one of two places in Vietnam (Phu Quoc ) having Dugongidae species (Dugong). Also on Con Dao Island, tourists can see dolphins, sea turtles (green turtles)...

Co Ong roadside sea with Cape Elephant (Photo by Nguyen Ba Thao - Con Dao Excursions)

- Located in the activity of two monsoon zone, climate in Con Dao is tropical monsoon . Con Dao has two seasons: dry season (December to April with the northeast monsoon) and wet season (from May to November with Southwest wind). Annual precipitation is approximately 2.100mm (highest in October) and the average temperature is 27 degrees Celsius.

- In the past, Con Dao is known as the place of trial and nurture a resilient Spirit of revolutionary, Vietnamese patriots with prison system as well as other famous forms of detention, investigation like barn, tiger cages, husking rice tunnel for two periods of resistance war. Today, Con Dao is truly a paradise for relaxation and discovery.

- Coming to Con Dao is famous place regarded as a brilliance landmark but also is pathetic in Vietnamese history, it is a paradise with wild nature, blue sea, white sand, prosperousness that nature regarded and with hospitable, gentle, friendly islanders, making guests feel like as home when they arrive here.

Fishing in Con Dao (Photo by Nguyen Ba Thao - Con Dao Excursions)

HISTORY OF CON DAO

- Located in a favorable position on the international maritime route linking Asia and Europe, so Con Dao is known from very early. The reference materials indicated that from 1294, the convoy of navigator and famous Italian explorer Marco Polo went to Con Dao to shelter from the storm in a voyage from China to Italia.

- From the 15th century to the 16th century, many of Europe delegations traveled Con Dao

- Late 17th century and early 18th century, the Britain and France capitalists began to pay attention to Oriental. Numerous companies in the UK, France to the Con Dao to investigate, prospect all aspects of the situation with the intention to invade the island.

- In 1702 (the 12th year of Lord Nguyen Phuc Chu), East-India Company of British troops on Con Dao Island and built the fort and flagpole.

- Three years later, 3rd February, 1705, the uprising of the Malays occurred (mercenaries of the British government), British troops to leave the island.

- 28th November, 1783, Pigneau de Béhaine (Ba Ba Loc), during the trip to bring prince Canh and the seal of Nguyen Anh Lord to France, self-representation of Lord to sign with the Count De Mantmarin representing Louis XVI King of France, the Treaty of Versailles. It is the first document of the Nguyen Dynasty that ceded to France the sovereignty of Da Nang seaport and Con Lon. On the contrary, French helped Lord have 4 ships, 1200 soldiers, 200 gunners, 250 African soldiers to fight Tay Son.

- According to the legend, in the 3rd time Nguyen Anh was pursued closely by Tay Son, he run away to Con Lon and lived in secluded life for months here. Therefore, today in Con Son Island there is a high mountain called the Mount of God; temple of the first royal concubine who called Hoang Phi Yen, lived An Hai Village and Temple of Cai Prince who was the son of Hoang Phi Yen in the Co Ong village.

- 1st September, 1858, the French attacked Da Nang, occupied Son Tra peninsula, was ready to attack Hue.

-April 1861, French occupied Dinh Tuong province. During this period, French wanted to ocuppy Con Dao Island promtly  because they thought that England could take control this important stragic position.

- 10AM, November 28 1861, Bonard who is the ordered the warship Norzagaray to invade Con Lon. The navy Lieutenant, Lepes Sebastien Nicolas Joachim made a report of French: “statement of sovereignty” in Con Dao island.

The image of Con Dao on the French’s stamp( collected on Internet)

- January 14,1862, the Freighter named Nievre carried some workers to the island. Their task is to find a favourable position to build the lighthouse Con Dao in order to resist any country opposing the action of declaring French’s sovereignty.

- a month later, February 2nd 1862, Bonard signed decision of founding Con Dao prison, and Con Lon became the place to detain Vietnamese political prisoners with prison system and a lot of famous forms of torture lasting more than 100 years during the period of resistance againts U.S and period againts French.

- On Con Dao island, as the invitation of Louis Jacquet, the director of Poulo-Condore prison and Armand Rousseau, a great composer of French who is Camille Saint Saens completed 3 final chapters of the immortal Musical Brunehida in March 1895. The name of the house  he stayed in Con Dao island at that time is Maisson de passanger or Con Dao Cong Quan, which now is the memorial house with his name.

- May 1st, 1975, Con Dao was released by South national front for Libertion and considered a province with the name Con Dao in administrative management. However, up to September 1976, Con Dao province was disintergrated, and it became a district belonging to Ho Chi Minh city.

- From 1977 to October 1991, Con Dao was changed many times about administrative management. Since October 1991, Con Dao has been an island district of  Vung Tau province.

OVERVIEW ABOUT ECONOMICS – SOCIETY of Con Dao

- An island district which is far away from land, and has a small area and population. Thererfore, the government organization follows single level type and one. The administrative management pass authorities and reached directly people, but not pass intermediary authorities as seen in lands.

- The total population of the island is about 6.000 people( end of year 2010, not including temporary residence) divided into 10 residence areas scattering on the island.

