🖐 In this travel guide we’ll share all our experience travelling to Con Dao, located near the South Coast of Vietnam. If this is your first time on Dronemade, we're a community of drone pilots around the world and thus like to share our travel experiences and how we see things from up there. Give a 👍 at the end of this post & feel free to share your experience or any updates you might have in the Vietnam Drone Forum. Keep in mind that the content below is updated to the best of our knowledge & does not replace official sources & your research.
To us, Con Dao Islands is the pearl of the South of Vietnam and an absolute must do while you're in this exciting region of the world! The islands are mostly protected making them a wonderful place for underwater activities. There is enough on land to keep you busy a few days with nearby fishing villages and a couple of hiking trails leading to isolated brown sand beaches. We recommend to spend at least 3 nights onsite to properly enjoy the place.
Where is it exactly & how to get to Con Dao Islands?
Con Dao Islands are located a couple of hundred of kilometres from the south coast of Vietnam near Vinh Chau. With a small airport welcoming flights from Can Tho & Ho Chi Minh it makes it an ideal pitt stop between the two cities. (Red itinerary). Vinh Chau and more recently Soc Trang cities also offer an interesting cheaper alternatives with fast boats and ferries going to the islands daily.
🛫 The easiest way to reach Con Dao islands is by plane, Ho Chi Minh has many flights departing daily and Can Tho has 2 in the morning. Expect to pay around 1,500,000 dong one way to reach the island. The flight is operated exclusively by Vietnam Airlines and takes about a little less than an hour to complete and has nice views.
🚤 NEW! A fast boat service has recently opened departing daily at 8 am from Tran de port. Tickets will cost you about 300,000 dong one way and the journey takes about 2.5 hours. This service is operating since 2018 and is set to increase frequency in time.
🚢 A long standing ferry services departs daily from Vung Tau at 8 am too. The journey here will be pricier costing you 660,000 dong one way (we expect it to decrease with the new fast boat competition) and takes about 3.5 hours to reach Con Dao Islands
🛵 Once on the islands, the only true way to enjoy it is to rent a scooter for the entire time of your stay and go wandering around or do some shopping at the daily markets.
What to do in Con Dao Islands?
Con Dao is before anything a fishermen's village and you will find out quite quickly that seafood is everywhere. On the main island you will find Thac Suoi Mo nature reserve featuring monkeys and giant centipedes and isolated beaches. Taking a small boat for the day, you can reach Hon Bay Canh marine reserve and if you're in luck see the turtles. The islands is also rich in (tragic) history; the island served as a political prisoners camp and several kind of tortures have been conducted here including the infamous tiger cages.
Cycling & Riding
As we advised you earlier riding is the best way to truly get the island feeling. Renting a bike is fine if you want to stay in the main town of Cho Con Dao but a scooter is really the best when venturing on the coastal roads as the island is quite hilly.
Thac Suoi Mo Reserve
Wild patch of Vietnamese nature with one main road going through it, it is best to enjoy as a full day hike to reach the other side of the island and enjoy a well deserved self made lunch on Bai Ong Dung beach. If you're quite enough you should hear the animals around you.. bring some cooked rice, drop it somewhere you will return and see what kind of insects came to eat it a few hours later.
Museums & History
The islands were once a prisoner camp for political and military french prisoners. Absolute horror movies have happened here and whilst there nothing to be proud of, there is a lot to learn from and remember. The islands are considered as "haunted" by mainland Vietnamese who are very superstitious, we didn't see any ghosts but certainly felt the weight of the atrocities that occurred on this island. Pay a visit the Con Dao Prison and Museum.
The island has a wide selection of beaches you just have to decide if you're more of a sunrise or a sunset person. For the first half of the day, you can enjoy Lo Voi Beach with its little fishermen boats and later in the afternoon head to Bai Dam Trau beach where some little restaurants will have the necessary for you to enjoy the sunset. The beach is also just next to the airport making it one of these rare places you can almost touch a plane landing.
Snorkelling & Diving
Con Dao Islands are an amazing place to enjoy sub-marine activities. Go snorkelling near Hon Bay Canh island or go all in and dive with Con Dao Scuba Diving Center. In the right season you can spot turtles, manta rays, barracudas and so much more.
Go partying (local)
For a small town, there sure are a lot of bars available and for all tastes. You will find the beach bungalow bar to the western expat hub with an ambience that seems coming straight out of a city like Noosa, Australia.
Where to stay & eat in Mai Chau?
🚪 The place you want to look for when booking is Cho Con Dao and its surroundings which is where the fun happens and where you will get easy access to the island's attractions. Unfortunately our hotel was just 'ok' so we don't really have a place to recommend for the moment. To find the best price, we recommend you look at HotelsCombined which compares hotel prices from Booking, Expedia, Agoda, etc.
🍴 When it comes to food it was pretty much all delicious but Nha Hang Noi Con Dao really surprised us. To reach the floating restaurant you will need to drive to Cho Thue and then await for a the restaurant's ferry comes and pick you up from the jetty. Once "onboard" you will be invited to go fishing what you wanna eat, fish, lobster, shells, you decide (if you can catch them all). The food is then prepared on-board from the ocean to your plate and all this while enjoying sunset with a beer.. "what else..?"
Can I fly my drone in Con Dao Islands?
🚨 Be aware of the airline you purchase to travel as some main ones will only accept your drone on-board if its batteries are detached & placed in a firecase during travel time. Most airlines will have a battery voltage limit based on the recommendation of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). You can find more info about a specific airline here.
✅ Currently, there doesn't seem to be any restrictions on bringing drones within Vietnam as long as your import is considered as legitimate (generally one drone per person). Con Dao Islands are fine except in the Northernmost part of the island where the airport lies. Do not fly your drone on Bai Dam Trau beach as this is directly in the planes' landing corridor and try to avoid flying above the city centre to not disturb locals (it isn't the nicest part of the island anyways).
✅ In every case you should follow the Vietnamese drone rules and laws at all times. Note that these can evolve within months and its always a good thing to double check upon departure.
What to think of Con Dao Islands?
Well we don't like to write this part of the story so we've put together some of our coolest pics. If you don't feel like seeing them before heading there, we get it and won't be sad.
✅ Please leave a comment or update the Vietnam Drone Forum when you receive news and/or gain experience in Con Dao Islands! Have fun over there and make a lot of good memories!
Disclaimer: Although great care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information researched, we take no responsibility for any loss, harm or damage caused as a direct or indirect consequence of relying on this information.