Use the quicklinks below to jump to the desired section regarding transport in and around Dien Bien Phu.
The Dien Bien Phu Airport is located very near the centre of town, along the road to Muong Lay — to get there, take a right past the bus station, and the terminal is a kilometre down on the left.
There are two departures to Hanoi daily, at 11:40 and 15:10, and flights to here from Hanoi leave at 10:00 and 13:30 — the flight takes an hour. You can buy a ticket at the airport, or at any big hotel in town, but you'll save a good bit by booking ahead in Hanoi or online at http://www.vietnamairlines.com, and avoid the risk of flights being full. Currently, flights are going online for 650,000 / 863,000 VND one way plus taxes, but do check with the airline. You must clear security at least a half hour before the flight departs.
Dien Bien Phu Airport: Along the road to Muong Lay, Dien Bien Phu. T: (0230) 382 4948. Ticket Office Hours: 07:30 to 11:30 and 13:30 to 17:00.
To reach Dien Bien Phu bus station, turn off 7-5 Road at the monument roundabout and it's across the bridge on the right. There are plenty of departures throughout the day, with a vast increase in the number and quality of services to Hanoi, which now includes modern-looking overnight sleeper buses. A timetable is prominently displayed in above the ticket office and we found the guards were very helpful also.
Dien Bien Phu Bus Station: T: (0230) 382 4558; (0230) 382 8487. Hours: 04;00 to 19:00 daily.
Hanoi (My Dinh): leaving at 04:30, 05:00, 6:00, 06:30and regularly between 16:00 and 20:15costing 220,000 to 300,000 VND (depending upon type of bus) and taking around 10 hours.
Lai Chau: leaving at 05:00, 05:30, 06:00, 07:00, 08:00, 09:00, 09:30, 10:00, 12:00 and 14:00 costing 103,000 to 115,000 VND and taking 6-7 hours.
Lao Cai: leaving at 06:00, costing 140,000 VND, and at 06:30 costing 170,000 VND, and taking 6 hours.
Muong Lay: leaving at 13:30 and 16:00, costing 49,000 VND
Muong Te: leaving at 05:30 and 10:00, costing 100,000 VND
Ninh Binh: leaving at 04:30, costing 230,000 VND
Sinh Ho: leaving at 05:30, costing 80,000 VND
Son La: leaving at 04:30, 12:00, costing 81,000 VND and taking 4-5 hours.
Thai Binh: leaving at 04:30 and 15:30, costing 230,000 VND, and at 17:30, costing 300,000
Tuan Giao: leaving at 06:00 and 11:00 (note a 15:30 departure is still listed but we were informed it was not running), costing 40,000 VND and taking 2.5 hours.
If you're heading to Laos from Dien Bien Phu, there are daily buses to Muang Khua in Phongsali province. The bus leaves at 05:30 and costs 88,000VND. Note if there is little business, the bus may be cancelled till the following day.
If you want to do the trip without the bus, it is possible to get a xe-om to the border crossing, but once you're on the Lao side there is no regular onwards transport. Instead you're looking at a motorbike trip to the hamlet of Muang Mai (accommodation is available, but no money changing facilities) 35km from the border. From there you need to either get another motorbike ride, or get a seat on a truck for the next 50km to Muang Khua — you will need to bargain extremely hard!
Motorcycle taxis congregate on corners around town and cruise for foreigners elsewhere. A trip to the airport should be no more than 20,000 VND, and to the Tay Trung border, 130,000 VND.
If you only want to see the main sights in town it's possible to walk or just take a taxi or xe om to the area where the museum, cemetery and A1 hill are located and then pick up another one to the bunker. For sights further afield negotiate a fixed rate to be shuttled around — and if you want to visit specific places try to have them written in Vietnamese.
It is possible to hire motorbikes in town though prices vary — we were quoted 300,000 VND at the Dien Bien Phu Hanoi Hotel and 150,000 VND at the Viet Hoang guesthouse. Bear in mind though that information and maps about the surrounding area are not readily available in town, so bring your own or be prepared to get lost!