Dong Hoi is the capital city of Quảng Bình Province on the north central coast of Vietnam, just 100 miles north of the popular city of Hue. Having been shattered during the Vietnam War, this lovely riverside town has made a comeback in recent years. It boasts a 12km-long coastline with white sandy beaches. Dong Hoi is the major bus and train stop near the growingly popular Phong Nha Caves, but most backpackers don't linger here for very long.
Dong Hoi isn’t on the tourist radar yet, but with beautiful beaches, colourful markets, and of course, addiction-worthy Vietnamese coffee, it’s only a matter of time until more travellers decide to stop at Dong Hoi amidst their trip from Hanoi to Hue.
Where to stay in Dong Hoi?
Vo Nguyen Giap Street is by the beach and offers resorts and guesthouses for a variety of budgets. Keep an eye out for special rates here as it's possible to get a triple room for less than 30$ a night in the off season!
Some more economical options are located across the river from the beaches in the town centre. Try out the friendly Nam Long Hotel (from $3 USD for a dorm bed!) or Buffalo Pub and Hostel (also $3 USD for a dorm bed 0r $8 USD for a double room!). Buffalo Pub and Hostel is a great choice for backpackers wanting to socialise, with an attached bar, restaurant, common lounge and pool table (as well as WIFI and free simple breakfast). You can also rent a bicycle or a car to explore the local area.
Things to do in Dong Hoi
Go to Nhat Le beach (Pictured):
Just across the river is a gorgeous 12 km of white powdery sand beaches, which is the perfect location to relax and rejuvenate before heading to the caves. This beach has soft white sand that makes a squeaky noise, like the sound of a sneaker on a basketball court, when you step on it.
Eat at the markets:
Eating Vietnamese street food is an activity all in itself. Break up your eating binge with a coffee at one of the many local cafes. Make sure to try the dumpling-like little food called the white rose - either made with shrimp or some type of green bean inside.
Release your inner singing star:
There's nothing the Vietnamese love more than a bit of Karaoke, so go local and head to Karaoke Thai Binh and let out your inner singer!
How to get to Dong Hoi?
From Hanoi, you can take a nine-hour, extremely comfortable, overnight bus. Go to 340 Tran Khat Chan in Hanoi and book your tickets (the bus leaves from there, rather than a bus station). When you get on the bus tell the driver you want to get off at the post office in Quang Binh. Tell the driver, or rather show him: “Em muon xuong Buu dien Tinh Quang Binh” and you will get as close to the town centre as possible. From this stop, there are moto taxis that can get you to your hotel. Alternately you can take a train from Hanoi.
Where to next?
Phong Nha Caves! Take the local bus for 30,000 Dong (just over 1$) from the central bus station to Sơn Trạch. Tell the bus driver which hostel you're staying in (they will stop right in front of Easy Tiger - quite a popular place to stay for backpackers).