Tree Hugger Guide

Other Thành phố Đồng Hới, VN

We hope, that this little walk/description can help you explore and learn more about Dong Hoi, the Phong Nha- Ke Bang National Park and about the Province of Quang Binh in general.

Author: Tree Hugger Vietnam

Café & Crafts | Tree Hugger Vietnam

The Tree Hugger is a small café and handicraft store in the city of Dong Hoi, Vietnam. Tree Hugge...

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47 Stations

Bao Ninh Peninsula

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The infrastructural expansion on this Peninsula is striking as Dong Hoi makes ambitions to become the seaside destination for the North Central Region. A second bridge, Nhat Le 2, was built in 2018 a little further south. Except for the stretch on the Highway, going from the city centre over Nhat Le 1 and returning to Dong Hoi on Nhat Le 2 (or the other way around) makes a nice bicycle ride.

Most people however cross the Nhat Le Bridge (which was built in 2002) to go to the beach that was simply named after the Peninsula - Bao Ninh. Following the road of the bridge, you will likely see a 'concrete arch or boat (?)' stratight ahead. You can enter the beach from here, walk a little southward and you will likely get a lof of privacy. The beach stretches for miles. However, whether summer or winter, it never gets really crowded. In the summer, seafood restaurants, a children´s playing area and a café with simple plastic chairs placed on the beach, offering fresh coconut and sugar can juice, open up at the main square on the northern tip of the Peninsula. Vietnamese visitors and locals often come here for a swim in the early summer mornings and late afternoons to catch a cooler breeze, as this stretch of beach is controlled by life guards. This is also the time when you may be able to watch locals catching small crabs along the shore or fishing with their tubes. If you are looking for a little loneliness just walk a little further south. Don´t swim out too far as there are heavier currents.

The village on the northern tip of the Peninsula also invites for getting lost in its little alleys. The village exists since around 100 years and most of its population lives off the ocean. In earlier days, Bao Ninh was a nice stretch of sand (refer also to the photo).

information © Tree Hugger Vietnam ;)

Dong My Quarter

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Dong My Quarter is called the quarter bordered by Nguyen Du, Ly Thuong Kiet, Tran Hung Dao and Phan Boi Chau Street. It is a quiet living of Dong Hoi where you can wonderfully stroll around in the mornings and evenings, witnessing daily city life.

It may be difficult to imagine, but only 1-2 decades ago, this area wasn´t the place wanting to be. The fixing of the riverside and the Park opposite the Tree Hugger were only finished 15 and 5 years ago respectively. Before, this was an area often flooded and little worth, away from the main business streets and a little filthy. After the war, this area was completely destroyed and not many wanted to live here. Slowly, it was re-populated as the local administration gave out properties to local administrators for cheaper prices. In the past years, things have changed and small businesses have opened up especially in Duong Van An, Phan Boi Chau and Nguyen Du Street. In the summer months the Park is frequented by locals and visitors alike to catch a little bit of a sea breeze.
information © Tree Hugger Vietnam ;)

Quang Phu Sand Dunes

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If you follow Nhat Le beach north for about 8km (still follow the smaller road for 2-3km after the marker on this map), you will start to see some smaller sand dunes on your left. Since recently, there is also a small parking spot. Opposite you will find a small booth by the Sea Star Resort renting out sliding boards (~30.000VND). It is particularly wonderful to walk up in the early evenings and watch the sunset from the top. It is still not a very common visited spot during the off season and it would be nice that it remains like this to not spoil the sand dunes. We have unfortunately seen removal of sand for constructions on one side and hope that nature is not further destroyed.
information © Tree Hugger Vietnam ;)

City Wall & Moat

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As part of the Citadel, the Wall was likewise built in 1812 and re-built in brick in 1824. It was re-constructed about 10 years ago. It once measured 1.860m and was up to 4m high. In some corners, you may discover shooting slits probably used in the Indochina Wars. Though only little remains of the original wall, a pleasant walkway makes a delightful stroll around, especially during the evenings.

