Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital and second largest city, is a major cultural center for the country and features a wonderful mix of old and new architecture including ample French colonial buildings that give the city the nickname “Paris of the East”. For a change of pace after visiting this appealing city, head south to the coastal city of Dong Hoi. Much smaller than Hanoi, this, the capital of the Quang Binh Province, boasts beautiful white sand beaches and a surprisingly un-touristy ambiance, plus it’s the closest town to the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. If you’re looking into places to visit after the big city, a trip to Dong Hoi comes highly recommended.
Getting from Hanoi to Dong Hoi – the Options
While Hanoi to Dong Hoi is a popular route, these two cities are a great distance apart so getting from one to the other will take time. By road, the shortest route is just over 500 kilometers (about 315 miles) so if you were driving yourself, route maps indicate that it would take around 9 hours to get from Hanoi to Dong Hoi. Driving yourself does have some advantages, but, you’ll be passing by plenty of beautiful scenery along the way so we’d recommend taking a bus or a train so that you can actually sit back and enjoy the scenery while relaxing and letting someone else do the hard work! Another option for getting from Hanoi to Dong Hoi is to fly. Flights from Hanoi get you to Dong Hoi in record time, so if you’re keen to start relaxing on the beach, a flight would be a great idea.
Flights from Hanoi to Dong Hoi
Let’s start with the fastest way to get from Hanoi to Dong Hoi, by air. When covering such a large distance, catching a flight from Hanoi to Dong Hoi does make sense. Actual flying time is only around an hour, so even when adding in the time it takes to get to and from the airport at either end and do all the necessary waiting in line at the airport, you’re still going to arrive in Dong Hoi much faster than you would if traveling by bus or by train.
Dong Hoi Airport is just 6 kilometers (4 miles) north of the city, so it’s close-by and easy to get into the city from there. There are two airlines flying the route from Hanoi to Dong Hoi: Vietnam Airlines, and VietJet Air. You can almost guarantee that a seat with Vietnam Airlines will cost a lot more than with VietJet Air, usually more than 3 times extra, and when you’re only talking about a one hour flight, paying the extra doesn’t get you much more in terms of comfort or amenities, so definitely try to fly to Dong Hoi with VietJet Air, if possible.
From Hanoi to Dong Hoi by Bus
When looking at the best ways to travel from Hanoi to Dong Hoi, buses and trains take roughly the same amount of time, so you won’t necessarily save yourself any time by choosing one over the other. You can compare the costs though – going by bus from Hanoi to Dong Hoi is by far the cheapest way to get from one city to the other. The only ticket that comes close to the price of a bus, is a second-class seat on the train. Buying a 2nd class train seat is definitely something we would not recommend though, unless you enjoy being incredibly uncomfortable!
Hoang Long operate buses from Hanoi to Dong Hoi, departing four times per day at fairly regular intervals. There’s an early morning bus that travels throughout the day, getting you to Dong Hoi around 16:30. The benefit with taking a daytime bus is that you can enjoy the passing scenery, but it could be hotter traveling during the day. Usually getting too hot on these buses isn’t a problem because the air conditioning is cranked up so high, but this is something to bear in mind.
The buses used by Hoang Long are VIP buses with sleeper seats, plus there are toilets, TVs and stewards onboard so they’re of a good quality. Seeing as sleeper seats are provided, taking the overnight bus is often preferred because you can get some sleep and, traveling overnight does not eat into your daytime hours so you’ll get to Dong Hoi the next morning, ready to start your day.
Train from Hanoi to Dong Hoi
The advantage with traveling by train from Hanoi to Dong Hoi is that there are many different options to choose from. There’s a good variety of seats and cabins available, and many trains depart throughout the day and evening. There are also two different starting points from Hanoi: the main Hanoi Railway Station, and Giap Bat Railway Station. Trains to Dong Hoi from Giap Bat tend to take a little longer – roughly an hour to an hour and a half longer from this station, however, ticket prices are usually quite a bit less than on trains from Hanoi Railway Station, so bear this in mind if traveling on a budget.
Talking of budget travel… as mentioned above, the cheapest seat on a train is a standard 2nd class seat. These seats do have air conditioning, and you’ll have access to toilets, food, and stewards when needed, but, when you consider that you’ll be on the train for anywhere from 9.5 to 11 hours (assuming it is on time), a standard seat would get uncomfortable very quickly.
Bear in mind that there are 2nd class sleeper cabins and 1st class sleeper cabins available too, so if you’re traveling overnight, these are highly recommended so that you have a chance of sleeping. You can book direct with Vietnam Railways for cheaper cabins, or for a little more luxury go with one of the private carriages operated by Violette Express Trains. And, unless you’re restricted to a certain train because of your schedule, be sure to check prices across all the different trains, as ticket prices can vary quite substantially giving you the chance to potentially save a lot of money by choosing one train over the next.