On the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City, amidst humid jungles that will cause rivulets of sweat to drip down your face, lies one of the city’s most iconic attractions: the Cu Chi tunnels. The large and sophisticated complex connects over 120km of maze-like underground tunnels that the Viet Cong used during the infamous Vietnam War. Visiting the Cu Chi tunnels gives you a first-hand experience of crawling through these legendary tight spaces, as part of an eye-opening snippet inside the lives of the Viet Cong. Be aware, this is not an experience for the claustrophobic.
Where is Exactly Vietnam’s Cu Chi Tunnels
The Cu Chi Tunnels are located in the Cu Chi District of Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon), Vietnam. Specifically, they are situated about 40 kilometers (25 miles) northwest of downtown Ho Chi Minh City. The tunnels are part of an extensive underground network that was used by the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War. The Cu Chi Tunnels have been preserved and are now a popular tourist attraction, allowing visitors to learn about the history of the Vietnam War and the guerrilla tactics employed by the Viet Cong.
A Brief History of Cu Chi Tunels
The immense subterranean system dug beneath the district of Cu Chi served as the Viet Cong’s headquarters during the war. As opposing U.S soldiers were committed to aerial bombardment tactics, underground tunnels served as a perfect solution for the Viet Cong to survive and continue their guerrilla warfare. The complex of tunnels was so crucial to the Viet Cong’s operations that it developed into entire underground villages with living areas, kitchens, hospitals, storages for ammunition, command rooms, and bomb shelters.
They also functioned as a base to launch Communist attacks. The Viet Cong would set numerous booby traps for enemy troops such as trip wires that would detonate grenades or punji sticks, camouflaged pits with sharpened bamboo sticks to impale soldiers. The triumphant Tet Offensive was one of the Viet Cong’s most successful campaigns planned and launched from the Cu Chi tunnels.
It is important to know that the Cu Chi Tunnel complex is split over two neighbouring sites, Ben Dinh & Ben Duoc. Note, these tunnels open daily from 7:30 am until 5 pm.
Ben Dinh Tunnels
These tunnels are often described as more touristic, reigning as the most visited tunnel site. The tunnel system in Ben Dinh was reconstructed and widened with the purpose of accommodating more visitors. Therefore, this site can get quite crowded.
Home to Ben Dinh is also a wide range of fun activities. A shooting range allows you to handle weapons used during the war such as AK-47s and M16s, you can also participate in a paintball game, kayak, and cycle!
Ben Duoc Tunnels
These tunnels offer a less crowded experience with a narrower and rougher tunnel system. Suitable for more adventurous individuals, Ben Duoc which is five times bigger than Ben Dinh, allows you to explore a more elaborate and realistic tunnel system.
In Ben Duoc, you’ll also find fascinating sites, such as the Ben Duoc Memorial Temple and Hoang Cam Kitchen.
How to get to Cu Chi Tunnels from Ho Chi Minh City
By Bus: For an authentic and affordable journey, taking the bus to Cu Chi is an excellent option. Trips to both Ben Dinh and Ben Duoc will take around two and a half hours and involve two buses. To get to Ben Dinh, you must board bus 13 at Ho Chi Minh Bus Station until you arrive at Cu Chi Station. Then, you must hop onto bus 63 that will take you to the tunnels. Reaching Ben Duoc will also require taking bus 13 first to Cu Chi Station. However, now you must board bus 79.
By Taxi: Choosing a taxi is a more time saving, yet costlier option as you’d reach the tunnels within an hour and a half. Instead of whistling for a taxi on busy Vietnamese streets, you can also use Grab, Vietnam’s Uber, which is a more affordable ride-hailing service.
By Boat: There are numerous boat services offering a tour to Cu Chi by speedboat for a more scenic journey to the tunnels.
By motorcycle/scooter: Renting a motorcyle or a scooter is another affordable option. However, it is not advised for first time riders as the route can be difficult. Before setting off, try and memorise your route or have back-up pictures or written directions as GPS signals can falter.
FAQs About Vietnam’s Cu Chi Tunnels
People are curious about the length and extent of the tunnel network. The Cu Chi Tunnels cover a vast area, and the total length of the tunnels is several kilometers.
Many tourists want to know if they can enter the tunnels. Yes, there are sections of the tunnels that have been widened for tourists to experience crawling through them.
Claustrophobia is a concern for some visitors. The tunnels have been widened for tourists, but they can still be narrow and low in some places, so this is an important consideration.
Visitors often inquire about the specific uses of the tunnels during the Vietnam War, including living quarters, storage, and hiding places for the Viet Cong guerrillas.
Many visitors prefer guided tours to get a better understanding of the historical context and details about the tunnels. They may ask about the availability and details of guided tours.
Questions often revolve around the various traps set by the Viet Cong to protect the tunnels. People are interested in learning about the different types of traps and their mechanisms.
Tourists typically want to know the distance and travel time from Ho Chi Minh City to the Cu Chi Tunnels, especially if they plan to visit as a day trip.
Tunnel your way beneath Cu Chi on our Vietnam tours!