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Travel Tips To Dien Bien

Dien Bien Phu, bout 474km from Hanoi, Dien Bien is the north western province of Vietnam, is one of Vietnam's most important battlegrounds. It's also one of its best preserved. Armed with war correspondent Bernard Fall's classic, Hell in a Very Small Place: The Siege at Dien Bien Phu, it's easy to be completely immersed in the 1954 French military disaster that established once and for all the military credentials of Ho Chi Minh's revolutionary forces.

This Dien Bien travel guide will give you some useful information:

How to get to Dien Bien

Travel Tips To Dien Bien
Bunker of Colonel de Castries in Dien Bien. Photo by Pilip
By plane: This is the best option to get to Dien Bien from Hanoi. There is daily flight that takes only an hour. However, the flight can be cancelled or delayed when the weather is bad especially in winter time when it is foggy. 

By road: There are many bus companies offering sleeping buses to Dien Bien but it takes around 12 hours because the road to Dien Bien is small, meandering on the sides of steep mountains. Holiday to Indochina advise tourists to book a northwest loop tour from 4-5 days with stop in Mai Chau valley, Son La, Dien Bien and Sapa before coming back to Hanoi via Lao Cai. An experienced driver and tour guide are needed to show you the hidden beauty of this beautiful part of Vietnam.

From Sapa: If you have visited Sapa and would like to visit Dien Bien, it is possible to book a tour package including provinces Northwest. The northwest loop tour from Sapa can be like this: Hanoi - Sapa - Lai Chau - Dien Bien - Son La - Mai Chau - Hanoi.

Things to see and try in Dien Bien Phu

The war sites

This is the first reason to visit Dien Bien and in a morning, tourists can visit the French Command Bunker - Colonel de Castries, the commander of Dien Bien Phu battle. The next sites will be A1 hill and Vietnam Military History Museum and cemetery on Duong 7/5 / AH13 / QL279 about 3 km south of central markets at the intersection with Hoang Van Thai.

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A1 Hill in Dien Bien. Photo by vietnamtypicaltours.com
Most exhibits lack more than a sentence of explaination in English and French. Helpful to read up a little on the context of the battle before going. Closes at 17:00.

If you want to see more, visit D1 hill. It can be found near the central markets as a set of giant stairs at Tran Dang Ninh and Duong 7-5/AH13/QL 279. This site contains a monument wall, statue, and great views of the valley on all sides. Or you can drive to visit bunker of Vietnamese general - Vo Nguyen Giap, commander of Viet Minh in Muong Phang.

Pha Din Pass - Frontier between “Heaven and Earth”

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Pha Din pass in Dien Bien. Photo by kenhdulich.org
As not so far from Hanoi, only about 32 kilometers long to reach Dien Bien province, visitors in Vietnam tourism have to pass Pha Din pass, known as the longest pass in Vietnam. Pha Din, in the local language, means “Heaven and Earth.” Accompanied by local legend, Pha Din Pass is the place where the sky meets the earth, so it is considered as the frontier between “Heaven and Earth.”

Cuisine 

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Chẩm Chéo in Dien Bien. Photo by Viethavvh
As it is clear to be seen that your trip cannot go without trying some good food, let Điện Biên allure you with its superb cuisine. Featured and thoroughly made by the ethnic minorities, these food are impressive enough to linger over your meal as Cheo (Chẳm Chéo): this might be one of the foods that remind you the most of Dien Bien after you leave this place. Cheo is widely known as a legendary ingredient to any local people here. To be more specific, it is mainly made of a kind of wildflowers which has attar and delicate fragrance. Or Buffalo bacon (Thịt Trâu Gác Bếp) among a wide range of food Dien Bien has to offer, Buffalo bacon might draw most of your attention. Buffalo bacon was traditionally used in formal meetings or to serve honored guests but now, you have a chance to have a try because they are all available in restaurants.

If you want to explore the battle history in all it miserable depth, check out Bernard Fall's indispensable history - Hell in a very small place - The Siege of Dien Bien Phu. Check out the special voyages to discover Vietnam at: http://vietnamtypicaltours.com/
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