Friday, September 30, 2016

Cu Chi Tunnel, a Must Visit Site Near Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC Trip Day 2)

We strolled around Ho Chi Minh City and visited some heritage sites around the city in our first day. Second day, we decided to visit Cu Chi Tunnel, located 45 km away from Ho Chi Minh City. The tunnel in fact was the main reason for us to visit the city. We booked a half day tour through our hotel with VND 220k per person- transportation and English speaking tour guide included, without lunch and entrance fee. The entrance fee was VND 110,000 (approximately MYR 18 or USD 4.50), opening hours were from 7 am till 5 pm. 

Cu Chi is a district in Ho Chi Minh City. During Vietnam War, there were only several villages scattered around the area. However, the area had became the major battle field, due to the discovery of more than 200 km of underground tunnels used by People's Liberation Armed Force and Vietcom to fight against the South Vietnamese and US armies. 

Storage of ammunition, food, hospitals, meeting room, command centers, dining area and other war-related facilites were built underground, far from the reach of enemy, yet near to the heart of the enemy- 45 km from Ho Chi Minh City. The tunnels connected the nearby villages, Saigon River, border of Cambodia, and greater network of the nationwide tunnels. The tunnels, with the entrances well blended with the surrounding, were excellent for guerrilla warfare. As retaliation, US army dropped millions tonnes of bombs onto the area. Ironically, these modern weapons failed to defeat the hand-dug tunnels. Cu Chi area is still considered as the most bombed, shelled, gassed, and defoliated area in the world. 

The bus picked us from our hotel at 8:50 am.
The bus stopped at handicraft center supported by Vietnam government (upper row), by hiring handicapped workers to produce high quality of handicrafts. We stopped there for 20 minutes, listened to the explanation (lower right) and demonstration on how the handicraft was made.

 Incomplete handicraft. The white colour part of this picture was made by either seashells or egg shells.

We reached Cu Chi at around 11 am. The tunnels were built nearby Saigon River (upper left). We could see from the nearby restaurant (upper right). The parking area was full with tourist buses (lower right). After a short briefing, we took a few minutes walk to the visitor information center, to buy tickets with VND 110,000 per person.

There was a small exhibition area at the tourist center with the "remnants" of the weapons used in Cu Chi area- napalms, rocket launchers, grenades, rifles etc.

Our tour guide was humourous, informative, and multitasking. He helped to check our tickets at the entrance (upper left), guided us through the tunnels site (upper right), and explained the history of the tunnels to us all by himself (lower left). Then, we watched a video about Chu Chi for 20 minutes. Our tour guide explaination was excellent, but the video was boring and hard to follow.  

We were brought to the field after the video session, to walk on the most bombed, gassed, and defoliated land on earth. We walked around the forest to see the tunnels’ entrances and ventilation system, traps, weapon workshop, shoes making, and clothes making workshop.

A crater caused by bombing of B-52 aircraft. These type of craters can be seen all around the area.

Bobby trap were used mainly to cause serious injury rather than killing the US soldiers (upper row). The reason was, if you killed one, only one was down. If you seriously wounded one, it took another two to take care of the disabled one. The first tunnel entrance shown to us was narrow. The park staff demonstrated his skill to go into the tunnel.

Then, more tunnels' entrance were revealed (upper left). Narrow and hard to be seen. The ventilation holes are well blended into the environment (upper right), which may look like an ant hill. Disposed US tanks (upper right) and models of the local fighters were shown along the walkway.

Weapon worshop extracted the gun powder from the unexploded US bombs, and used it to made anti-tank explosive and grenades. Well, we learned a lesson of creativity, as well as the power of recycle.

20 minutes wandering in the forest, we were led to the resting point in the park (upper left). The shooting range was located next to the resting area (upper right), with the bullets could be bought at the office, with a minimum purchase of 10 bullets per time (lower right). There was a shop selling souvenirs and drinks at the resting point. Washroom is available there as well.

Then, it's the time to visit the tunnel- to the best of our estimation 100 - 150 meters long. We went through the full distance, not very hard for us. There were several exits at certain distance, so we could get out of the tunnel whenever we felt uncomfortable. At the end of the tunnel, free tapioca were given to the winners. Well, what's what the Vietnamese ate the most when they were in the jungle.

The entrance was about 5 feet tall, we need to bend a bit to get inside.

A small staircase in the room led us into a 2 feet tall tunnel.

The tunnel seems small at the beginning, and made us feel uncomfortable. We got used to it a minute later, and we could move very fast in the tunnel afterward.

At some of the point, we needed to lay and crawl (yes either face down or face up) over the tunnel, while at some of the point, we couldn't see the person in front of us. But worry not, what we need to do is following the light.

There is a meeting room at the end of the first tunnel. Most of our members left at this point. But a few of our group members decided to continue to complete the second part of the tunnel, and we succeeded. 

Underground kitchen with the "chimney" channeling the smokes far away from the kitchen. Tapioca was served from the kitchen nearby the exit of the tunnel.

Cu Chi is really a must visit site nearby Ho Chi Minh City. Our tour guide told us that visiting the souvenir center was a policy set by their government. We don't really know how true it is. However, we were sent out of the center with a smile, even without buying anything there (but we did donate some money to support their work). 

We had no problem walking on the ground, but moving in tunnels was different. Hand bag, camera bag, backpack, and even big bulky camera could be a burden in the tunnel. Well, keep these items with our tour guide would be a good idea, or even better, not bringing them to Cu Chi.

Some information stated that Cu Chi is infested with mosquitoes, centipedes, and other vicious insects. We prepared insects repellent and some medicines, just in case. Lucky enough, we didn't have the chance to apply them. Cu Chi was extremely warm during our visit. Water was hard to find, so bringing some water to keep ourselves hydrated is important. Our trip was full with activities, and we didn't really have time to sit down in the canteen there to have a meal for the whole trip. We brought some sandwich and snacks, and with that, we skipped our lunch.

We travelled back from Cu Chi at around 1:20 pm and reached Ho Chi Minh City at around 3:10 pm. We took a rest till 5 pm before strolled around Nguyen Hue and food around the area. We visited Vincom Center again and took some traditional Vietnamese food there as well. Bought some souvenirs at Vincom Center and returned to hotel at around 9 pm.

We had a few options for day 3- museums, Bien Thanh Market, and water puppet show, were some of them. Follow us.

Danang, City of Hue, Hoi An, & My Son
Hanoi & Halong Bay


  1. It looks good place and one should visit it. Going to pass on the information with my friends and hope that I will be visiting the place soon

    1. That's great. Do write to us if you need more information about HCMC.