I. INTRODUCTION OF CU CHI TUNNELS, HO CHI MINH, VIETNAM
Cu Chi Tunnels, widely known as Vietnam Tunnel Rats, are an extensive network running underneath Cu Chi District in Saigon, Vietnam. These underground routes were dug from 1946 to 1948 by Vietnamese Communist guerrilla troops also known as Viet Cong. Located 70 kilometers to the center of Ho Chi Minh City, Cu Chi Tunnels were 250 kilometers and much larger than any other tunnels of Vietnam. With the strategic aim of combating these guerrilla tactics during the Indochina War and Vietnam War, Cu Chi Tunnels consisted of infirmaries, kitchen, vaults, rooms, offices, and tunnels. Thanks to its strategic location, which was cited as the “Vietnamese Steel Land”, at the end of Ho Chi Minh Trail, Cu Chi Tunnels played an important part in combating better supplied American and South Vietnamese Forces (Vietnamese soldiers).
During the rough times of war, Cu Chi Tunnels were the main way Vietnamese soldiers use to transport communication, supplies, army weapons as well as a lay booby trap, troop houses, and mount surprise attack. To carry out successfully such tasks, the South Vietnamese Forces were trained hard to navigate the tunnels as well as detect booby traps and enemy troop presence. The Vietnamese soldiers were capable of doing it quickly and proficiently as a master. That’s the reason why they’re called “tunnel rats”.
At present, Cu Chi Tunnels only features the total lengths of 120 kilometers which is divided into three main parts namely Ben Dao, Ben Duoc, and, Tan Phu Trung Tunnel. They’re protected properly by the local government and are used to serve tourists. Thanks to its great historical value, Cu Chi Tunnels now are an attractive destination for visitors to Ho Chi Minh City, especially of the history lovers and veterans.
II. HISTORICAL HIGHLIGHTS OF CU CHI TUNNELS
The militiaman of Tan Vu Trung and Phuoc Vi An Hamlet began digging these underneath tunnels in the early 1940s. In its original form, Cu Chi Tunnels comprised some simple, fragmental tunnels and vaults which were mainly used for sheltering, hiding confidential documents and weapons.
Afterward, due to the need for communication amongst hamlets, the underneath tunnels were adjoined to create a complicated system. Then, this system was continued to expand to surrounding areas including six hamlets in the North of Cu Chi District. The quality of the tunnels was also improved to become suitable for combating these guerrilla tactics, communicating and supporting amongst Vietnam South Forces.
From 1961 to 1965, the network of the hamlets in the North Cu Chi was chosen to be the “backbone” of the battle connecting all strategic points. On the ground, the militiaman of Cu Chi District also set up the plexus of the communication trench perimeter. In addition, above ground were a system of the barricade, minefields, nail pits, and spike traps, which formed a solid and invincible battlefield.
At the end of 1965, there were approximately 200 kilometers of tunnels completed and put into operation. At that time, Cu Chi Tunnels consisted of 3 floors of different depth. The top one was 3 meters under the grounds. The second one was 6 meters and the bottom was 12 meters under the ground. Back in those days, these tunnels were also a place for living, aiding, holding meetings, and storing weapons which are known as Vietnam war traps or Viet Cong Traps.
At the event of Tet Offensive (1968), it’s the Cu Chi Tunnels that were used by the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam to carry out the full-scale attack to Saigon. Despite suffering continuously severe bomb rain of the enemy, the tunnels still remained steadily.
In 2015, Cu Chi Tunnels were recognized as “Hero of Labour”, one of the noblest titles of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. On 12th February 2016 Cu Chi Tunnels was officially designated the Special National Monument. Every year, Cu Chi Tunnels attract nearly 2 millions of visitors all over the world
III. HOW TO TRAVEL TO CU CHI TUNNELS HO CHI MINH, VIETNAM
Video about the tour to Cu Chi Tunnel
1. Traveling to Cu Chi Tunnels from Ho Chi Minh City by bus
As Cu Chi Tunnels are a popular site of Ho Chi Minh, there are several buses connecting it with the center city. The first and foremost advantage of traveling by bus is its reasonable prices which are around VND 15,000. In addition, a bus is a comfortable means of transport because you can travel no matter how the weather is. Last but not least, thanks to its facilities, the bus is suitable for those people traveling in the group.
