I - Overview of Cu Chi Tunnels
1 - Location
Cu Chi is a suburban district in the northwest of Ho Chi Minh city, 60km from the city center along the across – Asia road.
Nowadays, this place is preserved in two locations: Ben Dinh and Ben Duoc. Ben Dinh Tunnel (Cu Chi District Party Committee Base) is located at Ben Dinh Hamlet, Nhuan Duc Commune, Cu Chi District, Ho Chi Minh City. Meanwhile, Ben Duoc Tunnels (Base Zone Party Committee, High Command of Saigon - Cho Lon (Binh Tay Market) - Gia Dinh) is located at Phu Hiep Hamlet, Phu My Hung Commune, Cu Chi district, Ho Chi Minh City.
Bay Trieu orchard (Source: Vietfuntravel)
As a suburban district, Cu Chi is quite far away from other tourist destinations. you can visit places in Cu Chi District such as: Bay Trieu Fruit Garden, Trung An (30km from the tunnel), or Cu Chi Water Park (belonging to Tay Thanh Tourist Area), (23km from the tunnel), or Cu Chi ethnic minority cultural and ecotourism area (15km from the tunnel).
2 - Cu Chi Tunnels history of formation and development
The Cu Chi Tunnels were established from 1946-1948, during the Indochina war. The tunnels were not only a refuge but also a place for soldiers to live, relax and work at that time. This place played an important role in the victory of Vietnamese army and people.
In the period 1961-1965, the communes in the North of Cu Chi finished the "backbone" axis, then the unions and development agencies connected it with other routes and built into connecting tunnels among the hamlets, communes and regions. On the ground, the army and people of Cu Chi dug into numerous layers and alleys. In addition, above the tunnels, there were also many battle docks, minefields, nail pits, underground mines, etc.
By 1965 the tunnel system had a total length of approximately 200km, with 3 different deep layers in which the upper floor was about 3m from the ground, the middle layer was about 5-6m from the ground, and the bottom floor was more than 12m deep. At the time, the tunnels were a miniature living space of the people here and also a place for ambulances, meetings, weapons, etc.
3 - Architecture of Cu Chi Tunnels
Architecture of Cu Chi Tunnels (Source: Nick John)
The tunnels were dug in the area of clay soil mixed with laterite. Therefore, the tunnels were highly durable, so the underground system could withstand the destructive power of bombs, even those with great destructive power.
The system consists of 3 layers where the main axis has countless long and short branches connected to each other, some extended to the Saigon River. The first layer is 3m above the ground, resistant to bullets, the weight of tanks and armored vehicles. The second layer is 5m from the ground, capable of resisting against small bombs. The last one is 8-10m from the ground. The entrance and the route among the basements were arranged by secret hatches that were discreetly covered above like extruded mounds. There were also vents along the tunnels. In addition, The tunnels contain large tunnels used as a resting place equipped with wells, Hoang Cam Stove (a type of field Stove in Vietnam), command cellar, anatomical cellar, weapons and food, etc.
4 - Weather at Cu Chi Tunnels
Since the weather in Cu Chi is quite similar to that in the South, there are two distinct seasons: rainy season and dry season. The dry season starts from November to April of the following year and the rainy season starts from May to October. The air in the tunnel is quite milder than the air above the ground so it is suitable for tourists to visit during the months of the dry season, which is from November to April.
5 - Facts
(Source: Nick John)
There are no exact figures, however it is estimated that about 55,000 US soldiers died in the battle here.
The American soldiers used numerous ways to destroy the tunnel. First they pumped overflowing water into the terrain to destroy the system. Besides, they used more than 3,000 German Becgie dogs to find the entrance to the tunnels. In addition, they either used a motor vehicle to sabotage the tunnels or a special grass to clear the terrain. However, all of these were ineffective and the presence of the Tunnels today and the freedom of the Vietnamese people are the best testament to it.
II - Getting to Cu Chi Tunnels from Ho Chi Minh city
1 - By motorbike
Tourists departing from Ho Chi Minh City can follow Northwest of QL15 and stop at a resort. Particularly tourists departing from Southwest provinces of Vietnam can follow the provincial roads 6 and 15 to enter the tourist area.
2 - By bus
Bus to Cu Chi Tunnel (Source: Internet)
Option 1: Take bus No.13 from Trong Dong, Ben Thanh, District 1 to Cu Chi bus station, then take bus No. 79 to Ben Duoc Tunnel or bus No. 63 to Ben Dinh Tunnel.
Option 2: Take bus No. 94 at 12 Xuan Dieu to Cu Chi bus station, then transfer to bus No. 79 to Ben Duoc Tunnel or bus No. 63 to Ben Dinh Tunnel.
Option 3: Take bus No. 4 at Ham Nghi A, Ben Thanh market to An Suong station, then board bus 122 to get off at Tan Quy station, and transfer to line 70 straight to Ben Dinh.
Option 4: Take bus No.13 to An Suong bus station, then bus No.122 to Tan Quy station and transfer to bus No. 70 to Ben Dinh.
3 - Cu Chi tunnels tour by boat or canoe
If you want to enjoy new feelings during your journey, you can also switch to canoe, which only takes about 75 minutes to get to the departure place in Ho Chi Minh City.
Normally, for a canoe trip, you can sign up for tours at travel agencies such as Nam Viet, Kim Travel, etc., and the fares are about 1,100,000 VND/person (47.87USD / person) (lunch included). A bus will pick you up at hotels in District 1 and travel to Bach Dang pier and depart for Cu Chi by Pier.
