Use the quicklinks below to jump to the desired section regarding transport in and around Dong Hoi.
Dong Hoi Airport (VDH) is located six kilometres north of the city centre. Jetstar, Vietnam Airlines and VietJet Air operate the route to Ho Chi Minh City, with at least two flights a day, making a tempting case to skip the 23-hour train ride. Vietnam Airlines operates one flight a day to Hanoi.
Vietnam Airlines Dong Hoi office: 35 Tran Hung Dao St; T: (052) 3850 826; F: (052) 3850 827; open daily 07:30-11:30, 13:30-17:00.
Dong Hoi is a popular stop on the North-South railway. The SE1, SE2, SE3, SE4, SE5, SE6, SE7, SE8, SE20 all stop at the station. It takes 10 hours to Hanoi, 3 hours to Hue, 23 hours to Ho Chi Minh City.
Dong Hoi train station is located less than three kilometres west of the city centre. A metered taxi to or from town should cost 40,000 to 60,000 dong.
Most bus companies going north or south pass through Dong Hoi since the city is located on arterial Highway 1A, but it is not a regularly scheduled stop. However, they will stop and pick up passengers by request. All hotels can call and book you onto a coach bus passing through. This is by far the most comfortable option. This includes the following destinations. All departure times are approximate:
Hanoi: Sleeping bus departs at 19:00, 21:30. Costs 250,000 dong and takes 10 hrs.
Hue: Sleeping bus departs at 09:00. Costs 150,000 dong and takes 4 hrs, price includes pick up from hotel and transfer to hotel in Hue.
Da Nang: Sleeping bus departs at 08:30. Costs 200,000 dong and takes 6 hrs.
Nha Trang: Departs at 06:00. Costs 500,000 dong.
The Dong Hoi bus station is just a kilometre west of the bridge, at the roundabout of Tran Hung Dao and Nguyen Huu Canh. It serves a select number of destinations with local buses, mostly in the form of old minibuses, which don’t depart until there are enough passengers, make frequent stops to pick-up/drop-off goods and charge you an arbitrary amount. For any journey longer than a couple of hours, it really is worth booking onto a coach bus passing through.
Hue: Departs every 15-30 minutes from 04:00-17:00. Costs 75,000-80,000 dong.
Da Nang: Departs every 15-30 minutes from 04:30-07:15, then 11:15-13:30. Costs 110,000-120,000 dong. Night bus departs at 21:00 and costs 140,000 dong.
Vinh: Departs every 30 minutes from 05:00-08:30, then almost hourly from 10:30-17:15. Costs 80,000-100,000 dong.
Hanoi: Departs 18:00, 18:30, 18:45, 19:00, 19:30. Costs 200,000 dong.
Dong Nai: Departs at 04:30. Costs 750,000 dong.
Gia Lai (Pleiku): Departs at 09:00. Costs 240,000 dong.
Crossing the border to Laos
The Lao Bao/Dansavanh border crossing is a popular border between Vietnam and Laos. It is open to foreigners and the Lao visa on arrival is available. The closest big city and gateway to the border is Dong Ha, 80 kilometres from the border. For full details on the Lao Bao/Dansavanh border crossing, see our Dong Ha transport section.
At the Dong Hoi bus station, there is a schedule posted for buses to Lao Bao. However, we weren’t able to verify if this was a direct bus or if this is simply purchasing two tickets, meaning you would have to change buses in Dong Ha.
We think the less-can-go-wrong option would be to get transport to the border from Dong Ha. From here local buses to Lao Bao depart every 30 minutes. Keep in mind that the goal of this bus seems to be to make passengers as uncomfortable and frustrated as possible. For assistance to the border, bus tickets or private transfer, a highly recommended option is to book with Tam’s Cafe at 211 Ba Trieu Street, Dong Ha; T: (090) 542 5912; firstname.lastname@example.org; tamscafe.jimdo.com.
For tickets to destinations in Laos such as Savannakhet, Pakse and Vientiane, you will be put on a local bus to Dong Ha and then transferring to a bus that originates from Hue. This bus is only available every other day (usually on the odd days) but this sometimes changes. You need to check and again, we suggest you get in touch with Tam’s Cafe to make arrangements and get to Dong Ha yourself rather than book at the Dong Hoi bus station where no one speaks English.
If you want to give it a try, here is the schedule posted at the station as of early 2016:
Lao Bao: Departs at 05:15, 05:30, 05:45, 06:00. Costs 85,000 dong.
Tha Khaek (written Tha Khec): Departs at 06:30. Costs 230,000 dong.
Pakse (written Pac Xe): Departs Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday at 06:00, 07:00. Costs 335,000 dong.
Savannakhet: Departs Wednesday and Sunday at 06:00. Costs 280,000 dong.
Vientiane: departs at 07:00. Costs 360,000 dong.
Hotels rent motorbikes for around 150,000 dong; 200,000 dong for an automatic. Bicycle rental for day cost 40,000 dong per day.
Meter taxis are out and about, or your hotel can call one for you and it will pick you up at your location for no additional charge. Rates usually start at 3,900 dong for the first 0.4 kilometre, afterwards 9,900 dong for every kilometre. Two of the companies:
Mai Linh: T: (052) 385 8585
Dong Hoi: T: (052) 383 8383
Getting to Phong Nha
The local bus to Phong Nha departs regularly at 05:30, 06:00, then hourly until 17:00. It costs 33,000 dong and takes 90 minutes because it makes frequent stops. It departs from an office close to Beachside Backpackers, four kilometres north of the city on the coast, and follows a route through the city to pick up passengers at blue and white bus stop signs that say “B4: Dong Hoi – Hoan Lao – Phong Nha”.
It goes south on Truong Phap Street, which turns into Nguyen Du Street. At the Tran Hung Dao bridge, it turns right, travelling west along Tran Hung Dao, passing the Nam Ly bus station – this stop is actually located opposite the bus station.
The much faster way: a taxi from Dong Hoi to Phong Nha takes 35-45 minutes, should be 400,000 to 500,000 dong. Ensure you agree upon the price before you set out. You can save money with a shared transfer. Many travellers are on their way to or from the caves; just ask around.