VIETNAM TRAVEL

 

Central Vietnam

Demilitarised Zone - Dong Ha - Lao Bao - Quang Tri - Hue - Around Hue - Suoi Voi Bach Ma National Park - Lang Co Beach - Hai Van Pass Tunnel
Ba Na Hill Station - Suoi Mo - Danang - Around Danang - Hoi An - Around Hoi An My Son - Tra Kieu - Tam Ky

DONG HA

IDD Code: (+84) 53
Like Dong Hoi to the north, Dong Ha awoke in 1954 to find that it had moved from the centre of the country to the edge of a heavily militarised border. There's still an element of the Wild West to Dong Ha. It's not a particularly friendly or attractive place, and the scramble for tourist dollars borders on aggressive. The capital of the reconstituted Quang Tri province, Dong Ha is at the busy intersection of Hwys 1A and 9. Dong Ha served as a US Marine Corps command and logistics centre from 1968 to 1969. In the spring of 1968 a division of North Vietnamese troops crossed the DMZ and attacked the city. Later it was the site of a South Vietnamese army base. Today there is no conceivable reason to visit, save as a base to explore the DMZ or a stop on the way to the Lao border. Hwy 1A traffic thunders through town, dust blowing and horns blaring, and almost all the hotels are close by. The public loudspeakers start their broadcasting at Sam.
Orientation
Hwy 1A is called Đ Le Duan as it passes through Dong Ha. Hwy 9, with signs reading 'Lao Bao', intersects Hwy 1A next to the bus station.
Information
Dich Vu Internet (Tell: 857177; 177 Đ Le Duan) Incombank (189 Đ Le Duan) Has an ATM in front of Sepon Travel.
Quang Tri Tourism Situated at the Mekong Hole), this state office runs DM2 tours and arranges car rentals.
Sepon Travel (189 Đ Le Duan) Handles bookings for DMZ bus tours, buses to Savannakhet (Laos) and Vietnam Airlines. Can also arrange cars and drivers for private DM2 tours.
Sleeping
Hotel Mai Yen (Tell: 551 750; 24 Đ Nguyen Trai; r, 120,000-150,000d;) Situated on a leafy street just off the highway near the bus station, this is a friendly place with scrupulously clean rooms.
Melody Hotel ( 62 Đ Le Duan; s/d/tr120,000/150,000/180,000d;) Although on the noisy highway, the sky-blue Melody Hotel has tidy rooms with all the usual facilities. as well as motorbikes for rent (80,000d per day).
Khach San Duong 9 Xanh (Highway 9 Hotel; Tell: 50991; 4Đ Nguyen Trai; rUS$9-15; ) On the same quiet strip as Mai Yen, the rooms are a little run down but they all have a TV, fridge and hot water.
Mekong Hotel (Tel: 852 292,. fax 855 234,66 Đ Le Duan r 150,000-200,000d;) With what looks like a taxidennied vampire deer in reception (check out the fangs), this larger hotel has clean and well-maintained rooms. Aim for one as far to the rear as possible to escape the highway noise. The hotel's restaurant is the breakfast stop for many DMZ bus tours from Hue.
Eating & Drinking
Trung Tam lu Hanh (Tell: 852 927; 66 Đ Le Duan; dishes 12,000d) One of a number of street-side eateries on the main highway, this one serves a decent pho ga (rice noodle soup with chicken).
Quan Chay vegetarian House (Tell: 854 634; 34 Đ Nguyen Trai; meals 20,000d) A small, tidy place on Dong Ha's nicest street.
A good breakfast option is the no-name bakery (Tell: 859 356; 4 Đ Hung Vuong; pastries 6000d) on Dong Ha's main street, running parallel to the high way. Nearby Duy Tuong (14 Đ Hung Vuong) is a local cafe with an unlikely poster of ‘80s poodle haired rockers Cinderella on the wall.
Getting There & Away
BUS
Dong Ha bus station (Ben Xe Khach Dong Ha; Tell: 851 488, 68 Đ Le Duan) is near the intersection of Hwys 1 A and 9. Vehicles to Dong Hoi (30,000d, two hours). Hue (25,000d, 11/2 hours), Khe Sanh (15.000d, 11/2 hours) and Lao Bao (20,000d, two hours) depart regularly. It is sometimes necessary to change buses' in Khe Sanh for Lao Bao. Buses are also advertised to Savannakhet in Laos, but the ,station won’t book a ticket for foreigners. You'll need to cross the road to Sepon Travel (left)
CAR & MOTORBIKE
Road distances from Dong Ha are; Dong Hoi (95km), Hue (77km), Danang (190km) Khe Sanh (65km), Lao Bao (85km) and Vinh Moc (41km). Motorbike hire tours to the DMZ start from US$10. A one-way car trip to the Lao Bao border will set you back US$25. Motorbikes can be hired from Melody Hotel (left).
TRAIN
Reunification Express trains stop in Dong Ha Train Station (Ga Dong Ha; Tell: 850 631; 2 Đ Le Thanh Ton). Destinations include Hanoi (235.000d, 121/2 to 151/2 hours, four daily), Dong Hoi (38,000d, two to 151/2 hours, six daily) and Hue (25,000d, 11/2 to 21/2 hours, six daily). To get to the Dong Ha train station from the bus station, head 1km .southeast on Hwy 1A to a big guesthouse called Nha Khach 261, Turn right here and the back of the train station is about 150m over the tracks