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Southern Islands

Pictures by QT Luong

[Phu Quoc Island]
[Con Dao Islands]

Phu Quoc and Con Dao Islands, both a short flight from Ho Chi Minh City, are the two most compelling beach destinations in Vietnam. Both of them were used as prison islands by the French colonialists. Nowadays both of them are now partly protected as national parks that include thick interior jungle and turquoise bays. However, besides those commonalities, they have a very different character.

Phu Quoc, large and fringed with wide sandy beaches, is on the verge of major development which the governement hope will make it the next Phuket. Con Dao, small and rugged, has conserved a sleepy pace remaining possibly the last unspoiled coastal place in Vietnam. Phu Quoc is home to a recent international airport. Only Vietnam Airlines flies to Con Dao, whose small airstrip can only accommodate propeller aircraft - a change from relatively recent times when the only air link to the mainland was by a helicopter carrying mostly military personnel.