Dien Bien location map

General Information

420 kilometers north-west of Hanoi, Dien Bien has a strategic position in national defense. This province is close to China to the northwest and Laos to the west. Dien Bien constitutes 8 districts named Dien Bien, Dien Bien Dong, Muong Cha, Muong Nhe, Tua Chua, Tuan Giao, Muong Ang, and Nam Po. Dien Bien Phu is the capital of the province, which is well-known for its victory against the French colonists on May 7th, 1954.

18 km long and 4 km wide, Dien Bien lies in Muong Thanh alleys and surrounded by pristine forests, imposing mountains, and spectacular springs. It is the home to more than 500,000 inhabitants. This province is notable for a large number of ethnic minorities, mostly Thai and H’Mong people. Visiting Dien Bien, you can have a chance to understand ethnic culture and sample their delicious cuisines.

Dien Bien is one of the most ancient areas in Vietnam since many ancient relics have been discovered here. Inhabited by Tay and Thai ethnic groups, this province was the capital of Lu Kingdom on Muong Thanh Valley in the early 9th century. Then, Lu Kingdom weakened and in the 15th century, Muong Thanh was under the control of Thai people.

The Battle of Dien Bien Phu

The Battle of Dien Bien Phu was a decisive confrontation between the French colonists and Viet Minh communists and nationalists. It took place between March and May 1954 when the French enemy occupied Dien Bien Phu in order to interrupt our supplies from Laos and maintain a base against Viet Minh. Led by the General Vo Nguyen Giap, our army surrounded 400,000 French soldiers and use a heavy artillery to disable the French’s counter-artillery fire. Thanks to our victory, the Indochina War ended and an official settlement named Geneva agreement was signed in 1954.

Dien Bien Weather

Dien Bien weather - Dien Bien Travel Guide
Weather in Dien Bien

The climate of this province is mountainous tropical. Like other provinces in Northern Vietnam, there are four distinct seasons in Dien Bien. The average temperature here is 22 degrees Celsius and it may fall to 0 degree Celsius in winters. The heavy rains are recorded during June, July, and August and it is not recommended to visit Dien Bien during this period. The best time to travel to Dien Bien is from September to November. You can combine it with other destinations during your trip to Northern Vietnam.

Ethnic Minorities in Dien Bien

Thai, Dao Do, Kho Mu and H'Mong ethnic groups - Dien Bien Travel Guide
Left to right, top to bottom: Thai, Red Dao, Kho Mu and H’Mong ethnic groups

The province is an impeccable destination for an eco tour in Vietnam since 21 ethnic groups are found here. Thai people constitute the largest proportion in Dien Bien’s population with 38%, followed by H’Mong (30%) and Kinh (30%). Traditional customs, festivals and local specialties are well-preserved, and visitors can discover the colorful ethnic life here.

Getting to Dien Bien

By plane

Dien Bien Phu Airport is 1km north of the city, in the direction of Lai Chau. You can buy tickets on Vietnam Airlines’ website. The flight duration from Hanoi to Dien Bien is 1 hour 15 minutes.

By bus / car

Dien Bien Bus Station is located at Street 1, Thanh Binh Ward, Dien Bien Phu, Dien Bien Province.

  • From Hanoi: 460km. Duration: 10 hours 40 minutes
  • From Son La: 152km. Duration: 3 hours 40 minutes
  • From Lai Chau: 205km. Duration: 5 hours 15 minutes
  • From Sapa: 275km. Duration: 7 hours
  • From Lao Cai: 306km. Duration: 8 hours
  • From Mai Chau: 339km. Duration: 8 hours 10 minutes
  • From Laos: Tay Trang border – 40km. Duration: 1 hours 15 minutes

If you want to rent a private car in Vietnam, you can contact a travel agency in Vietnam. The price and quality of the car are fixed before departure.

Getting around Dien Bien

On foot

Dien Bien Phu is a small capital and can be explored on foot in 1-2 days. Ethnic villages in the province are good places to walk.

