Dong Hoi (Đồng Hới) is the capital city of Quang Binh, a coastal province in the North Central of Vietnam. Dong Hoi is also the land of Vietnam with around 40 kilometers from east to west. Clinging to the bank of Nhat Le River, Dong Hoi is around 486 kilometers to the south of Hanoi, 160 kilometers to the north of Hue and 1,204 kilometers to the north of Ho Chi Minh city. With its central location, Dong Hoi is becoming an appealing breakpoint of tourists traveling from Hanoi to Hue and Ho Chi Minh. The name “Dong Hoi” derived from the words “Đông Hải” (东海) in Cantonese (China) dialect. It means the “east sea”. As its name suggests, Dong Hoi encompasses a 12-kilometer-long coastline with magnificent sandy beaches. Unlike most other coastal cities in Vietnam, Dong Hoi is not crowded and huddle at all. Many tourists visiting here are greatly surprised at this city’s quietness. There are very little traffic and even fewer pedestrians. Therefore, Dong Hoi is the wonderland for those people seeking for mindfulness and peace in the soul.
Historical highlights of Dong Hoi
Widely known as the “City of Roses”, Dong Hoi suffered greatly during the Vietnam War. Owning the strategic location close to the dividing line between North and South, Dong Hoi became an ideal mid-way battleground. On February 11, 1965, American B-52s heavily devastated Dong Hoi and razed it to the ground. There are only two historical monuments left up to now which are the gate and the bell tower. They are the very symbol of Dong Hoi’s resilience.Today, Dong Hoi has risen from the ashes and is now the gateway to Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park. Traveling to Dong Hoi now, you’ll feel like you have been made to privy to a secret the rest of the world has yet to hear.
I. WHEN TO TRAVEL TO DONG HOI, VIETNAM
1. Weather in Dong Hoi, Vietnam
Dong Hoi is located in the humid tropical monsoon climate zone of Vietnam which is influenced by the climate of both the Northern and Southern area. The average temperature in Dong Hoi varies somewhat, from 21oC in January to 32oC in July. The significance of Dong Hoi is its humidity and the city has high humidity throughout the year which ranges from 80% to 90% on an average.
With the variation of the tropical monsoon climate, Dong Hoi typically sees copious amounts of rain during the wet season from September to March. The total precipitation is estimated from 2,000 to 2,300 mm per year. The huge storms appearing from September to December can cause flood but they are not a common site. Besides the main rainy season, rains in May and June sometimes cause large floods.
The major controlling factor over the climate in Dong Hoi is its relationship to the monsoon circulation which is a seasonal change in wind direction. During summer, Dong Hoi is under influence of the hot and dry wind blowing from Laos. Meanwhile, in the winter, the northeasterly winds and sometimes the easterly or southeasterly winds appear and bring the bitter coldness.
2. When is the best time to travel to Dong Hoi, Vietnam?
In general, Dong Hoi features the moderate temperature and calm weather. Thus, you can visit there at any time of the year. Like most of the regions in the North of Vietnam, the weather in Dong Hoi is divided into 4 distinct seasons including summer, autumn, winter, and spring. Each season has its own beauty and holds enough interests for you to experience all day long.
a. Dong Hoi, Vietnam in summer (from May to July)
Summer features hot weather with the highest temperature can reach 34oC in July. These months receive the moderate precipitation with 4 to 6 days of precipitation per month. Visiting Dong Hoi in summer, you can enjoy all the seafood specialties such as shrimp dumplings, oyster soup. Besides, you can have chances of watching countless butterflies clustering together both on trees and on the ground in Phong Nha – Ke Bang Cave. Large areas covered by butterflies look like beautiful carpets of orange and black. Traveling to Dong Hoi in summer, you can also experience the burning sun of central land to learn the hard work and burden on the shoulder of the locals. It will be an unforgettable experience which helps you to know the savings to make up the essence of this region, to love and appreciate the locals and their country more.
June to July is also the slowest season for tourism in Dong Hoi. The number of visitors falls down significantly. Therefore, summer will be the best time for those people who love tranquility and want to stay away from the crowded. What’s more, due to the low demand, the accommodation price and other costs will be lower than usual. So you can set some money aside for other activities.
b. Dong Hoi, Vietnam in autumn (from August to October)
Autumn in Dong Hoi falls at the beginning of the rainy season. The temperature decreases, which makes Dong Hoi cooler. During these months, Dong Hoi receives a considerable amount of rain, usually in form of the thunderstorm. Thunderstorm along with adverse winds cause the tropical flood and bring some trouble for the tourists.
However, since most days in autumn are cloudy and windy, therefore the amount of visitors increases dramatically in September and decrease gradually in October. September is the harvest time. Visiting Dong Hoi during this time, you can catch the view of the stunning yellow paddy fields. Walking along the fields, tourists can see the buffalo leisurely grazing with half-closed eyes and listen to the tailorbird singing and picking up the dropped grain. Autumn is also the time of sweet potato. Visiting Dong Hoi during this time, don’t forget to take a sip of herbal tea, enjoy yummy sweet potato pieces and chat happily with your friends.
