Veteran Tours

In recent years, the country of Vietnam has opened its arms to foreign tourism. One of the major tourist sectors involves foreign visitors who return to revisit times of turmoil and conflict. French tourists still comprise the greatest number of visitors to northern Vietnam, where they gleefully recall the glories of the colonial age, when Hanoi was the capitol of French Asia. They also flock to the desolate Dien Bien Phu, site of the stunning French defeat by Ho Chi Minh's ragged jungle troops. Chinese and Russians continually revisit areas of past conflict in Vietnam. Every big city in the country claims at least one site showcasing Vietnam's centuries of struggle against a succession of colonial and neighboring powers. Networks of tunnels that once took guerrillas from engagement to escape are now frequented by tourists. Prisons have become first-class attractions and the DMZ - a barren stretch of napalm-burned, mine-pitted terrain, has become a major attraction. Australian veterans have been revisiting Vietnam for years now.

Without a doubt, Vietnam has grown friendlier to foreigners; 1.6 million visited in 1996 and the numbers have steadily increased since then. Arrivals in 2001 exceeded 2.5 million. This is still a trickle compared the multitudes swarming into neighboring Thailand, however, the relative scarcity of tourists is certainly part of Vietnam's appeal. Many come to the magnificent, picturesque deserted beaches, where seafood is sold for a pittance. However, tourism is expanding inland and north from the Mekong Delta, where ancient cities, delightful colonial villages and unexplored scenic wonders all help to make Vietnam the hottest new destination in Asia.

Nowhere are the liberal attitudes more apparent than in central Vietnam, the slender cord of land connecting the distinct northern and southern halves of a nation that has long been divided. Besides two major cities - Hue and Da Nang - this region boasts magnificent palaces, ancient ruins, eye-catching mountains, rivers lined with lush fields, undeveloped beaches, and one of Southeast Asia's oldest, and quaintest, international settlements, Hoi An.

Most spectacular of all is Hue, considered by many guidebooks to be the prettiest city in all of Vietnam. Surrounded by ancient citadel walls and home of the famed Forbidden Purple City, Hue boasts more than enough picturesque temples, pagodas and palaces to keep tourists in Kodak memories for months. Yet equally popular are the tours of the nearby Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).

In contrast, the DMZ Tours are dusty and somewhat depressing. Tours start in Dong Ha, capital of Quang Tri province, where US Vets and military buffs get their first grand view of the battlefields they saw on the TV newscasts. US tanks have been left to rot alongside railway tracks on the outskirts of town.

Still standing is the Rockpile, the imposing 230-meter stone hill where a clutter of nervy US Marines called in air strikes from the very midst of enemy territory. The isolated fortress could only be serviced by helicopter drops. It was protected by fields of mines. Still, one cannot help but marvel at the ingenuity of the present day Vietnamese recyclers: shell cases have become planter boxes, fencing and siding. Even the snap-together metal tarmac of some airfields has been pulled up and hammered into roofing.

A highlight of the area comes in the Quang Tri Tunnels, among a network of secret tunnels left from the war. Most served terrorists and assassins, working most effectively behind enemy lines. Those at Vinh Moc, thought, were built by villagers to escape relentless carpet-bombing by B-52's. Only one tunnel, the deepest, remains intact. Over 600 people lived in this tunnel from 1968 to 1972.

The changes of pace in Vietnam are most apparent in Hanoi, the stodgy communist capital of the north. Visitors from a decade ago may recall Russian-style parades, a scarcity of restaurants and guards at every doorway. But even Hanoi has been brightening up to the prospects of tourism in recent years.

Hanoi is perhaps the most delightful city in Asia, with broad, tree-lined boulevards radiating around a series of lakes, and stately government buildings that are like timepieces from a glorious past. The Hotel Sofitel Metropole, which opened in 1911, is a stunning white colonial inn and has serviced scores of diplomats and generals during the long war years. During the American air campaign, guests were assigned personal bomb shelters dug into the pavement outside the hotel.

Around the capital, one can find ample reminders of the French and American wars. The best place for military buffs is probably the Army Museum. It's not well marked, but is easy to find. Alongside is the hexagonal Flag Tower, part of an early 19th century citadel. In front of the cluster of buildings is a huge pile of what appears, at first glance, to be rubbish: twisted hunks of metal and other debris. Actually, this is one of the exhibits, a heap of bombshells, tank tracks and old jet wings. Inside are blood-drenched paintings and gory photographs. Yet they are popular; the Army Museum is in the midst of a major expansion.

Indeed, from top to bottom, Vietnam is repackaging its collection of war museums, dusting away some of the dowdy propaganda and sprucing up the exhibits for greater international consumption.

