May 7, 1954 proved to be a pivotal day in Vietnamese history; it was the day when French colonial forces were defeated in the battle of Dien Bien Phu, marking the final days of the First Indochina War. The small, walkable town of Dien Bien Phu has since attracted military buffs who come to see the refurbished French defenses, including a command bunker, a strong point and a military history museum.
What really makes the place special, even for visitors with less of an interest in history, is the sense of remoteness, nestled in a valley amid the lush mountains along the Laos border. The spectacular hillside rice terraces in the countryside surrounding the town are worth a visit on their own.
Try to avoid visiting during July and August, the rainiest months of the year when the roads around Dien Bien Phu become muddy and often impassable.