Au Lac Bar and Hostel, Dong Hoi

Au Lac Bar and Hostel Dong Hoi, Dong Hoi accommodation, Vietnam accommodation, Vietnam hostels
Au Lac Bar and Hostel Dong Hoi, vietnam, vietnam tourism, phong nha, places to stay in vietnam, vietnam hostels

Au Lac Bar and Hostel is more than your average Vietnamese hostel

This was our second visit to Dong Hoi and it was for pretty much the same reason. We wanted to visit the Phong Nha caves. While researching accommodation options, we found that not only was Dong Hoi cheaper than Phuong Nha, it had more to offer too.

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The famous Phong Nha National Park Caves

On our first visit we found one hostel, Buffalo’s Hostel and all the foreigners were raving about. Everything else, was either in Vietnamese or way out of our price range, so we went with it.

We chose to book it as they offered accommodation and cave tour options, which at the time, was just what we needed. While our stay there was a fun experience, it wasn’t the warmest or most comfortable experience.

This time round we did the same thing and found the same result. Phong Nha just didn’t offer value for our money so we went back to looking at Dong Hoi.

I’m going to be honest and say that I wasn’t completely thrilled by the idea of staying at another party-hard hostel. What saved the idea was that it wouldn’t be for long and I could work with that.

Our stay at Au Lac Bar and Hostel turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip!


How we found Au Lac Bar and Hostel

Our regular readers will know that Hotels Combined is our ‘go to’ for finding a place to sleep and so far, it has been good to us. Though when it gave us another hostel option in Dong Hoi, I was a bit hmmmm.

As it turned out, Au Lac Bar and Hostel is now a new addition to our favorite accommodation list. Not to mention our first option for future visits to the super funky city of Dong Hoi.

Affiliate disclosure: This blog contains affiliate links for our accommodation partner, Hotels Combined. We trust and used them for most of our trip and we are happy to recommend their services (especially since they were so easy to use and found us really good choices too.) Now, you don’t get charged extra for using these links and we may earn a small commission from them which goes towards finding and managing all the awesome content on our site.  You are under no obligation to use these links but if you do, we want to salute and thank you for your support, we appreciate it!



Au Lac Bar and Hostel

Au Lac sits at 68 Dong Hai, Dong My, Dong Hoi.

The area boasts plenty of restaurants, bars, hole-in-the-wall eateries and you can walk to the city center or river front in no time.


Au Lac Bar and Hostel Facilities

The first thing we noticed about Au Lac was the awesome decor and welcome feel when you step inside.

The massive pool table greets you at the entrance then leads you to the bar/reception area. before sweeping you up the stairs to the rooms.

The communal area extends from the comfy couch by the window with a great view, across to the the row of small tables and chairs on the opposite wall leading to the bar.

There’s no lift but thankfully it’s only three levels so you don’t have far to go. The staircase is nice and wide too, so you’re not wrestling your luggage to the room.



Au Lac Bar and Hostel does offer parking and at first, we thought the parking facilities were a bit silly as there wasn’t much room in front of the building.

We soon learnt thought that they use the parking space across the street as well as the space out front.

The staff also bring the bikes inside round 11 PM and then wheel them back out at 7 AM the next morning. We thought that was super courteous of them, making our stay so much more enjoyable.


Socializing at Au Lac Bar and Hostel

The ground floor area is great for mingling with other visitors or just doing your own thing.

We had a blast playing a few games of pool and chatting to Thao who was manning the bar. Not only was she awesome to hang out with but she had great taste in music and was happy to find a few of our favs too. Thanks Thao!

We met a few of the other visitors in passing, though we got the feeling it wasn’t fully occupied.


Our booking bonus

Another bonus for us and booking via Hotels Combined was that we got a free breakfast out of this deal.  Kien delivered our breakfast as soon as we were ready for it and it consisted of the most delicious banh mi. Freshly made by the local banh mi legend and we loved every bite.

Au Lac also has a proper coffee machine too! You can order a choice of Vietnamese or western coffees at very reasonable prices.


