Sun Spa Resort – Dong Hoi
My coastal journey begins in Dong Hoi at the Sun Spa Resort where the Son Doong Expedition found some much needed R&R. A pool, spa, a comfortable bed, and some western food were most welcome I can tell you. I booked an extra night just to make sure I was rested for the rest of my journey down the coast which will include Quang Tri, Hue, Hoi An, Quy Nhon, and Nha Trang. Two nights will be spent in the highlands of Dalat before finishing up in Ho Chi Minh City.
QUANG TRI PROVINCE – Not much to be said for Quang Tri except that my four-star hotel was super cozy and stylish, and had good internet to get caught up with things. At half the cost of most Motel 6 rooms, I was very pleased. Not many restaurants nearby either so I resorted to room service a couple of times. I did take the opportunity to do the DMZ Tour which was something I wanted to do, and it spared me having to use up my time in Hue doing it.
The Rockpile – Vietnam War U.S. Observation Post
The Rockpile rises 700 feet above the surrounding terrain, and was accessible only by helicopter and used as an observation post during the Vietnam War from 1966-1969. Located just South of the DMZ, it was also used as an artillery base.
Khe Sahn Combat Base – Museum
I found the museum disturbing as the propaganda found within insinuated rather clearly that our troops were cowards during the shelling of the base during the Battle of Khe Sahn. I can handle it when they build up their own troops or decry the use of Agent Orange, but questioning the courage of our troops I found to be disrespectful of the men who lost their lives there.
Lasting 77 days, the Battle of Khe Sahn claimed 703 American and South Vietnamese lives with 10,000 to 15,000 Viet Cong killed. The base was abandoned and destroyed two months after the conflict ended.
Vinh Môc Tunnels – DMZ
Vinh Môc is a tunnel complex located in Quang Tri province. The U.S. Military believed that the villagers of Vinh Môc were supplying food and armaments to the North Vietnamese. Bombing campaigns designed to force the people to move elsewhere forced them underground instead. The tunnels were constructed using simple farming tools, and were originally dug to 10 meters. Then the U.S. forces developed bombs that would go to 10 meters so the villagers dug to thirty meters. It was built in several stages from 1966 and utilized until 1972. About sixty families lived in the tunnels, and as many as seventeen children were born there. They were an incredible success since there were no casualties. There was only one direct hit, but the bomb failed to explode. The hole it made was eventually used as a ventilation shaft.
Family Rooms – On Sides Of Hallway
Cemetery Of 3,000 Unmarked Graves – 1/1000 of Total Killed In The War
Hue – A Sculpture Park Along The Perfume River
Thien Mu Pagoda – Hue
Built in 1601 by the order of the first Nguyen lords, this is the tallest religious building in Vietnam.
The Car Used By Thich Quang Duc Before Immolating Himself In Saigon In 1963
Who can forget the image of the Buddhist monk who set himself on fire at a Saigon intersection in 1963 to protest the persecution of Buddhists under South Vietnam’s Diem regime? John Kennedy said, “No news picture in history has generated so much emotion around the world as that one.” This iconic vehicle that he drove to Saigon that fateful day is on display at the Thien Mu Pagoda. It is said that as he burned he never moved a muscle, never uttered a sound, his outward composure was in sharp contrast to the wailing people around him.
One Of The Many Moats Around The Citadel
Les Jardins de la Carambole – My Favorite Restaurant in Vietnam
Also very close to the Citadel, it is an ideal place to stop for lunch after touring the grounds for three hours or so. Owned by a Frenchman, this beautifully restored French Colonial edifice produces food as pleasing as its environment. If you’re in need of a good steak, their beef tenderloin in mushroom sauce can’t be beat.
Tu Doc Tomb
This tomb constructed between 1864 and 1867 is one of the most popular and beautiful of the royal mausoleums. Tu Duc’s tomb is not only one of the most beautiful works of the Nguyen dynasty, but it is also a collection of romantic vistas.