The northernmost province of the former South Vietnam. Home of the southern part of the DMZ. Quang Tri was one of the most contested areas in South Vietnam where Hanoi troops constantly tried to infiltrate across the borders from Laos and North Vietnam. This prompted U.S. to build a string of bases along the east – west link Route 9. These bases popped up over time and in different shapes with different purposes. As time went on several of the bases changed character and were expanded, a good example of that is Khe Sanh Combat Base that started out as a Special Forces outpost.
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Most of the bases along Route 9 are possible to visit today, where most of them are marked with only a monument, Khe Sanh has been turned in to a large museum. One of the largest bases, Dong Ha Combat Base is not to be found as the city of Dong Ha has grown all over the former base area. There are a few houses left from the old base and the runway is now one of the main streets in the city.
About halfway along Route 9 one will also find The Rockpile which served as a communication and observation station, well located just north of Route 9, this monolithic rock stands out high above the surrounding landscape. By the foot of the hill, Elliot Combat Base was located where U.S. Marines and artillery units were stationed. Located just a few kilometers south of The Rockpile is LZ Stud – Vandegrift Combat Base.
Legendary battlegrounds like Mutter’s Ridge and Leatherneck Square, which was comprised of Con Thien, Cam Lo, Gio Linh and Dong Ha, was located here and can still be traveled. We have not been to Gio Linh yet but there is supposed to be a monument on the site. Mutter’s Ridge will take some extra planning to visit as it is off the main road with only small trails leading up to it.
Route 9 is the the road to go for those who wants to visit the old war sites as it stretches from Dong Ha in the east all the way to the Laotian border. Going south from the Dakrong bridge through the Dakrong Valley will reward you with a scenic journey through minority villages and breathtaking views. The valley, which has its own section on this website, offers the traveler the opportunity to visit locations where some very large operations took place as well as those secretive recon operations.
In 1968 parts of the Tet offensive played out here, the siege of Khe Sanh and the battles of and around Quang Tri City and Quang Tri Combat Base. The battles were intense and went on for weeks, in Khe Sanh’s case for 77 days with the hill battles west of Khe Sanh stretching all the way in to May.
In 1972 it was the scene of the Easter Offensive when PAVN forces tried to push all the way down to Hue, but were held and eventually had to pull back, this included the famous siege of The Quang Tri citadel which ended up in ruins and today hosts a museum. Spending time around Dong Ha and Quang Tri and east will offer a lot of interesting discoveries as well. Going just a few kilometers north of Dong Ha one will reach a is a large PAVN cemetary located which is well worth a visit, it will give a good picture of the sacrifices made during the fighting in the area.
How to get there
Quang Tri is located just north of Thua Thien province with Hue as its capital. One can stay over night in Dong Ha which today is the provicial capital, but we recommend staying in Hue City with its broader range of hotels and restaurants.