Short Guide to Vietnam’s Cu Chi Tunnels

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.

A Brief History

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.

Tunnel your way beneath Cu Chi on our Vietnam tours!

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