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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.

Dien Bien Phu is located in Muong Thanh Valley which is approximately 20km long and 6km wide. this city is 35km from the Laos border and 474km to Hanoi. This was a battlefield between the Viet Minh Army and French Army in 1954.

The result was the French in Indochina was cut and Viet Nam was divided into two parts: North and South. Nowadays, Dien Bien Phu became one of the tourist attraction sites for many local and international tourists.

The major attraction is the battlefield, its associated museum and relicts, and more recently, the largest statue in Vietnam erected to commemorate the 2004 anniversary. It is noticeable that for the adventurous visitor, this is an attractive center for majestic scenery and an access point for encounters with wide variety of ethnic minority groups that have hardly been touched by tourism.

The battle development in summary

At 5 p.m, March 13, 1954, we opened fire, starting the Dien Bien Phu campaign. The fight took place fiercely right at the beginning and it was divided into three stages. The first stage (from March 13 to March 17, 1954): We held the Him Lam, Doc Lap, Ban Keo strongholds.
They was strong defense obstructing the access from Tuan Giao and Lai Chau into Dien Bien Phu. The second stage (from March 30 to April 30, 1954): We attacked the strongholds in the east of the central quarter.

The fight took place vigorously. We had to fight for a single piece of land. The third stage (from May 1 to May 7, 1954): We won the rest positions in the east and wiped out the whole Dien Bien Phu stronghold. At 5 p.m, May 7, 1954, the French General de Castries and his staff of officers at this stronghold were captured alive and it was the time when the flag "Quyet chien quyet thang" (determined to fight and win) was flown from the top of the commanding bunker of the enemy.

At the end of the campaign, we killed and captured 16,200 enemies, shot at 62 planes and confiscated all weapons of the enemy. The Dien Bien Phu historical victory contributed to the success of the resistance war against the French colonists and the liberty of Northern Vietnam.

Sightseeing in Dien Bien Phu

The complex of the Dien Bien Phu victory relics

Him Lam Hill

One of three camps that was defeated right at the beginning of Dien Bien Phu campaign on March 13, 1954.

A1 Hill

The most important camp of the French colonists in Dien Bien Phu. Here, our soldiers and the French colonists fought for a single piece of land. After fighting fiercely for 56 days and nights, we seized the camp in the evening of May 6, 1954.

Bunker of the French General De Castries

The commanding bunker of the French General De Castries and the staff at Dien Bien Phu stronghold. The original shape and size, structure and arrangement of the bunker are kept intact.

C1, D1, E1 Hills

Strongholds to protect the central region of the enemy where many fierce fights took place. Atop Hill D1 stands the Dien Bien Phu Victory Monument.

Dien Bien Phu Museum

Built in1984 during the year 30th year after Dien Bien Phu Victory. In the end of 2003, it was upgraded and divided by 5 displayed areas. Now there are 274 objects and 122 photos due to each subject to describe about the Dien Bien Phu campaign and Dien Bien Phu of the present.

The Command of Dien Bien Phu Campaign (Muong Phang)

Located in a primitive forest in Muong Phang commune of Dien Bien district. It is about 25 km from Dien Bien Phu city towards the east. There are many historical relics here such as the commanding bunker of General Commander-in-chief Vo Nguyen Giap and Hoang Van Thai, the working house of the command, etc.

Hoang Cong Chat Temple

Built in the centre of the Ban Phu Citadel (Chieng Le Citedal) to worship Hoang descent line and 6 leaders of the insurgent army. It is an important cultural and historical relic in the local to worship the great devotion of Hoang Cong Chat general, a farmer hero, who was born in Thai Binh province, in the resistance war to protect Muong Thanh (Muong Then) from the occupation of Phe enemy.

Besides, the temple is also a worshipping place of the local people on the full-moon day, the New Year festival, especially in the traditional festival on the 24 - 25 of the second month of every lunar year.