You shouldn’t take a tour Phong Nha – Ke Bang during these months when high-level water in Son River may obscure the entrance to the caves. Many underground caves are closed because of the tropical flood. It may be a bit dangerous, therefore take it into account when visiting there in autumn.
c. Dong Hoi in the winter (from November to January)
The weather gets colder around the middle of November. The temperature may fall down to 18oC. It may be chilly and rainy. Winter is the ideal time to enjoy the peacefulness, catch the view of the sea breeze whistling white sand. Also in the winter, dropping in a cozy restaurant lying in Nhat Le beach and enjoying some spicy, hot local dishes will be incomparable. There are a lot of wonderful choices for you such as tarpon hotpot, aromatic grilled squid pieces, and spicy fatty sucking snails. Besides, you can get some fresh air in Bau Tro and tasting the fish porridge in Bau Sen.
d. Dong Hoi in the spring (from February to April)
The combination of humidity and temperature make the spring in Dong Hoi cool and foggy. Spring falls at the beginning of the Lunar New Year. Thus, this city almost closes down for a few weeks. People take this time to come home, relax and gather with their family. You will have a chance of enjoying the untouched beauty and peaceful tranquility. Take your time to wander the city by bicycle and unwind yourself. Another activity worth doing is visiting the grave of Vo Nguyen Giap, one of the greatest heroes of Vietnam in Vung Chua, Dao Yen. Spend time visiting and pray there to enrich yourself and understand more about history, culture, and humans of Vietnam.
II. HOW TO TRAVEL TO DONG HOI, VIETNAM
1. How to get to Dong Hoi, Vietnam
a. Getting to Dong Hoi by airplane – The fastest way
Dong Hoi Airport is a domestic airport situated 6 kilometers to the North of Dong Hoi Center. Now, there are four airlines operating out of Dong Hoi Airport including Vietnam Airline, Vietjet Air, Jetstar Pacific Airline, and Vietnam Air Service Company. From May 29, 2017, Vietnam Airline started working with Vietnam Air Service Company to operate two daily return flights between Hanoi and Dong Hoi, which makes a total of 4 daily flights to Dong Hoi from Noi Bai Airport (Hanoi), Tan Son Nhat Airport (Ho Chi Minh City). Besides, Dong Hoi Airport offers nonstop flights to three cities, which looks to meet increasing travel demand of individuals, tourists, and businessmen.
To travel by airplane, you can book the online ticket from the website of the airline:
Vietnam Airlines: vietnamairfares.org
VietJet Air: vietjetair.com
Jetstar Pacific: Jetstarpacific.com
Or from one of the most popular OTA: avia.com
The most common way to go to the airport is taking a taxi. Remember to arrive at the airport at least 1 hour earlier to check-in and make sure not to miss the flight because of the traffic jam in Hanoi. Because Dong Hoi airport doesn’t receive international flights, which means that you can’t fly directly from your country to Dong Hoi without transiting in Noi Bai Airport or Tan Son Nhat Airport. Prices go from VND 99,000 for the superior class seats to VND 1,520,000 for the business class seats.
b. Getting to Dong Hoi By train – The most common way
Dong hoi Railway Station is located 3 kilometers to the west of the center city. Being a spacious modern station of central Vietnam, Dog Hoi Railway Station offers daily routine connecting the North and The South. The most frequent routines here are Hanoi – Dong Hoi, Dong Hoi – Ho Chi Minh. These routes are transported by high-quality locomotives of The Reunion Express Train like SE1, SE2, SE7, and TN4. Besides, you can easily get a train ticket to travel to Dong Hoi from other popular cities including Hue and Da Nang. There are some different classes for you to consider such as air-conditioned hard seat, air-conditioned soft seat, hard seat, and soft seat. Unlike airplanes which just give you a rare glimpse of what’s in between the departure point and arrival point, a train ride is a destination in and of itself. Lean on the couch, look out the window and catch the stunning view of Vietnam. The train will take you through the busy cities and wend its way through beautiful rural areas.
Nowadays, it becomes more and more convenient when traveling by trains thanks to the development of the e-ticket. You can book a ticket online and receive it by email which is ready to print or carry on your mobile phone or tablet. It also means that you don’t have to travel a couple of hours earlier and wait tiredly in a long line. The train cabins give allowance for carry-on baggage which does not exceed 20 kilograms for the adults and 10 kilograms for the children. This carry-on baggage must be wrapped neatly and reliably.
