A hive of activity, Dong Nai (Dông Nai) Province is an important part of the country’s Southern Key Economic Region. Fueled by extensive freshwater systems, this southern province has drawn in both national and international investments. Products grown in the area include shrimp, raft bred fish, maize, and livestock farming.
The seasonal tropical forests of this province have become tourist hotspots, particularly in protected areas like Cat Tien (Cát Tiên) National Park and the Vinh Cuu Nature Reserve. A short distance from Ho Chi Minh City, Dong Nai has become a popular weekend vacation and day trip destination.
How to Get to Dong Nai Province
Boats on the water in Dong Nai Province. Photo: Bé Râu
Crisscrossed by a network of national roads and railway lines, Dong Nai Province is well connected to Southern Vietnam’s cities and ports. A sizeable province, Dong Nai’s landscapes predominantly feature lakes, rivers, dams, and tropical forests. The Dong Nai (Dông Nai) River, which flows through the province, is an important water source for local farmers and families.
The province’s largest city and capital is Bien Hoa (Biên Hòa), which sits near the border with HCMC. A 2-hour drive southwest, there are many ways out of HCMC to Dong Nai including National Routes 1A, 20, and 51. The North-South Railways in Southern Vietnam are another way for travelers to get between HCMC and Dong Nai Province.
While the province currently lacks an international airport, Tan Son Nhat is about 54 minutes away from Bien Hoa by car. Construction of the Long Thanh International Airport in Dong Nai Province is underway and projected to be completed by 2025.
The history of Dong Nai can be traced back centuries. In fact, the provincial capital of Bien Hoa is one of South Vietnam’s oldest cities. Locals in the province are proud of their nation and, throughout the years, have fiercely resisted foreign influence. It wasn’t until 1861 that the French were able to conquer Dong Nai Province. Even then, resistance groups still emerged to combat their colonization.
Although controlled by the French, locals still prospered, and the province was known for its development of hospitals, art schools, and an industrial park where steel, textiles, chemicals, and household goods were produced.
Bien Hoa City during the Vietnam War. Photo: manhhai
Flourishing for many years, Dong Nai continued to be a hub of production until the start of the Vietnam War. When battles broke out in the province during the Vietnam War, the industrial park was badly damaged, and many factories were shut down.
After the war, Dong Nai overcame the damage and restored its spirit. Many factories were rebuilt and reopened to manufacture new products like paper pulp, refined sugar, and powdered milk. The new productions put all eyes on Dong Nai and international investors began to take interest. Today, the province is once again a hub for business and production, as well as tourism.
- Dong Nai is the 5th most populous province in Vietnam.
- As of 2019, the estimated population of Dong Nai Province is 3,097,107 people.
- International companies that have factories in Dong Nai include Toshiba, PepsiCo, Posco, and Nestle.
Integrated into the Ho Chi Minh City Metropolitan Area, Bien Hoa is the capital of Dong Nai Province. Treated like a suburb of HCMC (formerly Saigon), the population of Bien Hoa has exploded in recent years, ranking it as Vietnam’s 5th largest city in the country.
As one of the oldest cities in Southern Vietnam, Bien Hoa has become a major hub for business, production, and leisure. Most tourists will visit the provincial capital before traveling to other parts of Dong Nai. Well-developed, Bien Hoa is a thrilling destination where visitors can explore the streets, tour the markets, or head into the countryside to view amazing natural landscapes.
The Tran Bien Temple of Literature in Bien Hoa City. Photo:
Within the city limits, tourists can learn more about the culture, history, and religion in Bien Hoa by visiting sites like the Tran Bien Temple of Literature, Chau Thoi Pagoda, or Buu Long Pagoda.
The Dong Nai Tourism Promotion Center is a fun place to explore for travelers with kids. Natural resorts on the outskirts of the city include the Thuy Chau Ecotourism Area, Buu Long Tourist Area, Giang Dien Waterfall Eco Resort, and the Khu Du Lich Sinh Thai Buon Xoa Safari. Meanwhile, within the city, Dong Nai Golf Resort, Bien Hung Park, and the Son Tien Park and Garden provide natural escapes.
