Dong Hoi is the capital city of Quang Binh Province in North Vietnam.
There is now lots more going on in this city it is developing nicely and attracting more visitors each year, 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 travelers tend to rush through rather than spend a few days, so in the end its the locals who are losing out.
If you spend time in a nice coffee shop and act friendly, you'll probably get to speak to some educated Vietnamese people with good English skills. Then you can learn about local life. You can also try to pick up a few words of Vietnamese language – which is a great way to break the ice with locals.
There are researchers in Dong Hoi from Europe who come to study the forests of the area.
You can use Dong Hoi as a base for exploring the Phong Nha caves, in case you don't want to stay in the town of Phong Nha itself. There are cheap public buses that go between the two towns (but check the time of the last bus!), and more expensive organized tours that your hotel can arrange for you. You can also rent motorbikes or an Easy Rider trip in either Dong Hoi or Phong Nha.
If you want a place to sit back, relax, and enjoy all the benefits of a small Vietnamese city without the usual city hassles (traffic, tons of tourists, hawkers, etc.) -- then Dong Hoi is a great place to spend a few days. Some travellers end up staying here longer than they expected, because life is so pleasant and easy here.
The bombed-out ruins of Tam Toa Church, along Dong Hoi's Nhat Le river
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.
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.
Eastern gate of Dong Hoi Citadel
- Tam Toa Church, Nguyen Du (along the riverfront). Tam Toa church is a bombed-out ruin along the riverfront. Only the facade remains, behind some iron gates. free. edit
- Dong Hoi Citadel Gates. Only two gates and a moat remain of the citadel. You can climb up in the gates, but inside you will find syringes and burnt debris. Free. edit
- 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 - Ke Bang National Park
- 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. For most of the tour you'll stay in a boat. You'll have the option to get out of the boat to climb stairs to a dry cave area. Entrance Fee: 80 or 100,000. Boat Fee: 320,000 per boat (max 14 people). You can usually join up with other people to share a boat and the cost. 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. An even more stunning cave within the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. The cave is longer and taller than Phong Nha Cave. edit To get to the entrance, you ascend on a paved, winding trail or walk up hundreds of steps (your choice). Then there are well-constructed wooden stairs with bannister handrails and a good boardwalk, to explore 1 km of a spectacular large cave. (Adventure travellers can pay more and spend more time to explore another 7 km.)
- Dark Cave. Adventure travellers will enjoy zip-lining and swimming to see this cave. Often combined with Paradise Cave for a day tour. 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 package edit
- Daily package tours to Paradise Cave - Eight-Lady Cave, Phong Nha Cave, 161 Ly Thuong Kiet, Dong Hoi city, Quang Binh province, ☎ +84 52 3850505, . Netin can help you to go to Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park. edit
- 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 three grocery stores along Ly Thuong Kiet. At least one has labeled prices. edit
- Ocean View Homestay, Truong Phap street, Quang Phu village, Dong Hoi city, Quang Binh Province (2km from Dong Hoi airport, 4km from train station), ☎ (+84)052 3810 686, . They serve really good western food, also Thai food and local food. Romantic place for dinner edit
- 7th Heaven Restaurant, 39 Duong Van An Street, ☎ +0523833856, . 10:30 am-9 pm. Specializing in Western food. Claim to have the best beef steaks in Vietnam, as well as cheeseburgers, grilled honey-chicken, spaghetti, chicken cordon bleau, ribs, onion rings and much more. Also have Thai red or green curry (beef and chicken), as well as many Vietnamese selections. American owner, who is friendly and helpful, so English spoken here. edit
- Tree Hugger Café, 30 Nguyen Du, ☎ 0935983831, . Small, but cosy café located along the Nhat Le riverside and just around the Nam Long Hotel. Selected food options for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Fresh juices, smoothies, coffee, beer and cocktails as well as selected handicrafts also available. A good veggie stir-fry with beef contains lots of colorful vegetables that are not overcooked. Muesli with milk, fruit or yoghurt is a breakfast option. Staff speaks good English, and owner is German. Supports local minority groups and the environment by sourcing locally for both food and handicrafts. Good to wind down, chat with others, and let daily life pass by. 15.000 VND+ (7:00,22:00) edit
- Red Peppers Restaurant, 35 Truong Phap, ☎ 0935455900, . 8:00 am-10 pm. Specializing in Western food. They have the best location in Dong Hoi with amazing views the best Mexican chili in Vietnam, as well as great selection of pizzas, Vietnamese chili-chicken, real fresh pasta, seafood, draft beer, nice wine selection and much more. Also have full English breakfast, as well as many Vietnamese/ western favorites. English owner, who is helpful. 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 hire edit
- Tree Hugger Café, 30 Nguyen Du (Dong Hoi), . 7:00-22:00. Small, but cosy café located along the Nhat Le riverside and just around the Nam Long Hotel. Selected options for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Fresh juices, smoothies, coffee, beer and cocktails as well as selected handicrafts also available. Good to wind down and let daily life pass by. 15.000VND+. edit
- Buffalo Pub & Hostel, 04 Nguyen Du (Dong Hoi), ☎ 0523815599, . 7:00-23:30. edit
- Beachside Backpackers, ☎ 01685334345, . Beachside Backpackers at Dong Hoi's beach has a mix of Vietnamese and Irish hospitality and is the place to escape the tourist track and enjoy the beauty of Vietnam. Located on the beautiful white sand Nhat Le Beach with spectacular views, especially of the sunrise. Beachside has a beach bar and restaurant with a chill atmosphere. There is free pool, fuzzball and volleyball. Kyaks and surfboard are also available for guests enjoyment. Beachside Backpackers has friendly english speaking staff, private rooms, family rooms and dorms. Also a good place to just hang-out for an afternoon and eat/drink. $6-$20. edit
- Mau Hong hotel, Truong Phap Street, ☎ 052-3821804. Clean, good location, rooms with balcony overlook the river. Wifi. Motorbike hire for 200,000. [Jan 2014] $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, 7 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 Bungalows US$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, standard twins with city view, standard triple and quadruple rooms. The staff have excellent English and wonderful customer service skills. Daily tours to Phong Nha National Park are available from the hotel. Motorbike hire for 200,000 dong a day. Highly recommended. $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
- Ocean View Homestay, Truong Phap street, Quang Phu village, Dong Hoi city, Quang Binh Province (2km from Dong Hoi airport, 4km from train station), ☎ (+84) 052 3810 686, . checkin: 12:30; checkout: 12:00. Amazing place with the beautiful beach right across the street. The owner is so friendly speak good english and helpful. They have family rooms, double rooms, single and dormitory rooms. $5 -$35. edit
- Buffalo Pub and Hostel, 04 Ngyuen Du, ☎ 0523815599. Comfortable dorms and private rooms, tours, food, drinks, scooters for rent, and English speaking staff. 100,000-250,000 VND. edit
Nhan Anh dental clinic(Răng hàm mặt Nhân Anh): This is the only clinic whose doctors can understand and speak English with foreigners. In addition, the doctors are very friendly and have high degrees. They also have great experience in their career.
Add: 63 Ha Huy Tap, Dong Hoi, Quang Binh.
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 outskirts of the City.
- Hanoi - Buses cost around $12-13.
- 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!