Vietnam is a well-known travel destination for hikers from all over the world. But few know about the little gem hidden away in the South China Sea: The Con Dao island group. This archipelago offers a unique blend of history, pristine nature, and solitude that’s hard to find elsewhere.

From a hiker’s perspective, Con Dao offers something truly special. Hiking here is not just about the destination (although there are some spectacular destinations to hike to on Con Dao); it’s about the journey through lush forests, along rugged cliffs, and down to secluded shores. And the best part: In most cases you’ll have this journey all to yourself.

So, if you’re looking to combine some adventure with the peace and serenity only a picture-perfect beach all to yourself can offer, search no more. Here’s a breathtaking hiking trail on Con Dao that leads to two stunning beaches connected by a lush jungle full of rich vegetation and fascinating wildlife. I think it’s one of the best hiking trails on Con Dao Island. But no need to take my word for it. Have a read and decide for yourself.

Woman hiking up stairs in the jungle on Con Dao Island, Vietnam

Why Con Dao Island Should be on your Hiking Bucket List

Con Dao is the antithesis of Vietnam’s bustling cities and popular beaches. Here’s why it should be on every hiker’s bucket list:

Connected in Solitude

Forget crowded trails. On Con Dao, you’re more likely to encounter a rare bird than another hiker. The island’s remote location keeps tourist numbers relatively low, allowing you to immerse yourself fully in nature.

Stunning Nature and Biodiversity

Con Dao’s islands offer beautiful nature and a fascinating flora & fauna. As you hike, you’ll traverse through dense forests home to rare species like the black squirrel and the bent-toed gecko. If you’re interested to learn more about Con Dao’s fascinating wildlife and vegetation, make sure to contact or visit the information center of Con Dao National park (this is also where you’ll get your hiking permits on Con Dao). Not just its forests, but also Con Dao’s coastline teems with marine life, including sea turtles nesting on protected beaches. Con Dao places a lot of emphasis on sustainable tourism and the National Park has quite a few “ecotourism” offers, like these sea turtle tours. They enable you to learn about and enjoy nature while being respectful of it and supporting conservation efforts.

Hidden Beaches

Another of Con Dao’s treasures are its secret beaches. Some accessible only by foot, these pristine stretches of sand offer a Robinson Crusoe experience that’s increasingly rare in our connected world.

Woman hiking along a long serene beach on Con Dao Island, Vietnam

The Ultimate Con Dao Hiking Trail: A Journey to Two Hidden Beaches

Now, let’s dive into the heart of our adventure – a trail that showcases the best of Con Dao’s natural beauty.

Trail Overview:

Distance: Approximately 10 km round trip Difficulty: Easy Duration: 4-5 hours

Download the gpx trail here.

Starting Point: Dam Tre Bay (trek starting point) Our journey begins at the picturesque Dam Trau Beach. You can park your scooter just off the main road, Đường Cỏ Ống. This is the trek starting point. After a short stretch that, admittedly, isn’t the nicest area of the island, we’ll reach the gorgeous beach of head north along the beautiful beach of Bãi biển Dong. I think it’s the perfect beach to visit for a hike, because it’s not the best beach to just hang out as it also happens to be just in front of the tiny airport taxi strip. I’ve never seen a plane take-off or land that closely. Fascinating, but also pretty loud. I personally loved walking along this endless, empty beach. It has something extremely soothing to it. You might even be lucky to meet some of the locals hunting for shellfish along the beach.

People collecting shellfish on a beautiful beach on Con Dao Island, Vietnam

After roughly 2.5km you’ll reach Trek Checkpoint 2, which marks the entrance point into the jungle. From here on, it’s a lot more shady (phew! 🥵) but there are also quite a lot of flying little suckers that are pretty eager to attack you. So make sure you bring some insect repellent. Along the way there’s plenty to see: giant lianas, huge trees, colorful insects, lizards. We even saw a few monkeys along the route. You’ll also find a few resting opportunities en route.

Huge lianas in the jungle on Con Dao Island, Vietnam

Ultimately, you’ll reach a few small houses, which I’m assuming is an outpost of the Nature Reserve center, but I’m not sure. I wasn’t able to find anything on it online. However, when arriving and wandering around for a little while, we found a very nice guy who willingly sold us a cold drink as well as a permit for the nature reserve (I’d recommend getting it beforehand from the main office, though, just in case there’s no one at this location once you arrive, which seems pretty likely tbh).

Hiking permits for nature reserve on Con Dao Island, Vietnam

Once you’re all set, one last tiny effort awaits you: climbing across a few big rocks to find a nice resting spot on the top of the cliffs to take a well-deserved break with incredible views over the sea and the tip of Con Son island.

View over the ocean after hiking on Con Dao Island, Vietnam

Preparing for Your Con Dao Hike

To make the most of this adventure, keep these tips in mind:

Best Time for Hiking on Con Dao, Vietnam

The dry season (November to February) offers the most pleasant hiking conditions. Generally, I’d try to avoid the rainy season (July to September) when trails can become slippery.

Essential Gear

  • Light hiking shoes I’d recommend some trail runners, as they are very lightweight and also dry quickly. I have the Inov8 Women’s Parkclaw trail running model and was very happy with it in Vietnam as well as in some more mountainous regions in Europe.
  • Plenty of water At least 2 liters per person, I’d probably go for 3, especially if it’s really hot. Rather pack some extra water, this is especially important as there’s likely no chance of being able to restock your water on this hike.
  • Snacks and packed lunch This is also quite important as there’s no option of getting any snacks or food along the way.
  • Sunscreen, hat, and sunglasses I mean, that kind of goes without saying, but just to make extra sure, I put it on here.
  • Swimwear and quick-dry towel What’s the point of hiking to a beach if you don’t take a swim as well? I’d recommend going for a swim at the end, when you get back to Dam Trau Beach.
  • First-aid kit You probably know by now that I always advise taking a first aid kit on any hike. If you don’t have one yet, check out my guide to a hiking first aid kit.
  • Camera (trust me, you’ll want it!)

Swing with breathtaking views while hiking on Con Dao Island, Vietnam

Transportation Tips

The best way to get around Con Dao is by scooter. You probably want to rent one for your entire stay, but could also just rent a motorbike from Con Son town to reach Dam Tre Bay for your hike. Alternatively, it’s also possible to arrange a taxi drop-off and pickup.

Respecting Nature

Con Dao’s ecosystems are fragile. Make sure to respect the nature you surround yourself in. Stay on marked trails, pack out all trash, and avoid disturbing wildlife.

View of ocean from hiking trail on Con Dao Island, Vietnam

Hiking Con Dao: Jungle, Cliffs, and Serene Beaches in One Breathtaking Hike

As you make your way back along Bãi biển Dong beach, take a moment to reflect on the day’s journey. You’ve experienced a side of Vietnam that few travelers ever see – pristine nature, solitude, and the thrill of discovery.

I really enjoyed this trail and I think it’s one of the best hiking trails on Con Dao Island. I feel like it’s a gateway to understanding a part of Vietnam’s natural heritage. It reminded me of the importance of preserving these wild spaces and the joy they bring to those willing to seek them out.

So, next time you’re planning a trip to Vietnam, consider veering off the typical tourist path. Pack your hiking boots, bring your sense of adventure, and discover the hidden wonders of Con Dao Island on this beautiful hiking trail on Con Dao.

If you want to discover even more of Con Dao and its heritage, check out this hiking route to the Vietnam Heritage tree on Con Son Island, Vietnam. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it as well.