Accommodations are abundant throughout Bien Hoa, so tourists won’t have to worry about finding a place to stay. There are plenty of options to fit every budget. Ranging from 1-star to 5-star establishments, the Mira Central Park Hotel, Ha Trinh Hotel, Bien Hoa Hotel, Ngoc Son Hotel, Sky Hotel, and the Mansion Park Hotel and Apartment are top hotels in Bien Hoa.
Mansion Park Hotel and Apartment. Photo: Mansion Park • Hotel & Apartment
While many large resorts have on-site dining establishments, tourists should also explore the culinary delights found throughout the city. Bien Hoa frequently features a mix of international cuisine and local favorites.
Popular restaurants in the city include Highlands Coffee, Nha Hang Kaiserin, Texas Coffee and Tea House, Bo Nam Nhung, Nha Vien Restaurant, Wellington Restaurant and Café, and The Pizza Company.
Famous Places in Dong Nai Province
Developed as a center for business, Dong Nai Province is building its reputation as a tourist destination. While there are plenty of attractions to explore in the city, make sure to spend some time in one of the quiet districts and villages where local cultures and traditions thrive.
A few famous places in Dong Nai Province to include on your itinerary are Xuan Loc (Xuân Lôc) District, Vinh Cuu District, Long Thanh (Long Thành) District, and Tan Van Pottery Villages.
Xuan Loc District
Situated on National Highway 1, the Xuan Loc District is a historical tourist destination because of its ties to the Vietnam War. In April 1975, the last significant battle of the war took place in Xuan Loc between the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (Southern forces) and the Vietnam People’s Army (Northern forces).
A monument stands on the battlefield and many tourists head to the site to learn more about the conflict and war history.
Vinh Cuu District
The Vinh Cuu District is a rural area in the Dong Nai Province that has become an attraction because of its beautiful nature reserve. Contiguous with Cat Tien National Park, the Vinh Cuu Nature Reserve is an important habitat area for many of the country’s endangered species.
Living within the nature reserve are yellow-cheeked gibbons, Asian elephants, and Indian bison (gaur). The reserve is open daily to visitors and tour guides are available for hire at the visitor center. Additional attractions in the Vinh Cuu District include the Tri An Lake and dam.
Long Thanh District
Slowly developing to become a major metropolitan area, the Long Thanh District is still a quiet and remote section of Dong Nai Province. Currently located the home base for the An Giang Coffee Ltd, the district is sure to become a popular destination in the near future as an international airport is currently being constructed on its outskirts.
For now, tourists can explore the Long Thanh District to learn more about the culture and traditions of rural Vietnam.
Tan Van Pottery Village
A rural part of the Dong Nai River. Photo: Bé Râu
Famous for its black clay, the Tan Van Pottery Village was originally founded 300 years ago. Creating traditional Vietnamese pottery using water from the Dong Nai River, artists in the village handcraft pieces without the use of modern molds or tools.
Large pots are the most common pieces made in the village, but visitors can also find smaller souvenirs like bowls and mugs too. Tours of the village are offered daily, and visitors can watch as the artists shape, carve, and paint the pottery pieces.
Adding to the fun, there is plenty to see in Dong Nai Province apart from the famous places. The list of activitiess goes on and tourists can entertain themselves by seeing the natural wonders and epic resorts in the area. The best attractions in Dong Nai are Cat Tien National Park, Long Thanh Golf Club, Suoi Mo (Suôi Mo) Park, Giang Dien Waterfall, and Buu Long Tourist Area.
Cat Tien National Park
Considered to be one of the most famous in Vietnam, Cat Tien National Park is the star of Dong Nai Province. Renowned for its stunning landscapes and unique wildlife, the national park offers tourists a mix of landscapes with both developed resorts and untouched forests. Accommodations are limited and access to Cat Tien is strictly controlled by the Vietnamese government.
