Just outside the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park lies the coastal city of Dong Hoi, soon to become one of Vietnam’s most important international trade hubs.
Situated between the limestone karst of inland Vietnam and the choppy waters of the South China Sea, the city is celebrated for its beautiful beaches either side of the Nhat Le River.
Built on the mouth of the river, Dong Hoi was originally a busy fishing village, located strategically for catching both fresh water fish and sea food.
Boats still line the many shores of this city, as fishing remains a substantial industry here, but Dong Hoi’s convenient central and coastal location means that it has been earmarked as a vital international transport hub.
As the provincial capital of Quang Binh, Dong Hoi has recently benefited from a national airport, and a network of roads and railways link it with the major cities of Hanoi to the north and Ho Chi Minh City to the south.
Its central location means that the city is a logical choice for Vietnam’s newest trade base, as goods from central Vietnam and as far away as Thailand can be transported here easily overland.
Now, Dong Hoi has secured huge investment which will enable it to make the most of its advantageous location.
By 2020, an estimated 16.555 trillion Vietnamese Dong (US$800 million) will be spent on developing the city into an international seaport.
This would allow Dong Hoi to receive large cargo ships in its harbour, which will also become a large industrial zone, housing a power plant, steel mill and construction material factories.
A large industrial park is also planned near to the harbour, which will host a number of facilities.
The investment in Dong Hoi’s harbour area will transform the city from a fishing community to an international trade hub on par with Vietnam’s largest cities.