The Cu Chi tunnels in Vietnam were so narrow that they had to be widened so that tourists could get into them. It's a comfort that was never seen by the Vietnamese who passed everyday life within their confines or for the 'Tunnel Rats' who chased the Viet Cong into traps laden with feces-coated bamboo spikes.
The area above the tunnels is littered with the massive craters created by the 500lbs bombs dropped there by the B-52s that flew overhead night and day for months on end during the latter stages of the Vienamese war.
What remains of the tunnels is a must-see for anyone passing through Ho Chi Minh city (Saigon). It is the best 'Site' to put at the top of your list, even if you are short on time.
The tunnels are open to tourist who wish to visit them. Certain areas have been preserved by the Vietnamese governement to maintain the viable tourist trade.
Cu Chi district and the tunnels are located less than a 30 minute bus ride from the the tourist area of Ho Chi Minh city (Saigon). The area is so near to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) that it takes under an hour to get there by bus.
So it is just a a half day trip in the morning or the afternoon with and entrance fee of only $5USD.
Unless you decide to go with a tour or hire a guide. Get more on the tours that we recommend here.
You can also get info on tours in the tourist area of Ho Chi Minh city. You'll find plenty of travel agents along Pham Ngu Lao street or De Tham street or even on Bui Vien street.
These 3 streets are located in the tourist area referred to as "Pham Ngu Lao". If you do opt for the tours then you can get them for as little as $6USD or as much as $70USD. Either way, they'll have everything organized for you. If not then...
How to Get to the Cu Chi Tunnels
There is a bus station just across the street from Ben Thanh market in Ho Chi Minh city in District 1. That is where you will find the bus marked clearly as bound for the Cu Chi district.
It's a lot easier to find and get on the right bus than it sounds. The public bus makes for an intereting ride. You will stick out like a sore thumb but you'll see alot more.
The public bus fare is about 5.000vnd or $1.25USD and takes about 2 hours to get to the Cu Chi Tunnels.
The Tunnels are open everyday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. You'll have to pay the $5 admission fee to get in even if you take the public bus.
The Show Begins Once You Arrive
They lay it on heavy for you. If you are American you might even get a little sore over how the Vietnamese tour guides describe the horrible defeat the American forces faced at the hands of the 'superior Vietnamese'.
Don't let it bother you too much. 70% of Vietnam's population was born after the war and know very few facts but what they have been told. The best part of the trip begins right after the movie.
You'll get to climb down into the actual Cu Chi tunnel system.
There are 2 sections of tunnels open to tourists. One of them remains as it was during the war and the other has been widened to allow the larger bodies of Western folk through them. I recommend the original one but you need to be fairly un-fat and without claustrophobia.
The different sections of the tunnel range from 150 to 650 feet in length. If you're claustrophobic or have a bad back or knees, you're probably better off staying above ground.
What Else to See at The Cu Chi Tunnels
There is alot to see and do above ground. It was an amazing sight for me as I looked across the surrounding area around the Cu Chi tunnels. The land is littered with craters from the bombing campagns during the war.
There is a display of spiked bamboo stakes hidden under trap doors in the jungle floor as well as abandoned U.S. tanks you can climb in and mannequins of North Vietnamese soldiers and Viet Cong guerrillas.
So there is lots to see above ground. If you get bored of looking around then listen for the Bang...Bang...Bang. You'll find thqat you can hit the firing range and shoot an AK-47 or M16.
It is very expensive for those with heavy trigger fingers. They'll chargfe you as much as $15USD for 10 bullets. At least have a look because across from the firing range is a great ice cream shop as well as vendors selling souvenirs.
I went for a hike around the grounds. It was amazing to imagine what went on in the Cu Chi area. Just the volume of bomb craters and destroyed sections of the tunnel made it hard to beleive the suffering the Vietnamese must have endured.
The 'tunnels rats' engaged in the world's scariest game of hide and seek. These 'tunnel rats' inched their way through the cramped, dark passageways, trying to find the enemy before the enemy found them.
You can head to see the Cu chi tunnels vietnam and spend a moment trying to imagine the area as it was during the Vietnam war. I found it overwhelming and I highly recommend that you make the trip to see it for yourself.
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