Cat Tien National Park’s famous Crocodile Lake. Photo: Alan Gill
To gain entry, all visitors must be booked with an authorized tour company. In the park, guides will take visitors to attractions like the Ta Lai (Tà Lài) Ethnic Village, Cat Tien Sanctuary, Bear Rescue Station, Crocodile Lake, and Ben Cu Waterfall.
Long Thanh Golf Club
A 36-hole course, Long Thanh Golf Club is world-renowned by golf professionals and enthusiasts. Designed and constructed by the Golf Plan architecture firm, this year-round course features a challenging layout that’s suited for both professional and amateur golfers. Boasting a modern clubhouse that provides guests with everything they need, reservations are required.
Giang Dien Waterfall
A nature area outside of Ho Chi Minh City in the Trang Bom District, the Giang Dien Waterfall (Thác Giang Điền) is a great place to go swimming, hiking, biking, and camping. Featuring multiple cascades falling into a large pool and designed like a resort, tourists can overnight in on-site accommodations.
Giang Dien Waterfall. Photo: NguyenTrung
There are also 3 restaurants that serve local and traditional Vietnamese dishes. The dry season is the best time to visit the site because the water will be clear of debris without the rain.
Suoi Mo Park
One popular tourist area in Dong Nai Province is the Suoi Mo Park, which sits about 2 and ½ hours outside of Bien Hoa City. Filled with water from underground valleys, Suoi Mo Park is a great place for traveling families. Activities in the park include swimming, camping, and team-building courses.
Accommodation and dining options are available at the park, so visitors can plan to spend the day or night enjoying the cool water and pristine shore.
Buu Long Tourist Area
On Long An Lake, the Buu Long Tourist Area has become the go-to place to escape the busy urban environments in HCMC and Bien Hoa. Like a postcard, the Buu Long Tourist Area’s beauty is drawn from the cliffs, rivers, and lakes that grace the landscape. Along the shore, tourists can hike or picnic in quiet, shady spots.
Panoramic view of the Buu Long Tourist Area. Photo: Bé Râu
Boat tours on the lake are also available for affordable prices. Accommodation in the area is limited, so visitors should plan ahead if they are visiting the province during the peak tourist season.
Read more about the top things to do in Dong Nai Province.
Used to promote tourism and honor Vietnamese traditions, Dong Nai Province hosts various festivals throughout the year. While big national celebrations like Tet are a part of the province’s identity, there are a few celebrations that are specific to Dong Nai.
The Dong Nai Tourism Festival and Dong Nai Food Festival have become the two most popular celebrations in the province. Celebrated in July, the Dong Nai Tourism Festival is a time when vendors head to Bien Hoa to showcase their products and specialties. Fruit, art, and performances are all popular during the festival and used to entertain guests.
Later in the year, the Dong Nai Food Festival kicks off in early December in Bien Hoa City. Featuring more than 100 stalls, the festival is a time when visitors can try local favorites like grapefruit tea. Extremely popular, the Food Festival draws in national and international tourists every year.
Giang Dien Waterfall tourist area. Photo: NguyenTrung
Tourism in Dong Nai peaks and falls around the weather conditions. With a subtropical climate, the province is a tourist destination throughout the year, though there are busier times during specific months. The rainy season occurs during the summer months, however, it’s also the time when the fruit is harvested.
While the weather isn’t perfect, many visitors will travel to Dong Nai in May, June, July, or August to taste the local fruit. Even more popular than the summer months are the winter months. Starting in November, the rain begins to slow, and the temperatures drop, making the climate excellent for tourism.
The busiest months tend to be December, January, and February. However, the dry weather can last as late as April and some tourists may take advantage by traveling to Dong Nai just after the holidays.
Bien Hoa City, capital of the Dong Nai. Photo: Ben Christenson
Boasting some of Southeast Vietnam’s most charming landscapes, Dong Nai Province is a well-established tourist destination. Mixing urban with remote, the province has plenty of attractions that will appeal to all types of travelers. Highlights include the very popular Cat Tien National Park, but there are also hidden gems waiting to be discovered.
Just a few hours from HCMC, Dong Nai Province is an easy to access destination that is suitable for day, weekend, and long-term travelers.
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Keyword: Dong Nai Province, Vietnam