History of the Demilitarised Zone
The Demilitarised Zone came into being in 1954 at Geneva. Ho Chi Minh's government in the north and
the French in the south agreed to an armistice. It was agreed that the
Demilitarised Zone would follow the Ben Hai River to, temporarily, divide
Vietnam into two, and that this would cease after country-wide elections were
held in July 1956. However these planned elections were never held, and Vietnam
remained divided until 1975. The Demilitarised Zone was the scene of some of
the bloodiest battles of the war.
From Hue it is
possible to go on a bus tour of the zone. The tour lasts one day, and unless
you are really interested in military history I would say it is not really
worth the day trip. The scenery and local villages are interesting
The Rockpile, right, the site of a US lookout and long-range
You can get a guided tour of the tunnels. It is advisable to
have a torch or else keep close to the guide. The lighting is not very good and
the floor is uneven and has many steps. However this part of the tour was very
The tunnels are unaltered, unlike those in Cu Chi, but as they
were built to be lived in, they are slightly larger and easier to walk through.
The locals built and lived in them after a massive US bombardment in 1966.
There are tiny family rooms, and even a hospital where 17 babies were
And outside you can see a range of the stuff that the US dropped
prompting the building of the tunnels.
Hai Van Pass
Hai Van Pass is roughly halfway down the coast, and
weather-wise divides the country in two. The pass is almost 500m high, and the
roads are narrow, steep and winding. They are also pretty scary. Most buses
stop at the top for a few minutes. You can get out and fight your way past the
local vendors of just about everything, and cross the road to look at the old
French fort (left), used by the South Vietnamese and Americans during the war.
There is also a bunker (above) from a later date. The views are stunning from
here and other places along this road. One of the cheapest and easiest ways to
do this journey is to take a bus from Hue to either Danang or Hoi