Red Peppers Restaurant and Pizzeria

Au Lac Bar and Hostel Dong Hoi, vietnam, vietnam tourism, phong nha, places to stay in vietnam, vietnam hostels

If you’re looking for somewhere to to eat, then head on over to Red Peppers Restaurant and Pizzeria.

Au Lac guests receive a 10% discount on their food bill. Extra bonus, whahoo!

The food selection is a good combination of western and Vietnamese food. The ingredients are fresh, the dishes are really yummy and reasonably priced.

Red Peppers is a short walk from Au Lac and like the hostel it has a very welcoming vibe to it too. It is a sister property to Au Lac and you’ll receive the same high level of hospitality there.

It’s not unusual to see Thao, Binh or Kien floating between the two either.  Good company guaranteed!


Where to eat in Dong Hoi

If you’re looking for something of the more local variety, then head right out the front door where you’ll find plenty of options to choose from.

A short stroll across the bridge towards Cang Dong Hoi takes you to an area that is full of eateries with mouthwatering selections to chose from.

Dong Hoi also sports a lively night market. On of the main features is the selection of local delicacies and crowd favorites, which we miss out on thanks to the wet weather and of coarse a good reason to come back. HA!


Au Lac Bar and Hostel Dong Hoi, vietnam, vietnam tourism, phong nha, places to stay in vietnam, vietnam hostels


We tried a local spot at the other end of Đông Hải that had a lovely little old couple running it. While communication was almost non existent between the four of us, Leon and I were quietly confident they would deliver a superb meal, which they did of coarse.

Our order turned out to be beef and noodle soup dishes that were absolutely divine, not to mention a great find as it cost us next to nothing at VND80,000 (~USD3.50 / ~AUD4.80) for both bowls.

The most enjoyable part of the meal was watching the old couple get excited about their foreign visitors, finding ways to converse which ended in a fun and hilarious conversation via Google Translate that still makes us laugh.


Our Room

Our room was a basic but lovely and comfortable space where everything felt and looked bright and fresh and the private bathroom was huge (compared to previous places we’ve stayed).


Au Lac Bar and Hostel Dong Hoi, vietnam, vietnam tourism, phong nha, places to stay in vietnam, vietnam hostels


The queen size bed was a dream with a Western style mattress, crisp sheets and a super warm and comfy duvet.

The first bonus was the balcony with a view over the Cau Rau river and out over towards the Nhat Le river. It was a great spot to have a beer and watch the world go by.


Au Lac Bar and Hostel Dong Hoi, vietnam, vietnam tourism, phong nha, places to stay in vietnam, vietnam hostels


Two special mentions.

One, there is no TV. We weren’t bother as we were too tired after exploring and touring. Two, there is no wardrobe as such but they do offer coat hooks. Still if you’re only there for a few nights, you won’t even notice it.

The bathroom was clean and modern with the traditional all-in-one set up and was big enough to swing a cat in. We love it!

It had a western toilet, basin, double head shower which was perfect for Leon and stocked with basic toiletries as well as plush towels.


Au Lac Bar and Hostel Dong Hoi, vietnam, vietnam tourism, phong nha, places to stay in vietnam, vietnam hostels


Service Experience

Can’t fault the service in any way. Owners Binh and Kien, along with their team did an amazing job of looking after us. They give us heaps of insight into Dong Hoi and some great recommendations too. Then they hooked us up with a great tour to Paradise and Dark Caves, assuring us it would be both value for money and memorable.

We enjoyed hanging with these guys so much so that we’ve become friends and stay in touch regularly and it’s experiences like this that make us love this country so much!



We paid VND 200,000 (~USD 8.50 / ~AUD 12.00) per night for our three nights at Au Lac Bar and Hostel. It was an awesome deal and one of the best we’ve come across in our travels so far.


That’s our stay at Au Lac Bar and Hostel

We really enjoyed our stay. In fact, we enjoyed it so much so that we almost considered extending our trip to spend just so we could spend more time with Binh, Kien and Thao!

If you are thinking of doing the Phong Nha caves, don’t feel obligated to stay in Phong Nha. Dong Hoi has so much more to offer and Au Lac is the ideal spot for a base.