Almost across the wall, still within the moat, lies the city museum where a Soviet made MiG 17 jet and an American A-1 prop fighter can be seen, two remnants of the war between China and Vietnam in northern Vietnam in 1979.
Unfortunately, the Museum hasn´t opened its doors yet.

The photo here is an old postcard that shows the former French Administration Building in Dong Hoi. It once used to be within the moat area, just about in the same place where there is a small entertainment area/next to the big Museum building nowadays.

Information © Tree Hugger Vietnam

Me Suot Statue

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The ‘Me Suot’ (translating into ‘Mother Suot’) statue is dedicated to Nguyen Thi Suot (1908-1968), an elderly woman who defied bombings, ferrying troops and war material across the Nhat Le River during nights in her wooden boat, supposedly from right where the statue is standing today. She probably lived in My Canh, just across the river, was married to a fisherman and had five children. Before the war escalated, she brought people across the river, often being paid with rice, yam or cassava. On October 11, 1968, Me Suot was killed in a bomb attack by a U.S jet while ferrying soldiers across the river. It’s said that a few days after, two US planes and one vessel were destroyed by villagers and guerrillas. Nowadays, she is considered a ´martyr´ and her statue has become a popular praying spot for Vietnamese visitors to Dong Hoi. On the series of faces one can discover on the statue, you will find her to the very left, looking straight over the heads of the soldiers.

This is what is written below the statue:

Ngẩng đầu mái tóc mẹ rung
Gió lay như sóng biển tung trắng bờ
Gan chi gan rứa mẹ nờ
Mẹ rằng cứu nước mình chờ chi ai

Mother’s hair quivers as
The wind builds strong waves that hit the shore
Courageous is our mother,
Rescueing the country, not waiting for anybody

The photo with Vo Nguyen Giap was taken from https://baoquangbinh.vn/

Eastern Gate/Nhat Le Gate - Cua Dong thanh Dong Hoi

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The Citadel used to have 3 gates: North, South and East, with each gate facing a bridge which connected the citadel with the outside area. This restored version of the Eastern/Nhat Le Gate is the only remainder.

Constructions of the Citadel started with the King Nguyen Gia Long in 1812 (partially built on the foundation of the former Tran Ninh Rampart built by the Nguyen between 1630-1634; refer also to the Rampart/Quang Binh Gate Point of Interest). When Gia Long passed away, his son Minh Mang asked a French General to re-design the Citadel, and in 1825 he had it re-built into a star-shaped fortress. The length of the citadel used to be 1,860 m and it had a height of up to 4 m.

In 1885, when the French army attacked it, locals and soldiers from Dong Ha defended it and triumphantly won the battle, forcing the French to retreat (though the French consolidated the hold on Indochina shortly after again). Most parts of the Citadel were damaged during the French Indochina period (1946-1954) and a remainder was demolished by American bombings during the late 1960s.

Old plan of the Citadel from the city of Quang Binh.

Information © Tree Hugger Vietnam ;)

Tree Hugger Café

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Ca Phe Nguoi Om Cay - translating into 'Tree Hugger Café' - is a small café that arose out of the idea to create a space for 'Dong Hoians' and visitors alike, for small discovery, for reading, for soaking up the surrounding atmosphere, for day-dreaming and, indeed, for enjoying fresh drinks and cafe. Our menu includes all-day breakfast as well as some simple food options. We are also happy to provide information on local restaurants, on how to get around individually, on tours available in the area or just on the little handicrafts we got on the 2nd floor. We are still a young venture and are trying to improve our services, our information provision as well as our 'daily pro-environmental behavior' day by day. In this endeavour, we get great support from Anh, Huyen, Hang, Yen, Chien, Loi, Nga and Thu.

Tam Toa Church - Nha Tho Tam Toa

Thành phố Đồng Hới, VN

All that is left from this former church are ruins that serve as a memorial site. The church was originally built in 1886, but it collapsed after American bombings in 1965. Bullets can still be seen in the bell tower. It was reclaimed by the church until it was returned to local government in 1996. Nowadays, Tam Toa is considered as a symbol for former ‘American aggression’. A new church (also named Tam Toa) is currently being built about 2km west from here.

