Vinh Long Army Airfield
The Vinh Long Airfield was one of the strategic bases in The Mekong Delta during the war that carried out operations in the delta with troops and air support. With its proximity to the main flow of The Mekong River, Vinh Long also had a base for PBR’s and other river vessels. During the Tet offensive in 1968, this base, along with many others, was heavily attacked by VC units. It was probably the largest base north of Dong Tam and supported the smaller bases and MACV camps further north such as Sa Dec and Cao Lanh. A visit to Vinh Long will take you on a journey through time. Although the little town has grown significantly since the war, there are still signs of old times. The old town center still inhabits many of the old colonial buildings such as the French colonial inspector building.
On this site, there is a museum with lots of military hardware on display. They have everything from PBRs to tanks and the most commonly used aircraft such as the legendary UH1 Huey and fighter bombers. At our latest visit, we spent some time on the site to enjoy the museum in the late afternoon after a long day's drive from Saigon via the battle sites of Ap Bac and Ba Rai.
On the west side of the road outside the museum ground, the two water towers are still intact. Anyone who spent time in Vinh Long during the war will recognize these landmarks which would have been the tallest structures in town.
Venturing further west in town, we ride past the old MACV compound. As far as we can tell, no significant structures are still around although we did encounter some old French colonial buildings. Instead we reach the old airbase which was home to a number of US and later RVN units. Along the main road from town going north towards Sa Dec, we reach one of the old camp gates where a bunker and one of the gate posts are still where they were more than 50 years ago. This is the obvious spot to turn in and start exploring the old base area. Large parts of it is closed off these days and it seems no other structures are around.
Good news though is that today the old runway and some of the taxi ways are paved. This means that the main layout of the base will be easily found for years to come. A motorbike is probably the best way to explore the area due to its size. At our latest visit, we spent about 45 minutes exploring this once impressive base.
On the base area just north of the runway there seems to be an industrial area growing up and there is also a cement plant there. Check out the video below for a better overview of the area around the runway.
We haven’t yet located the old river base with its docks which should be on the east side of the old market according to old pictures. We look forward to come back this charming little town to uncover more of its secrets.
We strongly recommend staying over in Vinh Long as the town offers a more genuine experience than some of the more tourist-intensive places in the delta. Beyond visiting the base, one can enjoy the town itself with its old market and take a river cruise. We recommend starting early in the morning as the scenery is outstanding when the sun rises over the flat delta landscape. Great genuine Vietnamese food is available in abundance. Hotel offerings were very basic last time we stayed over, but since then there seem have been a few new ones built.
How to get there
Vinh Long is about 130 kilometer south west of Saigon, in the heart of the delta. The base itself is located in the western part of town and is only a couple of kilometers off the Highway 1. Going to Vinh Long is easy, there are regular buses going there daily. One can also drive motorbike there which takes a few hours or rent a car with a driver in Saigon. As mentioned in the text above, we do recommend travelers to stay over in Vinh Long for a genuine experience. Hotels are available at very reasonable prices as well as fantastic local food.
Decimal coordinates: 10.251, 105.947
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