What to expect on a DMZ tour from Hue, Vietnam.
When you travel to Vietnam, you probably want to learn more about the country’s history. Of course, the Vietnam War can not be omitted. The DMZ in Central Vietnam is one of the best places in the country to educate yourself – still, it’s not overrun by tourists.
On our recent trip to Vietnam, we wondered how to see the DMZ from Hue. We opted for a guided tour and can confidently say that this is the best way to see the Vietnam DMZ. The distances are far so driving on your own will be very tiring. Additionally, a knowledgeable guide helps you to understand the complicated conflict and can point out details you would have missed on your own.
This is the tour we took. We can 100% recommend it.
Private tour for travellers who want to be on their own schedule.
For travellers who want to experience the freedom of riding a motorbike but (like us) don’t dare to drive themselves.
Sightseeing transfers are a great option for travellers who are short on time!
The Vietnamese Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) was located at the 17th parallel. It was established as a dividing line between North and South Vietnam from 1954 to 1976, when Vietnam was officially divided into two countries. During the Vietnam War, it became important as the demarcation line between communist North Vietnam and anti-communist South Vietnam.
Because we are by no means history experts, here is the YouTube video our guide recommended to explain the Vietnam War.
Our first short stop was Long Hung Church. The Catholic church was built in 1955. Nowadays, it’s a memorial of the Second Battle of Quang Tri.
This is the first long stop of the tour. Quang Tri Ancient Citadel was constructed as a 19th-century fort. Nowadays, it’s famous as the site of the Second Battle of Quang Tri.
The Second Battle of Quang Tri took place in 1972 and lasted 81 days. South Vietnam's Army defeated the North Vietnamese Army and recaptured most of Quang Trị Province during this battle.
Tourists can visit the grounds as well as a small museum. On the day of our visit, there was a ceremony to commemorate the battle, which was interesting to observe.
Dakrong Bridge is another quick stop. It was an important part of the Ho Chi Minh trail network. The old iron bridge from 1975 collapsed and was rebuilt in 2000.
Khe Sanh Combat Base is the second long stop of the Hue DMZ tour. Khe Sanh Combat Base was a United States Marine Corps outpost south of the Vietnamese Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) used during the Vietnam War.
US Army Special Forces constructed the camp and airfield in 1962 to watch North Vietnam’s infiltration along the border and to protect the local population. After 170 days and nights of fierce fighting, the US Marines withdrew from Khe Sanh Base in 1968.
Nowadays, you can see loads of discarded military equipment like tanks, helicopters, and airplanes. Additionally, you can enter the trenches and learn more about the battle in a small museum.
Controversially, there is a small cafe on the premises where you can try locally grown coffee.
This is also where we had our lunch stop, which was not really remarkable, to be honest.
Hien Luong Bridge is located exactly at the 17th parallel and hence was split in two between South Vietnam and North Vietnam from 1954 to 1976.
Situated on the military border during the war, it became a symbolic battleground where both South Vietnam and North Vietnam engaged in propaganda conflicts. Massive speakers were deployed by both sides, blasting their messages across long distances. Additionally, whenever the South Vietnamese repainted their section of the bridge, the North Vietnamese would paint theirs in the same colour, symbolising their desire for a unified Vietnam.
In a competition of size and height, both sides erected towering flag poles, with the North eventually claiming victory with a 38.6-meter pole. The South attempted to destroy the opposing flag. In 1967, the bridge and the North Vietnamese flag pole were destroyed by bombing. In response, North Vietnam consistently rebuilt a new flag pole each time the old one was destroyed. There were even sewing machines sent to the frontline.
Different from the Cu Chi tunnels in Southern Vietnam, which were constructed for military campaigns, the Vinh Moc tunnels were built as living quarters for the population. Hence they are much more comfortable to walk through.
The tunnels were built to shelter people from the intense bombing. Construction began in 1965 and finished in 1967 with simple tools in 18,000 labour days. The total size of the tunnels is nearly 2,000 m long and 30 meters deep, with six entrances to the tops of hills and seven entrances to the sea.
The complex comprised wells, kitchens, individual rooms for each family, and healthcare facilities. Approximately sixty families resided within the tunnels, and as many as 17 children were born inside them. The tunnels proved to be a success, with no casualties among the villagers. The only instance of direct impact occurred when a bomb failed to detonate, creating a hole that was repurposed as a ventilation shaft.
Nowadays, you can not only visit the tunnels nut there’s also a small museum on the premises.
We were back in the hotel after 6 pm.
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