- Because of the fact that Con Dao has no river, water supply  of the island depends on 2 freshwater lakes: An Hai and Quang Trung. Preparing for the increasing demand of using water, the government of  Con Dao is developing many projects of containing and supplying fresh water like builiding a station to deliver water at the area of Ong Tong slope, Quang Trung reservoir…

The beauty of An Hai lake – Con Dao (collected on Internet)

- The grid covers rather completetly the island; however, due to the geographical isolation, Con Dao can not use the national grid system. Power on the island is supplied by 2 power plants ran by diesel, one  in center of the town and one in An Hoi and the price of power is the same as the government’s regulations. That hepls to keep the power in Con Dao stable, not in status of regularl power failure as in lands. Nevertheless, this causes a big problem to some bussinesses that need to use much power; the power plant can not supply enough power. For example, Six Senses resort had to equip themselves with high capacity generators. As a result, their generating fee also goes up.

- Power and water systems on Con Dao are under the management of local government (distric people’s committee) but not nationla government as in lands.

- Because of small area and mainly moutainous terrain, traffic system on the island is organized simply and high quality. The main street of the island joins Co Ong airport, passes Con Dao town and ends at Dam station with the length of 25km. the traffic system developes mainly in town with many streets and residence areas joining toghether. In other areas, tourists rarely see a street that could join some isolated residence area.

- On Con Dao, public transport does not develop; people’ transportation depends on personal motorbikes. To tourists, they travel mainly by transport for tourists only (most popular is 15-seat kind, some with 29 or 34 seats) of some tourism bussinesses or people on the island. There is no bus here. From July 2012, taxi service was provided by Petrotaxi with 7 cars (from 4 - 7 seats)


Peaceful Con Dao ( photo by Nguyen Ba Thao – Con Dao Excursions)

- Con Dao is covered by mobile phone network and the using quality is very good. There are 4 mobile phone networks which are Vinaphone, Mobifone, Viettel, and Vietnammobile. Moreover, there are 2 wirelesses which are VNPT and Viettel. At the end of 8/2007, Con Dao is connected the high speech Internet ASDL. Besides, Con Dao also has radio and television.

- The main economic activity of the island is fishing industry (inshore and offshore fishing) and supporting fishing industry because Ba Ria Vung Tau is big fishery. In recent years, when tourism develops, tourism industry also contributes greatly to the economic development of the island and solves the employment for a part of the local inhabitant.

- Because the island is far from the mainland and the terrain is mainly mountains, the whole  main foodstuff which support for the inhabitant and tourist are brought from mainland. Therefore, the market price there is higher than in the mainland.

- The order security problem of the island is relative good because the terrain is isolated and the population size is small. Therefore, the management of this area is relative easy. At Con Dao, tourist can walk on quite road without the fear of traffic accidents or theft or robbery. Also at Con Dao, you will see lots of motorbike parked outside or on the road at night because people do not want to hide inside when they go to bed.

Colorful Con Dao – Ben Dam port (photo by Nguyen Ba Thao – Con Dao Excursions)

- Con Dao Town is located on a semicircular valley at coordinate system 106°36′10″ East  longitude and 8°40′57″ North latitude. The average height is about 3m compared to sea level, the length is from 8 to 10 km, and the width is from 2 to 3 km. With a side overlooking the sea (East South Bay) and the other side surrounding by mountain, Con Dao Town is a place concentrating the entire economics, politics and society of the whole island. Con Dao Town located between Co Ong airport and Ben Dam port concentrates several population, resorts, and administrative agencies of Con Dao District.

-  Transportation of Con Dao contains 2 means:

By sea: There are 2 vehicles to go from Cat Lo Port - Vung Tau to Con Dao such as Con Dao 9 and Con Dao 10. These vehicles are passenger ships, compact goods, and even big quantity and heavy goods like cars, building materials, etc. Shipping schedule is updated every month, not advised soon, and depends on the weather condition. It takes about 12 hours for 97 sea miles to go from Vung Tau to Con Dao and vice versa. At present, there is no high speech vehicle for this line. Inhabitant’s life depend more on the train, especially in some day with storm, there is no ship and goods, so Con Dao may have a shorten of food and activities are influenced.

By air: From HCM city to Con Dao, VASCO (a member of Vietnam Airlines) has 4 - 6 fights/a day by ATR72-500 (60 seats/flight).

TRAVEL CON DAO ISLANDS

-  Con Dao is one of 21 Vietnam National park. With the national historical monument system, natural neglected landscapes, beautiful beaches, pure and green water, smooth sand-banks, quite space and the clean natural environment, Con Dao is considered as the heaven of rest and discovery (sea and forest).

Dam Trau beach – Con Dao islands (collected from Internet)

- Moreover, Con Dao has virgin forest and sea which is strictly protected, famous for diversified biology. This is not only a place for study but also the place for travel, discovery, or learn with ecotourism programs.

- Besides the historical jail systems in the center of town and Hang Duong Cemetery, tourists cannot ignore  some place-name such as Dam Trau beach, Nhat beach, Ca Map cap, Love mountain, Bay Canh island, Tai island, Nui Mot pagoda, etc.

- In 2011, Con Dao is considered as 1 of 10 the best and mysterious islands all over the world by Lonely Planet Magazine (England). This is the place that 2 Hollywood famous stars Angelina- Brad Pitt choose for their holiday to Vietnam in 11/2011.