The Con Dao Islands are a stuning mountainous archipelago located in the South China Sea, 115 miles (185 km) south of Vung Tau. Of the 16 islands and islets, only the largest one, Con Lon (or Con Son), is inhabited. Its town, Con Son, feels like a sleepy village, where the beautiful seafront promenade is deserted most of the day. The rest of the islands remain unspoiled, with few cars and no crime. The peaceful nature of the archipelago - protected in Con Dao National Park - belies a tragic history. Under French occupation, Con Dao was home to the most feared prison in the country, reserved for Vietnamese nationalists. Even now, when rumors of the island's alluring beauty are begining to spread, the island is visited mainly by Vietnamese as a patriotic pilgrimage.
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