Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam



Cu Chi Tunnels

The Cu Chi Tunnels, located about 40 km northwest of Ho Chi Minh City, was an elaborate underground community made up of 250 km of tunnels and chambers. The tunnels were dug with simple tools during the French occupation (1940s) and expanded during the Vietnam War (1960s) to provide refuge and military advantage. Despite the bombings, the Cu Chi people lived their lives below the ground where they slept, ate, healed and planned their attacks against the Americans. Some even married and gave birth here but over 10,000 lost their lives in the tunnels. 
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A multitude of tour buses leave Ho Chi Minh City for the Cu Chi Tunnels daily for half day trips. Expect to pay around USD5 (not including admission to the tunnels) with 90 minutes for travel and 1-2 hours touring the area. Tour operators in Pham Ngu Lao area will quote USD 45-75 return by private car. If you're making the trip independently, hop on bus no. 13 from the Ben Thanh bus station and the last stop on the route is Cu Chi. Bus fare is 7,000 dong and the ride takes about 1 1/2 hours. When you arrive at the Cu Chi bus station, negotiate with a motorbike driver to take you to the tunnels.

Getting inside the tunnel by Bencmq

Admission to the tunnels is 90,000 dong (February 2013), which includes a guide who may or may not speak English well. Ben Dinh is the touristed tunnel and the tunnel sections at this site have been specially created for tourists and were never part of the real network. A well defined walking track loops around the area, with things to see spaced at regular intervals, including examples of how people lived and what they ate. There is a 30 metre section of the tunnel which visitors can crawl through (not recommended for the claustrophobic), examples of traps used during the war, and the remnants of bomb craters.

Life inside the tunnel by Ian Amstrong

There are numerous souvenir shops at the end of the walking track. Given the location there is some focus on war memorabilia, as well as the traditional Vietnamese souvenirs found elsewhere. There are also a number of stalls selling food and drinks near the entrance. Mid-way around the walking track is a kiosk selling cool drinks and food including ice-cream at reasonable prices.
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