About 10-15% of the Vietnamese population is Catholic.

The sign in front of the church reads:
Nhà thờ Tam Tòa được xây dựng năm 1886, bị máy bay giặc Mỹ ném bom đánh sập ngày 11/02/1965, chỉ còn lại tháp chuông và nền móng đây là chứng tích tội ác chiến tranh trong các chiến dịch không kích phá hoại của giặc Mỹ ở miền Bắc giai đoạn 1965-1972. Chứng tích chiến tranh nhà thờ Tam Tòa được UBND tỉnh Quảng Bình xếp hạng theo quyết định so 143/QD-UB ngày 26/02/1997.

Tam Toa Church was built in 1886. Bombing of aircrafts of the US enemy destroyed the Church in 11/2/1965, leaving only the bell tower and the foundation. This is an evidence of war crimes committed by vandalistic US air campaigns during the American War in the North between 1965-1972. In 02/26/1997, the People’s Party Committee of Quang Binh issued Decision 143/QD-UB (ranking the church bell tower as a historic relic and war crime evidence which should be strictly protected and rehabilitated to make it a visual tool for education for the young generation).

The old photo of the church was taken around 1925. We took it from http://tgphue.net.

Quang Binh Gate - Quang Binh Quan

Thành phố Đồng Hới, VN

This is what it says on the sign in front of the gate:
Quảng Bình Quan là một trong ba cửa ải của hệ thống lũy thầy, do Đào Duy Từ nhà chiến lược quân sự thiên tài hiến kế và chỉ huy xây đắp vào năm 1631. Năm Minh Mạng thứ 6 (1825) xây lại bằng gạch đá. Năm 1961, được tu sửa lại trong chiến tranh phá hoại(1965-1968) Đế quốc Mỹ đã ném bom đánh sập chỉ còn lại phần móng.Tháng 12 năm 1994, di tích được phục hồi là biểu tượng lịch sử, văn hóa của Quảng Bình

The Quang Binh Gate is one of three gates of the Luy Thay system erected by Dao Duy Tu, a military genius who designed and built this construction in 1631. In the 6th year of Minh Mang (1825), it was rebuilt in brick. In 1961, it was reclaimed in the ‘Sabotage War’ (1965-1968). After heavy American bombing, only its foundation was left. In December 1994, the relics were reclaimed and became the historical-cultural symbol of Quang Binh.

The older photo was taken from an old collection of Dong Hoi City (early 20th century).

Nhat Le Beach

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If you follow Truong Phap Street North right along the ocean, you will reach Nhat Le Beach. The beach itself is quite nice and the further you get north the lonelier it gets. Old and new hotels as well as an endless array of (seafood) restaurants line the street (in the winter it’s a little lonelier here). It is still quite lonely in the winter time and one may wonder for whom all these hotels and restaurants have been built for. Because of currents, please, only swim at designated areas ;).
information (c) Tree Hugger Vietnam ;)

Lift Nets on Nhat Le River

Thành phố Đồng Hới, VN

If you walk along the side of the Nhat Le River towards the Dong Hoi Market, you may spot a number of lift nets, still in regular use. Their owners will come at certain times during the day and lift them up and release them again after having collected the fish. If you are lucky and patient, you may be able to witness this...otherwise there is a small video here ;).

The Lighthouse

Thành phố Đồng Hới, VN

The lighthouse is not really a point of interest, but you may have noticed a small memorial in front of it and wonder what it is about. The memorial marks the start of the former Tran Ninh Rampart, one of three ramparts designed on the order of the Nguyen family by the mandarin Dao Duy Tu between 1630-1634 to protect the region from the northern Trinh family. All ramparts together had about 34km in length, and were up to 6m wide and 6m high.

