The chain of islands was home to a brutal prison camp used by French colonialists.
Vietnam’s Con Dao and its surrounding islands have recently been named on a list of the best secret islands on Earth compiled by the New York-based site Travel + Leisure.
Last year, the islands landed on the list of top 10 must-see places in Asia, as suggested by Lonely Planet.
In the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau, 230 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City, the chain of 16 islands and islets draws thousands of visitors each year thanks to their striking natural beauty. Con Son, the largest of the chain, is ringed by sheer granite cliffs, deserted beaches and crystal-blue waters.
In addition to hiking, diving and exploring coastal roads, tourists can enjoy wildlife such as giant black squirrels and endemic bow-fingered geckos, or pay a visit to Con Dao Prison where French colonists jailed Vietnamese soldiers during the 19th century.
The American travel site suggested visitors spend time in the area’s most remote spots, including an ancient hilltop lighthouse and the spectacular Dam Tre Bay lagoon.
Travel + Leisure also listed Indonesia’s tiny island of Gili Trawangan, which is known for its waterside cafés, and Portugal’s Pico, where visitors can walk along footpaths weaving through beautifully landscapes of lava.