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Dong Hoi

Getting there and away

Air

Vietnam Airlines runs daily direct flights from both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to Dong Hoi Airport so if you're in a hurry to get here, that is your best bet.

The airport is around 6km to the north of Dong Hoi proper.

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Train

Dong Hoi is a popular stop for trains with several services stopping daily. The SE1, SE3, SE5, SE7 and SE19 all stop at Dong Hoi.

The journey from Ha Noi takes around 10 hours, with the nearest stop Hue just three hours away.

The train station is 3km west of the Quang Binh gate on Hoang Dieu, a sidestreet off Tran Hung Dao. It's just behind the Cho Ga (Station Market).

A regular shuttle bus service runs between Dong Hoi station and Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park and costs 100,000VND per person each way.

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Bus

Almost any place in Dong Hoi will sell you a ticket for one of the open tour buses passing through on their way up and down the highway. The Hoang Long Travel office is a popular bet.

While the tour buses are a popular way to go, the buses from the main bus station are a lot cheaper, though not as good, but Hue and Vinh are both only four hours away, so how bad could it be? Do be warned though, there are regular reports of foreign tourists being charged upto three times the normal ticket price for the sleeper buses originating in Hue which pick up in Dong Hoi en route to Hanoi.

If your start or end point is Hue, Hue Backpackers and Phong Nha Homestay run a tour bus service that stops off at the Vinh Moc tunnels, the DMZ and Ben Hai bridge which takes five hours and costs 500,000VND. All in all, if you want an easy ride directly to Phong Nha it really is worth paying the extra for a tour bus or private car. The journey is easily one of the most spectacular routes in this part of Vietnam.

In our opinion, the hassle of jam packed local buses for more than a few hours is not worth the few dong saved.

Bus Station
The unassuming main bus station is located at the intersection of Tran Hung Dao and Nguyen Huu Canh. Buses big and small depart from here -- there are even departures to Lao Bao, and on into Laos. Be warned though that these cross border buses are not the safest, the road between Dong Hoi and Laos is a frequent crash site and the border crossing at this particular point has a bad reputation for hassles and headaches. A preferable and perhaps safer option is to bus or train it to Hue and arrange onward travel from there.

Da Nang: departs at 05:40, 12:00, 12:30, 13:00. There is also a daily mini bus service that goes directly to Phong Nha. It leaves Da Nang station at 13.00 and takes 6 hours. The return service runs from Phong Nha at 06.00.
Hanoi: departs at 06:00, costing 65,000 VND, with six departures between 05:10 and 13:00,
Hue: 12 departures daily between 04:50 and 16:30.
Lao Bao: departs at 05:15, 05:30 and 05:45.
Saigon: departs at 04:30.
Vinh: departs at 06:30 and 07:00.

Laos
Buses to the town of Tha Khaek in Laos are available here, which use the Nam Phao-Cau Treo border. You can't get a Laos visa at the crossing. Buses depart twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays at 06:30. The return from Tha Khaek runs most daysand takes 12 hours.

Shuttle-vans to Da Nang
Mailinh Tourist currently runs a couple of daily shuttle-vans to Da Nang which depart at 06:45 and 13:00. These are only a bit more expensive but are far more comfortable than the regular vans. They have a ticket booth at the bus station.

Ben Xe Dong Hoi: T: (052) 822 150
Mailinh Tourist: 78 Le Loi, Dong Hoi. T: (052) 835 835;(052) 211 788;(0511) 767 399;(0973) 385 284.

Hoang Long: 287 Ly Thuong Kiet, Dong Hoi. T: (052) 845 668; F: (052) 845 686. http://www.hoanglonghp.com
You won't need to go here if you're getting a square deal at your hotel on a ticket. A slight comission on their end is worth paying as the Hoang Long office is a bit out of the way: 2.5 km north of the Quang Binh gate. They run 10 departures north and 10 departures south every day between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and stop in between.

Vinh 197km, 100,000 VND.
Thanh Hoa 335km, 200,000 VND.
Ninh Binh 395km, 200,000 VND.
Hanoi 488km, 200,000 VND.
Hue 166km, 100,000 VND.
Da Nang 271km, 120,000 VND.
Quang Ngai 396km, 250,000 VND.
Quy Nhon 546km, 280,000 VND.
Nha Trang 792km, 340,000 VND.
Phan Rang 897km, 370,000 VND.
Phan Thiet (Mui Ne) 1043km, 450,000 VND.
Ho Chi Minh City 1231km, 520,000 VND.

Sleeper Buses
The new sleeper bus service to Hanoi provided by Camel Travel offers a chance to get horizontal sleep for about half the price of a train sleeper. Buses hardly move as smoothly as trains, so you won't necessarily get a solid night of sleep, but you won't have a stiff neck when you arrive either. The daily bus originates in Hue and is supposed to arrive in Dong Hoi at about 20:30 -- it's usually late. Tickets can be purchased wherever you see the Camel Travel sign along Ly Thruong Kiet. We booked a trip at Vo Phuong Cafe, which is a nice place to hang out and wait for the bus. They arrive in Hanoi at 06:00 or a bit later. Tickets are 170,000 VND for a sleeper, 100,000 VND for a seat.

Vo Thuong Cafe: 33 Nguyen Huu Canh (west of the post office), Dong Hoi. T: (052) 840 000, (0912) 132 885.

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Getting Around

Xe-om are readily available along the main road through Dong Hoi, in front of many hotels and at the market. A trip to the bus station should cost 10,000 VND, the train station, 20,000 VND, and we were quoted prices to Phong Nha cave and back for as little as 200,000 VND. Taxis aren't a bad option is you have a lot of stuff.

Some basic prices from the Quang Binh gate include:
Train Station, 40,000 VND
Bus Station, 20,000 VND
Nhat Le Beach, 50,000 VND

You can also hire a taxi to take you to Phong Nha cave, and they'll wait for you while you take the tour: 430,000 VND for up to four people.

Deluxe Taxis: T: (052) 835 835
Taxi Xuyen Viet: T: (052) 848 484, (0913) 295 110

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