Dong Hoi Market

Thành phố Đồng Hới, VN

There are a number of markets in Dong Hoi. This one is probably the biggest and most prominent in town and the only one where fish is unloaded directly from the boats. If you fancy watching the hustle and bustle in the morning, you may have to be here as early as 5:30h/6:00h in the morning, but even at a later time, it is just nice to wonder around and observe and learn about the many different kinds of fish, fruits and vegetables that can be found here. Fruits and vegetables are from Quang Binh and from all over Vietnam. After wandering around, it is nice to have a rest at one of the small street food stalls and indulge in a fresh coconut or sugar can juice while watching people shopping ;). Be adviced that most market sellers rest during the lunch hours and return in the late afternoon until it gets dark. Opposite the fresh market, there is a building in which cheaper houseware and clothes are being sold. The market area exists since war times when, ironically, space was available after many houses got bombed in that area. Families had to move outside the centre, but some have returned to sell their goods here. information (c) Tree Hugger Vietnam ;)

Phong Nha Cave

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Phong Nha Cave is one of the better-known caves in the area. It is the first cave that was officially opened for public visitation in 1997. During war times, it was used as a shelter, storage and as a hospital station. The bullet holes on the karst mountain at its entrance testify the fighting that once took place here. It is more than 7km long and features an underground river. An old Cham altar which was found here also proofs that humans must have lived here in the 9th century. Getting there, you will have to take a boat from the Phong Nha Tourism Centre. Though the cave can be heavily frequented by visitors - especially in the summer time - the nice boat ride along the karst mountains and its stalactite and stalagmite formations make up for that.

Operated by: Phong Nha Tourism Centre
Opening times: daily, between ~7:00-17:00hr (during the winter season it closes earlier)
Estimated time to visit: ~2- 2 ½ hrs
Entrance fee:
150.000VND/person
Children under 1.3m for free
360.000VND/boat (max. 12 people)
If you are a single person or just a few people visiting the caves, you can try and wait a few minutes for more people to share the costs of the boat.

The entrance ticket includes a 30-minutes dragon boat ride along the Son River passing by karst mountains. Visitors are rowed into Phong Nha Cave and dropped off to walk back to the entrance. The boat will be waiting outside and then bring you back to the boat station.


PHONG NHA CAVE: CONQUER 4,5km
The Phong Nha Tourism Centre offers a tour which allows to enter the cave for around 2,3 km inside. You will pass the river passage by kayak or piragua and then walk further inside (costs are 1.700.000VND/person). The tour starts in the mornings. It can also be booked with the Tree Hugger (refer to page 59).

PHONG NHA CAVE: LATE AFTERNOON/EVENING TOUR
At the ticket booth, you can also get tickets for a Phong Nha Cave Late Afternoon/Evening Tour which allows for an exclusive visit of Phong Nha Cave at the end of the day. You can catch the sunset on the way up the river Son and return in the dark. Minimum of 5 people per tour required. Please, inquire at the Tourism Centre directly.

Runs between 17:30-19:30hrs.
Prices:
400.000 VND/ person (minimum of 2 people)
150.000 VND/ child (under 1.3m height)

Optionally, you can also ask for a tour guide at the boat station:
200.000/ Vietnamese-speaking guide
300.000/ English-speaking guide

Canh Duong Village

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Canh Duong has been hyped a little as an artists village in the past two years. Local authorities had invited artists in a number of small villages around Vietnam to draw 3D paintings on local walls in order to promote these as a selfie spot. This has worked quite well with Vietnamese visitors.

Yet, on a fine day, and if you are passing by the village on the main road anyway, Canh Duong is still a very authentic fishing village, and it does make a nice stop. Drive into the centre of the village and you will find a small road leading through the village along nice wall paintings.

Da Nhay Beach - Bai Bien Da Nhay

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Da Nhay Beach is about 25km north of Dong Hoi, following Highway 1 and the small Ly Hoa Pass. There are some smaller rock formations on the south side of the beach. It makes a nice short stop on your way north. Unfortunately, there may still be litter at some spots :/.

Hai Ninh Beach - Bai Hai Ninh

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Hai Ninh is a small seaside village about 18km south of Dong Hoi. After crossing the Nhat Le Bridge and turning south on the Vo Nguyen Giap Street, you can follow the dirt road that goes along the ocean. Once you enter the village, make your way to the beach and take a look for the fishing boats ashore. Hai Ninh has a white sandy beach and is wonderfully lonely. Be nonetheless reminded to not leave any belongings on your motorbikes and also be aware of the sun as there is little shelter along the beach ;).