The price is pretty high. The average price of a ticket train to Dong Hoi is from VND 800.000 dong (from Hanoi), from VND 120.000 (from Ho Chi Minh City), from VND 600.000 (from Danang), and from VND 500.000 (from Hue). In addition, you have to pay for the taxi from your accommodations to the departure station and from the Dong Hoi Railway Station to the center of the city (about VND 50.000 dong). You can book a ticket online here: www.dsvn.vn
3. Getting to Dong Hoi by open bus – The cheapest way
The open bus is very common means of transport in Vietnam. Thanks to a considerable number of bus operators, the quality is much better and the price is really reasonable. Despite no need for check-in, you should come to the bus station about 30 minutes earlier. It will help you to find better seats and not to meet the bus because of the traffic jam. Like train ticket, now you can purchase open bus tickets online at vexere.com. You will receive the e-ticket via email which is ready to print or carry on your mobile phone or tablet. All you need to do is presenting them at the ticket counter of the station before boarding the bus.
Alternatively, you can come to the bus station and buy the ticket directly from the ticket counter. The price (from Hanoi) is about VND 250,000 to VND 300,000 depending on the bus operators. Be aware that you may have to pay more for the extra luggage. The demand for traveling rises dramatically in the holiday, especially in Tet holiday. Therefore, you will book tickets early.
It takes you a long time to travel by open buses. It’s about 10 hours if depart from Hanoi, When traveling by open buses, you have to pay attention to the quality of the quality and service. Some inferior buses are often overloaded with not only passengers but also luggage even animal sometimes. Besides, you may get stuck in traffic jam. Here are some reliable open bus operators from Hanoi To Dong Hoi. Here is the contact information of some reliable bus operators in Dong Hoi:
To get more information and book the ticket, you can visit www.vexere.com. Alternatively, you can book the ticket on the website of the bus operator.
4. Getting to Dong Hoi limousine – The most convenient way
Traveling by limousine is a great choice for those who want to stay healthy and feel good. The limousine is equipped with high-quality air-conditioner and comfortable cushion seat, offer free wi-fi and cool water. Besides, limousine companies will pick you up directly from your accommodation.
In June 2017 Ecobus – HDH Company official launch the new limousine route connecting Hue and Dong Hoi to meet the high demand for travel. This route is 170 kilometers in length and can save 30 – 45 minutes. Ecobus offers 16 limousine trips per day operating from 04:15 to 18:45 daily. The price from Hue to Dong Hoi is only VND 180,000 for an adult and free for children under 5 years old. You can book a ticket online or by phone.
2. How to get around Dong Hoi, Vietnam
a. Getting around Dong Hoi by bicycle
Dong Hoi is a small, quiet and really peaceful city. To get around this charming city, a bicycle is a great choice for you. Almost all bike rental shops in Dong Hoi offer the service of delivering the bike to you places no matter where you are. Therefore you don’t have to look for a shop and visit those shops. Here are some popular bike rental shops in Dong Hoi:
b. Getting around Dong Hoi motorbike
Motorbike is the specialty when traveling to Vietnam. When visiting Dong Hoi, don’t miss the chance of riding a motorbike and thread your way through the tranquil city and along the stunning beach. The average price is about VND 120.000 to VND 150.000. You can rent a motorbike in some following shops:
c. Getting around Dong Hoi by taxi
Taxi is a common means of transportation not only in Vietnam but in many other countries. When traveling in a group, especially with children, taxi is a really great choice. Thanks to the considerable number of taxi companies, the quality is getting better and better. In addition, the price is more reasonable. You can book a taxi at the front desk in your hotel or contact directly with the taxi companies.
III. WHERE TO STAY IN DONG HOI, VIETNAM
1. Hotels in Dong Hoi, Vietnam
a. Muong Thanh Luxury Nhat Le Hotel
Located nearby the poetic and legend Nhat Le beach, Muong Thanh Luxury Nhat Le Hotel provides a conducive spot for the tourists to take a break after busy days. The guest room system includes 225 guest rooms which all are spacious, comfortable and elegantly designed. Hotel accommodations have been carefully appointed to the highest degree of comfort and convenience. Most rooms are equipped with television LCD/plasma screen, towels, free wifi, and private pool.The hotel offers fantastic facilities, including private beach, fitness center, sauna, outdoor pool, massage, to help you unwind after an action-packed day in the city. There are four types of rooms for you to choose: the deluxe (city view), presidential suite, executive suite (sea view), and deluxe ocean view. Muong Thanh Luxury Nhat Le Hotel also provides many services to relax including massage, sauna, bar, salon, and karaoke. In addition, there are a fitness center and outdoor swimming pool.
