Embark on an unforgettable Vietnam travel experience as we venture into the enchanting landscapes of Dien Bien, home to the renowned Pha Din Pass. As one of the four great mountain passes of Vietnam, this is where history and nature converge, making it a quintessential stop for any traveler seeking the essence of Vietnam's captivating landscapes.
1. About Pha Din Pass: Location and legend
Nestled between the provinces of Son La and Dien Bien in Northwestern Vietnam, Pha Din Pass is a place steeped in legend. It used to be the border between the provinces of Lai Chau (now divided into Lai Chau and Dien Bien) and Son La.
Legend has it that in the past, in order to mark the territorial boundary between the two provinces, the locals organized a horse race to cross Pha Din Pass. As the two riders and their horses showed equal strength and determination, at the end of the race, the difference between them was minimal. Stil, the rider from Lai Chau won by a small margin. Thus, a segment of the pass extends longer into Lai Chau (now Dien Bien) than to Son La.
2. The historical significance of Pha Din Pass
In the throes of intense warfare, Pha Din Pass emerged as a vital lifeline for transporting weaponry, ammunition, and provisions for Vietnamese forces during the Dien Bien Phu campaign (1954). In 1954, to halt this supply route, the French conducted relentless air raids on National Road 6, targeting key locations including Pha Din Pass and the Co Noi intersection. Over 48 days and nights, these strategic areas bore the brunt of relentless barrages.
Today, a memorial plaque atop Pha Din Pass stands as a testament to this historic ordeal. This historic pass has inspired many movies about Dien Bien Phu. By 2005, the Vietnamese government decided to upgrade National Road 6 to the northwest, dividing the pass into two segments: the old pass and the new pass, which branch from the pass's summit.
- The old pass: Stretching 32 km, it reaches a peak altitude of 1,648m above sea level. There are many perilous turns, narrow pathways, and sections that are only fit for a single vehicle at a time.
- The new pass: Constructed along the left mountainside of the old National Road 6, this 26-km stretch boasts wider turns, lower slopes, and a road surface nearly twice as wide as that of the old pass.
Since the inauguration of the new pass, vehicular traffic has become safer, while the old pass is only traversed by the locals or adventurous travelers.
3. What to do on your adventure to Pha Din Pass?
3.1. Admire the wonderful scenery
Whether conquering the old or the new Pha Din Pass, travelers are treated to spectacular natural scenery. From a distance, the pass resembles a delicate thread binding the mountains together, suspended amidst the clouds. Its winding roads, undulating through the landscape, appear as if they were brought to life from a painting.
3.2. Enjoy a ride along the pass
Ascending the pass, a blanket of mist hangs over the forested slopes, occasionally adorned with splashes of red and purple from red silk cotton flowers and plum blossoms. Upon reaching the summit, the chilly embrace of the highland envelopes the vast space, with clouds weaving seamlessly through the mountains in the distance.
Gazing up from the foot of the pass, you will see quaint villages peacefully nestled in the lush green valleys. In the embrace of Pha Din Pass, where clouds linger throughout the seasons, the warmth of abundant life permeates every house and alley. A particular emphasis on cultivating the trio of coffee, tao meo, and cinnamon further enhances the prosperity of this region.
3.3. Visit Pha Din Pass tourist area
This wind-kissed tourist area is conceived with the idea of providing a serene stopover for travelers to indulge in scenic appreciation and fostering camaraderie between the locals of Dien Bien and Son La provinces. To reach this haven, adventurous travelers must navigate a gently sloping trail flanked by rows of pine trees, creating a serene pathway at the foot of the pass.
The Pha Din Pass tourist area boasts enchanting gardens predominantly adorned with buckwheat flowers, white mustard flowers, golden chrysanthemums. From the summit, you can gaze into the distance and marvel at the picturesque Muong Quai Valley. Additionally, you can take photos with a hill and bridge full of pinwheels, creating romantic and picturesque memories.
4. How to get to Pha Din Pass from Dien Bien Phu City?
From the city center of Dien Bien, following National Road 279 towards Tuan Giao District, motorbike enthusiasts will embark on a journey filled with twists, turns, and the enchanting beauty of wild sunflowers along the roadside. Stopping by Tang Quai Pass, travelers can marvel at the expansive "sea of clouds" gracefully floating across Ang Nua Valley. Upon reaching Tuan Giao District, you will get to conquer the ascent of Pha Din Pass.
>>> Discover the Dien Bien Phu map for a seamless trip!
Pha Din Pass in Dien Bien, one of Vietnam's four great passes, is a symbol of natural beauty and historical resilience. It echoes the sacrifices of the Dien Bien Phu campaign and serves as a cultural bridge connecting provinces.
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