Home of General Vo Nguyen Giap

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Vo Nguyen Giap, a national and internationally known General from the 1st and 2nd Indochina War grew up in a commune nearby by Le Thuy City. When he was 13, he moved to Hue to attend a French lycée. His parent’s home is a small three-roomed house now locally known as the General’s house. Unfortunately, there are no descriptions, but it makes a good short stop if you are nearby anyway. It is about 40km south of Dong Hoi.

If you are, by any chance, in Dong Hoi at Vietnam’s National Day, then it is a good idea to spend the morning attending Le Thuy’s famed boat race (every 2nd of September) on the Kien Giang river. Come early to secure spots for watching the scene along the river. Careful, it gets super crowded and once you are stuck in the crowd, be patient.

Nhan Trach Village

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Nhan Trach is a fishing village about 9km north of Dong Hoi. Not many foreigners are seen here and so the atmosphere feels very local. People are friendly and happy if you join in their volleyball match in the early evenings nearby the beach.

Than Dinh Mountain - Nui Than Dinh

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Than Dinh Mountain is about 25km southwest of Dong Hoi. It gets busy only a few times a year on special days like Tet, when locals walk up its 400m for prayers. There is only a small stone stele left from a small pagoda once built on its top in the early 18th century. It makes a good destination, if you don’t have much else to do. Once in a while, there are good views through the branches of the trees ;).

Vung Chua/ Yen Island

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Vung Chua is a pagoda opposite to Yen Island, about 65km north of Dong Hoi and on the border to Ha Tinh Province. It is well-known among Vietnamese as it was built in honor of General Vo Nguyen Giap (a former General and minister) whose resting place is on Yen Island. There is not really more to see but the memorial, but it is an interesting stop along the road northwards.

Tuyen Hoa District

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Wonderful karst landscape to drive around, if going northwards. There are unfortunately a lot of trucks on the QL12A. If you are with a motorbike and got the time when heading northwards, it´s also nice to follow the Ho Chi Minh Trail East from Phong Nha;).

Bau Tro Lake

Thành phố Đồng Hới, VN

Bau Tro Lake is the freshwater reservoir of Dong Hoi. Some greater archaeological excavations have been made here, indicating that Quang Binh was populated around 2000 years ago. In the

summer, it is possible to walk around the lake. Don’t expect too much, but it makes a nice walk on a fine day (there is not fixed route around) ;).

Paradise Cave

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Paradise Cave is part of the Arch Cave System (Hang Vom Cave System) which is over 31 km long and which comprises over 18 caves. Paradise Cave is the dry entrance to Arch Cave/Hang Vom which was discovered from inside Hang Vom in 1992 and which is the longest dry cave in Asia. The outside entrance however was only found in 2005. Paradise Cave features hundreds of stalactites and stalagmites that have inspired its name. To get to the entrance of the cave, you will not have a choice but walk up, either via the stairs or via the serpentine way ;).

Operated by: Truong Thinh Company
Opening times: summer (1.4.-31.8.): daily 6:30-17:00hr and winter (1.9.-31.3.): daily 7:30-16:30hr
Estimated time to visit: ~2 ½ - 3 hrs
Entrance fee: 250.000VND/person; children between 1.1m- 1.3m: 125.000VND/child and children under 1.1m for free
Parking fees apply.
Optional golf car which brings you from the ticket sales booth to the bottom of the mountain (1.7km):
100.000VND/return/ 4 Pax
60.000VND/one way/ 4Pax

Once you pass the ticket check, you can either walk to the bottom of the mountain or take a golf cart (at a surcharge). Walking takes about 15-20mins. Once you get to the bottom you get the choice of a serpentine way up or of stairs. We would generally recommend the serpentine way up and the stairs for your return ;). Once you get to the entrance, a 1000m wooden walkway leads through the first part of the cave. You will walk back the same way. In the summer time, try to go at lunch time or shortly before closing to avoid the crowds.