Price per night (Room sleeps, 2 adults)
Deluxe Twin: From VND 896,000
Deluxe Twin Ocean View: From VND 968,000
Executive Suite: From VND 2,110,000
Address: No. 121 Truong Phap Street, Hai Thanh Ward, Dong Hoi City
Tel: (+84) 232-377-9888
Fax: (+84) 232-377-9887
b. Riverside Hotel Quang Binh
Riverside Hotel, located in the heart of the city, is the first hotel built in the style of French architecture in Quang Binh. Riverside Hotel faces with Nhat Le River, which brings it and a fantastic view of the entire city.Just 15 minutes driving, from the airport, it’s convenient for tourists to explore many popular points of the city including Tam Toa Church, Bao Ninh Beach, Quang Phu Sand Hill, Suot Mother of Monument, and Dong Hoi market. Riverside Hotel is a modern, luxury accommodation which features 72 well-equipped rooms. All of them exude an atmosphere of total peace and harmony. The restaurant in this hotel has the capacity of up to 120 seats and serves both Asia and Europe dishes.There are six types of the suite including Riverside, deluxe triple, deluxe double, deluxe twin, superior triple, and superior double which meet the demand of both businessmen and travelers.
Price per night (Rooms sleeps 2 adults):
Superior Double: From VND 700,000
Deluxe Double: From VND 818,000
Deluxe Twin Room with Sea View: From VND 946,000
Superior Triple: From VND 990,000
Deluxe Triple: From VND 1,113,000
Riverside: From VND 1,209,000
Address: No. 15 Truong Phap Street, Dong Hoi City
Tel: (+84) 232-353-3888
2. Hostels and Homestay in Dong Hoi, Vietnam
a. Buffalo Pub and Hostel
Located close to the Nhat Le River, Buffalo Pub & Hostel provides a simple and comfy accommodation for the tourists. The hostel includes a bar, restaurant and pool table on site. Every cozy room is equipped with a fan, air-conditioner, freshly-laundered bed and free wi-fi. At Buffalo Pub and Hostel, guests can relax at the common lounge area, share the room with others. The hostel also has cars and bicycles for rent. In addition, the luggage storage, currency exchange and laundry services are also available. The restaurant in this hostel serves a variety of local tasty dishes, while a wide selection of drinks is offered at the bar.
Price per night (Rooms Sleep 2 adults)
Standard Double Room with Shared Bathroom: VND 197,000
Double Room: VND 217,000
Address: No. 4 Nguyen Du Street, Dong Hoi City
Tel: (+84) 232 381 5599
b. Ocean View Homestay
Located only 4 kilometers from the train station, 2 kilometers from the airport, Ocean View Homestay is one of the great choices for those with a low budget. This building is beautiful, clean and quiet, which will bring you the feeling of your cozy home. With its convenient location, you can easily do anything you like such as go fishing with the locals in the morning, chill out on the hammock in the balcony and listen to the whisper of the ocean. The homestay offers free wi-fi, bike, and motorbike rental service. They’re also willing to provide you the information about traveling around Dong Hoi City and help you to book the tour to Phong Nha National Park.The guestroom system includes single rooms, family rooms, double bedrooms, and dormitories, all of which are clean, comfortable and cost a reasonable price. The Ocean View Homestay has a green garden, a café shop, and a restaurant. The restaurant serves the Western, Thai and Vietnamese cuisine.
Price per night (Rooms Sleep 2 adults)
Standard Double Room: VND 391,000
Standard Twin: VND 433,000
Superior Double Room: VND 452,000
Deluxe Double Room: VND 457,000
Family with Mountain View: VND 566,000
Family with Garden View: VND 737,000
Address: Truong Phap Street, Quang Phu Ward, Dong Hoi City
Tel: (+84) 232 3810 686
Hotline: (+84) 977 234 874
c. Sealand Homestay – As cozy as your home
Located in Nguyen Thi Dinh Street, Sealand Homestay offers a nice accommodation for travelers with limited-budget. Every room in this homestay is simply furnished and equipped with an air-conditioner, extra bed, and a desk. Sealand homestay features a garden, an on-site dining, a sun terrace and BBQ facilities. Besides, Sealand Homestay provides you with rental bike service, room service, and a buffet breakfast.
Price per night (Room sleeps 2 adults)
Triple Room: VND 216,000
Twin Room with Shower: VND 216,000
Single Bed in Mixed Dormitory Room: VND 236,000
Triple Room with Shower: VND 236,000
Address: Alley 105 Nguyen Thi Dinh Street, Bao Ninh Ward, Dong Hoi City
Tel: (+84) 978-211-325
3. Resort in Dong Hoi, Vietnam
a. Bao Ninh Beach Resort
Located only 1.4 kilometers from the downtown, Bao Ninh Beach Resort is like a beautiful gem on the vast white sand land. With the total area of 6.3 ha, Bao Ninh Beach Resort is an ideal resting place for tourists after long trips and a wonderful place to relieve. This resort possesses 3 rows of double floored buildings together with 2 bungalow houses with 101 bedrooms. In addition, Bao Ninh Resort has a conference room with the capacity of 200 guests, large green gardens, 2 outdoor pool, 1 sandy pool bar, and 1 BBR restaurant.This resort provides a wide range of services such as fitness, massage, sauna, and tennis. There is wide range of rooms for you to choose including ocean suite, bungalow garden, bungalow ocean, bungalow standard, superior ocean, superior garden, deluxe ocean and deluxe garden.
