Cu Chi Tunnels
Cu Chi Tunnels © Mimsie
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. Today the system is more than 150 miles (250km) long.
It is comprised of winding tunnels and unlit offshoots, secret trap doors connecting narrow routes to hidden shelters, local rivers and tunnels reaching to the Cambodian border. It was once 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; this strategy was so successful that the superior firepower of the French and American armies was insufficient in the face of continuous ambushes 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. The two main sites, Ben Dinh and Ben Duoc, are different in that one was constructed specifically for tourists (Ben Dinh) and the other was actually used in war (Ben Duoc). Once full of war traps, their popularity with visitors has turned the area into a tourist trap, with hard-sell vendors a constant hassle among the touring throngs.
Address: Ben Dinh is 22 miles (35km) northwest of Ho Chi Minh City at Tay Ninh and Ben Duoc is 31 miles (50km) in the same direction.
Telephone: +84 (08) 3794 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. It is best to arrive before 3pm for the latest, as it gets too dark towards 4:30pm.