Dark Cave

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Dark Cave was explored in the early 1990’s. It was opened for tourism in the summer of 2011. While the cave initially remained somewhat quiet, with only a small wooden path leading a way for the first 100m, only ‘tours’ can be taken nowadays to enter the cave. The Chay River is crossed with a zipline, followed by a swim into the cave, and the visitation of a mud bath. More ziplines have been installed outside which lead into the water and can be used once you return to the jetty. The cave lost a little bit of its initial charm and there is little information on the cave and the area provided by the guides, but there may still be some adventure. Be careful when walking inside the cave as it is quite slippery; people often repeat that safety standards should be better taken care of.

Operated by: Phong Nha Tourism Centre
Opening times: daily ~7:00-17:00hr
Estimated time to visit: ~2-2 ½hrs
Entrance fee: adults (over 1.3m) 450.000VND/pax, children between 1-1.3m: 150.000VND/pax, children under 1m can do free swimming only
The entrance fee includes: equipment, zipline, kayak (upon return), use of bathing zipline and a limited insurance
Be aware that you need to have a weight between 40-90kg and be taller than 1.3m in order to to be able to use the zipline ;).
If you are not going for Dark Cave and just look for a refreshing adventure, you can also make use out of the ziplines only and get limited access to the cave on a 100m wooden boardwalk:
Entrance fee: adult (over 1.3m) 270.000VND/pax

The visitation of the Cave includes swimming and a bath in a small mud pool. Do not expect to learn too much about the cave itself. Despite being guided, please also enter the cave with greater caution.

Botanic Garden

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Though it is still a little under development in terms of signage, organization, display of plants and English knowledge of staff, the Botanic Garden provides the first chance for visitors to the Park to make a little trekking of 1-2 hrs through the forest by themselves. The big circle is recommended, though the path is not signed well yet and though it is only recommended for more advanced hiking for the part of the waterfall (which is nice to see after days of rain). Bring non-slippery shoes and some water along. Also, don´t expect deep jungle forest, as the Botanic Garden was established in the Administration and Service Zone of the Park.

Operated by: Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park
Opening times: daily ~7:00-17:00hr
Estimated time to visit: ~1-2 hrs
Entrance fee: 40.000VND/Pax

Eight Ladies Cave

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Eight Ladies Cave is a memorial site in remembrance of thirteen Vietnamese war volunteers who passed away in 1972 after a US bombing raid sealed the entrance to the cave. There is a small temple next to it which provides a little bit of information on the war times.
Don´t expect to see too much, but it is an interesting spot of war history and it makes one realize how present war times still are with many of the Vietnamese who visit this place. Since it´s a sacred site, please don´t wear shorts and cover bare shoulders when visiting.

During war times, the area around Eight Ladies Cave was target of heavy aerial bombardments by Americans to stop the northern reinforcement to the southern frontline. In 1972, a bomb attack caused a huge stone to collapse. It locked youth volunteers inside the cave whose role was to keep the transport route clear.
There is now a memorial temple at the site dedicated to all youth volunteers killed during the war. The entrance of the Cave has a shrine and a stone memorial with the names of the victims of the cave-in as well as the names of those who died nearby from the bombings. The site is sacred and many Vietnamese stop here to honor those who died here. Appropriate dressing should be worn, covering shoulders and knees.

Operated by: Phong Nha Tourism Centre
Opening times: daily ~7:00-17:00hr
Estimated time to visit: ~45 mins
Entrance fee: free of charge

Bong Lai Village

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If you spend some days in the area and if you are flexible going around by bicycle or by motorbike, you could venture to the Bong Lai Village area, a small settlement around 7 km off the Ho Chi Minh Highway East towards Dong Hoi City. It stretches along a bumpy road, but somehow that´s also part of the adventure. As it is more and more being promoted to offer visitors a glimpse into countryside life in Quang Binh, small places and simple restaurants have popped up along the circle route. These are all nice and offer similar food:

• The ‘Pub with Cold Beer’, a relaxing place to enjoy a cold beer and eat during hot summer days.

