Quang Binh is a province in Vietnam, about 490km south of Hanoi. The entire area spans 8,037sqkm and serves as home to a population of more than 800,000 people. The city of Dong Hoi is the provincial capital.
Quang Binh has diverse terrain with everything from mountains to lowlands, forests and islands, as well as seas and rivers, making it a great place to visit, as there are many things to see and explore here.
For the past few years, the government had invested in the province in an effort to improve the infrastructure and services so that it will be more tourist-friendly. Transportation has been upgraded, while sites of historical and cultural relevance have been carefully preserved. Indeed, Quang Binh is now ready for tourists.
The main tourist destination in the province is the Phong Nha- Ke Bang National Park situated in both the provincial districts of Bo Trach and Minh Hoa. This protected area is found in the Truong Son limestone zone. The national park is home to massive karsts, as well as plenty of caves and grottoes. In 2003, it was declared a World Natural Heritage Site by UNESCO. Since it was acknowledged by UNESCO, the number of people who visit the park has significantly increased.
The Bang Mineral Hot Spring is also one of Quang Binh's popular attractions and is located in Le Thuy, about 60km south of Dong Hoi. It is said that Bang Mineral Hot Spring is the sole hot water source in the country with the constant temperature of 105ºC. Because of the elements found in the water, the hot spring has become internationally recognized.
Another place worth visiting is the deserted Chim or Gio Island. 'Chim' means bird, and this island is the habitat of many sea birds.
Those who visit Quang Binh will have no difficulty finding good places to eat as there are plenty of restaurants to visit for a satisfying taste of traditional Vietnamese cuisine, as well as international favourites. As expected, majority of the restaurants in the province are located in Dong Hoi, the capital. Travellers who love seafood will have enough dining options, thanks to the likes of Ba Hien Seafood Restaurant, Hai Yen Seafood Restaurant, Quoc Dung Seafood Restaurant and Viet Hung Seafood Restaurant. The last three establishments mentioned can be found at Quang Phu Beach.
Tourists who find themselves in the Le Thuy district of the province should go to the town of Kien Gang, where most of the good restaurants are located. Some of them are Chau Hien Restaurant, An Dung Restaurant, Thuong Phe Restaurant and Que Huong Restaurant.
Meanwhile, the district of Bo Trach also features fine eateries in the form of Phong Nha Restaurant, Viet Hong Restaurant and Sai Gon - Phong Nha Restaurant.
Nightlife in Quang Binh is the same as every other Vietnamese province: Due to the lack of nightclubs and other nighttime hangout spots, the night time activity is limited to drinking. Those who want to enjoy a drink or two in a sophisticated setting can go to the Sun Spa Resort in Dong Hoi. The resort is where one will find the Ocean Bar, an open-air area which is a great source of traditional drinks and exotic cocktails. It is open from 06:00 to 23:00; at night, there is a Filipino band that provides live entertainment.
There are countless cafés in the provincial capital for those who want to enjoy a nightcap or two. Bar Café Wonder N0 1 in Nguyen Trai Street in Dong Hoi is a recommended stop. Meanwhile, those who want a less expensive way to round off the night should check out the joints and stalls which serve rice wine or bia hoi (or both). They can usually be found near the highway.
Anyone who visits the province of Quang Binh will surely enjoy shopping in this part of Vietnam. The province has many stores, markets and other establishments that will definitely satisfy an avid shopper. Most of the stores are found in the capital, making Dong Hoi City the ideal place to purchase any kind of merchandise.
Fashionistas are guaranteed to be thrilled with the number of clothing and footwear shops in Dong Hoi. Suggested stops include Nua The Gioi Fashion, Hai Long Fashion - Blue Exchange, 2BI Fashion, Teen Style Shop, Suc Song Moi Fashion Shop, Jean Fashion and Nhu Y Shop. When it comes to shoes, tourists should visit Tan Đinh Footwear Shop, Tuan Footwear Shop and T&T Footwear Shop. Travellers can also get cosmetics at Nui Linh Cosmetics Shop and Ha Chau Cosmetics Shop.
Of course, every tourist needs to get at least one souvenir and the best place to do that is Clem’s Souvenir Shop in Dương Van An in Dong Hoi.
Travellers who want to check out the usual markets should go to Dong Hoi Market, Ba Don Market (in Quang Trach district) or Treo Market (in Le Thuy).
Because there are many things to do in Quang Binh, anyone fortunate enough to visit this destination is guaranteed to keep busy. In the Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park alone, there are several activities lined up for the tourist. The park is home to hundreds of caves, so cave sightseeing and exploration are a must in anyone's itinerary. The caves of Phong Nha and Tien Son must not be missed.
Visitors are also encouraged to go on an ecological and historical tour. The stops in this tour include the Botanical Garden, the Eight Volunteers Cave and Nuoc Mooc Spring and one can also see relics like the Xuan Son Ferry and the Khe Gat Airport.
Hiking in the forests of the Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park is also highly recommended and taking the eco-trail along Chai River enables any visitor to fully appreciate nature.
Moreover, visiting any of the handicraft villages in the province is a suggested activity and there are several villages throughout Quang Binh that specialize in handicrafts. Those interested in purchasing unique rattan products should stop by the Quang Van and Tho Don communes in Quang Trach district.
The fastest way to reach Quang Binh is by plane. Vietnam Airlines have flights that travel the route of Hanoi – Dong Hoi – Ho Chi Minh City three times a week (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays). Travellers who have more time to spare are suggested to take the bus as this enables visitors to see more of the stunning landscape. Travelling by train also allows tourists to enjoy the view. Meanwhile, taxis and motorbikes are the best means of transportation when getting around town.
The province of Quang Binh is located in the monsoon-tropical zone and experiences two seasons: the wet and dry season. The wet season begins in September and lasts until March; the months of September to November experience the most rain. On the other hand, dry season begins in April and lasts until August with the hottest temperatures from June to August. The best time to visit the province is any time during the dry months.
Because not all restaurants have English menus, it is a good idea to bring a phrase book.