Pa Khoang Lake

Locates in Muong Phang commune, Dien Bien district. Its position is very convenient, near the road 279, about 20 km from Dien Bien Phu city, linking Dien Bien Phu city with Muong Phang historical and cultural forest where the relics of the Command of Dien Bien Phu campaign remains. The lake is lying in the centre of ranges of mountains, in a place of beautiful natural sceneries.

Hồ Pá Khoang

In spring, mist covers the mountains and small houses which create a mysterious picture. In summer, the weather is quite nice with blows of cool wind. Visitors can enjoy the natural beauty in the distance or row a boat for sight-seeing. All makes a peaceful and romantic picture that is attractive to visitors and tourists. In the lake region, there are the villages of Thai and Kho Mu ethnic groups who still follow traditional customs and habits of ethnic groups in the North West of Vietnam.

Pha Din Pass

Đèo Pha Đin

Located 1,000m above sea level. Pha Din means the earth and the sky in the language of the Thai ethnic group. The pass is full of twists and turns, one side is a upright cliff and the other is a deep gulf. Therefore, visitors will have a chance to enjoy the natural landscape in the north-west area.

Tham Pua Cave

Located in Bung Lao commune, Tuan Giao district. It is an ancient cave, deep and wide, about 1,000 meters high with many narrow paths. Coming here, visitors have chance to see in their own eyes a number of stalactites in various shapes which look like such animals as dragons, phoenix, lions, elephants, and beautiful orchids.

Hang Thẩm Púa

The local people have found out many historical remains such as axe, stone pestle, and fossil bones. Tham Pua Cave is also the first Commanding Unit of The Dien Bien Phu campaign. It is the place where the decisive meeting for the Dien Bien Phu campaign was held on January 14, 1954.
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Beautiful and legendary, the Sea Cliff of Stone Plates captivate

The landscape of Tuy An has always been so inspiringly picturesque that even the paradise dwellers chose the place for poetic recital parties. They brought countless number of precious plates and gold cups to this shore line for the heavenly indulgence. Once, after one such godly pleasure time, they flew away to find more beautiful places. Suddenly, the stacks of plates and cups turned into rock poles.

That is one of the three legends about the Sea Cliff of Stone Plates at An Dong Commune, Tuy An District, Phu Yen Province. Along the 3,000km shoreline of Vietnam air travel, there are many world-renowned beaches such as Lang Co, Danang, Phu Quoc, and mesmerizing perilous rocky protrusions like Co Thach (Binh Thuan), The Queen (Binh Dinh) or The Jumping Rocks (Quang Binh).

But the Sea Cliff of Stone Plates is the only rock formation recognized by the Vietnamese government as a National Natural Treasure. From Tuy Hoa city downtown (Phu Yen Province), we went 31km north on 1A national highway to Ngan Son fork, turned right to a two-lane road and went 13km more, and there it was, the illustrious Sea Cliff of Stone Plates.

From a distance, it looked like a colossal bee hive hidden in a desolated bay. Wave after wave rushed on it with open arms as if for a tight hug, and then broke into dazzling white foam. Washed and cleansed by sea water for millions of years, the black rock piles shine bright under the blazing sun.

Official records say that the Sea Cliff of Stone Plates field is 200m long and 50m wide. Seen up close, the piles are actually stone pillars standing up straight side by side as if planted. Almost all the pillars have flat pentagonal or hexagonal of almost the same size, about 30cm in diameter, like stacks of dish plates. Perhaps that’s why local people call this natural rock formation the Sea Cliff of Stone Plates.

They are arranged by heaven, so tidy,’ 76 year old elder Tinh, who lived near the cascades, exclaimed. Indeed, compared to the rocky reefs lining the deeply blue bay, the Sea Cliff of Stone Plates look even more impressive.

According to the scientists, about 200 million years ago, volcanic activity oozed lava into the sea. The sudden change of temperature caused the lava to harden and crack, creating the miraculous formation. In recent years, the otherworldly beauty of the Sea Cliff of Stone Plates has attracted not only a lot of tourists, but also photographers.

The unusual rock formation and the continual subtle change of colours and light caused by the waves and the sun make them feel unique. ‘Nowhere else does the black colour look as majestic as these rocks in the first rays of dawn. And strangely, at dusk, the plates shine pink.

