Con Dao National Park is a protected area located in the north of Con Dao District of Ba Ria - Vung Tau Province. The total area of this national park stretches from island area to surrounding sea area. The national park was established under the Decision No. 135/TTg issued on March 31, 1993 by the Prime Minister of Vietnam. The coordinates of this park are from 8°34′ to 8°49′ north latitude and from 106°31′ to 106°45′ east longitude. The total area of this national park is 15,043 ha, including 6,043 ha in the island part and 9,000 ha in the sea. The featuring flora and fauna system of Con Dao National Park consists of marine creatures, especially coral reefs, and sea turtles. In 2006, a UNESCO mission to Vietnam came, surveyed and appreciated the biodiversity of the natural system in this national park. The park was said to be eligible for submission to UNESCO to be recognized as a natural and cultural heritage.
Located in the offshore area of Vung Tau, in the Southeast Vietnam, Con Dao Island possesses a national park with a diverse ecological system. With a favorable environment for spawning and conserving marine species such as sea turtles, dolphins, sea cows (dugong), Con Dao Mangroves is recognized as Ramsar sites of the world. World Ramsar Convention Secretariat has recognized Con Dao National Park as one of 2,203 important international wetlands. Con Dao National Park is the 6th Ramsar in the world and the first one in Vietnam. Con Dao vegetation is relatively rich and diversified with about 882 species of vascular plants belonging to 562 genera, 161 families, including as many as 371 woody species, 30 species of orchids, 103 species of vines, and 202 species of herbs. There are 44 species of plant firstly found in this park. Some species are listed in precious ones such as Chukrasia tabularis, Manikara hexandra, etc. By dint of this diversity, the national park fascinates a great number of visitors to discover.
The fauna system in Con Dao National Park has been so far recorded with 144 species, including 28 species of animal, 69 species of birds, 39 species of reptiles, and 8 species of amphibians. Some endemic animals in Con Dao are Callosciunis finlaysonii (a kind of squirrel), black squirrel (Ratufa condorensis bicolor), Rattus niviventer condorensis (a kind of wild mouse), and Con Dao geckos (Cyrstodactylus condorensis), etc. Con Dao National Park has a unique terrestrial vertebrate system with many endemic species.
Marine ecosystem in Con Dao Island is also abundant and distinct with 1,321 marine species including 23 species of mangrove plants, 127 species of seaweed, 7 species of seagrass, 157 species of plankton plants, 115 species of planktonic, 219 species of corals, 5 species of sea animals and reptiles, and 37 species listed in the Red Book of Vietnam. Many species have high economic values such as seafood and seaweed. There are rare marine mammals such as blue whales (Neophon phocaenoides), dugongs (Orcaella brevirostric), and Dugon dugong (a kind of fish). Especially, Con Dao is also the spawning ground of several species of sea turtles.
Con Dao is well-known for not just an island of prisons, quarrying rooms, cells, byres, tiger cages, and cemeteries, but also a “forest museum” of Vietnam. It is an ideal place for ecological tourism and scientific researchers. Thanks to this ecological diversification, many beautiful and second-to-none landscapes and seascapes in this island are created.
Coming to Con Dao National Park, apart from visiting and discovering unique areas of the park, visitors also have a chance to join in other interesting things to make a visitor's holiday in this island more memorable. For example, visitors can go sightseeing in Thanh Gia Mountain. Walking to conquer the roof of Con Dao, Thanh Gia Mountain with 577-meter high, visitors have a chance to contemplate the panoramic view of Con Dao from high above. Here, visitors can take photos and enjoy great feelings with fresh air. One of the should-not-miss things to do in Con Dao is popping in Ong Dung Beach. Taking a walk amid the rain forest to the west side of the island, visitors will have an opportunity to visit the pristine nature of this park. Upon arrival, if visitors have enough health, do not forget to snorkel and admire colorful coral reef from under the seabed of Ong Dung Beach. Specifically, the scenery here will become more fanciful and exotic at sunset. That will bring visitors unforgettable moments.
Walking through the forest up to a height of 260m, visitors will enter an area of tropical jungle called So Ray Ecological Forest. There are a lot of endemic species of plants, such as black squirrels, long-tailed monkeys, Chukrasia velutina (a kind of specious tree), and Nicoba doves... Contemplating dawn at Shark Headland is one of the must-do things in Con Dao Island. Many tourists get up early and come to this headland to admire the dawn emerging behind Bay Canh Island. The morning sun rays become more shimmering and magical the azure sky. That is a truly wonderful scenery on this island. Otherwise, visitors can see a sunset at Nhat Beach, one of the famous beaches in Con Dao. After a tired day of exploring nature, visitors should come here to take a rest, relax and watch the sunset on the beach of fine sand and do not forget to bring a camera to record this fantastic moment.