Check them out guys, you won’t be disappointed!

They are locals who know Dong Hoi well. They have a ton of recommendations that you will never find on TripAdvisor. Or any other review platform for that matter. (*Hint: Ask Binh about the hot springs.)

Thanks for reading and see you in the next one…

Maxim Hotel Da Lat

Affordable accommodation in Da Lat Maxim Hotel

Maxim Hotel – Da Lat’s best kept accommodation secret!

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We found Maxim Hotel by chance on our first visit to Da Lat in early 2018. At that time, we didn’t have the well-structured accommodation routine we have today.  But we can tell you that Maxim Hotel is where that little ritual started. Hoorah for awesome finds!


Why Da Lat is one of our favorite cities!


Ha and Duong who own and manage the property have gone from acquaintances to good friends in no time.

Here is why we love staying at Maxim Hotel so much.


How we found Maxim Hotel Da Lat

We were trying out Hotels Combined for the first time. We heard plenty about how easy it was to use and thought we’d give it a go. This was to be the first of many hotels we’d be looking to book on our LTXtraordinary road trip and we needed the process to be easy!

Maxim Hotel Da Lat landed on our short list initially for their price point. It was well within our budget but we’ll admit that we were skeptic once we delved further.

The photos made it look like it was a four-star property, but that couldn’t be right for the price. In the end we took a punt and we were so glad we did!

(PS: those are affiliate links. You don’t pay extra to use them and we get a small commission that helps keep us on the road longer and to tell you about more awesome places like this one!)



Their address is 39 Nguyen Thi Nghia, Phuong 2, Da Lat.

Maxim Hotel is also a short walk to Da Lat city center, the markets and several well-known attractions. It’s conveniently located near some great eateries too.

Feel free to ask either Ha or Duong for recommendations.

Snacking our Chops in Da Lat

On both visits, Ha introduced us to some delicious dishes, native to Da Lat. So, we can tell you with certainty that you’ll thoroughly enjoy their recommendations.


Maxim Hotel Da Lat


Maxim Hotel consists of four floors. Each floor has four rooms as well as a fully equipped kitchen and small rooftop area.  The latter being available for guest use at any time.

Access to all floors is by stairs and lift. YAY for lifts because you won’t find them often.

They offer free, secure onsite motorcycle parking – if you are traveling with you own. If you don’t have one, they can arrange for a rental motorcycle or other transportation of your choice too.

For added convenience, they offer onsite laundry services. Generally, they can have it done within a day but it is weather dependent. The team is always happy to accommodate special requests where possible so feel free to ask.

Oh, and let’s not forget the free WiFi. Decent services, especially for those working on the road.



We’ve stayed at Maxim Hotel twice enjoyed both the Double and Deluxe Quadruple rooms.


Double Room

The Double room is perfect for couples.

Each room has a western sized queen bed and a cozy duvet. The fluffy and warm kind – perfect for those cooler highland evenings.

It also has a work desk and wardrobe and the majority of their rooms have windows with plenty of natural light.

The private bathroom is modern and comfortable. Equipped with a double headed shower that has plenty of hot water and great pressure. It has a western toilet and large basin with cabinet too. The latter is almost none existent in hotel bathrooms. It also had a window which was great for natural airflow.

The room had a hairdryer (sounds silly but you miss it when it’s not there), and an electric kettle with cups.  Small but convenient items to make your stay more enjoyable.

Each room also has a large flat screen TV with all the mod cons you would expect.

Khach San Ngoc Phuong Bao Loc

Kach San Ngoc Phuong

Good budget accommodation in Bao Loc

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Khach San Ngoc Phuong was the first of what is going to be many one-nighters on the second stretch of our road trip adventure.

The LTXtraordinary Road Trip

So, why only one night in Bao Loc? We’ll tell you more in our Leg 10 blog. In the meantime, let’s tell you more about our over night stay.

Where to book Khac San Ngoc Phuong

If you haven’t met us before, first off, welcome. Secondly, if you had you would know we rave about the conveniences of using Hotels Combined. Especially when we are out on our road trip.

