Sprawling Dong Hoi is a pretty little town, which has fared a good bit better in the last three decades than it's neighbour 95 km to the south (with the confusingly similar name), Dong Ha.
Dong Hoi once had a citadel, though all that remain are a few picturesque moats and gates, which gives it a bit of the flavour of Hue.
There's also some war remnants, notably a burned out church that's been left standing as a memorial, between Nguyen Du and the Nhat Le River.
Further to the north, along Thruong Phat, there are what appear to be French-era bunkers and gun placements -- but, in the scheme of things, the wartime attractions are pretty mediocre.
Western visitors don't show up here in force, so not a lot of English is spoken anywhere outside of the swankier hotels, and tour services are harder to negotiate here than in Dong Ha.
While it is possible to tour the DMZ sites from here, you'll have to factor in at least three hours of round-trip drive time just to go and come back -- the real reason travellers stop here is to take a gander at the stunning Phong Nha Cave, 55 km away and easily reachable on a day trip.
A lesser reason is the Nha Le beach -- not a patch on the beaches south of Lang Co, but way better than Thuan An Beach near Hue -- so if you're in town on a sunny summers day, it'll do the trick.
While you're there, be sure to check out the Sun Spa Resort, even if you aren't staying there, for some surprisingly affordable a la carte services including watersports, tennis, yoga lessons, and spa services.
Text and/or map last updated on 30th October, 2013.
Dong Hoi interactive map
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homestay near Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park
Dong Hoi is developing quickly -- it even has a nice pizza place now. Of course there is still the beach side with all its seafood restaurants and stalls.
I spent overnight in the homestay Chay Lap, just outside the Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park. A perfect place to explore the caves, for a swim at the Nuoc Mooc eco trail or just biking around. The home stay is new, so be prepared to do some communcation with hands and feet.
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By tonydh (dabbler)
Written on 29th May, 2009 after a visit to Dong Hoi in May, 2009
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