Demilitarised Zone

Ho Chi Minh City Hue Home HoiAn

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 though.

Rural hut
A rural hut above.

The Rockpile, right, the site of a US lookout and long-range artillery base.

The Rockpile
Vinh Moc tunnels

Vinh Moc Tunnels

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 interesting.

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 born.

And outside you can see a range of the stuff that the US dropped prompting the building of the tunnels.

Hai Van Fench fort

Hai Van bunker
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 An.

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