Price per night (Room sleeps 2 adults)
Bungalow Standard: From VND 1,180,000
Superior Garden View: From VND 1,180,000
Superior Ocean View: From VND 1,351,000
Bungalow Garden: From VND 1,431,000
Deluxe Sea View: From VND 1,511,000
Bungalow Ocean View: From VND 1,590,000
VIP: From VND 1,897,000
Address: Ha Duong, Bao Ninh, Dong Hoi, Quang Binh
Phone: (+84) 523 854 688
b. Gold Coast Hotel Resort & Spa
Leaning on the bank of Nhat Le River, Gold Coast Hotel Resort & Spa offers you a luxury and comfortable accommodation for your trip to Dong Hoi. Gold Coast Hotel Resort & Spa boasts 132 rooms and 7 villas, all of which are fully equipped with 5-star amenities in accordance with the international standard. Every room is designed in modern style and features beautiful view to the ocean, pool or city. The lobby bar in this resort has a panoramic view of the ocean. Besides, Gold Coast Hotel Resort & Spa has the Pool Bar, Paradise Restaurant, and Sunrise Restaurant. Staying in Gold Coast Hotel Resort & Spa, you can enjoy a fully relaxing moment in on-site Spa Center with top-class spa services such as Jacuzzi, Korea sauna, salt-rock sauna, gem sauna, salt-rock body massage, herbal massage, and body massage. Gold Coast Hotel Resort & Spa also has a swimming pool, fitness center, tennis court, and kid club.
Price per night (Room sleeps 2 adults)
Superior City View King Bed: From VND 1,296,000
Superior City View Twin Room: VND 1,296,000 – VND 1,743,000
Superior Ocean View King: VND 1,602,000 – VND 2,179,000
Superior King Room with City View: From VND 1,734,000
Premier Suite King: VND 1,979,000
Address: Vo Nguyen Giap Street, Bao Ninh Commune, Dong Hoi City
Tel: (+84) 971-885-588 or (+84) 232-625-6666
Fax: (+84) 232-626-5555
IV. WHERE TO VISIT IN DONG HOI
1. Nhat Le Beach – The sun-drenched beach in Dong Hoi
Nhat Le Beach lies at the mouth of Nhat Le River emptying itself into the East Sea. Mother Nature favors Nhat Le Beach with pure white sand, glimmering blue sea and many layers of waves as suds flowers.The name “Nhat Le” meaning “sparkle tear of the Sun” came from an ancient legend in the early 17th century. Back in those years, Vietnam is under the leadership of because of The Trinh Kingdom and the Nguyen Kingdom at the same time. Because of the unresolvable conflict between two regimes, people used Gianh River as a border dividing the country into two parts. The immigrants in the south always look to their homeland in the Northern bank and feel nostalgic. Their tears fell down, mingled with the river water and flowed into the beach. Since then, the beach is called Nhat Le.
Nhat Le Beach is not only beautiful but full of interesting activities. When arriving, don’t hesitate to take a walk along the charming Nhat Le River. Let’s yourself unwind amongst the fresh air and the leisurely listen to the ripple of river waves.The early morning is the ideal time to enjoy the beauty of the beach. In this time when Nhat Le Beach is remarkably quiet, you may feel like there are only you and the beach existing in the world. When the sun rises, the sea shimmering in the sunlight looks like a mirror. Nhat Le Beach comes back to its untouched beauty and long-lasting tranquility.
In the summer noon, the sun is as hot as a fireball and the beach turned into “Sahara Desert of Vietnam”. It’s the chance for you to experience the hot in Quang Binh. When the dark comes, the sea water is sparkling once again but under the silvered moonlight. The glimmering lights of the fishing boats create a “night city” floating on the water surface.In addition to its beauty, Nhat Le Beach is an ideal place for outdoor activities such as soccer, volleyball, badminton and so on. After dipping yourself into cool, blue water, you can go sand-skiing with your friends on the nearby sand caverns, enjoy fresh fruit juice under the coconut tree shadow in the green Bao Ninh peninsula full of coconut tree shadows. If you are a traveler hungry for extreme feelings, you can take a parachute jump on the sea. You also can sail a boat on the vast clear sea to understand more about the life of local fishermen.
What’s more, Nhat Le is well-known for its cultural value. After a series of interesting outdoor activities, you can visit Bao Ninh seaside village to enjoy the local the enchanting folk songs “Bông chèo cạn” performed by graceful local girls. Visiting the turtle raising farms in the west of the town is also an interesting thing worth doing. At the end of the day, don’t forget to drop in a restaurant to enjoy amazingly fresh, tasty seafood.
