Bung Lao, Muong Ang, Dien Bien
Bung Lao, Muong Ang, Dien Bien

Dien Bien Guide

Dien Bien Province is located in the North-West of Vietnam. Dien Bien shares border with China to the north-west, with Lai Chau to the north and north-east, with Son La to the east and south-east and south, with Laos to the south-west and west. Dien Bien has an international border-crossing with Laos at Tay Trang (Vietnam) – Sop Hun (Laos).

Most of the terrain of Dien Bien Province is mountainous with peaks up to nearly 2,000m above sea level. There are various valleys created in between mountain ranges, of which the largest is Muong Thanh Valley with total area of over 150km2. Dien Bien has 2 plateaus at A Pa Chai (Muong Nhe) and Ta Phing (Tua Chua).

Dien Bien Phu City at sunset
Dien Bien Phu City at sunset

Terrain
Most of the terrain of Dien Bien Province is mountainous with peaks up to nearly 2,000m above sea level. There are various valleys created in between mountain ranges, of which the largest is the Muong Thanh Valley with total area of over 150km2. The province has 2 plateaus at A Pa Chai (Muong Nhe) and Ta Phing (Tua Chua).

The terrain of Dien Bien is higher to the north, lower to the south; and higher to the west and lower to the east. The highest points to the northwest of Dien Bien are in Muong Nhe District (1,085m, 1,162 m, 1,856m, peak Pu Den Dinh – 1,886m). The highest points to the west include 1,127m, 1,649m, 1,860m and the peaks in Muong Phang.

Rivers
- The Da River starts its flow from the Chinese border through Lai Chau, then through Muong Lay and Tuan Giao (of Dien Bien) before going further into Son La…

- The Nam Rom and Nam Nua Rivers: the former flows north-south and the latter flows south-north; they meet in the Muong Thanh Valley then continues westward into Laos to discharge the water into the Mekong River.

- The Ma River (Nam Muc, Nam Hua, Nam Co,…) flows through Tuan Giao, Muong Ang, Dien Bien Dong.

Climate

Dien Bien has a tropical monsoon climate on high altitude with big difference in temperatures during the day and during the night which is attributed to the geographical location far inland and the mountainous terrain. There are two main seasons in Dien Bien. The rainy season is from May to November. The dry season is from late November or December through April. The annual rainfall is 1,300-2,000mm most of the rainfall is found in June, July and August.

Daily temperatures during March-October normally fluctuate between 20-30 Degrees Celsius. The highest temperatures are found in April – July which may be above 40oC. During the coldest period December - February, daily temperatures are between below 10-20 Degrees Celsius.

In July and August, sometimes September there may be typhoons and tropical depressions which may have impact in Dien Bien even with weakened winds. They often cause torrential rains, flash floods and landslides with much damage to the province.

The best weather in Dien Bien is found in late October – November and February-March. These periods offer dry air and pleasant temperatures.

Tuan Giao rice field, Dien Bien Province
Tuan Giao rice field, Dien Bien Province

Population
There are 21 ethnic groups in Dien Bien Province of which the Thai is the biggest community (42%), Hmong (27%), Kinh (19%), Khmu (4%), Lao, Hoa, Ha Nhi, Khang, La Hu, Xi Mun, Si La, Nung, Phu La, Tho, Tay...

Muong Ang Town, Dien Bien Province
Muong Ang Town

Tourist attractions and what to see in Dien Bien
Dien Bien Phu Battlefield with relics from the famous Dien Bien Phu Battle between the Viet Minh and the French troops.

Muong Phang was the head quarters of the Viet Minh forces conducting the Dien Bien Phu Campaign.

Pa Khoang Lake is in Muong Phang, 26km from Dien Bien Phu City. The lake, surrounded by thick forest, is great for relaxing holidays and eco tourism. There are villages of the Thai and Khmu ethnic groups around Pa Khoang.

Muong Cha Town, Dien Bien Province
Muong Cha Town

Travel and tours in Dien Bien
Dien Bien is an interesting destination for the travelers who love to learn about the famous Dien Bien Phu Battle. You can visit the major sites on a full day tour. It should take another day if you would like to visit Muong Phang and climb the mountain that General Giap observed the battle from.

If you like trekking or cycling tours, then you could have up to one week to visit different attractions in the province. You can also have a relaxing holiday at Pa Khoang Lake for a couple of days.

Paradissa offers veteran tours, historical tours to Dien Bien Phu City and adventure trips which combine Dien Bien Phu and other destinations in the North West of Vietnam. Paradissa Travel also organize a number of motorbike tours, leisurely bicycle tours and mountain-biking adventures around Dien Bien and the North West of Vietnam.

Muong Lay Town, Dien Bien Province
Muong Lay Town

Accommodations
There are hotels of basic facilities and luxury holiday hotels in Dien Bien Phu City. You can also have good comfort accommodations at Muong Lay Town. In other towns and townships, there are only guest houses.

Homestay used to be an interesting choice for travelers who love a more engaging experience. But as of our last check, there are no villages which offer homestay to foreign travellers.

Restaurants and bars
There are decent restaurants, cafes and bars in Dien Bien Phu City. At other towns in the province, there are only local restaurants with a limited choice of food.

Getting there and away
By road: Dien Bien is 500km from Hanoi via the National Road No6; other inter-provincial roads are Road 12 to Lai Chau, Road 279 to Son La, Yen Bai, Lao Cai,...

By air: There are daily flights between Hanoi and Dien Bien Phu city. The flight time is 45 minutes.