How to Get to Con Dao

The chances are that you’ve only heard of the Con Dao Islands, lying 80km southwest of the Vietnamese mainland in the middle of the East Vietnam Sea, from the notorious prison that operated here during the Vietnam War. Outside the prison actually lies some of Vietnam’s most beautiful islands, comprising 15 tropical landmasses blessed with perfect white-sand beaches, rocky coves, mangrove forests, and turquoise waters teeming with wildlife and coral.

It’s surprising then, that for 114 years between the start of French colonial rule and the end of the Vietnam War, the islands were known as Hell on Earth. Treatment of political prisoners here was horrendous, most notably in the ‘tiger cages’, a special kind of hell reserved for the most steadfastly ambitious prisoners here. There must be some sort of magic in the languid air of Con Dao as after the prison’s closure in 1975, many former prisoners stuck around and now live, in inexplicable peace, side-by-side with their former jailers.

With such an amiable atmosphere and a wealth of gorgeous tropical scenery, it is no wonder that Con Dao has quickly become one of the best destinations to visit in Vietnam. More and more tourists are researching how to get to the Con Dao Islands from the Vietnamese mainland, so at Incredible Asia Journeys, we thought we would answer that for you.

A sandy beach with a mountain in Con Dao

1. How to get to Con Dao by Plane

The tiny airport of Con Dao lies on Con Son Island, its biggest and only inhabited island amid the 15 in the archipelago. Fantastically, the airport lies in between two beaches, giving tourists a phenomenal first impression of the exotic island upon landing. Even more remarkably, the airport’s back door essentially opens right out onto the golden sands of Dam Trau beach, backed by tropical forest and looking out across the deep-blue ocean. Nowadays, getting to Con Dao from southern Vietnam is much easier than it ever has been, with modern airplanes capable of completing the trip in as quickly as half an hour.

1.1. Flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Con Dao

The 27 weekly flights from Ho Chi Minh City to Con Dao are done with minimal fuss, leaving from the largest airport in Vietnam and landing at one of its smallest. VASCO Airlines, a part of Vietnam Airlines, is thus far the only company providing the service, with up to six daily flights running from morning to early evening. Flights take about 45 minutes, costing about $70 - $80 each way, though don’t be surprised to see these prices rise during the peak season of May to October when turtles swim from the Philippines in order to lay their eggs on the island of Bay Canh.

How to Book a Flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Con Dao

Flights are best booked online, directly through the Vietnam Airlines website, or via reputable search engines like Skyscanner or Wego.

1.2. Flight from Can Tho (Mekong Delta) to Con Dao

Flight to Con Dao

The reason that taking a flight from Can Tho to Con Dao is much less popular than from Ho Chi Minh City is that there is just one flight per day from the capital of the Mekong Delta. Being the fourth largest city in Vietnam, and with VASCO only using small aircrafts, these flights can fill up pretty quickly, so we suggest that you book them well in advance. However, they do offer convenience if ending any southern Vietnam tours in Can Tho, meaning that you don’t have to return to Ho Chi Minh City and can help to justify the higher price of around $90 - $110 each way. Flights take about 30 minutes and pass over the beautiful expanse of the Mekong Delta as they do so.

How to Book a Flight from Can Tho to Con Dao

Book online via the website of Vietnam Airlines or a respected tour agent for flights to Con Dao. You can also visit any of the travel agencies in Can Tho to bargain for the best price.

2. How to get to Con Dao by Boat

There are two types of boats transporting guests to the ferry terminal southwest of Con Dao. One leaves from Soc Trang in the form of a speedboat and one leaves from Vung Tau in the form of an overnight ferry. Both are wildly cheaper options than taking a flight, but both Soc Trang and Vung Tau are much lesser-visited cities, meaning that you will have to eschew quite a bit of convenience in order to get here, followed by a much longer travel time. 

2.1. On a Speedboat from Soc Trang to Con Dao

The relatively recent and hilariously named Superdong Speedboat has brought many Vietnamese and tourists much easier access to Con Dao, providing a cheaper alternative to a flight and a quicker alternative to an overnight ferry. Its price of 310,000 VND ($13) is infinitely preferable to the cost of a flight and its journey time is a perfectly reasonable 2 – 2.5 hours. If it wasn’t for the fact that Soc Trang is a fairly long 6-hour bus drive from Ho Chi Minh City, this would happily be the best way to get to Con Dao from the mainland.

Also, add this to the fact that Soc Trang’s actual ferry terminal, Tran De, is located 40km out of the city and requires another journey on a shuttle bus to reach, you have a bit of a head-scratcher on your hands. Daily departures at 08:00 am mean that you need to stay overnight in Soc Trang, which is not a terrible necessity as there is much to do in this vibrant province or wait until the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday departures at 1:00 pm. If you do have time, then the Superdong Speedboat from Soc Trang to Con Dao is the cheapest and most enjoyable way to travel. 

Vietnam Beach Holidays

Soc Trang to Con Dao by speed ferry

How to Book the Superdong Speedboat from Soc Trang to Con Dao

The professional-looking Superdong company website is the best way to book – if you can read Vietnamese. A multilingual service through a travel agent online or in Soc Trang City might be the best way to go if you don’t.

2.2. On an Overnight Ferry from Vung Tau to Con Dao

Some call it an exciting sea adventure; some call it a turbulent and arduous passage. The overnight ferry from Vung Tau to Con Dao makes sense in principle, given that both are part of Ba Ria – Vung Tau Province, but the enormous 210km distance and 13-hour travel time would put a lot of people off as soon as they consult a map. The typical Vietnamese style of small beds and cabins loaded with livestock really does make this an ‘adventure’, but probably one that most people would want to avoid in favor of the speedboat from Soc Trang or a flight with VASCO.

For adventurous travelers and non-fussy locals, the ferry leaves every day at 5.30 pm, arriving at 06.00 am the next day and traveling through a beautiful sunrise and sunset as it does so. Tickets cost 200,000 VND ($8.50) for a cabin, but the truly adventurous can pay half of this if they feel that they can get by with just a chair. Be careful here, as while the boat is not of a bad quality, the seas can get a bit rough, and vast seasickness is not uncommon.

How to Book the Overnight Ferry from Vung Tau to Con Dao

Tickets are bought at the company’s ticket office at Cat Lo Port, from where the ferry will leave. The port lies about 10km from the center of Vung Tau, so you might want to consider calling ahead on +84 0643 838 684 before arriving.

So, if you wonder how to get to Con Dao Vietnam, we hope you can find the necessary information from this Vietnam Travel Tips & Experiences. Also, don't hesitate to ask us any questions to book your trip to Con Dao from Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, or Mekong Delta.

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