Cu Chi Tunnels: a half-day tour from Saigon

Cu Chi Tunnels are one of the most impressive tourist attractions in Saigon area and in Vietnam. The underground tunnel area is located about 70 kilometres north-west of Saigon. This over 120 kilometres long tunnel network served as a base of communist guerrilla troops, Viet Cong soldiers during the Vietnam War – or the American War as the locals call the war. There were living spaces, kitchens, meeting rooms, hospitals and storage rooms in the tunnels. From here Viet Cong organised and started the attacks to Saigon, also during the Tet Offence fifty years ago at the end of January 1968.

How to get there?

My husband and I have always been interested in history and for us the Cu Chi Tunnels were a must-see attraction. We made this excursion one year ago, in February 2017.

There are dozens of tour operators in Saigon and it may be difficult to choose between them. I recommend that you don’t choose the cheapest one. Read some reviews in TripAdvisor before making your decision. We bought the trip package from Kim Travel, a tour operator, which had its sales booth at our hotel. We chose the “Go by Luxury Speedboat, back by Bus” –package. The price was around 40 euros per person, including lunch.

The bus arrived to pick us up at 8 in the morning and took us to the pier by the river. The boat trip took about an hour and was a perfect beginning for a very interesting day! It appeared to be a very good choice:  we arrived at Cu Chi well before the buses and crowds.

What is there to see and to do?

The walking tour in the Cu Chi area was made in a tight group. Our tour guide took care that no one was left behind. It is actually not even allowed to walk around there just on your own. Our guide was a nice and fellow – just a right kind of a person for a job like this! His English was good and his stories were very interesting and lively, in some cases perhaps too funny. There is nothing funny in the history of this area. On the contrary – life in the tunnels during the wartime was dangerous and the conditions were just terrible. It was hot and humid, there were many diseases, poisonous animals and continuous fighting against the enemy.

Today, the area is a well maintained, very popular tourist attraction. All the activities are effectively organised. There can be several hundreds of visitors at the same time, but the area is large and the tour guides know when and where to take their groups to avoid the biggest crowds.

There are several tunnels, which have been widened for tourists to walk – or actually crawl! I strongly recommend a short walk underground to get a better picture of the conditions. However, going into the tunnels is not compulsory at all. You can visit, explore and experience the area without getting into the tunnels. The pathways in the area are easy to walk.

There are also many interesting exhibit areas with pictures, films, booby-traps, weapons, typical clothes of the guerrillas etc. There are also at least two restaurants or cafes with souvenir shops and toilets. After the tour we had lunch, which was included in the price.

We returned to Saigon by bus, which was also a very interesting experience. On our way we saw many small villages, fields and rubber plantations. We arrived in Saigon around 5 pm, so there was still enough time to relax and have dinner in the City.

This trip was one of the best trips we have made in Vietnam. For those who are interested in history, Cu Chi Tunnels are really worth visiting!

When to come and where to go?

Vietnam for different travellers and tastes

Whether you are a beach life lover or history enthusiast, Vietnam has a lot to offer. However, planning your vacation gets easier if you know a little bit more about the country and its different regions. I give you here some tips which help in making your travel plans.

If you just want to relax under palm trees and enjoy beautiful sea scenery, go to central or southern parts of the country. In mid-winter, south is the best direction for you. Danang, Nha Trang, Phan Tiet and Phu Quoc island are nice beach destinations.

If you are interested in historical buildings and landmarks, old emperor culture, museums or war memorials, your best targets are Hanoi and Hue. The cities are full of historical sites, and there are also day trips and excursions to nearby attractions.

You can find modern, international city lifestyle with department stores, cafes and fine dining in Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon, the biggest city in Vietnam with almost 10 million people.

If you are rather a nature lover and want to discover Vietnam’s most beautiful sceneries, you have plenty of choices. There are several national parks and protected areas in the country. Ecotourism, travelling sustainably, is growing strongly and there are many travel agencies and hotels which promote green values.

The central coast area is a great place for combining beach holiday, shopping and history. Cities to explore are Danang, Hoi An and Hue. You can live at a beach hotel and make day-trips to many fascinating historical places. Here you can also enjoy perhaps the best food in the whole country. If I had only one week for a holiday in Vietnam, I would go there.

If Halong Bay is your number one target, remember to allocate at least three days of your vacation to get there, enjoy the cruise and get back. Most of tourists travel to Halong Bay from Hanoi. Driving there takes at least 4 hours.

When would be the best time to visit Vietnam?

Vietnam is a long narrow country and the weather conditions are quite different in north and south. In south, it is 30 degrees all the time but in north winters are cooler. It rains a lot between May and October. The main tourist season is from November to April when it is dry but not so hot than in summer months.

During Tet-celebration in January or February there can be some changes in normal services and schedules. Tet is Vietnamese New Near and it is usually at the same time with Chinese New Year. Tet is the most important celebration in Vietnam, and it is important to Vietnamese to spent it with the closest family members. For many Vietnamese people, this is also the only holiday from work in the whole year. During Tet-week there are several national public holidays and many museums, restaurants and shops are closed.

One or two days before Tet-season the planes, trains and buses are fully booked since people want to get to their home towns.

In 2018 Tet-celebration begins in 16 Febuary and starts the Year of the Dog