2. Dong Hoi Citadel – The remnant of the Vietnamese War
The citadel is now located in the vicinity of Hung Vuong Street, 1500 meters away from Nhat Le beach. It is close to Nhat Le River on the east side and the forest on the west side. Dong Hoi citadel was initially constructed under the dynasty of the Nguyen. The first king of the Nguyen, Gia Long (1802–1819) started building in 1812 and his son, King Minh Mạng (1820–1840), rebuilt later. Then, Dong Hoi citadel was considered the high fences and towers forming a fortress that protected the kings and the capital of the Nguyen dynasty. In many periods of the country’s history, Dong Hoi citadel held an important position. In 1885, when the French army attacked Quang Binh, the local and the soldiers of Dong Ha defended resiliently and won the battle, which made the French retreat
During the Vietnam-France war from 1945 to 1954, the local unyieldingly carry out several attacks at the citadel. During Vietnam War, especially in the late 1960s, most parts of the citadels were seriously damaged by the bomb craters. There are only two parts left up to now are the unsympathetically restored Quang Binh Gate (located close to the new museum) and an original wall next to the Highway 1. Nowadays, there is no more war in Vietnam, but the citadel still stands vividly as powerful symbol Dong Hoi’s resilience and of the brave country.
3. Mother Suot Statue – The powerful symbol of Vietnamese women
Mother Nguyen Thi Suot (1906 – 1968) was a labor heroine in the Vietnam War. During many difficult years from 1964 to 1967, she risked her life to doggedly ferry Vietnamese soldiers in a small wooden boat to the other side of the bank of Nhat Le River. Mother Suot was born in 1906 in My Canh hamlet, Bao Ninh commune of Dong Hoi. Being born and grew up in a poor fishing family, Mother Suot spent 18 years working for a landowner. She married a fisherman, with whom she had five children. Before the war escalated in the north, she burdensomely boat people across the river in the 1960s. All she earned was only a little rice and sometimes a small quantity of yam or cassava. When the bomb rained down on the city and surrounding areas, almost ferryman ran away. Only Mother Suot stayed and bravely helped the soldiers across the river. The American army dropped a massive rain bomb in hope of eliminating the transportation artery; however, amongst the serious attacks, Mother Suot resiliently continued to cross.
In 1968, Mother Suot sacrificed in the attack of two steel-pellet bombs of the U.S jet. Her name became known throughout the country. She was officially considered the Vietnamese Heroic Mother and commemorated in the country’s Congress of Heroes and Congress of Emulative Soldiers in Hanoi. Despite passing away many decades ago, her name still imprints on the heart of many people and become an honorable symbol of the strength of Vietnamese women.Nowadays, the Me Suot statue stays proudly on a small bar by the Nhat Le River, not far from the newly-built Nhat Le Bridge. The statue is stone-crafted as a picture of the courageous Mother Suot as she was sailing across the river with soldiers on board.
4. Tam Toa Church – “Three towers” remains the national pride
Tam Toa Church is an old Catholics church built during the late 19th century. The present building was constructed in Portuguese style with a typical large bell tower. Fr Claude Bonin chose a hill on the breathtaking shore of Nhat Le river to build the Tam Toa Church because he thought it would be easier for the Catholic to reach the church by sailing boats. The name “Tam Toa” means “Three towers”. After construction, this church was considered one of the most beautiful churches in the country. During the Vietnam War, Tam Toa Church was demolished dramatically by the rain bomb dropped by the American army. On February 11, 1965, after a horrific bomb attack, only the façade and the big bell remained behind the iron gates. Tam Toa Church remains a national pride and is considered as the symbol of the enduring lives of Vietnam through wars. It’s also an appealing place to many tourists, especially those who are interested in war relics and want to explore more in-depth stories of wars.
5. Dong Hoi Market – Where you can live like a local
Almost all cities in Vietnam have their own wet markets which feature a lot of things in common. However, the wet market in Dong Hoi is really impressive. Not only was there a remarkable diversity of seafood being sold here, but the sheer volume of it was incredible. Threading your way through the market, you can see countless types of marine species and various fresh vegetable and fruit. You can also find easily all the traditional spices and ingredient essential to prepare a Vietnamese meal. Only in Vietnam market can you buy a bucket full of baby pigeon and couples of frog for less than 10 dollars.After throwing yourself into the pavement and rolling around, you should head inside the central market building and climb to the second floor. Here standing a bridge that leads to another market building, you will find yourself inside a large, if dark and grimy, second-floor eating area.
The sellers are so friendly. Despite the hard work, they keep the bright smile in their mouth and often happily shout “Hello” to the foreign tourist. They may look a bit funny with the crash helmet on the head all day long. Visiting the market is one of the best ways to understand more about the difficult life of the local.In the end, don’t forget to drop in a local coffee shop to experience the Vietnamese tradition of having coffee while browsing around the city.
