Every place has its own history and heritage, Cu chi is not an exception. The larger Cu Chi is a suburban district that is located almost 40 km in the Northwest of Ho Chi Minh City in the southern parts of Vietnam. The district boasts of an underground heritage of tunnels and chambers that are popularly known as Cu Chi tunnels. These are tunnels that are made of about 250 km long tunnels and chambers located below the city.
The tunnels were used by Viet Cong guerrillas as hiding spots during combat, and it also used to serve for communication as well as routes for supply, food, weapon caches, hospitals and living quarters for numerous guerrilla fighters. It included, schools, hospitals, meeting rooms, kitchens and sleeping quarters. The tunnel systems were of great importance to the Viet Cong in their resistance to the American forces, and helped achieve ultimate military success.
For the Viet Cong, life in the tunnels was very hard. Air, food and water were scarce and the tunnels were infested with poisonous centipedes, ants, scorpions, spiders and vermin. Most of the time, soldiers would spend the day in the tunnels working or resting, and come out only at night to scavenge for supplies, tend their crops, or engage the enemy in battle. Sometimes, during periods of attacks and heavy bombing, they would be forced to remain underground for many days at a time. This is the reason why these tunnels are having a great historical value and tourists from around the world would like to visit it to see how much those people suffered.
Cu Chi tunnels were dug during the French occupation of the 1940’s. The digging was done by either bare hands or the use of simple tools. During the Vietnam War of the 1960’s, the tunnels were widened so that they could provide safe haven against the American soldiers. In this way, the residents of Cu Chi, despite heavy bombings and artilleries against them, continued living under the shelter of these tunnels where they ate, slept, married and even gave birth. However, more than 10,000 lost their lives.
Getting to the Cu Chi Tunnels
From Ho Chi Minh City, whole host of tour buses promenade to the tunnels on a daily basis. However, most of these buses depart at around 8.00 am and in this way, if the time is not conducive for your needs, then you can always book a private travel arrangement.
A visit to Cu Chi is breathtakingly double sided. You have two options when you reach the tunnels. You can choose to visit Ben Duoc that is further from the city or sample Ben Dinh, the most liked place by tourists. Ben Duoc is mostly visited by the locals, but for those tourists with a nerve for exotic escapades hiring a motorbike to these tunnels is a worthwhile exercise. Ben Dinh was never a part of the original tunnels but provides a nerve-larking experience too.
In every step you take there, you will find a tour guide helping you to reach what you want and explore the beauty of the place. It will be more helpful for you to spend your time the right way with some experienced guides who will let you know about the most amazing areas which you could visit, such as The Notre Dame Cathedral and Old Post Office, The Reunification Palace, The War Remnants Museum, Ben Thank market, and Moreover exploring the maze of tunnels.
What is more, you can have a cruise along the tributaries of the Mekong River for a close-up view of local life, Wandering through Islands and orchards where you can taste some of the huge variety of tropical fruits and listening traditional music, also having a local lunch and then riding bicycle around the village. Here also you will have the opportunity to see the floating market, starting from 8:00 am, people are selling and buying goods at the river moving between each other by boats. It is a unique way for trading that doesn’t exist in many places; each boat usually sells one particular item, whether it is pumpkins, pineapples, or sugar canes.
A must visit place before you leave also is the Cao Dai Temple, Just outside Tay Ninh and 60 miles northwest of Ho Chi Minh City, Cao Dai is a Vietnamese religious movement that incorporates aspect of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and even Catholicism. It reflects the city’s traditions and heritage.
The experience of crawling down the tunnels can’t be compared; you will have a new adventure in a historic place where every area there tells a story and reveals how great the place is. You will also learn more about the courage & ingenuity of the inhabitants of the Cu Chi tunnels and have a direct interaction with them, know more about their lives, traditions and their culture.