Vietnam travel destinations: The Cu Chi Tunnels

Cu Chi is a district to the west of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). Half-day and full-day trips (usually in conjunction with another destinations such as the Cao Dai Temple) are available from numerous businesses. Expect to pay around 5 US dollars for the full-day option, though this does not include meals or entry fees.

VietnamCuChiTunnelsThe Cu Chi Tunnels were dug by the people of Cu Chi over a period of decades. Initially they were used in the fights against the French, and later against the Americans. The inhabitants of Cu Chi were staunchly Communist and, despite being in the south of Vietnam, fought for the north – hence being termed “guerrillas”. The soil around Cu Chi is ideal for tunneling as it’s highly compacted. The original tunnels were approximately 60x80cm in size – large enough for the small Vietnamese to crawl though, and also very strong – able to withstand the vibrations of bombs being dropped above.

Today there are two places you can visit to see the tunnels. Ben Dinh has sections of the original tunnels, some widened to “fat ass westerner” size. Ben Duoc has only reconstructions and is more of a “fun park”. We headed for the former.

To marginally update Lonely Planet’s edition, the entry price is now 70,000d (a slight increase from 65,000d) and the caged wild animals seemed to be nowhere in sight when I was there. I hope that “attraction” has been permanently removed.

Our visit began with a video presentation using old black and white footage which ran for about 20 minutes. It gave a very Vietnamese perspective of the evil Americans destroying their country and the brave rebels fighting them from the tunnel systems. The Americans really did have their work cut out for them. Especially when their first major base in the area was built right over an established tunnel network and it took them months to figure out how they were getting shot at so accurately overnight. The VC must have thought it was xmas…

We were then gathered around one of the original hidden tunnel entrances – a small hole in ground covered by a camouflaged wooden hatch. Two members of our group managed to squish into the hole and close it with leaves still on the lid to hid themselves.

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