In Ho Chi Minh City, the biggest crowds visit the War Remnants Museum. Veterans and War buffs will find even better pickings at Ho Chi Minh's Military Museum, which sports a fine array of American and Vietnamese military hardware, including tanks, shells, bombs and the wreckage of downed aircraft.

For those interested in digging deeper into Vietnam's long history of conflict, the Revolutionary Museum offers over a dozen rooms of resistance memorabilia dating back to the first campaigns against the French in the 1800s. Besides old weapons, medals, uniforms, homemade bombs and booby traps, there are fine archival pictures. Here, and at all the war museums, it's easy to shop for souvenirs that include dogtags, military hats and clothing, knives, medals and lighters; mostly fake.

Former Saigon abounds with less grisly reminders of the war era. A mandatory stop is the rooftop of the Rex Hotel, a famous hangout for American officers and war correspondents in the 1960s and 1970s. The regular war briefings, in which offices boasted of inflated body counts and dubbed, "the Five O Clock follies." The charts are gone but the gaudy, Vegas-like rooftop furnishings remain, and the view is strikingly familiar. From the Rex rooftop, the bustling city down below looks much as it did decades ago, swarming with motor bikes and the hustle of thousands of hungry entrepreneurs in the new Vietnam.

Perhaps that's why it seems ironic the hottest attractions in Vietnam seem to recall the dark, old days. Among a slew of nightclubs with wartime monikers, the most successful is the Apocalypse Now chain. And the most popular tourist site in town remains the Chu Chu tunnels, where up to five thousand guerillas crawled through a maze of cubby holes too tight for the America forces to follow. The tunnels have been enlarged for the tourists, who flock to the caverns that survived the fury of half a million US bombs. Eerily, you can still hear the sound of gunfire. That's because nearby is another tourist attraction: the National Defense Shooting Range. For five dollars, you can fire off a few rounds on an American M-16, or the AK-47s favored by the Vietnamese.

TOURIST SERVICES

GLC, with field offices throughout Vietnam and offices in the US, is now offering complete, comprehensive packages to open this wonderful, life changing tourism experience to the American Veteran.

Our Veteran Tours packages are designed to allow the over 6 million US Veterans of the Vietnam conflict that were stationed in country and their families to revisit sites where their former units were based, areas of military activity, and former battlefields. These packages also allow another 20 million Americans that were indirectly affected to learn more about the conflict and the country's cultures and conditions. GLC has developed a comprehensive list of Vietnamese cities, towns, and villages where US military servicemen experienced the hardships of war. We invite you to revisit those locations during these times of peace and experience the warmth and beauty that Vietnam offers it's visitors. Western visitors are continually amazed at the openness of the new Vietnamese government, the friendliness and kindness of its people, and the overwhelming beauty of this tropical nation.

There are virtually no restrictions on where you can visit. If the area of interest is not an active military base (which there are very few of, in this time of peace), chances are, you'll be able to revisit. If you don't see your old base listed, don't hesitate to call us for a customized tour. We will be more than happy to customize a tour to meet your own unique requirements.



GLC Offers Tours to the Following Locations and Their Attractions:

Ho Chi Minh City (former Saigon)
Rex Hotel - An officer's hotel (BOQ) during the war and the most famous of the French-built hotels in Saigon. From the roof garden of the REX, at the hub of Saigon's downtown area (now called District 1), you an look down Le Loi Street to the former RVN Parliament Building on Dong Khoi Street, well known during the war as Tu Do Street.
Continental Hotel (where Graham Greene wrote the Quiet American)
Majestic Hotel
(on the Saigon River)
Maxim's Nightclub (still going strong)
Presidential Palace (now called the Reunification Hall) - preserved just as it was when President Nguyen Van Thieu left it in April 1975. Displayed on the lawn is the tank that crashed through the gate as the North Vietnamese tool Saigon.
Remnants of War Museum (formerly called the American War Crimes Museum)
National History Museum
Saigon Zoo
- a favored place of relaxation during the war, still the same is it was 30 years ago
Thong Nhat Conference Hall
Ho Chi Minh Stature
Old US Embassy
Palace Hotel (former Australian Embassy and first US Embassy)
Secret VC Ammo Dump (in the heart of Saigon)
Site of Monk Self Immolation
Cho Lon (Chinatown)
Central Post Office
Notre Dame Cathedral (on what was once called John F. Kennedy Square)
Thien Hau Pagoda
Binh Tay Market

Around Saigon
Long Binh (HQ and USARV)
Bien Hoa
(20th Engineer Brigade)
Bear Cat (9th Infantry Division)
Plain of Reeds
War Zones C&D
Black Lady Mountain (Nui Ba Den)
Iron Triangle
Tay Ninh

Lai Khe (1st Infantry Division)
Chau Doc
Sa Dec
Dalat
- Beautiful highland resort area complete with overlooks, waterfalls, and the oldest golf course in Vietnam (world class). Summer palace of Bao Dai, the last emperor of Vietnam. The Valley of Love, a Chinese Pagoda with a nine dragon wall, the Minh Tam flower gardens. Vietnams honeymoon capital and considered to be the most beautiful place in Vietnam.