• The ‘Moi Moi Restaurant’, a local style restaurant which feels like being in the middle of nowhere, but where people are friendly and food is good. Still nice and lonely.

• The ‘Wild Boar Farm’ (end-of-the-road property). The setting nearby the river invites for a swim (when there is water in the river ;)); the road is still very bumpy and it feels like a long way to go, but if you got time, it is good to explore. Visitation not really possible during the rainy season.

• The ‘Village House’, a recent addition for a drink stop with a nice view.

• The ‘Duck Stop’, a once quiet place to be, has turned into a little weird/crazy/interesting tourism destination (at least in the summer) where people get a glimpse into duck farming and where photos on a buffalo can be taken.

• O O Lake Silence, a fairly new addition to the village, a café/small restaurant surrounded by a lake. We haven´t been there, but heard that it is a good spot ;).

• The East Hill, a small outdoor café/pub with a nice setting on top of a smaller hill, north of the Ho Chi Minh East.

You could easily spend a whole day to just relax and make your way around the small loop. In the summer time, there are also some swimming spots along the river ;).

Nuoc Mooc Eco-Trail

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Nuoc Mooc is an underwater spring of the Chay River. A 1km trail was established along the river. It follows a stone path through the forest and crosses several streams over wooden or bamboo boardwalks.
If you bring a little bit of time, you can have lunch herel. There is also a swimming area (with a little current). The entrance fee comes down to 80.000VND/pax, if you don´t use their water games. It´s nice in the summer for refreshment, though it can also get quite crowded. Kayak rental also available for 100.000VND/hour.

Operated by: Phong Nha Tourism Centre
Opening times: daily ~7:00-17:00hr
Estimated time to visit: ~2 hrs (with swimming)
Entrance fee: 180.000VND/Pax, children under 1.3m: 100.000VND/Pax (includes the use of kayaks)

Semi-Wild Enclosure

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Since recently, the National Park Management opened up the Semi-Wild Enclosure for visitation. You can walk around the enclosure and learn a little bit about the Park’s conservation efforts. 20.000VND/Pax

U Bo Mountain

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U Bo Mountain has long been disregarded mainly due to its distance to Phong Nha and Dong Hoi and because it is not so easy to find ;). There is now a small path that leads from the back of the Forest Ranger Station towards a viewpoint platform which needs to be climbed up and which is reached after about 30mins. So far, you can only get there with a motorbike. If you pass by anyway towards Khe Sanh, don’t miss to stop here. Unfortunately, the prices for visiting are not fixed yet ;).

Operated by: National Park
Opening times: during daylight
Estimated time to visit: ~1-1,5hrs
Distance to Phong Nha: ~50 km (via Ho Chi Minh Trail West)
Entrance fee: there is no official entrance price, the rangers may charge between 40.000-100.000VND

Khe Gat Airfield

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While there is not actually anything to see but an abandoned airstrip, its short history is interesting to know when passing by towards the Da Deo Pass. The airfield was particularly known for some North Vietnamese fighters who had taken off from here during the ‘Battle of Dong Hoi’ in 1972, attacking US Navy ships along the coast. It is also said that Ho Ci Minh landed here once in 1957 as well as Fidel Castro in 1972.

