General de Castries’ bunker (daily 0700-1100, 1330-1700, 5000d) has been rebuilt on the sight of the battlefield and eight of the 10 French tanks are scattered over the valley, along with US-made artillery pieces. East of the river, Hill A1 (daily 0700-1800) known as Eliane 2 to the French, was the scene of the fiercest fighting. Remains of the conflict include a bunker, the bison (tank) known as Gazelle, a war memorial dedicated to the Vietnamese who died on the hill and, around at the back, the entrance to a tunnel dug by coal miners from Hon Gai. Their tunnel ran for several hundred metres to beneath French positions and was filled with 1000 kg of high explosives. It was detonated at 2300 on 6 May 1954 as a signal for the final assault. The huge crater is still there. Opposite the hill, the renovated Nha Trung Bay Thang Lich Su Dien Bien Phu (Historic Victory Exhibition Museum) (daily 0700-1100, 1330-1800, 5000d) has a good collection of assorted Chinese, American and French weapons and artillery in its grounds. Inside are photographs and other memorabilia, together with a large illuminated model of the valley illustrating the course of the campaign and an accompanying video. While every last piece of Vietnamese junk is carefully catalogued, displayed and described, French relics are heaped into tangled piles. The Revolutionary Heroes’ Cemetery (opposite the Exhibition Museum next to Hill A1, daily 0700-1100, 1330-1800) contains the graves of 15,000 Vietnamese soldiers killed during the course of the Dien Bien Phu campaign. At the north end of town, the Tuong Dai Chien Dien Bien Phu (Victory monument) (entrance next to the TV station on 6 Pho Muong Thanh; look for the tower and large pond) erected on D1 at a cost of US$2.27 million, is the largest monument in Vietnam. The 120-tonne bronze sculpture depicts three Vietnamese soldiers standing on top of de Castries’ bunker. It was commissioned to mark the 50th anniversary of the Vietnamese victory over the French.
do you know Dien Bien Phu well?