A destination where the epic memories of the Battle of Dien Bien Phu still resonates, Dien Bien now becomes a favorite destinations for many Vietnamese and foreign backpackers. Although the war has receded for decades, the story still remains in many historical heritages in Dien Bien, such as Independence Cemetery, A1 Hill, French Bunker, Dien Bien Phu Victory Headquarter, Monument and Museum. Dien Bien is also renowned for its enchanting natural beauty of Muong Thanh Rice Terrace, Pa Khoang Lake, Pha Din Hill, Pa Thom Cave and Xa Nhe Cave. Come to Dien Bien, you will also have the chance to feast on many exotic food that can only be found in Vietnam’s North Western Region.
Pa Thom Cave
Parts of Pa Thom Village, the spectacular Pa Thom Cave is located to the west of Dien Bien District, adjoining the border between Vietnam and Laos
Parts of Pa Thom Village, the spectacular Pa Thom Cave is located to the west of Dien BienDistrict, adjoining the border between Vietnam and Laos. Interestingly, the local inhabitants usually refer to the cave as Tham Nang Lai which means the Full-of-Fairies Cave in Vietnamese language.
Accompanied by myths about love and loyalty, Pa Thom Cave is not only a natural wonder but also a holy place in the belief of Dien Bien people. Located up high on the side of a mountain, the cave has a 12m high, 17m wide, arch-shaped mouth. At the middle of this special entrance stands a giant stone resembling the head of an elephant. Along the 350m length of the cave, there are 9 arches of different sizes. Impressive stones, stalactites, and stalagmites are ubiquitous. Right after you enter the cave, you will see a block of three huge stones that looks like a giant snake. Stalactites and stalagmites come in a variety of sizes and shapes, sparkling mysteriously under the candle light. The cave is extremely spacious. Decorated with majestic block of stones, the ceilings looks like that of a luxurious palace. The beautiful curtains made of soft-looking, colorful stalactites hang themselves beside the silver waterfalls inside the cave.
In addition to its magnificent look, the local tales about love make Pa Thom Cave a romantic and attractive destination for travelers from everywhere. When you have a chance to visit Dien Bien, never forget to pay a visit to this wonderful natural site. Surely, it will never let you down!
Dien Bien Phu Victory Historical Site
Only 500km to the West of Hanoi, the battle ground in Dien Bien Phu is a well-known site marking a victorious exploit of Vietnamese people in the Indochina War
Only 500km to the West of Hanoi, the battle ground in Dien Bien Phu is a well-known site marking a victorious exploit of Vietnamese people in the Indochina War. It is located in a valley, surrounded by mountains, hills and paddy fields. The valley has a length of 20km and a width of 6km. All year round, the mighty Nam Ron River provides it with fresh water. Realizing the strategic position of this land, in 1953, the French decided to turn it into a military headquarters and equip it with the most powerful weapons at that time.
This was the place where the courageous soldiers of Vietnamese army fought and won the 55 day battle (March 13th – May 7th 1954) against the French Union. The victory indubitable caught the attention of the international community, leading to the end of the war in Vietnam after a few months. The most well-known remnants of the Dien Bien Phu Historical Site are A1, C1, C2, D1 Hills, Beatrice, Isabelle, Independent Hill, Muong Thanh Bridge, Muong Thanh Airport and De Castries Bunker. Nearly 30km away from the center of Dien Bien Phu City, the whole complex (including the shelters of Vietnamese army) situates in Muong Phang village. A 96m underground tunnel connects the working places of General Vo Nguyen Giap and Councillor Hoang Van Thai. As time marches by, the stairs leading to the place of General Giap are now covered with moss, giving the scenery a nostalgic look.
However, even though everybody knows about the Dien Bien Phu victory in 1945, not so many people notice that the site has a much longer history. In the past, Dien Bien Phu used to be the economic and cultural intersection of the Viet, Laos, and Chinese ethnic groups. It was also a crucial place hunted after by many feudal lords. After many battles on the MuongThanh paddy field, in 1777, Dien Bien Phu officially became an administration unit, where people can settle down and enjoy a peaceful life. In addition, because of its unique location, the thriving land became the trading center for entrepreneurs from Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and China.
Nowadays, the distinctive beauty of Dien Bien Phu captures the hearts of every traveler. Everywhere in the valley, we can easily spot the beautiful and friendly ethnic people engaging in their daily activities in the early market by Muong Thanh Bridge, on the paths to their villages, inside the waiting room in Dien Bien Airport, etc. Together with the primitive yet spectacular nature of Dien Bien, these people become parts of the priceless heritage that tourists can find nowhere else in the world.
De Castries Bunker
The underground shelter of French General De Castries is located in the center of the Dien Bien Phu Garrison in Muong Thanh, Dien Bien
The underground shelter of French General De Castries is located in the center of the Dien Bien Phu Garrison in Muong Thanh, Dien Bien. Even though it was severely damaged during the combat in 1945, nowadays, the bunker’s structure and arrangement still remain. Standing on any high hill in the garrison, we can see this famous bunker, which took the Viet Minh army 55 days and nights to win over it.
The bunker is 20m in length and 8m in width, including four rooms for both boarding and working. In the past, the French used logs and bags of sand to build a trench connecting the bunker with a blockhouse on A1 Hill. The trench is no longer there today, but we can still easily see the steel arches and bags of sand on the roof top of the bunker.
This was the place where General De Castries met many influential leaders such as French Prime Minister Joseph Laniel, American President Dwight Eisenhower, English Prime Minister Winston Churchill, as well as many famous reporters and journalists. The bunker also witnessed the capture of De Castries on May 7th 1954.
If you are visiting Dien Bien in general and Dien Bien Phu in particular, seeing De Castries Bunker is a must because this humble bunker is, no doubt, a symbol of the victorious Dien Bien Phu Battle of the Viet Minh Army and also a symbol of the bravery of Vietnamese people.