By taxi

Some taxi brands in the province:

  • Taxi Hoa Ban: 0215.
  • Taxi Him Lam: 0215.
  • Taxi Xuan Long: 0215.

Where to Stay in Dien Bien

Muong Thanh Dien Bien Hotel - Dien Bien Travel Guide
Muong Thanh Dien Bien Hotel

Unlike other famous tourist destinations, there are not many luxurious hotels and resorts here. We recommend some places in Dien Bien Phu for your trip:

  • Muong Thanh Dien Bien (4-star)

Address: No. 514, 7th May Street

  • Him Lam Hotel (3-star)

Address: Area 6, Him Lam Ward

  • A1 Hotel Dien Bien Phu (3-star)

Address: 3 Hoang Cong Chat Street

What to See in Dien Bien

Dien Bien Phu is not a very touristy destination. Far from Hanoi and difficult to access, this province is still famous because it contains the relics the Battle of Dien Bien Phu, which ended the Indochina war on May 7, 1954. These are the most interesting places on your trip to Dien Bien Phu.

Museum of Dien Bien Phu Victory

DKZ 75 mm gun of battalion 130 used in the battle on Hill D - Dien Bien Travel Guide
DKZ 75 mm gun of battalion 130 used in the battle on Hill D

Museum of Dien Bien Phu Victory is built in 1984 and located in front of the A1 Hill and Cemetery.

The museum was upgraded in 2003 and opened in May 2014 in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. There are four major themes in the museum: the war of French colonialism resistance from 1945 to 1954, the international support for the Battle of Dien Bien Phu, the stages of the battle and the impact of Dien Bien Phu Victory to the world.

The legend bicycle in the Battle of Dien Bien Phu - Dien Bien Travel Guide
The legend bicycle in the battle

This museum exhibits 1000 objects among which there are many interesting things such as the iron bathtub of General de Castries, the bike of a transporter that can carry up to 320 kg, and many other photographs and documents.

  • Location: Street 3, Muong Thanh Ward
  • Opening hours: 7:30 am – 11:00 am & 1:30 pm – 5:00 pm

Dien Bien Phu Historical Site

If you are on a discovery tour to Vietnam and interested to discover our victorious battle, spend time discovering some remnants here.

  • Location: On the 200km-long valley of Dien Bien Phu
  • Opening hours: 7:00 am – 11:00 am & 1:30 pm – 5:00 pm
1. A1 Hill
A1 Hill - Dien Bien Travel Guide
A1 Hill

A1 Hill was the scene of the fiercest fire between Viet Minh and the French army. It is named ‘Eliane’ in French and is often known to the Vietnamese as A1 Hill. For 36 days, 2516 Vietnamese soldiers sacrificed for the independence of our country. Thanks to their dedication, we won the battle on May 7th, 1954.

2. Dien Bien Phu Cemetery

You can take your time to show your respect to our martyrs when visiting the cemetery on A1 Hill and Doc Lap Hill. On A1 Hill, there are 644 graves and on Doc Lap Hill there are 2,432 graves. Some national iconic heroes can be found here, for example, To Vinh Dien, Be Van Dan, Phan Dinh Giot and Tran Can.

3. The bunker of the French General de Castries

It is located in the heart of the camp at the Muong Phang Commune. With 8 meters long and 20 meters wide, it consists of 4 rooms: three were offices for the general and his officers; the last one was for radio transmission.

The bunker of the French General de Castries - Dien Bien Travel Guide
The bunker of the French General de Castries

This is where General De Castries met high-ranking officers and political figures such as French Prime Minister Joseph Laniel, American President Dwight Eisenhower, English Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and other journalists.

4. The Command Post of Vietnamese soldiers

The command post is located at Muong Phang Commune, 30 km from Dien Bien Phu. It was where our General Vo Nguyen Giap and his officers worked and fulfill their mission in the battle.

