Ben Hai River Parallel 17th: DMZ Border in the Vietnam War
Ben Hai River in Quang Tri Province originates from Dong Chan mountain in the Truong Son range and flows along the 17° North parallel from west to east and empties into the sea at Cua Tung. In the downstream area, the Ben Hai River connects with the Thach Han River through the Canh Hom River. Ben Hai is a place upstream of the river, so the name Ben Hai river is taken from this place.
Ben Hai River flows about 20 km from the sea, receiving a tributary, Sa Lung River on the left bank. The two rivers confluence continue to flow into the East Sea, through a village on the north bank called Minh Luong, so it is called Minh Luong River. The river has a total length of about 100 km, the widest place is about 200 m, is the boundary between Vinh Linh and Gio Linh districts of Quang Tri province.
History of Ben Hai River:
Regarding the name of this river Bến Hải, there is a theory that the place name was originally called "Bến Hói". "Hói" is the local dialect for the small rivers. So the name "Ben Hai" is reading from "Bến Hói".
During the Minh Mang Nguyen Dynasty, due to the king's abstinence, both the village name and the river name "Minh Luong" were changed to Hien Luong. Then, when there was a bridge across the river not far from the confluence of Sa Lung and Ben Hai rivers, it was also named Hien Luong bridge.
The Ben Hai River is best known for its location dividing the two regions: the South was controlled by the Republic of Vietnam and the North was controlled by the Democratic Republic of Vietnam during the Vietnam War from 1954 to 1976. Geographically, the river lies slightly south of the 17th parallel. The Geneva Convention stipulate this as a temporary demilitarized line in 1954.
On October 4, 1957, the press of the Republic of Vietnam reported that three people crossed the line from the North to swim across the Ben Hai River to the South. Writer Vu Anh Khanh first lived in Saigon but later followed the Democratic Republic of Vietnam to the North, but changed his mind to find the South. He crossed the Ben Hai River and was shot dead in the middle of the river.
How to Get to Ben Hai River?
Ben Hai River is located in the North of Dong Ha Town, on National Road No 1 on the way South to/from North. Distance Ben Hai River is about 90km to/from Hue, 190km from Danang, 75km to/from Dong Hoi, 120km from Phong Nha National Park. So the best affordable and comfortable way to get to Ben Hai River is by Private Car or Grab Taxi.
If you traveling from Hue City, you can book Hue DMZ Private Tour Half Day or Rent a Private Car to drive you to Ben Hai River. Then it depends on your plan to go back to Hue, stay in Dong Ha City or take overnight train and open bus to Hanoi on the same day. You can also visit Ben Hai River on the way Hue to/from Phong Nha by Private Car.
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