Mekong Delta Region
My Tho (2nd Brigade, 9th Infantry Division)
Vinh Long
Rach Gia
Khanh Hung
Can Tho

Mekong River Cruise - Recall the hazards of this sub-tropical jungle 30 years ago. Visit tropical fruit orchards on Tan Long island (a VC stronghold during the war), Con Phung - the Island of the Coconut Monk who led a religious cult that was considered subversive by both South Vietnam and the communist, floating markets, and observe the river life.
Vinh Trang Pagoda
Dong Tam Snake Farm


Iron Triangle
Sites of the 173rd Airborne and 11th Armored Cav bases
Ben Cat
- Staging area for the 503rd Airborne Brigade
Lai Khe - Home of the 1st Infantry Division
Cu Chi Tunnels - A network of over 150 miles of underground tunnels near Tay Ninh, located in part, directly beneath HQ of the 25th Infantry Division. It was from the Chu Chi tunnels that Saigon was attacked during Tet, 1968. Meet with former VC soldiers who fought there.
The "Holy See" of the Cao Dai religion - A fantastic art deco temple and compound with formal gardens. This religion is only found in Vietnam, the third most popular religion there. The Cao Dai were a paramilitary force in combating the French, and when they were defeated by ARVN forces under the Diem presidency they brought their army into alliance with the South Vietnamese government.

Between Saigon & Vung Tau
Di An
Bien Hoa
Long Binh
Bear Cat


Vung Tau
(the biggest in-country R&R Center)
Villa Blanche
Mountaintop Jesus
Light House
Niet Ban Tinh Xa Pagoda
Offshore Islands


Between Saigon & Nha Trang
Xuan Loc
Phan Thiet
Phan Rang
Cam Raha Bay

Nha Trang
Tri Nguyen Oceanographic Institute Aquarium
Tam Island
Fishing Villages
- Ride in a small basket boat piloted by young Vietnamese girls

Between Nha Trang & Buon Me
Elephant Training Center
Coffee Plantations


Between Buon Me & Kontum
Pleiku
Sights of the Former CIDG
(Civilian Irregular Defense Group)
Highlands Scenery
Montagnard Villages
Kontum
- Site of the major battle at Easter, 1972
Pleime to Dak To - Including the site of the Battle of La Drang and NVA retreat route past LZs Albany and X-ray, and Rocket Ridge named for the many B-52 bomb craters.
Route 14 over Chuporo Pass
Sedeng, Jarai, and Bahnai Minority Villages
Poko River to Trung Nhia


Between Kontum & Qui Nhon
Supply Depot of the 1st Log Command
Camp Ratliff
An Khe
- A major military area where you could find the 1st Air Cav among other units
Quang Trung Museum in Tay Son
Red Beach Recreation Area
- another famous in-country R&R Center

Between Qui Nhon & Quang Ngai
The Petroleum Farm
Ammunition Dump near Qui Nhon
Phu Cat Airbase
Bog Son
Duc Pho

Between Quang Ngai & Da Nang
My Lai (Son My) Massacre Memorial
Tam Ky
Hoi An
- Ancient international city with elaborate Chinese community hall, a famous Japanese bridge, and interesting architecture in eclectic Japanese, Chinese, and Vietnamese styles.
Chu Lai Marine Base


Da Nang
Old Army Airfield
Several Bases
- III Marine Amphibious Force, First marine Division, 3rd Naval Mobile Construction Brigade, Naval Support activity, and Air Force 366th Tactical Fighter Wing.
US and French built Bunkers
Nguyen Van Troi Bridge
- Built by the US, now named after the VC martyr who tried to blow up former Secretary, Robert McNamara
Marble Mountain - With multiple caves that provides shelter for the VC
China Beach
Cham Museum
"Peace Village" Medical Clinic
- Built and supported by US Veterans


Between Da Nang & Hue
The Hia Van Pass
Lang Co Village and Beach
Red Beach
- where the first US combat marines landed in 1965

Hue
Citadel and Flag Tower
- location of the strongest stand of the VC during Tet, 1968
Cruise the Perfume River
Thien Mu Pagoda - Oldest and most important Buddhist shrine in Vietnam. The Austin driven by the Monk to his immolation in Daigon to protest the anti-Buddhist repression of President Ngo Dinh Diem is located here.
Forbidden City - Home of the Nguyen Dynasty of emperors in Vietnam
Mausoleum of Emperor Minh Mang
Tombs of Emperors Tu Duc and Khai Dinh


