Tour of the Củ Chi tunnels from Saigon

Cu Chi Tunnels Ho Chi Minh

The Cu Chi tunnels were at the heart of the Vietnam War

During your stay in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), you’ll find that there are plenty of activities that can’t be found in Vietnam’s former capital. As I was able to do on my trip to Vietnam, a visit to the Củ Chi tunnels will be an unmissable activity for you if you’re in Saigon. Although very touristy, it’s the best way to get a feel for the living conditions of the Việt Cộng during the Vietnam War.
Cu Chi Tunnels Ho Chi Minh

Tips for booking your visit to Củ Chi tunnels

First and foremost, don’t book your tour in your hotel, for example, as this will cost you 3 to 5 times more than in a specialized agency. In Ho Chi Minh, in the backpacker district (the locals call it Phố tây), go to De Tham street.

This is where you’ll find many local tourist agencies. The best-known is Sinh Café, renamed TheSinhTourist (watch out for copies), but there’s plenty of choice: compare agencies and prices if you’re on a budget.

Otherwise, the slightly more « luxurious » agency (it’s all relative) is Saigon Tourist. For groups of 4 to 6 people, it’s even more cost-effective (and faster) to take a cab. Ask the driver to wait for you on site.

Allow between 120,000 and 150,000 VND (between 4 and 5€) to pay for the agency (guide + bus) and 90,000 VND (3€) for the entrance ticket to the Cu Chi tunnels (20,000 VND for Vietnamese).

You’ll need half a day to visit the Cu Chi tunnels. In the same day, you can also visit the Caodaïste temple of Tây Ninh(Cao Dài temple).

What to see in the Cu Chi tunnels

Cu Chi Tunnels Ho Chi Minh

Flickr – Routard05

On the site, you’ll pass through the tunnels. One wonders how the Việt Cộng managed to live in these tunnels – it’s almost impossible to move forward, as the tunnels are 1 metre high. A guide will explain the typical days of the tunnel dwellers, with scenes from everyday life. You’ll see traps for enemies, objects, buildings still standing, etc…

What are the Cu Chi tunnels?

Cu Chi Tunnels Ho Chi Minh

Flickr – Routard05

If the tenacious spirit of the Vietnamese had to be symbolized by one place, then Cu Chi would be it. This district of Ho Chi Minh City now has a population of around 350,000, but during the American war it had around 80,000 inhabitants. On the face of it, there’s little evidence here to indicate the intensity of the fighting, bombing and destruction that took place in Cu Chi during the war. To see what happened, you need to dig deeper, into the underground.

Cu Chi Tunnels Ho Chi Minh

Wikimedia – Bencmq

The Cu Chi tunnel network became legendary in the 1960s for its role in facilitating the Việt Cộng’s control of the rural region just 30 or 40 km from Ho Chi Minh City. At its peak, the tunnel system stretched from the South Vietnamese capital to the Cambodian border. In Cu Chi district alone, there were over 250 km of tunnels. The network, parts of which were multi-storey, included countless hatches, communal living areas, storage facilities, armament factories, field hospitals, command centers and kitchens.

Cu Chi Tunnels Ho Chi Minh

All these tunnels enabled long-lasting control and resistance in the region. They enabled the Việt Cộng to carry out surprise attacks, even directly within the American perimeter, and suddenly disappear under an invisible trapdoor.

The only solution the Americans found to combat the tunnel dwellers was to massively bomb the area.

Cu Chi has become a place of pilgrimage for Vietnamese schoolchildren and Communist Party cadres. The place is well worth a visit.

Cu Chi Tunnels Ho Chi Minh

Myself emerging, sweating, from one of the tunnels

Also in the Ho Chi Minh City guide:

Shooting weapons at the Cu Chi site

For those who don’t get enough action during their visit to the tunnels, it’s possible to fire weapons. Weapons available include Kalashnikov (AK47), American machine gun (M16), rifle, heavy machine gun M60, AR15 and M30. Prices are around 30,000 VND (1€) per bullet. A minimum of 10 bullets must be purchased.

When I visited the Cu Chi tunnels, I also visited the Cao Dai temple on the same day.

Have you visited the Cu Chi tunnels? Did you find it impressive? Have your say!