How we choose accommodation in Vietnam

Khac San Ngoc Phuong was our winner. Not only did it offer the basic conveniences we look for but it had a couple of our ‘luxury items’ too. Bonus!

In addition to the above it came at a great price which was why we booked it on the spot.

(PS: those are affiliate links. You don’t pay extra to use them but we do get a small commission and that helps keep us on the road longer and to tell you about more places like this one!)


Our winner sat slightly past the town center at 184 Lam Sơn, Lộc Sơn, but this was on purpose. We chose this hotel because it sat just off the route we had mapped out for the next morning to Da Lat.

More importantly, it was close to a gas station and walking distance to a brand new Vincom complex. Handy for stocking up on water and Netflix supplies.

We also found a Jolibee inside and decided to have lunch while we were at it.


Khach San Ngoc Phuong had stories and no elevator on site. The staircase was semi enclosed which buffered a bit of the ground level noise.

They offer two simple options in room type, namely twin and double rooms.

For us the bonus was that they had free, secure onsite parking. In fact, it was so secure we couldn’t even get to them the next morning. LOL. It didn’t take much to free them so there was no hassle there.

They also have free WiFi but we didn’t end up using it so can’t tell you if it’s any good or not.

Our Double Room

We stayed in a nice light and spacious double room at the front of the property. Furnished in traditional Vietnamese furniture.

Initially we thought it might be noisy due to the busy road but as soon as we settled in, we realized it wasn’t an issue at all.

We had a large bed with a firm mattress which wasn’t too uncomfortable. The linen was clean and decent and included a light blanket.

The room came with a small fridge, kettle, large flat screen TV and cable channels. Basic but nice.

We had a private bathroom in the familiar all-in-one style we’ve come to know so well. And it came stocked with clean towels and basic toiletries.

Unfortunately, the hot water didn’t last long but the pressure was good. Thankfully the small water heater worked fast and we didn’t have to wait too long to take showers.


The check in process was easy.

I simply showed my passport, he took a photo of it and gave it back to me.

That was a first, as they will usually hold your passport until check out. Not sure why this was different, but if we find out, we’ll let you know.

Apart from the above, our only other interaction with staff was when they asked us to park the bikes in the garage.

They were very friendly and easy to interact with, even with the lack of English. We just used Google translate and that worked a treat.


Our one night cost us VND250,000 (~USD11.00 / ~AUD15.00). Not a bad deal at all.

Khach San Ngoc Phuong lets you book a room without using a credit card and you can pay in cash on check in or check out.

That’s our stay at Khach San Ngoc Phuong

The only thing that marred our stay a bit was the weird artificial bird song coming from the balcony.

The same song played continuous. It didn’t stop until around 11PM and fired up again at 5AM. It just wasn’t happiness.

But as I said it was the only thing that was frustrating and it’s small in the grand scheme of things.

The rest our stay was very enjoyable. We would happily use it again if we need another reason to overnight in Bao Loc. Next time in a back room though, ha-ha!

Have questions about Khach San Ngoc Phuong?

Hope this was of use but if you’re looking for more info, then try Our Two Cents Page or our Destination page.

Can’t find what you’re looking for? Then feel free to leave us a comment below. Or you might find the answer on our Leon and Tash channel.

Thanks for reading and see you in the next post…

Hong Thien Ruby your heavenly stay in Hue

Hong Thien Ruby

Hong Thien Ruby

Heavenly Hong Thien Ruby in Hue is waiting for you!

You’ve heard about the beauty of Hue and decided to go see what the Forbidden Purple City is all about.

The list of things to see is long, the way to get there clear. What is unclear, is where to stay.

How we found Hong Thien Ruby hotel?

We found this little gem purely by accident after a rough start to our Hue adventure.  It was our third hotel in three days and our first two experiences were a tad hair raising.

Thankfully Hong Thien Ruby restored our faith in Hue hospitality.  And why it is our first option when planning our next trip back to Hue.

Where in Hue is Hong Thien Ruby?

She’s tucked away in smallish alley off Chu Van An, right in the middle of the tourist area. If you were to simply walk down the street, you would never know it was there.

