Bai Dam Trau, a beach in the Con Dao Islands, has recently been named among the world's 25 best beaches by Travel + Leisure, a reputable US travel magazine. A picture-perfect stretch of golden sand lapped by a turquoise sea, Dam Trau Beach is one of three Southeast Asian beaches in the listing and the only Vietnamese beach to receive the honour.

“Trying to select Vietnam's most beautiful beach is tough, but Bai Dam Trau is certainly a top contender,” Travel + Leisure explains the choice, also describing Con Dao’s beach as “the kind of place to spend the day gently swinging in a hammock with a beach read and walking in the surf with a freshly hacked coconut.”

Located 14 kilometres to the north from the archipelago’s tiny capital of Con Son, Dam Trau Beach lies at the very edge of Con Dao National Park and just metres away from Co Ong Airport. Planes landing right over the beach every hour or so provide beachgoers with a thrilling additional attraction (or distraction for some).

Mind your heads! A plane landing over Dam Trau Beach. Photo by Piotr Jędrzejak.

230 kilometres southeast of Ho Chi Minh City, the Con Dao Archipelago is made up of 16 craggy islands and islets covered in tropical jungle and surrounded by coral reef. Formerly known across Vietnam as “hell on Earth” as it housed a brutal penal colony for thousands of political prisoners, nowadays Con Dao draws tourists with excellent diving opportunities and raw natural beauty.

Earlier this month, the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam proposed installing night lighting at Con Dao’s airport in the hope of bringing more tourism to the islands. Due to local weather and environmental conditions, the airport is only permitted to operate during the daytime, which seriously impedes its operational capacity and makes it difficult to promote local socio-economic development.

The listing of 25 most beautiful beaches in the world by Travel + Leisure includes beaches from all around the globe, for instance Hanalei Bay in Hawaii, La Pelosa Beach in Sardinia and Elafonissi Beach in Crete. The two beaches in Southeast Asia getting the nod besides Bai Dam Trau were Thailand’s Railay West and Saud Beach in the Philippines.