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!