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Con Dao among top 9 secret islands to escape to

Released at: 20:12, 05/04/2019

Con Dao among top 9 secret islands to escape to

Photo: Hanoitimes.vn

Island praised by Vogue magazine for its natural beauty.

by Le Diem

Con Dao, off the coast of southern Ba Ria Vung Tau province, was selected on a short list of dreamy secret islands to escape to in 2019 by Vogue, a US fashion and lifestyle magazine.

A place to enjoy the sun away from the tourist trail, Con Dao is an archipelago of 16 islands, each of which is more beautiful than the last, according to Vogue.

Preserving the pure nature of the islands, there are only a dozen high-end hotels (including Aman and Six Senses). Another asset is that the archipelago boasts a national park with an intact ecosystem.

Con Dao has pristine beauty, mostly unspoiled beaches, forests, and turquoise waters, and a strictly-protected national park.

Between March and September is the best time to visit as it has little rain and calming seas, making it easier for goods to be transported from the mainland.

Flights are operated from Ho Chi Minh City to Con Dao. Alternatively, visitors can take a bus from Ho Chi Minh City to Ba Ria Vung Tau (two hours) or Soc Trang province in the Mekong Delta (four hours), then take a high-speed boat to the islands, which takes about four hours. Flights are also available from Ho Chi Minh City to Vung Tau, which take an hour.

Isolated from the mainland, 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 its opponents in infamous cells known as “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.

Today, what was “hell on earth” for prisoners has turned into “heaven on earth” for tourists. Beautiful beaches, hidden lagoons, coral reefs, and scenic bays are also to be found and the islands remain partially covered by tropical forests, with very few tourists. “In addition to hiking, diving and exploring deserted coastal roads there are excellent wildlife-watching opportunities,” Lonely Planet once wrote. Hollywood superstars Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt had a memorial vacation here with their kids a few years ago.

In 2017, CNN also praised Con Dao as one of 12 paradise islands in Asia, while the US magazine Time included Con Dao on a list of the 13 places around the world where travelers will be amazed by the blueness of the water. Con Son, the only inhabited and largest island in the 16-island Con Dao Archipelago, has been described by Time as unspoiled with granite cliffs outlining the crystalline water, and where “beaches are lined with golden sand and gorgeous blue water.”

Dat Tham Beach on Con Dao Island has been listed as one of the top ten eco-friendly beaches in Southeast Asia by the UK’s The Independent newspaper.

Con Dao welcomed more than 286,000 tourists in 2018, including over 32,000 foreigners, up 17.3 per cent and 2.6 per cent against 2017, respectively.

Other islands on Vogue’s list were São Tomé and Príncipe, a two-island nation off the western coast of Africa, Isla Holbox in Mexico, Tuvalu in Oceania, Kiribati in the Pacific, Nosy Iranja in Madagascar, Yaeyama Islands in Japan, Lombok Island in Indonesia, and the Andaman Islands in India.

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