Hong Thien Ruby Chu Van Anh

The location is also perfect for getting around Hue on foot or by taxi and ride share.

An added bonus is that even though it’s in the busier part of town, you would never know it. The hotel sits at the back of the lane way, making it a quiet and enjoyable option. (Town can get rowdy over the weekends.)

How long did we stay at Hong Thien Ruby?

For this visit, we stayed five nights and would happily have stayed longer.  But we had work commitments to attend to at a different venue.

How much does Hong Thien Ruby cost?

We paid VND350,00 per night (~USD16 or ~NZD23 per night) for a double room with en suite, including daily breakfast.

We thought it was a great price for the location and what was on offer. (Feel free to check HotelCombined for comparisons.)

[Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link. If you make a booking via the link, we get a small commission that helps keep us on the road. For that we thank you immensely.]

Why choose Hong Thien Ruby?

There are plenty of reasons to choose Hong Thien Ruby.

For a smaller, lower price point property it delivers a high level of quality and service.

The rooms are comfortable and well laid out (even the smaller double rooms). This one came with a queen size bed which is larger than the standard double bed you’ll find in most of the other hotels.

Hong Thien Ruby Double Room

We also work on the road. So, the desk in the room came in handy for one of us and the other had the option of working at a table in the reception area.

I worked in reception for a couple of days and was rewarded with regular delivery of freshly made fruit juice during the day. Not something you get up in the room or a working space LOL. It was a nice touch and made the working day a lot more enjoyable.

Hong Thien Ruby fresh fruit juice

The en suite was very clean with no signs of water leaks or mold and had ventilation to the outside. This may sound silly but in a tropical humid country it can be an issue that could spoil your stay.

An added bonus here was the shower. It was tall enough for 6’3” Leon to fit under comfortably and it had the best pressure! Not to mention plenty of hot water (also an issue that seems to crop up regularly here in Vietnam).

They offer laundry services, so you don’t have to run around trying to find it yourself.  Our laundry came back in good condition and was done on the same day.

The best part about Hong Thien Ruby?

The norm here in Vietnam is fresh bread rolls and eggs (which is a good way to start the day). But here at At Hong Thien Ruby they spoil you a bit more. You get a cooked to order breakfast and you can have as much as you want! The letter being very unusual for other accommodation options.

Hong Thien Ruby included breakfast

The selections are great and cooked with that homemade touch. Very yummy!

Hint: Try the banana pancakes. It’s a house specialty and they are scrumptious!

We will admit that we’ve had better coffee elsewhere, but their juices are a great alternative.  Made from fresh fruit and vegetables every day, they are very tasty.

Another great thing about Hong Thien Ruby’s  and her location is that Chu Van An turns into a walking street from Friday to Sunday between 6PM and 12AM so you’re right there for the action too.

If you want some free entertainment. Wander down to the intersection of Võ Thị Sáu and Chu Văn An. On the weekends, they have random people come together to play musical instruments and sing. It’s a form of street karaoke and it is great fun to watch.

Parking at Hong Thien Ruby

Scooter parking is available but limited. If you are travelling on your own bike, best check before you make the booking, but we’re pretty sure it won’t be an issue.

Note, there is no parking or access to the hotel for vehicles. Something to think about if you’re travelling with luggage that is not easy to move.

We can’t stop talking about the service

The staff at Hong Thien Ruby were outstanding which made our trip to Hue even more memorable. They were always happy to help with anything and offered great recommendations for food and attractions in Hue.

They spoke very good English and were a pleasure to interact with.

Would we recommend Hong Thien Ruby?

For us and our accommodation needs, it’s a winner! We couldn’t find fault with this property, hence why it is our go to option for Hue now. If you choose to stay here, please let us know what you think of it in the comments.

That’s it for our stay at Hong Thien Ruby

Many thanks for reading our review on Hong Thien Ruby. We would like to mention that this is not a paid piece either, we truly enjoyed our stay here and wanted to share it with you.

If you’d like to read more reviews like this, please head over to Our Two Cents!

And if you want to read about our adventures in Vietnam, check out our Destinations Page.

Thank you for reading and see you in the next post…


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