U.S. magazine Vogue has named the 16-island archipelago Con Dao a hidden and dreamy destination to explore this year.

Sunrise on the 16-island archipelago Con Dao in the southern province of Ba Ria - Vung Tau

The leading fashion and lifestyle magazine has included Con Dao in a list of nine best paradise islands in the world to escape to this year.

Located in the southern province of Ba Ria - Vung Tau, around 230 kilometers (143 miles) southeast of HCMC, the archipelago was once dubbed ‘Hell on Earth,’ home to a brutal prison where French colonialists and American imperialists jailed and inhumanely tortured many Vietnamese freedom fighters during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Decades after those wars, a peaceful Con Dao is a Vietnamese island heaven, Vogue says.

It says Con Dao has pristine beauty, mostly unspoiled beaches, forests and turquoise waters, and a strictly-protected national park, home to intact ecosystem.

Con Dao offers pristine beauty

The island can be reached from Ho Chi Minh City by air. Tourists can also book a helicopter from the nearby beach town of Vung Tau.

Between March and September is the best time to visit the island as it has little rain and the sea is more "obedient", making it easier for goods to be transported from the mainland.

Vogue’s list includes São Tomé and Príncipe, a two-island nation off the western coast of Africa, Isla Holbox in Mexico, Yaeyama Islands in Japan, Lombok Island in Indonesia and India’s Andaman Islands.

This is not the first time that Vietnam’s prison island has been highlighted by prestigious publications.

In 2017, CNN praised it as one of 12 paradise islands in Asia, while the U.S. magazine Time included Con Dao on a list of the 13 places around the world where travelers will be amazed by the blueness of the water.

Con Son, the only inhabited and largest island in the 16-island Con Dao Archipelago, has been described by Time as an unspoiled island with granite cliffs outlining the crystalline water, where "beaches are lined with golden sand and gorgeous blue water."

Reference: VnExpress International

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