Arts + Culture

Asia Undercover

by Christopher R. Cox, Deborah Dunn, and Colin Hinshelwood

Con Dao, Vietnam

For centuries, the granite peaks of this gorgeous archipelago were a landmark for mariners plying the South China Sea (including Marco Polo). Its remoteness made it an ideal penal colony for French Indochina and, later, South Vietnam. That maximum-security status also prevented commercial development. Today, 80 percent of Con Dao's mountainous landmass is a national park. The surrounding waters are perfection, with hundreds of coral species, colorful reef fish, sea turtles, and even dugong, an endangered relative of the manatee. Because of Con Dao's historic importance (20,000 inmates died here between 1861 and 1975), authorities are intent on limiting development.

Where to stay: Six Senses will debut a 51-villa property later this year; for now, stay at the modest, seaside ATC.

When to go: The weather is driest from November through February; dive season is March through September.

How to go: Vietnam Air Services makes the 45-minute flight from Ho Chi Minh City six days a week.

Tel: 84 64 830 666
Doubles, $79

Next: Floating gardens in Myanmar >

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.



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