Dien Bien: Scene of Viet victory over the French

A monument watches over fallen comrades in one of the military cemeteries.

Dien Bien is the scene of the decisive defeat of French forces by the Vietnamese in 1954.

This epic battle brought about the end of France’s colonisation of Vietnam and triggered America’s involvement in the region, which culminated in the Vietnam War.

Dien Bien is located very close to the border with Laos and although it looks close to Sapa on the map, the journey by car takes 11 hours through stunningly beautiful rural landscapes.

The Black River en route to Dien Bien Phu.

Dien Bien seems like a quiet town. Dogs lie scratching themselves in the middle of the road, untroubled by the occasional motorbike or commercial vehicle.

Dien Bien seems a bit of a sleepy place.

The architecture here is rather odd. Narrow three- or four-storey houses with lots of fancy embellishments line the streets.

A notice hanging on the wall inside Muong Thanh Hotel in Dien Bien.

The hotel’s minibar provides the bare essentials but is ideal for thrifty travellers; free, unlimited drinking water.

‘This is Minibar’, the sign reads.

A number of the battlefield positions have been preserved.

The French dug themselves in to withstand Vietnamese bombardment.
Massive craters left by mines exploded under French positions still remain.
A French tank has been preserved. They only had 10 tanks to defend Dien Bien.

Apart from the historic battle relics there is little to attract the foreign tourist except the prospect of picking up a couple of T-shirts at bargain prices.

This article first appeared on thriftytraveller.wordpress.com