Con Dao Museum - Con Dao Muslim Tours

Located in the center of town adjacent to the longest jetty where early prisoners first caught sight of the island, the Con Dao Museum was once the home of island governors -- whether French, South Vietnamese, or American. The building was converted to a museum after the island prisons were overrun and liberated by Viet Cong troops in 1975, and this is now the place to begin any exploration of the island's brutal history. Aimed mostly at Vietnamese visitors, it's a very important patriotic sight and a pilgrimage, really, for the many who were held here or who lost loved ones. Be respectful of the Vietnamese groups at the museum.
The collection tells the tale of the prison isle, from grisly photos of emaciated prisoners shackled together, to artwork by past internees of their desperate conditions, to the very rifle butts and clubs that were used to torture prisoners. The last room in a clockwise loop through the building tells of the liberation of Con Dau, chronicles the reconciliatory returns of the many prisoners who were housed here, and has a rather faded collection of German and Russian state gifts to the people of Vietnam. Many members of the current Hanoi administration did tenure in these horrific halls, and the museum has their pictures and information in the entrance. There are good English descriptions of the island's history, lists of official French and U.S. policies toward prisoners, and information about the many uprisings and incidents of armed resistance by prisoners to their jailors.
To visit the actual prison sights, below, you'll have to wait for a group to coalesce and for one of the docents to walk you to the two nearby prison sights. More comprehensive tours of island sights include a visit to the few surviving French "tiger cages" where, from 1940 to 1955, prisoners were kept in open pits and monitored from above by jailors.
Entrance to the museum is just 20,000 VND/$1.35. Guided tours of the prisons start at the museum entrance and are included in the price of your entry -- but you will have to wait to join one of the large Vietnamese tour groups (most likely in the late morning or after lunch).