It’s fascinating to see the vigour of the ever-moving silver mane waves melt away when meeting the silent Sea Cliff of Stone Plates,’ a photographer named Trung said.

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There are 213 rivers in Việt Nam but Gianh river is the only one that lies completely inside one province – Quảng Bình. It’s Quảng Bình’s biggest river, so the locals call it the Mother river, the province’s natural symbol.

Rugged upper reaches Mother river takes its waters from 2017m-high Cô Pi mountain of the mighty Trường Sơn range and flows northward, then changes its direction toward the South-East, zigzaging through districts of Minh Hóa, Tuyên Hoá and Quảng Trạch to reach East Sea.

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Almost all tributaries of this 160km-long river come from the great Trường Sơn range or the 99 legendary limestone mountains. These big and small streams have flowed for millions of years through easy to- erode limestone terrain, thus creating scenic caves such as Minh Cầm, Lạc Sơn. In Nov. 2009, a wonderful multilevel cave was discovered 50m beneath the Tuyên Hóa section of the river. The upper 70-80 km long parts of river Gianh, winding among mountains, have many perilous cascades. Further down, the flow grows bigger and bigger, and the scenery on the banks also changes dramatically. Vietnam air travel

The riverbed is very steep near its sources. Gianh river’s average steepness is 19.2%. Therefore, during the flood season from Sept. to Nov., the flow is very violent. Quảng Bình people say only those who have witnessed the crest of its floods know its power and ferocity. After the rainy season, Gianh river waters quickly become clear and peaceful. One of the most beautiful and scenic section of the Mother river is the part that crosses Quảng Trạch district, having an average width of 100m and 5 little isles. At about 10 km from its estuary, the river’s water begins to taste salty, as it mixes with sea water.

A divine river In 1069 under Marshal Lý Thường Kiệt’s command, Lý dynasty’s army defeated Champa army on Gianh river and took back Quảng Bình land for the Great Việt. Since then Gianh river became a vital military frontier for Great Việt’s southward expansion. In 1406, 800 thousand Chinese Minh troops invaded Great Việt. River Gianh again witnessed many bloody battles between the two countries’ armies, as recorded in history. In Jan 1471, leading his army fom the Thăng Long (today’s Hà Nội) capital down South, King Lê Thánh Tông stopped his flotillas on Gianh river. Seeing the perilous rugged terrain on both sides, the King thought it was a divine river.

From 1570 to 1786, Gianh river witnessed many wars in the power struggle between the Trịnh and Nguyễn feudal lords of Great Việt. Those civil wars have left many vivid traces, such as Thầy Rampart, Quảng Bình border gate, and some citadels.

After each war, more Việt people from the North come to settle on both sides of Gianh river, especially around the royal military outpost which today is Ba Đồn town. The new settlements continually expanded, covering both banks of Gianh river. Rice cultivation and many other trades followed suit. Today’s villages on both sides of the river still practice the trade of those pioneering settlers.

The oldest trade villages concentrate in Quảng Trạch district and Ba Đồn township. In Quảng Trạch people grow rice, plant cotton and weave fabrics, make cone hats and do meshwork. Whereas Ba Đồn, the old royal military outpost, has carpentry, blacksmithing, carving and foundries (Hòa Ninh village of Quảng Hòa commune.) One of the most famous villages along Gianh river is Lệ Sơn village of Văn Hóa commune, Tuyên Hóa district. It leans on the 99 pensive rocky mountains, facing the river, looking like a heavenly paradise on earth.

Moreover, history recorded that a century ago, Lệ Sơn was the top among 8 villages that had the highest learning spirit and success of Quảng Bình. The most popular dish of the people of Quảng Bình in general and along Gianh river in particular is small mussels fried with piper lolot leaves or young jackfruit, sandwiched in dry rice pancake.

Second is simmered brined goby. These are the two simple food items that Quảng Bình natives carry the taste of their tongue all their life, no matter where they go and what other tastes of life they experience.

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