This post was last updated on October 21st, 2013
Most travelers to Vietnam will take direct transportation from Hanoi to Hue, skipping over an extensive area of Northern Vietnam. In doing so, they’ll also pass over a little gem of a town only 150 kilometers north of Hue: Dong Hoi. Largely devastated during the Vietnam War, this lovely riverside town has made a comeback in recent years.
We stumbled into Dong Hoi not knowing quite what to expect. We’ll admit, at first we weren’t wowed by the dusty guesthouses that surround the river or the utter quietness that blankets the city streets. Luckily our first impressions were quite off the mark—it didn’t take us long to fall in love with the town at all. Here’s why:
4 Reasons to Love Dong Hoi
Just across the river is Nha Le Beach. The long, idyllic sliver of sand is completely clear—clear of litter, clear of people, clear of hotels. It’s just beautiful smooth beach and a horizon to gaze out at. Nha Le Beach is about a 20-minute walk from Dong Hoi itself. Should you prefer to take the luxury route, there is a resort hidden on the left side of the beach. From our nosy wanderings across the resort grounds, it looks to be worth the splurge. If you do find yourself enjoying the pristine beach, note that the current is said to be a bit strong.
Okay. This isn’t particular to Dong Hoi, because basically everywhere we’ve stopped in Vietnam has had amazing food. We might actually be gaining weight despite the insane number of kilometers we’re cycling per day. That said, we particularly enjoyed the eating atmosphere in Dong Hoi. Dine on fresh seafood on one of the floating riverboats. Grab a plastic stool across from the bay to watch dusk settle in while savoring stir-fried clams topped with pineapple (divine!). Sample Central Vietnam’s local specialties from vendors on a flower laden side street. You really can’t go wrong.
Dong Hoi is starting to gain popularity for its close proximity to Paradise and Phong Nha Caves. For lack of time, we choose to enjoy the serenity of Dong Hoi itself, though we did seriously consider adding the caves to our cycling itinerary. Unfortunately we can’t say much else them from our personal experience, but we can direct you to the caves’ glowing reviews on Trip Advisor.
Dong Hoi isn’t on the tourist track—yet. But with a great strip of beach and convenient location, it’s only a matter of time until more travelers decide to use Dong Hoi to break up their trip from Hanoi to Hue. We won’t be the judge as to whether that’s a good thing or not, but we will suggest that you check out Dong Hoi before everyone else does!
Have you been to Dong Hoi before? Do you share secret gems with other travelers or keep these special places hush-hush?
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