LAI CHAU

Lai 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.

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