The bombed-out ruins of Tam Toa Church, along Dong Hoi's Nhat Le river
Dong Hoi is the capital city of Quang Binh Province in North Vietnam. There is not much to do there but stare at the water and drink beer with the locals, but there are nearby beaches and caves. There are few tourists in Dong Hoi, so you will be greeted with many hellos. Nhat Le beach is nearby, but the focus of the town is very much on the river and canals.
The locals acknowledge that their prices are higher than almost anywhere else in Vietnam and tell you this for justification if you question their prices. They themselves do not know why Dong Hoi beckons higher prices. This is a shame because travellers tend to rush through rather than spend a few days, so in the end its the locals who are losing out.
From Hue, local buses take about 3-4 hours, and cost 80,000 dong (Sept 2012), departing from the Northern Bus Station. Tourist buses cost 4-5x the price: ie., Sinh Cafe (400,000d), Mandarin Travels (300,000d).
Most buses will drop you off on Hung Vung, which is closer to town than the bus station. You can easily walk to a hotel from Hung Vung.
Ninh Binh - Either jump on a bus passing through which is heading to Hue or Siagon, jump from town to town on the local buses (Ninh Binh to Thanh Hoa, Thanh Hoa to Vinh, Vinh to Dong Hoi), or take the train (recommended). The train may cost a little more but is definitely worth it to avoid all the hassle and is a lot faster. [Sep 2013]
The Reunification Express makes a stop in Dong Hoi. The train station is 3km from the city centre. A hard seat with no AC will cost around 67,000 VND and takes about 4.5 hours. Expect to pay more for express trains.
Metered Taxi from the train station to city centre costs around 50.000 to 70.000 Dong. Mototaxi will charge around 30.000 to 40.000 Dong for the same way. [Nov 2013]
By foot. However, motorbike drivers will hassle you like anywhere else in Vietnam.
The bus station and train station are a little far away from town, so if you have any bags, you will be better off catching a ride into town.
Nhat Le beach, (Cross the bridge; the beach is about a 20 minute walk from Dong Hoi center). Although Nhat Le beach is nearby, the focus of Dong Hoi is on the river. The beach is generally empty with a smattering of locals, a few hotels and restaurants, construction work, and a small amusement park for kids. The beach is pleasant, but the current is strong. Russian and Vietnamese families come to vacation at the resorts to the left of the public beach.edit
Blind Massage Therapy Center, 43 D Van An (At Ho Xuan Huong). Enjoy a massage by the blind while soft, sultry saxophone music echoes in the corridor. Not all the employees are actually blind, as they sometimes check and write text messages on their phones during the massage, but it has been stated that they are all legally blind. They also have a sauna for 20,000 dong.60,000 dong per hour (March 2012). edit
Phong Nha Cave, ☎ +84 523677323 / +84 918503456, . Phong Nha Cave is a magnificent river cave 45km from Dong Hoi. It has a long underground river which is more than 8 kilometres long. There are many dry passages and grottos filled with amazing stalactites and stalagmites. Tour Length: 3-4 hours. Entrance Fee: 80,000. Boat Fee: 320,000 per boat (max 14 people). Optional guide: 300,000 for group.edit
Tien Son Cave. Famous for its magnificent stalactite chambers. Tour Length: 2.5-3 hours. Entrance Fee: 40,000. Boat Fee: 320,000 per boat (max 14 people). Optional guide: 200,000 per group.edit
Thien Duong (Paradise) Cave. Another stunning cave within the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. The cave is longer than Phong Nha Cave. edit
Daily Easy rider tour to see Phong Nha and Paradise cave, 63 Ly Thuong Kiet, Dong Hoi city, Quang Binh province, ☎ +84 52 3851660, . Phongnha Discovery is running daily easy rider tour (motorbike tour) that you can join to see both water cave (Phong Nha) and dry cave (Paradise cave). It costs 39 USD for full packageedit
Nhu Y, 11 Le Quy Don, ☎ 052-3821-280. Good Vietnamese food, they have English menu. edit
QB Cafe, 3 Le Loi St, ☎ 052-3824-694. They have both Vietnamese and Western food such as pizza, pasta, burgers and chips. Also very nice fruit shakes. Have English menu. You should compare a Vietnamese menu if possible.edit
Groceries. There are two or theee grocery stores along Ly Thuong Kiet. At least one has labeled prices.edit
Pizza Cafe, 63 Ly Thuong Kiet Street, Dong Hoi city, Quang Binh provice, . Runs by Phongnha Discovery. Meals available: pizza, spaghetti, fried spring rolls and other snakes, fruit shake, ice-cream. Free internet and city map. Motorbike and guides for hireedit
You will struggle to find a room for under 250,000. Likewise a motorbike will cost you 150,000 a day.
Mau Hong hotel, Truong Phap Street, ☎ 052-3821804. Clean, good location, rooms with balcony overlook the river. Wifi. Motorbike hire for 150,000. [Sep 2013]$12+. edit
Nam Long hotel, 22 Ho Xuan Huong Street, ☎ 052-3821851. They have only 2 kinds of room, 1 double bed with balcony or 1 double bed and 1 single bed with window. all room have cable TV, fridge, air-con and wifi. Owners speak decent English. They now also have a 10 bed dormitory, 5 USD per night, very clean and amazing views from the balcony.US$15-20. edit
Sun Spa Resort, Bao Ninh, Dong Hoi (5 km from Dong Hoi Airport), ☎ 052-3842 999, . checkin: 14:00; checkout: 12:00. This is the only luxury resort in Dong Hoi. Sun Spa Resort have 2 difference area - The 4 Star Resort and 5 Star Resort & Villa with 5 star standard Private Pool Villa and BungalowsUS$90-1300. edit
Saigon Quang Binh Hotel, 20 Quach Xuan Ky Street, Dong Hoi, ☎ (84.52) 3822 276, . Clean rooms. Pool and tennis. edit
Anh Duong / Hotel Sunshine, 301 Ly Thuong Kiet Street, ☎ +84934 29 3333. checkin: 12:00; checkout: 12:00. The hotel is new, clean and has a modern design. Rooms: standard double room with river view and standard twins with city view. There are no dorms. Staff are quite rude, if you question their prices they will tell you to go elsewhere. Motorbike hire for 200,000 dong a day. Not recommended. Dieu Linh Hotel is next door. [Sep 2013]$14+ USD. edit
Dieu Linh Hotel, 305 Ly Thuong Kiet, ☎ 0523823429. Friendly staff, nice clean rooms. 200,000 dong. Motorbike hire available. Do not hire from the man of the house as he will ask for 250,000. They have a number to an outsourced hire service with automatics costing 190,000 and manual for 140,000. [Sep 2013]edit
Locals mantain that Dong Hoi is a major stop on the heroin smuggling trail: the drugs come in by boat and trickle along to Laos. Accordingly, you will notice a preponderance of used needles and cracked syringes littering the town, and a dazed and stupefied subset of the population.
Hue - Local minibuses cost 90,000 in the morning and 80,000 in the afternoon. These can be caught from either Ben Xe Dong Hoi bus station or from hailing the bus along the main road. Insist on buying your ticket at the counter as buying it on the bus they will likely demand 100,000. Trip takes 3 hours. [Sep 2013]
Lao Bao - Bus to Lao Bao on the Laos border, 4 hours 100,000 VND. Departs from the southern bus station every hour in the morning, first departure at 5:15am. From here take a local bus (40,000 kip departing at 12) to Savannakhet. Very easy and a lot cheaper than the tourist buses!