V. THINGS TO DO IN DONG HOI, VIETNAM
1. Enjoy relaxing moments with Blind Massage
After a long, tiring journey, there is nothing better than a couple of hours of treatment with massage therapy. Whether your need to relax, relieve the chronic pain or reduce muscle tension, the blind message can enhance your overall sense of mental and physical health. The blind massage therapists today are trained to combine the traditional Vietnamese and modern massage therapy techniques with other therapies to treat their clients. Besides, they make use of the valuable herbs to improve the considerable advantages. Let’s visit that center, enjoy the massage while soft, sultry saxophone music echoes in the corridor.
There are two popular massage therapy centers in Dong Hoi. The first one is supported by the Community Center for the Blind of Quang Binh Province. This center was found to provide an income stream that will allow the owners to support themselves and other blind massage therapists. Therefore, when coming to this service, you not only relax but give a hand to the blind. The other one is of Nam Long hotel. The owner of this hotel is kind-hearted and she’s also willing to support the local charity and help the blind set up a blind massage in her hotel as well. The average price is VND 70.000 per hour. Besides, you can choose the herbal steam method at the price of from VND 20.000 to VND 50.000.
2. Rider Tour – The most interesting way to discover the city
The first impression of most tourists about Dong Hoi city is its absolute tranquility. There are very little traffic and even fewer pedestrians giving the feeling of a town that time forgot. Ride a bike and thread your way through the quietness of the city. Then, leisurely rid along the boulevard where some fishing boats tied up on the river. Listen to the river wave tapping into the bank and let’s fresh wind cool down your face.Don’t forget to visit historic Vietnam War relics, marvel at the beauty of Nhat Le Beach and explore the wet market to understand the lifestyle of the local. You can rent a bike from your hotel or from the rental shops I mentioned above. Don’t forget to bring the cameras to capture unforgettable moments in this charming city.
3. Join in coffee talks with the locals
Coffee shops appear in almost every corner of the world. However, dropping in a coffee shop, enjoying a cup of brown iced coffee is an activity worth doing when visiting Dong Hoi. Coffee in Vietnam is different in quality and the way people brew them. To make a cup of coffee, people use a stainless steel filter. Firstly, they add condensed milk to the glass. As condensed milk is very sweet, they don’t use much. Start with just enough to cover the bottom, maybe 1.5 cm. Then, they put dark roasted coffee into the stainless steel filter and then pour the hot water into it. Next, they wait for the black coffee drops bit by bit into a glass. Finally, they Stir the condensed milk into the brewed coffee and add ice cubs as many as you like.Spending time with a nice coffee also helps you to make new friends and have interesting talks with some educated Vietnamese people. It will be a great opportunity for learning more and more about local life, about the difference between the lifestyle and culture between your and their country. You can also pick up some words of Vietnamese language, which is a great way to break the ice with locals. Here are some popular coffee shops in Dong Hoi:
VI. WHAT TO EAT IN DONG HOI
1. Water Fern Cakes – Banh beo Dong Hoi
After scrolling through the wet market, you will back on the street. Here you will find a quiet side street which is full of blossoming phoenix trees. Don’t hesitate to sit down for a quick dish of “Bánh Bèo”. For VND 15.000, it’s a really good deal, but it is little more than a snack. Banh beo, a specialty of central Vietnam, is basically made from rice flour and tapioca starch, topped with minced shrimp or a mixture of pork and shrimp depending on your favorite. The most important things making the flavors for Banh Beo is its sauce. To make the sauce, they use a saucepan to cook the shrimp shells and simmer for 5 minutes. Then, they extract the broth and discard the shells. Stir the fish sauce, sugar, and shrimp broth together. Finally, crush fresh chili with a spoon and add to the fish sauce.
Where to eat Banh beo?
Banh Beo Mrs. Van
Address: No.82 Le Thanh Dong Street, Dong Hoi City
Price: VND 15,000 – VND 20,000
Open: 16:00 Close: 22:00
Banh Beo Ha Van Cach
Address: No.17 Ha Van Cach Street, Dong Phu Ward, Dong Hoi City
Price: VND 35,000
Open: 10:00 Close: 22:00
2. Vietnamese clear/tapioca dumplings – Banh Bot Loc
Banh Bot Loc is basically made from the same ingredients with Banh Beo. The recipe changes a little, which makes two types of cakes taste and look differently. The Banh Beo is white; meanwhile, Banh Bot Loc is clear. To make the dough, people pour the hot water into the tapioca starch. Then, knead well until a soft yet elastic piece of dough is formed. Then, pinch a piece of dough, divide and shape into a small ball. Then, wrap the seasoned mixture of pork and shrimp. After that, gently slide the dumplings into the boiling water, one by one. Wait until dumplings until they float to the surface. Finally, take them to a bowl of icing cold water, and then the dumplings will turn translucent. To serve, they present dumplings on the serving plate put generously the dipping sauce. Like Banh Beo, Banh Bot Loc is like a snack. It’s tasty, but can’t make you feel full.
