Chau is the northwestern province in North-Vietnam borders
on China and Laos. Its provincial capital - Lai Chau - is
situated in a valley near the junction of Nam Ron River
and Da River.
Lai Chau province is inhabited by up to 23 ethnic groups,
most notably the Thai and the H'mong The most
attractive tourist site in Lai Chau is the former
battlefield of Dien Bien Phu, which is now situated in Dien
Bien Phu district. Dien Bien Phu lies in Muong Thanh Valley
and is surrounded by steep, heavily forested hills and mountains.
This valley witnessed the extremely heroic attacks by Vietnam
People's Army (VPA) against the French forces. On May 7,
1954, the VPA forces overran the headquarters of the beleaguered
French garrison at Dien Bien Phu after a 56-day siege, capturing
General Christian de Castries and all his staff and troops.
Since then, Vietnam has been famous for its resounding victory
at Dien Bien Phu. Those French men who had involved in the
Dien Bien Phu battle are particularly interested in returning
to Vietnam to visit the old battlefield. Places of interest
in Dien Bien Phu include Hill A1 and Hill C2 (known as Eliane
2 and Eliane 4 by the French) where fierce fighting took
place. Other places worth seeing are the headquarters
of General de Castries, and the shelter of Pirot, commander
of the French artillery, who killed himself in despair on
March 15,1954 in his shelter. Also open to tourists is the
cemetery for fallen Vietnamese soldiers. A one-hour flight
from Ha Noi will take you to Muong Thanh airport
in Dien Bien Phu. If you travel by car, you will pass Pha
Din Pass. In the local language, Pha Din means Heaven-Earth,
and according to local legend, it was the frontier between
Heaven and Earth. Climbing and descending the slopes with
their bends and deep gorges is a really interesting trip
amid such a magnificent scenery.