When it comes to Ho Chi Minh City, most people imagine a modern and crowded metropolis. However, the city also boasts several historical sites related to the wars against the French and American armies, which attract both locals and tourists. If you want to gain a deeper understanding of Vietnamese history, visiting the Cu Chi Tunnels is an excellent activity and one of the most rewarding experiences in Ho Chi Minh City.
The Epic History of Cu Chi Tunnels
Located approximately 60 kilometers northeast of Ho Chi Minh City, the vast maze of underground tunnels stretching all the way to the Cambodian border was built within 25 years from 1948 during the war against the French. The Cu Chi Tunnels network served as a means of communication between villages and allowed the Vietnamese to evade French soldiers scouting the area.
During the Vietnam War, the tunnel network was extended over a length of 200 kilometers. It became a principal component of the Viet Cong fighting troops’ strategy and home to thousands of soldiers. Nowadays, about 120 km of the tunnels are preserved and serve as a popular attraction in Ho Chi Minh City.
Interesting Facts of Cu Chi Tunnels
When visiting the Cu Chi Tunnels, you will witness the extraordinary and unique architecture and structure while learning about its pivotal role in Vietnam’s history.
It is hard to believe that hospitals, schools, theaters, and kitchens were all built into this tunnel network. The entrances were concealed with secret wooden doors and camouflage leaves, which only the Vietnamese could fit inside.
Despite the best efforts of the US military, they failed to completely destroy the tunnel system. It was due to the tunnels built in isolation with different escape routes leading out to the Saigon River, counterfeit bunkers, and booby traps.
The tunnel system is equipped with special closed-door buttons in various locations to prevent the enemies and toxic gas from entering. The soldiers also carved unrevealed ventilation vents onto the ground and camouflaged them discreetly. Additionally, there are many skillful, deadly, and dangerous traps arranged to ensure the safety of those inside.
The Cu Chi Tunnels have remained a multi-tiered architectural marvel for a long time, with three levels: the first floor (about 3 meters beneath the ground), the next one (about 6 meters), and the deepest bottom level (more than 12 meters). For safety reasons, visitors are only allowed to visit the first level and a few more meters of the widened tunnels.
It has been said that the Vietnamese army would have lost the war if the Cu Chi Tunnels had fallen. However, as the tunnels stood, the Vietnamese army was victorious. This saying demonstrates the crucial role of the tunnel network in the war leading to the country’s independence.
During your visit to the Cu Chi Tunnels, you will have the opportunity to experience real life in the tunnels. You can also taste the dishes previously used in the Vietnam army, such as sesame and boiled cassava. Or, if you are feeling adventurous, you can venture a little further down into the dark, boundless tunnels to see the struggles, resilience, and hardships of the Vietnam’s soldiers during the war.
Must-See in Cu Chi Tunnels
Currently, there are only two sets of the Cu Chi Tunnels available for public visitation: the Ben Dinh Tunnels and the Ben Duoc Tunnels.
1. Ben Dinh Tunnels
Situated alongside the Saigon River, the Ben Dinh section served as an ideal location for Cu Chi Commissioners to lead the people throughout the war. They could also quickly escape to the river if necessary. This part of the tunnels remained in use for a significant period, from 1968 to 1975.
A tour of Ben Dinh may take approximately an hour. There are four tunnels that visitors can explore, showcasing examples of underground sleeping quarters, command posts, and medical facilities. It is worth noting that firearms and ammunition are available for visitors to the Ben Dinh section to have the opportunity to try shooting onsite.
2. Ben Duoc Tunnels
The Ben Duoc Tunnels is a vast and sprawling complex, covering an impressive area of 100 hectares, which is five times larger than the Ben Dinh Tunnels (17 hectares). Although this means a greater distance to travel, the extra effort is worth it, as it allows visitors to gain the most practical and immersive experience of the war in the southern part of Vietnam.
At Ben Duoc, visitors witness firsthand the harsh living conditions in the cramped tunnels and challenge themselves to overcome numerous obstacles that test their strength, endurance, and willpower. While Ben Dinh provides various recreational activities, Ben Duoc offers a wealth of fascinating historical sites, such as the Ben Duoc Memorial Temple and the Hoang Cam Kitchen. With such an immersive experience, visitors can truly understand and appreciate the sacrifices and struggles of the people who lived through the Vietnam War.
Must-Do in Cu Chi Tunnels
Not only does it offer a fascinating tourist attraction, but Cu Chi Tunnels also provide a wide variety of additional activities to enjoy after exploring the Ben Dinh and Ben Duoc sections.
1. Experience Shooting Guns
Not just a historical site, Cu Chi Tunnels is a destination for adventure seekers. The military sport offered here draws in many visitors who are eager to participate. Choose the perfect gun for your level of expertise and test your shooting skills against various animal-shaped targets. Most of the guns had been used during the war, adding more excitement to your experience. The staff will be on hand to provide guidance and ensure your safety throughout the activity.
2. Playing Paintball Guns
Paintball shooting is an exciting game that blends the adrenaline of military-style combat with the fun of sports. In Cu Chi, you can immerse yourself in this thrilling game amidst a beautiful natural forest environment. Each player is fully equipped with uniforms, masks, armor, and weapons, ensuring an immersive and realistic experience. Not only is paintball shooting an enjoyable activity, but it also helps to improve your judgment, team collaboration skills, and knowledge. It is an ideal way to enhance your abilities while having a blast.
Boating in the South East Asian Sea simulation lake in Cu Chi is a perfect activity for those seeking relaxation and enjoyment. The lake is surrounded by lush greenery and abundant wildlife, providing a truly magical experience. Visitors can take a break from their busy lives and immerse themselves in the peacefulness of the lake. Moreover, they can relish panoramic views of the tranquil lake while leisurely paddling in a beautiful swan-shaped boat.
4. Swimming in Cu Chi Park
Cu Chi Park features a spacious swimming pool with a unique architectural design. The pool is divided into an adult area, spanning 500 square meters, and a children’s area, covering 150 square meters. Visitors can enjoy excellent amenities, including clean and well-maintained changing rooms, restrooms, and bathrooms. It is an ideal destination for spending time with family and friends, with activities suitable for everyone.
5. Having a Picnic
Cu Chi Tunnels offer many spacious areas with green trees and refreshing air, making it an ideal spot for a small picnic with family and friends. The serene atmosphere provides a welcome respite from the chaos of the city, relishing in the opportunity to unwind after a tight schedule and hectic workdays.
Tips and Tricks
Before you head out, make sure to have a good preparation for a great visit. Below are some suggestions.
- Be sure you grab some snacks and drinks to take with you
- Be aware that most of the games in Cu Chi Tunnels require payment.
- Remember to bring insect repellent and dress appropriately as there are many mosquitos in the area
- During the holidays, the entrance fee is a bit higher than normal days, but it also offers more activities for visitors.
- Just remember to follow the staff’s instructions because the tunnels are pretty narrow and it’s easy to get lost.
- If you have a lot of luggage, it’s recommended to leave it outside.
Cu Chi Tunnels is absolutely worth a visit. Not only is it a significant symbol of the Vietnam War, but it also offers a wide range of recreational activities in the midst of nature for a relaxing getaway from daily life. From exploring the tunnels to admiring the stunning scenery, there is something for everyone at Cu Chi Tunnels. If you haven’t had the opportunity to visit yet, why not book a tour and experience it for yourself? Get ready for an adventure of a lifetime at Cu Chi Tunnels!