A Day Trip to the Cu Chi Tunnel Complex

A Day Trip to the Cu Chi Tunnel Complex

Situated about 40 kilometers northwest of Ho Chi Minh City (in the Cu Chi District) is the underground network of tunnels known as the Cu Chi Tunnels. Covering an area of around 250 kilometers, these subterranean networks were used during the Vietnam/American War by the Viet Cong soldiers. Initially set up in the 1940’s during the French occupation, these tunnels were extended during the 1960’s creating the giant tunnel complex that can be found today.

The tunnels were used for many things during the war, including hiding spots during combat, communication and supply routes as well as food and weapons storage, living quarters and even underground hospitals! Life in the tunnels was anything but comfortable with the tight living quarters, spread of disease (such as malaria) and poisonous animals living underground. While the tunnels open to tourists are completely safe and all pre-existing problems have been removed, visitors can crawl through the tiny spaces to get a feeling for what life was like for the soldiers during the war.

What to Expect

There are two entrances to the tunnels, Ben Dinh- which is the more popular destination to visit (as it’s closer to Ho Chi Minh City) and Ben Duoc- an entrance to the tunnel that’s a bit farther out, but has less tourists visiting the region. Visitors can take the short drive out from the city and visit the tunnel complex, where they’ll find hidden entrances, old “booby traps” (dug out, covered with leaves and brush and filled with sharp bamboo spikes), underground areas (inclusive of conference rooms, store rooms and interconnecting passages) as well as some above-ground attractions.

Some visitors have the option to sample a simple Viet Cong meal in one of the underground mess halls and others can have the choice to shoot different weapons that were used during the war (not something that will interest everyone!) Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the tunnels is their proximity to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon). While the city was going about its daily business, soldiers and northern supporters were busy surviving underground to avoid enemy detection.

Is it work visiting the tunnel complex?

While going down into the tunnel complexes is not for everyone (the areas are quite narrow and small- not for claustrophobics!), there is plenty to see and learn about above ground as well. Only a 30-40 minute drive away from the city, it’s an excellent short day trip for visitors looking for an interactive history lesson. As this year (2015) marks the 40th year anniversary of the reunification of Vietnam, now is the perfect time to visit the region!