Vietnam has two places that are considered as border crossroads, including the Indochina landmark in Kon Tum Province, in the central highlands and A Pa Chai in the northern mountainous province of Dien Bien.
A Pa Chai is the border T-junction of Vietnam, Laos and China. It is in Sin Thau commune, Muong Nhe district, Dien Bien province. This is the place dubbed as “When a rooster crows, the people in three countries can hear”. A Pa Chai is located on the top of Khoan La San Mountain, 750 km from Hanoi.
From Dien Bien Phu city, there are many ways to A Pa Chai. The most popular route is going through Muong Cha – Muong Nhe – Chung Chai – the 405 Leng Su Sin border station – Ta Kho Khu – 317 A Pa Chai border station. This route has a total length of nearly 280 km.
To get to the border T-junction, visitors must be approved and licensed by the border guard command of Dien Bien. It is interesting that instead of having to hire locals to lead the way, visitors will be guided by soldiers of the 317 border station.
t is only about 5 km as the crow flies from the 317 border station to the Landmark 0 at the height of 1,864m, but tourists will have to walk for more than 15 kilometers through the jungle, in four hours. This journey is not only challenging for the health but also the will of the tourists.
The road is very steep, rocky, which goes through the jungle and tall, sharp reeds. It is now the early dry season so the road to A Pa Chai is somewhat easier to go. In the rainy season, the road will become slippery.
However, the road to A Pa Chai is always covered by fog so the narrow, winding and bumpy road to the Landmark 0 becomes formidable challenge to anyone. With a steep slope, you will have to go straight to the peak.
Without a strong will and determination to conquer, you may be submitted by the cold of the northwestern mountains and the extreme tiredness after many hours of hiking.
To regain strength, nothing is better than drinking a few sips of water from a stream along the road. The sweet, cool taste of water will clear the cuts of trees and the falls due to steep path. Your tiredness is also eased by the colors and scent of various species of orchids and flowers in the forest.
Your tiredness will disappear when you see the Landmark 0 on the peak of Khoan La San Mount. The landmark is a 2m granite-covered triangular column, facing the three countries, each side is engraved with the country name and the national emblem of each country. Coming here you will witness the landmark greeting and checking rites of soldiers of the A Pa Chai border station.
For the young people, wearing a shirt printed with the national flag to take photos next to the Landmark 0 seems to be a way of expressing their love to the country and sovereignty.