Thanh Tung Dinh

Thanh Tung Dinh

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Hue - DMZ Full Day Trip By Car

Most of the bases and bunkers have long vanished, but this 5km strip of land on either side of the Ben Hai River is still known by its American War moniker: the DMZ. From 1954 to 1975 it acted as a buffer between the North and the South. Ironically, the DMZ became one of the most militarised areas in the world, forming what Time magazine called ‘a running sore’.

The area just south of the DMZ was the scene of some of the bloodiest battles in America’s first TV war, turning Quang Tri, The Rockpile, Khe Sanh, Lang Vay and Hamburger Hill into household names.

Fast forward several decades and there’s not much left to see. Most sites have been cleared, the land reforested or planted with rubber and coffee. Only Ben Hai, Vinh Moc and Khe Sanh have small museums. Unless you’re an American veteran or military buff, you might find it a little hard to appreciate the place – which is all the more reason to hire a knowledgeable guide.

Tour Information

Location
Duration
8 Hours
Departure
02:30
Price per Participant
25.00+ USD
Languages
Group size
2 - 10 people
Transportation
Car
Taxi
Includes
Car, Driver
Excludes
Guide, Meals, Drinking, Entrance fee
Cancellation

About the creator
Thanh Tung Dinh

Thanh Tung Dinh

Most of the bases and bunkers have long vanished, but this 5km strip of land on either side of the Ben Hai River is still known by its American War moniker: the DMZ. From 1954 to 1975 it acted as a buffer between the North and the South. Ironically, the DMZ became one of the most militarised areas in the world, forming what Time magazine called ‘a running sore’.

The area just south of the DMZ was the scene of some of the bloodiest battles in America’s first TV war, turning Quang Tri, The Rockpile, Khe Sanh, Lang Vay and Hamburger Hill into household names.

Fast forward several decades and there’s not much left to see. Most sites have been cleared, the land reforested or planted with rubber and coffee. Only Ben Hai, Vinh Moc and Khe Sanh have small museums. Unless you’re an American veteran or military buff, you might find it a little hard to appreciate the place – which is all the more reason to hire a knowledgeable guide.

Welcome to Demilitarised Zone (Dmz)

After your hotel pick up around 7am, you will be driven to Quang Tri Province. You will travel along Route 9 to visit Camp Carroll where the whole regiment of the South surrendered the NVA in 1972, the Rockpile - an American observation-post on top of the mountain, then Dakrong Bridge – Ho Chi Minh Trail, the legendary road bringing men and supply to the South in the war time. Then, you will visit a Bru minority village, Khe Sanh Combat Base - US Marine base in 1968, site of the most controversial battle in the Vietnam War. After your lunch in Dong Ha, you will visit Doc Mieu Fire Base – the first and closest fire base of the South with big guns where they can shell the North from there and became the “magic eye” of the McNamara Line in 1967, Hien Luong Bridge, Ben Hai river at the 17th parallel used to divide Vietnam into the North and the South, Vinh Moc Tunnel, underground wonder expressing the will and determination of the local people staying there to keep the land under frequent air-raids and bombardments.

1. Vinh Moc Tunnels

A highly impressive complex of tunnels, Vinh Moc is the remains of a coastal North Vietnamese village that literally went underground in response to unremitting American bombing. More than 90 families disappeared into three levels of tunnels running for almost 2km, and continued to live and work while bombs rained down around them. Most of the tunnels are open to visitors, and are kept in their original form (except for electric lights, a recent addition).

An English-speaking guide will accompany you around the complex, pointing out the 12 entrances until you emerge at a glorious beach, facing the South China Sea. The museum has photos and relics of tunnel life, including a map of the tunnel network.

The turn-off to Vinh Moc from Hwy 1 is 6.5km north of the Ben Hai River in the village of Ho Xa. Follow this road east for 13km.

2. Khe Sanh Combat Base

The site of the most famous siege of the American War, the USA’s Khe Sanh Combat Base was never overrun, but saw the bloodiest battle of the war. About 500 Americans, 10,000 North Vietnamese troops and uncounted civilian bystanders died around this remote highland base. It’s eerily peaceful today, but in 1968 the hillsides trembled with the impact of 1000kg bombs, white phosphorus shells, napalm, mortars and endless artillery rounds, as desperate American forces sought to repel the NVA.

The 75-day siege of Khe Sanh began on 21 January 1968 with a small-scale assault on the base’s perimeter. As the marines and South Vietnamese rangers braced for a fullscale ground attack, Khe Sanh became the focus of global media attention. It was the cover story for both Newsweek and Life magazines, and made the front pages of countless newspapers around the world. During the next two months the base was subjected to continuous ground attacks and artillery fire, and US aircraft dropped 100,000 tonnes of explosives in its vicinity. But the expected attempt to overrun the base never came.

On 7 April 1968, after heavy fighting, US troops reopened Hwy 9 and linked up with the marines, ending the siege.

It now seems clear that the siege was an enormous diversion to draw US attention away from the South Vietnamese population centres in preparation for the Tet Offensive, which began a week after the siege started.

Today the site is occupied by a small museum, which contains some fascinating old photographs, plus a few reconstructed bunkers and American aircraft. Most of the area is now planted with coffee, and vendors offer high-grade local Arabica beans for sale at the entrance.

Khe Sanh is 3km north of the small town of Huong Hoa.

3. Ben Hai River

Once the border between North and South Vietnam, Ben Hai River’s southern bank now has a grandiose reunification monument, its stylised palm leaves oddly resembling missiles. Cua Tung Beach’s fine golden sands are just east of here. Ben Hai’s northern bank is dominated by a reconstructed flag tower and small museum full of war mementoes. Ben Hai is 22km north of Dong Ha on Hwy 1.

4. Dakrong Bridge

Crossing the Dakrong River 13km east of the Khe Sanh bus station, this bridge was rebuilt in 2001 and bears a marker hailing its importance as a conduit for the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

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