Covering an area of 620 sq km (240 sq mi) just north of Dong Ha (Đông Hà), the Vinh Linh District is home to several prominent national heritage sites including the Vinh Moc (Vịnh Mốc) Tunnels, Hien Luong (Hiền Lương) shores, Hien Luong Bridge, and the Ben Hai (Bến Hải) River.
Tourists are particularly drawn to visit this North Central Coast district because of its ties to the Vietnam War and Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).
Historic District in Vietnam’s North Central Coast
Vinh Linh (Vĩnh Linh) District is located within a rural part of Vietnam’s Quang Tri (Quảng Trị) Province. Bordered by the East Sea, two neighboring districts, and Quang Binh (Quảng Bình) Province, the district has been divided into 3 townships and 19 communes.
Dong Ha, the capital of Quang Tri Province, is only 38 km (24 mi) to the south of Vinh Linh and is the closest major city to the district. Meanwhile, Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi, and its most famous Southern city, Ho Chi Minh, are both hundreds of miles away from the Vinh Linh District.
Tourism to the district is directly fueled by travelers from Dong Ha City who have booked a tour or are visiting the area to see the DMZ. With the Vinh Moc Tunnels falling within the district’s jurisdiction, Vinh Linh is also frequently included as a stop on DMZ tour itineraries. The drive between Dong Ha City and the Vinh Linh District takes about 45 minutes by car.
Before the Vinh Linh District became part of Vietnam, it was ruled by the Kingdom of Champa. Previously, the district was known as Ma Linh, Chieu Linh (Chiêu Linh), Minh Luong (Minh Lương), and Minh Linh.
Ruling over much of Central and Southern Vietnam from the 2nd century AD to 1832, the Champa people were not driven out of Vinh Linh until 1831 when the Nguyễn Dynasty created Quang Tri Province. Set as the administrative headquarters for the province, Vinh Linh would lose its power over the years and become a rural district.
With the capital moved to Dong Ha, and Con Co (Cồn Cỏ) Island split to form its own district, Vinh Linh lost both its administrative authority and a part of its territory. Furthermore, the district was split in 1954 during the Geneva Conference that sought to settle the border dispute between the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North) and the State of Vietnam (South).
This division lasted throughout the Vietnam War, which saw part of Vinh Linh turn into the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Vietnam. One notable historic site in the district is the Vinh Moc Tunnels, which were built to shelter local communities from bombs. A network of passages, the tunnels are an important part of the DMZ that’s become a tourist attraction.
Although most of the tourism in Vinh Linh District is fueled by its ties to the DMZ, there are a few other attractions that pre-date the Vietnam War nearby. In addition to the historical sites, Vinh Linh has a few interesting cultural and natural attractions too. From the seaside shores to the inland farms, there’s a lot to see and explore in Vinh Linh.
Apart from the tunnels and river, there are quite a have a few attractions tied to the DMZ. Sitting just outside of the district, tourists can visit the Khe Sanh Combat Base or Rockpile, which were both used during the Vietnam War and are often included in DMZ tours. In fact, most DMZ tours are quite comprehensive and take you to multiple attractions over the course of several hours.
Vinh Moc Tunnels
One of the best and frequently named “must-see” attractions in Vinh Linh are the Vinh Moc Tunnels. Used by civilians as a shelter during the Vietnam War, the tunnels expanded from simple passageways to become mini-community. In addition to the bomb shelters, other underground chambers were added which housed a school, theater, and hospital.
A vast network, there are multiple entrances to the tunnels. Tourists looking to visit the tunnels can plan a trip on their own or join a DMZ Tour to take a peek inside this underground marvel.
Ben Hai River
Also in Vinh Linh District is the Ben Hai River, which marked the border between what was North and South Vietnam. A bridge built over the river had to be rebuilt after the war, and in the subsequent years, new expansions have added a small museum and monument.
A stop on every DMZ Tour, tourists can visit the river to view the border and its historical artifacts. Tourists who are exploring the area on their own can visit the bridge and river without a local guide.
Vinh Moc Fishing Village
Taking a break from the historic sites in Vinh Linh, tourists may want to dive into the local culture. The Vinh Moc Fishing Village is a small community that’s inhabited the area for hundreds of years. Starting as a small settlement, the fishermen use traditional methods to catch fish from the sea.
Tourists are welcome to tour the village and book a tour with a local guide to learn how to fish. The fishing village is a great place to visit over lunchtime as fresh-caught fish is always on the menu.