Between Hue & Dong Ha
Drive Highway 1
Camp Evans
- Home of 20th Tank Regiment and Fire Support Base Nancy (258th MC Brigade)
Quang Tri Battle Site
Ai Tu Combat Base and Airfield of the 3rd ARVN Division HQ

Dong Ha
Leatherneck Square
- Quadrilateral area bounded by Con Thien, Gio Linh, Dong Ha, and Cam Lo. Location of Operation Buffalo.
Hien Luong Bridge - Over the Ben Hai River, which demarcated north and south
Doc Mieu Base - in the DMZ
Vinh Moc Tunnels - Home for over 600 Vietnamese civilians during the intense B-52 air strikes
North Vietnamese National Cemetery
Con Thien Fire Support Base


Between Dong Ha & Khe Sanh
Route 9 Parallel to the DMZ
Fire Support Bases
- Rockpile, Da Krong Bridge, and Huang Hoa District HQ.

Khe Sanh
Khe Sanh Base
Old French Fort
Montagnard Village
Lang Vei Special Forces Camp
Shau Valley
- Battle sites, LZs, and Fire Support Bases
Hamburger Hill
A Luoi
- Special Forces Camp, LZs Cunningham, Erskine, and Razor
Bach Ma National Park - French Villas destroyed by VC, numerous species of tigers, monkeys, and birds; hiking trails, overlooks, and waterfalls.
Lang Vei Special Forces Camp
Loa Border town
- Follow Operation Lam Son 719 in which ARVN troops surged into Loa to attack NVA strongholds.

Hanoi
"Uncle Ho's" Mausoleum and home

Ho Chi Minh Museum
Temple of Literature
- oldest university in Vietnam and shrine to Confucius
Water Puppets - Unique to Vietnam
Historic Old Quarter
Hoan Kiem Lake - Center of Hanoi where Senator McCain was captured after being shot down
Army Museum -

Other Areas in Northern Vietnam
Ba Vi - A beautiful eco-tourist resort in the mountains NW of Hanoi
Hai Phong - Northern port city
Hai Long Bay - Hundreds of islands in this beautiful blue-green bay
Sa Pa - Major tourist resort high in the northern highlands, famous for it's tribal culture.
Dien Bien Phu
Tam Dao - Another highland resort town
Cuc Phuong National Park
Lao Kai
Mai chau
Lang Son
Cao Bang
Hoa Binh


Partial List of US Military Unit Wartime Locations:

Saigon: MACV; 3rd Brigade, 9th Inf.; Naval Forces Commander, Naval support activity; 524th MI Det. (CI).
Long Binh: USARV; II Field Force; 1st Logistical Command; 1st Signal Brigade; 44th Medical Brigade; 199th Light Inf. Brigade.
Tan Son Nhut: 460th Tactical Recon. Wing; 834th Air Div.
Phu Bai
: XXIV Corps; 82nd Airborne; 3rd Inf. Brigade Task force; 101st Airborne Div.
Phu Cat:
37th Tactical Fighter Wing.
Lai Khe: 1st Inf. Div.
Di An: 3rd Brigade, 1st Inf. Div.
Pleiku: 4th Inf. Div.
Dak To: 1st Brigade, 1st Inf. Div.
Phu My: 2nd Brigade, 4th Inf. Div.
Kontum: 3rd Brigade, 4th Inf. Div.
Quang Tri: 5th Inf. Div.
Nha Trang: 1st Field force, 5th Special Forces Gp.
Qui Nhon: 1st Logistical Command Operations
Bear Cat:
9th Inf. Div.
Dong Tam:
1st Brigade, 9th Inf. Div.
My Tho: 2nd Brigade, 9th Inf. Div.
Xuan Loc: 11th Armored Cav. Reg.
Chu Lai: 25th Inf. Div (Americal).
Duc Pho: 11th Light Inf. Brigade.
Hoi An: 196th Light Inf. Brigade.
Cu Chi: 25th Inf. Div.
Tay Ninh: 1st Brigade, 25th Inf. Div.
Da Nang: III Marine Amphibious Force; 1st Marine Air Wing, 1st Marine Division; 7th Marine Regiment; 27th Marine Regiment; 366th Tactical Fighter Wing; 3rd Naval Mobile Construction Brigade; Naval Support Activity.
Khe Sanh: 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Div; 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Div.
Phu Loc: 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Div.
Dong Ha:
3rd Marine Div.
Cam Lo: 9th Marine Reg., 3rd Div.
Phan Rang: 315th Air Commando Wing.
Cam Ranh Bay: Task Force 115, Coastal Surveillance Force; 483rd Tactical Airlift Wing; 1st Logistical Command Operations.

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