Where to eat Banh bot loc?
Banh Bot Loc Mrs.Thai
Address: No. 13 Dong Hai Street, Dong Hoi City
Tel: (+84) 169-340-6354
Price: VND 20,00 – VND 30,00
Open: 07: 00 Close: 21:00
Me Xuan Restaurant
Address: No.15 Le Thanh Dong Street, Dong Hoi City
Tel: (+84) 913-011-013
Price: VND 20,00 – VND 30,00
Open: 07: 00 Close: 22:00
Banh Bot Loc Mrs.Thuy
Address: No. 11 Thanh Nien Street, Dong Hoi City
Tel: (+84) 162- 606-683
Price: VND 20,00 – VND 30,00
Open: 07: 00 Close: 21:00
3. Goi ca Ngheo – the harmony between Ying and Yang
Ngheo Fish is a type of cartilaginous fish, so the fish meat has a little fat. To make Goi Ca Ngheo, the local thoroughly choose the fresh fish which have just been caught from the sea. To start, they dip the fish into the warm water and then remove the skin and the tendon from the fish. This step is really important because it helps to conceal the unpleasant smell. Then, they take a sharp knife and carefully cut the rectangle tip-off of the fish. After that, slice the very thin layers of the fish and then present on the plate. The fish meat is served with traditional fresh vegetable, herb, and seasoned with special sauce. The Vietnamese often enjoy with several cups of white wine to strengthen the flavors. Goi Ca Ngheo features high-value nutrition. According to the perception of the East Asians, it can enhance the balance and harmony between the Ying and Yang which is really important to the human being.
Where to eat goi ca ngheo?
Chang Chang Restaurant
Address: No. 198 Tran Hung Dao Street, Dong Hoi City
Price: VND 25,000 – VND 350,000
Open: 07:00 – Close: 23:00
4. Oyster Soup – Chao Hau Dong Hoi
What makes the difference for the oyster soup in Dong Hoi is its ingredient. The oyster used to make the soup is caught from the Nhat Le River where the fresh and saltwater harmoniously mix together. The oysters in this river taste better and have more nutrition. To make the soup, people add rice, salt and a lot of water in a large pot, and then cook them until rice is very tender. They keep the pot on the fired heater to keep the soup warm. When someone orders, they prepare the topping by frying the oyster with onion, chili, pepper and seasoned with fish sauce. Then, put the hot soup into a bowl, put the topping on the surface and top with some herbs.
Where to eat oyster soup?
Thuy Duong Restaurant
Address: No.15 Phan Boi Chau Street, Dong Hoi City
Tel: (+84) 904-205-376
Price: VND 30.000 – VND 40.000
Open: 07:00 Close: 21:00
Mrs. Nganh Restaurant
Address: No.28 Hoang Dieu Street, Dong Hoi City
Tel: (+84) 904-624-046
Price: VND 30.000 – VND 100.000
Open: 06:00 Close: 23:00
5. Sweet Potato Chips
Sweet Potato Chips is a specialty of Quang Binh Province. The local carefully choose the sweet potatoes harvested a few months ago. Boil them and then cool them down. Next, people gently cut the sweet potatoes into slices. After that, put them on a layer of Ruoi leaves which are placed in a flat basket. Finally, dry them in the sun for 7 or 10 days. The sweet potato slices gradually turn into tangerine like honey. Sweet potato chips are sweet, mellow and a bit chewy. Enjoying with a cup of green tea is nothing better.The price of 1-kilogram bag of sweet potatoes chips is from VND 80.000 to VND 100.000. It’s better to buy several bags to give your family and your friends as presents.
Khoai Deo Shop
Address: No.173 Hai Ba Trung Street, Dong Hoi City
Tel: (+84) 912-589-161 or (+84) 166-894-2216
VII. MUST-KNOW TIPS WHEN TRAVELING TO DONG HOI, VIETNAM
1. Essential tourism information
Dong Hoi Police Station
Address: No.01 Hung Vuong, Dong Hoi City
Tel: (+84) 232-389-0235
Fax: (+84) 232-382-2712
Tourist Support & Information Center
Address: No. 58 Nguyen Huu Canh Steet, Dong Hoi City
Tel: (+84) 232-382-2018
Fax: (+84) 232- 382-2035
Dong Hoi General Hospital
Address: Le Loi Street, Duc Ninh Nong Ward, Dong Hoi City
Hotline: 232-382-0521 or 232-384-5076
Vietnam – Cuba Friendship Hospital
Address: Group 10, Nam Ly Ward, Dong Hoi City
2. Must-know tips for traveling to Dong Hoi
- It’s sun-drenched here almost all year round; therefore, don’t forget to apply sun-block cream before going out
- Always bring cash with you: There are a few ATMs which are available in Dong Hoi City, In addition, many shops and restaurants only accept payment by cash. Therefore, make sure you bring enough money.