Vinh Moc Beach
Right next to the fishing village is Vinh Moc Beach. Used by fishermen to dock and launch their boats, the beach is a fun place where visitors can spend the day relaxing on the water’s edge. With limited developments, Vinh Moc Beach does have barbeque facilities, restrooms, showers, and picnic tables, as well as lounge chairs and umbrella rentals.
Beach vendors sell snacks and small meals using local ingredients. Popular activities at Vinh Moc Beach include fishing, camping, hiking, boating, and swimming.
Black Pepper Farms
In Vinh Linh’s countryside, travelers can book a tour of a Black Pepper Farm. Grown in rows of tall vines, local farmers welcome visitors with open arms. Tours allow guests to learn more about the local agriculture and Vietnam’s national products. There are many farms in the district, but some of the larger ones can demonstrate how the black pepper is grown, harvested, and processed.
Being such a rural district, there aren’t many accommodation options in Vinh Linh. Two small options within the district are the Thanh Phat Hotel and the Nha Nghi Thang Tam. Clean and comfortable, these hotels offer the basic necessities to travelers. For larger hotels, tourists will want to stay the night in Dong Ha City, which is less than an hour away from the Vinh Linh District.
Thanh Phat Hotel – Sitting on the beachfront in Vinh Linh District, the Thanh Phat Hotel is a small property that offers pet-friendly and kid-friendly rooms. Most rooms have a private bathroom, but a few dormitory-style accommodations used shared facilities. On-site, guests will have access to free Wi-Fi, parking, a 24-hour front desk, and laundry service.
Nha Nghi Thanh Tam – Another small hotel in the Vinh Linh District is the Nha Nghi Thanh Tam. Functioning like a hostel, rooms at the hotel are both private and shared. Some of the larger rooms have kitchenettes so that travelers can cook their own meals. Situated just outside of the main town, the hotel is just a 20-minute drive to the Vinh Moc Tunnels.
Sai Gon Dong Ha Hotel – The biggest resort in Dong Ha City is the Sai Gon Dong Ha Hotel. With numerous facilities including two swimming pools, a tennis court, a fitness center, a restaurant, and a bar, guests will never be bored. Rooms at the hotel are all private with their own bathroom and they include AC, a TV, and a minibar.
Muong Thanh Grand Quang Tri Hotel – Close to the center of Dong Ha City, Muong Thanh Grand Quang Tri Hotel features a modern design. Guest rooms are rather large and include a seating area, ensuite bathroom, and mini-fridge. Shared facilities include an indoor swimming pool, fitness center, restaurant, bar, and banquet room.
The 24-hour front desk can assist guests with arranging additional services like luggage storage and traditional massages.
Most of the restaurants in the Vinh Linh District have a limited menu. Traditional Vietnamese cuisine is dominant, although a few places may dive into the international favorite – pizza. Similar to the hotels, many travelers will choose to eat on the beachfront areas in the Vinh Linh District or stick to restaurants in Dong Ha City.
Some of the best restaurants in the area are Bien Vinh Thai, Quan Bom, Quang Ly Linh, Sachi Restaurant, Tong Hua Restaurant, and Tam’s Cafe. Serving more than just food, Tam’s Cafe in Dong Ha City is frequently a meeting place for tourists who have booked a DMZ tour.
The North Central Coast Region where Vinh Linh District is located has a mild climate throughout the year. However, monsoons are typical during the months of September, October, and November. The increased amount of rain often keeps tourists at bay as no one likes to trudge around in heavy showers and thick mud.
Similarly, May thru August isn’t too popular due to the high temperatures. Instead, the best time to visit Vinh Linh is from December to April. During these months, the weather is cooler and there’s little rainfall to interfere with tourist activities. However, travelers should book their accommodation and DMZ tours ahead of arrival, as spots can fill up rather quickly.
Relatively unknown as a tourist destination, most visitors will only travel to Vinh Linh District as a part of their DMZ tour itinerary. With more to offer than the Vinh Moc Tunnels, Vinh Linh is looking to expand its tourism sector as it hopes to become an extension of Dong Ha City.
New developments in the area are expected to help put Vinh Linh District on the map as a historic, cultural, and beautiful vacation destination.
Province: Vĩnh Linh District, Quang Tri Province, Vietnam
Season: Year-round | Best during the dry season