5. Him Lam Hill
Him Lam Hill - Dien Bien Travel Guide
Him Lam Hill

17 kilometers east of Dien Bien Phu, this is one of the three camps that were defeated at the beginning of the campaign on March 13th, 1954.

6. C, D and E Hills

These hills are kept intact. They used to act as strongholds to protect the French army’s headquarters. At the top of D1 Hill, you can see the new Statue of Dien Bien Phu Victory.

Pa Khoang Lake

Pa Khoang Lake - Dien Bien Travel Guide
Pa Khoang Lake

Dotted with steep hills, green mountains, and small houses, Pa Khoang Lake is definitely a romantic place for a boat trip. It is the most beautiful in springs when all sceneries are covered by mist. The peaceful and atmospheric scenery will be unforgettable on visitors’ minds. On the lake’s banks, you can discover the daily life and traditional customs of Thai and Kho Mu ethnic people.

Pa Thom Cave

Located to the west of the province, Pa Thom Cave offers an amazing formation of stalactites and stalagmites. With 12 meters high, 17 meters wide and 350 meters long, the cave is spacious and looks like a rock palace. There is a silver waterfall inside the cave which makes Pa Thom a romantic and miraculous attraction for your trip to the province.

Muong Thanh Valley

Muong Thanh Valley - Dien Bien Travel Guide
Muong Thanh Valley

Muong Thanh Valley is one of the largest valleys in Vietnam besides Muong Lo Valley in Yen Bai Province, Muong Than Valley in Lai Chau Province, and Muong Tac Valley in Son La Province. Covered by Pu Hong Meo and Pu Hong Thai mountains, this valley is a spectacular place for admiring emerald rice fields and trekking across breathtaking trails. Muong Thanh Old Bridge is the must-see spot here. Crossing Nam Rom River, the bridge marked the collapse of the French colonists in Vietnam.

Ban Phu Citadel

Located in Noong Het village, Ban Phu Citadel was built in the 15th century. In the 18th century, Phe army from China came and invaded the citadel. Hoang Cong Chat then led the army to liberate Muong Thanh region. Today, the citadel is restored so that travelers can easily imagine the image of the ancient wall.

Hoang Cong Chat Temple

This temple is dedicated to the hero named Hoang Cong Chat, who was born in Thai Binh. He led the national army against Phe enemy to liberate the province in 1754. Nowadays, to show the gratitude for his contribution, the locals organize a festival during the 24th and 25th day of the second lunar month with a formal ceremony.

Pha Din Pass

Pha Din Pass - Dien Bien Travel Guide
Pha Din Pass

At the elevation of 1648 meters above the sea level, Pha Din Pass possesses a rugged terrain full of twists and turns. This zigzag pass containing eight winding turns is suitable for adventurous travelers who want to conquer the challenge. From the pass, you can enjoy the natural scenery of one of the most beautiful provinces in Northwestern Vietnam.

What to Eat in Dien Bien

The best places to eat in Dien Bien are in the center of Muong Thanh Ward, on the 7th May road. You can walk around and find a place to eat but if you do not feel like walking, do not rely on taxi or motorcycle taxi because they are rare here. We recommend you have your meal at your hotel.

Nep nuong rice

Sapa Travel Guide: Com lam
Com lam

This is the must-try cuisine when visiting this place. Grown on stepped paddy fields, Nep nuong rice is a special rice in Dien Bien thanks to its favorable climate and a canal system which enables a regular water supply. The rice is sweeter, softer and more fragrant than other common kinds of rice. The locals use Nep nuong rice to cook some appetizing dishes such as sticky rice (xoi), rice round cake (banh day) and steamed sticky rice in bamboo tubes (com lam).

Banh day (Rice round cake)

Banh day - Dien Bien Travel Guide
Banh day

You may try this cake in Hanoi or other provinces in Vietnam, but nowhere will you find a special Banh day like in Dien Bien. Banh day here is made from Nep nuong rice, cooked by H’Mong ethnic people based on their secret recipe which is passed from generations to generations. This food tastes the best when eating with gio (Vietnamese ham/sausage).