4 - By taxi
There are many taxi companies to travel to the tunnels, however, Mai Linh and Vinasun should be prefered due to higher reliability, or you can also take a grab.
III - Visiting Cu Chi Tunnels
1 - Travel Information
Ticket price and entrance fee:
110.000 vnđ/ international tourists (4,78$/person)
35.000 vnd/ Vietnamese tourists (1,52$/person)
Dressing code: You can wear free clothes, but the air is a bit humid and there are mosquitoes so you should choose long-sleeved, leg-worn clothes, besides, you should also wear dark clothes to avoid dirt when you go down the secret doors as well as the tunnels.
Time: Tourists should not visit the tunnels when it is too hot inside, 8-10 AM and 3-4 PM are the ideal time frames to enjoy the place because the temperature is not too high.
The most convenient and best way to see Cu Chi tunnels is booking a Cu Chi tunnels half day tour with the price fluctuates from 10 USD/ person.
2 - Food to try
Bo To Cu Chi (Source: Internet)
All journeys and trips won't be satisfying without good foods and drinks! Visiting Cu Chi, you can try some staple dishes such as:
Bo To Hai Ngheo - Cu Chi Beef
Address: Group 2, Hamlet 6, Phuoc Vinh An Commune, Cu Chi, Ho Chi Minh City
Price: 80,000 VND/portion ($ 3.48 / piece)
Hong Dao Grilled Village (Lang Nuong Hong Dao) - Cu Chi Beef
Address: 171 National Route 22, Hamlet Trung, Tan Thong Hoi Commune, Cu Chi, Ho Chi Minh City
Price: 150,000 - 220,000 VND / piece (6.52 - 9.57 $/piece)
Bo To Xuan Dao - Cu Chi Beef
Quarter 2, National Route 22, Cu Chi, HCM City
Price: 50,000 - 220,000 VND (2.17 - 9.57 $/piece)
Vinh Xuan Beef
Address: Highway 22 Tan Thong Hoi, Cu Chi
Price: 80,000 - 100,000 VND (3.48 - 4.35 $ / piece)
Nuoc Mia Sau Rieng - Sugarcane Juice & fresh fruits
Vuon Cau Restaurant at 259A National Route 22, Tan Thong Hoi, Cu Chi, Ho Chi Minh City
Price: 15,000 VND / glass (0.65 $/glass)
Boiled Tapioca with Ground Peanuts, Sugar, and Coconut
Vuon Cau Restaurant at 259A Highway 22, Tan Thong Hoi, Cu Chi, Ho Chi Minh City.
Price: 5,000 / plate (0.22 $/plate)
3 - Places for rest near Cu Chi tunnels
La Maison De Campagne B&B (Source: Tripadvisor)
Cu Chi is a quite-large district near Ho Chi Minh city, if you want to stay for a few days here are some highly recommended staying places:
La Maison De Campagne B&B
Address: No.12 Provincial Road 8, Binh My Commune, Cu Chi District, Binh My, Cu Chi, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Price: 1,000,000 - 4,000,000 VND/person (43.48 - 173.91 $/person)
Address: 1530 Street 7, Cho Cu, An Nhon Tay, Cu Chi, Vietnam
Price: 300,000 - 1,000,000 VND/person (13.04 - 43.48 $/person)
Eco Marina Resort Cu Chi
Address: Phu Hoa Dong, Cu Chi, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
Price: 300,000 - 1,000,000 VND/person (13.04 - 43.48 $/person)
Tay Thanh Tourist Area (Cu Chi Water Park)
Address: Provincial Road 8, Cu Chi, Ho Chi Minh
Price: 30,000 - 40,000 VND/person (1.3 - 1.74 $/person)
4 - Travel tips
You should bring sunscreen, mosquito spray and insect repellent
People with claustrophobia or high blood pressure should not explore Cu Chi Tunnels
Prepare yourself because you might encounter bats.
Some more attractions near Cu Chu are: Saigon River, beaches near Ho Chi Minh city and floating markets in Mekong delta river.
IV - Suggested schedule for a visit to Cu Chi
You can visit and explore Cu Chi at any time of the year. However, usually visitors choose to visit on the weekends. They depart from Ho Chi Minh City (about 60-70km from Cu Chi), so the travel time will be about an hour and a half to two hours. So departing at around seven is ideal. If visitors reach the tunnels around nine o'clock, the weather will not be too hot. Dinh Wharf is frequently visited because it is closer to Duoc Wharf. Entering the tunnels, people will watch documentaries first (about 20 to 30 minutes), then go deep into the sightseeing area and visit typical sites such as secret doors, battle tunnels, vents,... will all be seen along the way.
(Source: Nick John)
Before descending into the Cu Chi Tunnels (the best activity when you visit the tunnels), you will go to the shooting range first (you can stop for 15 minutes here) or if you prefer, you can visit the rice paper-making establishment or the brewery store nearby. Then you will go deep into the tunnels and of course before that you will be advised to go down there or not and there are different long tunnel landmarks depending on the needs of visitors, ranging from 20, 30, 40, .... to 120m. And of course, within about 10-20m, there will be an emergency exit, so it is quite easy for visitors to feel uncomfortable. Eventually, everyone will enjoy noodles with sesame salt - a common dish used during the war. Right nearby is the Hoang Cam stove - a type of stove that contributed to the victory of Vietnam - with no ground smoke or the smoke is as thin as mist. That is the end of the visit to Cu Chi.
Wishing you a great experience when you visit Cu Chi Tunnels, as well as somewhat understand more about the glorious war of the Vietnamese people, and at the same time, experience activities in the underground tunnels.