Things to do
Dien Bien Phu might be a small town and not very well known, but it has a few attractions that are worth seeing, which might help you to get to know the culture and the history of Vietnam.
1. The Dien Bien Phu battle museum
7 May 1954 is a significant date for Vietnam. On that day Vietnamese soldiers won the final battle with the French and gained their own independence.
The Museum is located in the centre of the town. Not many visitors come here, so you have all the space to enjoy it.
The exhibition starts with a life size Ho Chi Minh figure and a huge Vietnamese flag, which both make a great impression. Almost all of the artifacts have signs in French and English. There are photos, maps, and some curiosities, such as the French general’s bed or a bicycle, which was capable of carrying 330kg of ordnance.
Visitors can also watch a short film about the battle.
2. The cemetery
The cemetery of the Vietnamese soldiers, who died in the battle, is located opposite the musuem. It isn’t very big, but it is preserved and looked after cemetery.
Each of the gravestone bearing the gold star of the Vietnamese flag and a clutch of incense sticks, there is no rubbish lying around, the grass is short and well maintained. The centre point of the cemetery is a large monument, commemorating the battle.
3. The rice fields
Most tourists only know about the terrace fields in the Northwest region of Vietnam but this place is also famous for its four large rice fields. Topping the list is the Muong Thanh field with an area of over 140 km2, in Dien Bien province.
A perfect escape from the noisy Dien Bien Phu
To get there, you need to pass the bus station and continue towards the opposite direction, from the town centre. Turn right in one of the side streets and walk the unpaved road.
4. The streets
Dien Bien Phu is not very big, so walking around won’t take you long, but try to forget your maps and GPS and roam the little streets. The houses located away from the main road have a colonial character, with wooden shutters and small yards in the front.
Other attractions include: A1 hill – where the French defences used to be and Bunker Headquarters – the former French command bunker.
If you are interested in visiting the town, spend there at least 2 days and allow yourself time to suck in the very patriotic atmosphere.
Note: there are not many western style restaurants in the town. I only found one, which had a decent coffee and some snacks. You will need to put up with whatever is served in the traditional Vietnamese bars.
There is no night entertainment, so your evenings might consist of sitting in the hostel and sipping your beer there. There is at least one supermarket and a large food market.