Dien Bien Phu is famous as a battlefield that was truly decisive. The French colonial forces were roundly defeated at the hands of the Viet Minh on 7 May 1954 and the days of their Indochina Empire were finally numbered.
Like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, Dien Bien Phu now enjoys the prestigious status of provincial city, although it is not quite in the same league. Set in one of the most remote parts of Vietnam, the town is 34km from the Laos border in the flat, heart-shaped Muong Thanh Valley, surrounded by steep, heavily forested hills. The size and look of the city is surprising considering the remote location, especially if you managed to survive getting here overland.
History is the main attraction in Dien Bien Phu and the scenery is more stunning on the journey to or from Dien Bien Phu than around the town itself. Not surprisingly, the majority of travelers who come here now are French – Dien Bien Phu seems to hold the same sort of fascination for them as the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) does for Americans.
For a long time Dien Bien Phu is also a point of cultural and economic exchange between people in the border area of Vietnam, Laos and China, it was also an area of power dispute between land lords.
The area is inhabited by Montagnards, most notably the Thai and H’mong. The government has been encouraging ethnic Vietnamese to settle in the region. So visiting Dien Bien Phu, travelers not only visit the historical battlefield, but also have something in mind about the life of local people here.
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This tour is the best choice if you would like to combine your trip to Sapa to the picturesque area of the Northwest, without having to extend too many days, but still could enjoy/explore most highlights of the region in terms of scenic beauty, cultural richness and amazing roads.