A complex network of underground passageways, the Cu Chi Tunnels were a vital strategic and access area dug by the resourceful Viet Cong. They not only gave shelter from air attacks, but also provided supply and communication routes, living quarters, weapons and food caches. This meant even with the regular bombing raids, the local people survived by living underground in relative safety.
The Cu Chi Tunnels in their prime were built with up to 3 stories in places, and stretched from Ho Chi Minh City to the Cambodian border. A significant part of the tunnel system was destroyed by the regular bombing raids that took place in the 1970’s, although there are still fascinating and poignant reminders of what was once there.
Today, the Cu Chi Tunnels are a popular tourist attraction and easily reached on an organized tour from Ho Chi Minh City. The tunnels are approx 30 km northwest of the city and travel time is in the region of 1 hour 30 minutes. Nearly 75 km of the Cu Chi tunnels (out of an estimated 200 km) has been preserved by the Vietnamese government and maintained as a memorial park. A small-group historical tour of the Cu Chi Tunnels organized through a Vietnam travel company costs in the region of $39, and includes round-trip transport from Ho Chi Minh City.
Upon arrival at the tunnel complex, a great start to the day is to watch a short documentary that relates to the history and mystery of this underground passageway. Plus, there is also the option to see pictures that date back to the time the tunnels were in use.
The best way to experience the fascinating tour of the Cu Chi tunnels is to hire a local English-speaking guide. This gives the most interesting and knowledgeable experience. A local guide can talk about the amazing ingenuity used by the local people to maintain life, the hardships they faced, and everyday conditions. Before entering the tunnel complex it is possible to sample basic cuisine the local fighters survived on, walk past the tiny chimneys in the ground that disperse kitchen smoke, and discover a few of the concealed entrance points beneath your feet.
The section of tunnels that are open to the public have been carefully widened in certain areas and low-powered lights installed to make it easier to explore this underground city. To get the most out of a trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels it is necessary to get a little adventurous and try the actual tunnels and hiding holes. Also, for an extra fee, there is the option to safely fire a few of the weapons used at the time of the war.
A day-trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels is must-visit for the travellers on the Vietnam family tour interested in this period of the country’s history. A good tour guide can give knowledgeable and fascinating commentary while exploring the area. Learn about the handmade booby traps, the poor conditions underground, the tunnels' place in the country’s history, and the amazing ingenuity to maintain life underground.