DMZ day trip from Hue - review by Rusty Compass
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DMZ day trip from Hue

| 22 Aug 2012


DMZ day trip from Hue
From Dong Ha, 75kms north of Hue

Our rating
22 Aug 2012

The DMZ day trip from Hue may be popular, but whether you're a casual visitor or a history buff, it's a not an entirely satisfying way to explore the Vietnam War history of the area. There's too much driving and too little time at the sights.

Note: The information provided in this review was correct at time of publishing but may change. For final clarification please check with the relevant service

The DMZ (Demilitarised Zone) is the old border area that divided North and South Vietnam until the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. Some of the fiercest battles of the war occurred at places like Khe Sanh and Quang Tri. At least tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of North Vietnamese, South Vietnamese and US troops as well as civilians died in battles in this area.

The Highway 1 route from Hue to Dong Ha around Quang Tri is known as the "street without joy" on account of the terrible loss of life that occurred here dating back to French times. And to this day, the DMZ remains some of the most intensively bombed territory on earth. 

The most important things to know as you consider taking a day trip to the DMZ are that virtually nothing remains of the US presence in the area and a trip to the most important historic sites requires a lot of driving and only very short stops.

Another important thing to note is that a visit to this area will be meaningless without a good guide. So insist that your guide has very good local knowledge.

If you have no choice and you're determined to see the DMZ, the day trip from Hue is better than nothing. The standard day trip includes La Vang Church, Vinh Moc tunnels, Khe Sanh, Dong Ha town, Quang Tri Citadel and the Rockpile. You may find it better to book a private car and guide rather than a tour since this will allow more flexibility across the crammed day.

If you'd like a less rushed visit, head up to Dong Ha and spend a night there before commencing the tour. The extra 90 - 120 minutes makes all the difference in terms of quality time.  

Another option is to include the caves at Phong Nha in your itinerary heading north from Hue to Dong Ha and on to Dong Hoi, spend the day visiting the DMZ before travelling on to Phong Nha for the night along the picturesque Ho Chi Minh Highway.

While unexploded ordnance now poses a negligible risk to travellers, staying on marked paths and avoiding adventures into remote places is still advised.

For more on specific sights in the DMZ, click here

Mark Bowyer
Mark Bowyer is the founder and publisher of Rusty Compass.
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