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Cu Chi Tunnels

The Cu Chi Tunnels system is an underground network of tunnels dug in the 1940s by the Vietnamese as a place to hide during the fight against the French. The network was later expanded and used in the American War. The system consists of more than 150 miles (250km) of tunnels and unlit offshoots, secret trap doors connecting narrow routes to hidden shelters, local rivers and tunnels to the Cambodian border. It was a sprawling city of improvised hospitals, living quarters, kitchens and fresh water wells, with some tunnels barely large enough to wriggle through. The plan was to launch surprise assaults on the enemy, and then disappear; so successful a hiding place were the tunnels that first the French and then the Americans struggled against these sudden attacks in which the assailants seemed to vanish into fresh air. Today many of the tunnels have been enlarged to allow visitors the dirty and claustrophobic experience of crawling through a portion of the underground network, past secret trapdoors and booby traps laid against invasion. Unfortunately their popularity with visitors has turned the area into a vicious tourist trap, with hard-sell vendors a constant hassle among the touring throngs.

Address: 19 miles (30km) northwest of Ho Chi Minh City at Tay Ninh

Telephone: (08) 794 8820

Transport: The tunnels are best visited on a day tour, otherwise a bus from Ben Thanh bus station stops in Cu Chi where public transport services the site

Opening times: Daily 7.30am to 4.30pm