One of the nation’s most popular tourist attractions is the Cu Chi Tunnels. Known as the site where Vietnamese soldiers hid from the relentless onslaught of enemy bullets, today, the Cu Chi Tunnels are open for public exploration and are highly popular tourist spots.
There are two main sites – Ben Dinh and Ben Duoc. Whilst the former is closer to Ho Chi Minh City, it is also much more crowded. The Ben Duoc site is about an hours’ journey away, however, it offers a much less crowded, and subsequently more immersive, experience.
History of the Cu Chi Tunnels
The Cu Chi tunnels were first dug back in the 1940s when Communist forces constructed the subterranean network during their battle with the French colonialists. Initially, these tunnels were short, shallow, and only extended a fraction of their future distance.
Twenty years later, the Cu Chi Tunnels were expanded by the Viet Cong. As American forces began to commandeer large parts of Vietnam, the underground canals were extended to a length of 250km, stretching from Saigon to the Cambodian border.
Life in these trenches was as tough as you can imagine, with the threat of American aerial attacks a constant possibility for those who guarded them. The tunnels were so complex and intricate that the American forces had a dedicated squad of ‘tunnel rats’ who would navigate Cu Chi’s crevices to develop a better understanding of them – avoiding deadly booby traps along the way.
Thousands of VC soldiers and sympathizers died protecting the Cu Chi Tunnels. While American forces threw gases, explosives, and implemented full-scale psychological warfare on its inhabitants, the sheer intricacy and confusion of the tunnels served as the perfect foil to the enemy.
The Cu Chi Tunnels After the War
After the conclusion of the American War, the tunnels were widened and turned into a highly popular tourist site. Being that the Cu Chi Tunnels acted as its own microcosm in its past life, there are a host of attractions and sights worth visiting.
One must-see attraction is the restaurant that serves up meals that the soldiers would have had – giving you an immersive experience into the harrowing lives of the soldiers. A shooting range is also present if you fancy letting off a round or two.
If you’re worried about claustrophobia setting in as you’re burrowing through the tunnels, then you’ll be relieved to know that there are exit points at 10-meter intervals throughout the underground network.
The simplest way to access the Cu Chi Tunnels is via bus. The sheer number of guided tours running through the area makes the tunnels very accessible. It should be mentioned that taking a taxi from Ho Chi Minh City is not recommended, as this will be very expensive.
An advantage of taking a tour bus is that you’ll also see the wonderful Cao Dai Temple, which is located in the village of Long Hao. This striking building is a wonderful complement to your tour of Cu Chi Tunnels and taking a guided bus is much cheaper than seeing the two locations independently.
Furthermore, you can also arrive at the Cu Chi Tunnels by boat. As most boat tours leave early in the morning, you’ll be able to beat the crowds and arrive there in style. The ride itself takes around an hour and provides some stunning views of the flowing Saigon River.
A lasting testament to an immensely difficult time in history, the Cu Chi Tunnels act as a stark reminder of the American War within Vietnam. Although a seemingly fun tourist attraction, guests should remember the purpose of this destination of the hardships that those who took up arms within these tunnels.
If you’ll be visiting Central Vietnam, consider heading up the coast 2 hours north from Hue to Quang Tri Province. There’s you can explore Vin Moc Tunnels, another historical landmark.
Address: Đ. Tỉnh Lộ 15, Phú Hiệp, Củ Chi, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Season: Year-round | 7 AM – 5 PM
Phone: +84 28 3794 8830