Short Introduction to the History of Dong Hoi and Quang Binh Province

Thành phố Đồng Hới, VN

Before you start your walk or ride, we thought we try and provide you with a little bit of a summed up history of Dong Hoi and Quang Binh as it may help you to better understand the in fact complex interrelations of kingdoms and dynasties that have passed by this Province and which may have, in one way or another, shaped today`s culture and people ;): Quang Binh was probably first populated 2,000 years ago. Since then, much has happened. For ~1000 years, from ~100 B.C. onwards, Quang Binh was part of the ‘Annam’ region: during this time, with a brief interlude of independence, this region was ruled by China. During that same 1,000 years, the Cham(pa) dynasty governed the southern part of Vietnam. Over the next 500 years (roughly 1000 to 1500), with Tonkin’s and Annam’s independence from China, Dynasties of the then Dai Viet empire pushed the Champa kingdom slowly southwards, moving into the region around Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta until the 1600s. The Champa were completely defeated in 1832. In the late 18th/early 19th century, Emperor Gia Long established the borders of today’s Vietnam. Meanwhile, between 1558-1775, Quang Binh had become a borderland between the competing (southern) Nguyen Dynasty and the (northern) Trinh Dynasty, with the Gianh River, a bit north of Dong Hoi, marking the border. During this time, Dao Duy Tu, a mandarin of the Nguyen family, had planned the Luy Thay Rampart System, three separate ´protective walls´ totaling around 34km and stretching more or less from the east to the west of Quang Binh. Very, very little remains. in the early 19th century, together with the French, the citadel was partially planned on the location where once a small stretch of a wall ran along. There is a small memorial stone at the lighthouse (on Truong Phap Street next to Nhat Le River), marking the start of the former Tran Ninh Rampart, as well as there is a tiny restored piece of the rampart outside of Dong Hoi (the Vo Thang Quang) which is slowly taken over by nature again. From the late 19th century until 1954, the developments of Dong Hoi were much influenced by the French. In 1954 Vietnam was divided into different political systems at the 17th parallel (about 90km south of Dong Hoi). Much of Dong Hoi was destroyed during the Indochina Wars. Nowadays, it experiences economic growth, while nature sometimes still suffers :/.

About This App

Thành phố Đồng Hới, VN

We hope, that this little walk/description can help you explore and learn more about Dong Hoi, the Phong Nha- Ke Bang National Park and about the Province of Quang Binh in general. We only listed sights that can be visited by you independantly and without a tour booking needed in advance. The content was fully compiled by the Tree Hugger Café, Dong Hoi. While we tried to review information as correctly as possible, we cannot guarantee that it is free of flaws/mistakes ;). More detailed travel information can be found in the Tree Hugger. For any feedback or recommendations you may have, please, write us at treehuggervietnam@gmail.com

As not all information fits into the destination points, we have created some more on the river next to the Tree Hugger point of interest that try and provide information on this app, a short history of Dong Hoi/Quang Binh, on recommendations on where to eat and on practical things you may need to know :). The same was done for Phong Nha, i.e. further information on the area an practical things to know can be found on the Son river ;).

P.S. We know it is difficult, especially in Vietnam, but we kindly ask to refrain from duplication. We have the information available in print for many years in the Tree Hugger, but long wanted to create something for 'on the go' and decided to use this app provider in the endeavor. While some content can easily be compiled with some experience, it takes time and effort as well as still maybe a little bit of creativity. If you are a tourism provider and think this app to be useful, support it by recommending it to visitors instead ;). Content that reflects Intellectual Property as well as images used (unless otherwise stated) are under copyright of the Tree Hugger Café, Dong Hoi. Thank you :)!

Tu Lan Cave System - only with a tour

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Tu Lan

Ruc Mon Cave - only with a tour

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Ruc Mon

Da Deo Mountain Pass - Scenic Route

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Scenic Route

Abandoned Valley - only with a tour

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Abandoned Valley

Ma Da Valley - only with a tour

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Tra Ang Bridge

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Tra Ang Bridge

Hang Son Doong - Hang En - only with a tour

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Hang Pygmy - Hang Over - Tiger Cave

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Ho Chi Minh Trail West - Scenic Route

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Route

Hang Va and Hang Nuoc Nut - only with a tour

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Tomb of Nguyen Huu Canh

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Nguyen huu Canh

Long Dai Ferry Memorial/Temple

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Similar to the Eight Ladies Cave in the Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park, the Long Dai Ferry used to be at a strategically important location where war supplies were going through during the 2nd Indochina War. Likewise, a memorial was erected here to commemorate the young volunteers as well as the soldiers stationed along the Truong Son Mountain Range who have left their lives here during the war. It is especially the Vietnamese who stop by to honour these and say their prayers. If you enter the temple, please bear in mind to cover bare shoulders and knees.

Mau Lieu Hanh Temple

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Temple