Vietnam is trying to promote eco-tourism and preserve Indigenous culture in Dien Bien Phu, a network of small dwellings set in traditional stilt houses. The houses in the village, which could host tourists, would be organized in such a way that 100% of the profits go to the locals who own and operate them.
Formerly known as Thaeng, Dien Bien Phu is the capital of Dien Bien province in the northwestern region of Vietnam. It is one of the most historically eminent cities in Vietnam. It is here that the French were finally defeated in 1954 by the Vietnamese communist revolutionaries, a small settlement with a very small population that achieved city status in 1992 and became a city in 2003.
The picturesque town is full of natural beauty as one makes one’s way through dense forests, hills and hillsides, currently populated by only a handful of local inhabitants, and acting as Vietnam’s commercial center. The quiet pace of Vietnamese life can still be observed here, as locals are seen talking about their daily chores and business in traditional costumes.
This small city resides in the lap of the Muong Thanh Valley and is bordered to the east and south by the Vietnamese provinces of Lai Chau and Son La, to the north by the Chinese city of Pu’er and to the west by Phongsaly in Laos. The Vietnamese ethnic groups that make up about one-third of the population live in the plains that make up the city.
One of the best examples of the new type of eco-tourism is Phuan Doc Homestay, a property with 40 beds in Che Can, a Hmong ethnic minority village half an hour northeast of Dien Bien Phu City.
According to Aljazeera, Phuan Doc Homestay was established in 2018 by Lovan Duc with assistance from the Center for Community Development (CCD), a local subsidiary of the charity Care International. Phuan Doc is one of the two home stays in the village. It is possible to rent bicycles for 2.4 euros ($ 3), and guided tours to the nearby former underground hideout of Vo Nguyen Giap are available. Vo Nguyen Giap, also known as Red Napoleon, was the ingenious Vietnamese general who masterminded the victory over the French at Dien Bien Phu.
After the fierce battle against the French in 1954, the city has witnessed tremendous change, and many civic buildings and promenades have been built since then. The spirit of the city is like a phoenix rising after the war and is slowly but surely reaching its current status as an economic center.
The historical importance of Dien Bien Phu lies in the fact that it was the site of the triumph of Vietnamese soldiers over the French occupation in the First Indochina War of 1954. The French army strongly underestimated the Viet Minh and wanted to strangle the army by cutting off its resources and eventually bring in air reinforcements to reclaim the territory.
The French believed that the Viet Minh had no capacity to retaliate in air strikes. However, the Viet Minh, under the able leadership of Ho Chi Minh, were able to move quickly through the terrain with heavy anti-aircraft artillery and defeated the French in a long battle that lasted 28 days.