However, it’s a bit complicated to catch a bus especially when you visit Ho Chi Minh City for the very first time. You have to arrive at the exact bus stop or bus terminal on the due time, otherwise, you’ll miss the bus. Besides, there is no direct bus running between the center city and Cu Chi Tunnels. It means that you have to catch two buses, which will take a lot of time waiting. In order not to get on the wrong bus, remember to read the following guidelines carefully. If you’re still not sure which bus route you should choose, let’s check the bus route on the Online Google Map.
From Ho Chi Minh City, there 3 ways of catching a bus to Cu Chi Tunnels as follows:
- The 1st way: Catch the bus No.13 at Trong Dong Bus Terminal. Then, get off at the Cu Chi Bus Terminal. Next, catch the bus No.79 to Ben Duoc Tunnels or the bus No.63 to Ben Dinh Tunnels.
- The 2nd way: Firstly, catch the bus No.94 at Cho Lon Bus Terminal to Cu Chi Bus Terminal. Then, get on the Bus No.79 to Ben Duoc Tunnels or the bus No.63 to Ben Dinh Tunnels.
- The 3rd way: The first step is getting on the Bus No.04 near Ben Thanh Market and go straight to An Suong Bus Terminal. Then, transfer by the bus No.122 and get off at the Tan Quy Bus Terminal. Lastly, catch the bus No.70 to arrive at Ben Dinh Tunnels.
Here are addresses of must know bus terminals:
Trong Dong Bus Terminal
Address: No.01 Pham Ngu Lao Street, Ben Thanh Ward, District 01, Ho Chi Minh City
Cu Chi Bus Terminal
Address: Quater 08, Cu Chi Town, Cu Chi District, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Cho Lon Bus Terminal
Address: No.46 Le Quang Sung, Ward 14, District 06, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Tan Quy Bus Terminal
Address: Thach An Hamlet, Trung An Commune, Cu Chi District, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Here are the timetable and price table of buses to Cu Chi Tunnels:
|Bus No.||Operation Time||Price (one-way route)|
|04||05:30 – 20:00||VND 5,000|
|13||03:30 – 20:30||VND 7,000|
|63||05:30 – 18:00||VND 6,000|
|70||04:00 – 20:20||VND 6,000|
|94||04:00 – 20:30||VND 7,000|
|122||04:45 – 19:30||VND 6,000|
2. Traveling to Cu Chi Tunnels from Ho Chi Minh City by taxi
No one can deny that traveling by taxi is convenient and comfortable. Whether it is a 4 seat or 7 seat car, it still has enough space for your luggage. When traveling by taxi, you don’t have to worry about climate condition. Moreover, taxi is one of the most flexible means of transport due to allowing you to travel whenever you want.
The drawback of this kind of transport is its high price. It may cost you VND 600,000 to VND 750,000, depending on the quality of the taxi, the price list of the taxi operators, and even on the weather. You can book a taxi simply by using a mobile app called Grab or Go-Viet (the multi-service connectivity application). Alternatively, you can book a taxi of some following reliable taxi companies:
|Vinasun Taxi||(+84) 838 27 2727||vinasuntaxi.com|
|Mai Linh Taxi||(+84) 838 383 838||mailinh.vn|
|Sai Gon Petrolimex Taxi||(+84) 83 512 1212||taxipetrolimexsg.com|
|Ben Thanh Taxi||(+84) 838 422 422||N/A|
|Hoan My Taxi||(+84) 83 830 0000||N/A|
|Cho Lon Taxi||(+84) 83 830 3030||N/A|
|Deluxe Taxi||(+84) 83 826 2626||N/A|
|Gia Dinh Taxi||(+84) 838 989 898||N/A|
|Phuong Trang Taxi||(+84) 838 181 818||futataxi.vn|
|Hoang Long Taxi||(+84) 838 686 868||hoanglonggroup.com|
3. Traveling to Cu Chi Tunnels from Ho Chi Minh City by private car
The most convenient way of traveling to Cu Chi Tunnels is taking a private car. Thanks to its modern facilities, the private car can bring you not only the relaxing moment but the private space. In addition, the private car is outstanding in case you travel with a lot of luggage. The pros of the private car are its higher price when compared with other means of transport. However, if you travel in the group of 3 or 4 people, it’s a quite economic way. Here are some reliable car rental shops in Ho Chi Minh City. Let’s visit their website to check the updated version of prices:
Saigon Private Car
Address: Room No.503, the 5th Floor, No. 607 609 Nguyen Kiem Street, Ward 09, Phu Nhuan District, Ho Chi Minh City
Tel: (+84) 902 689 426
Mobile: (+84) 902 689 426 (Viber, Whatsapp, Line, Wechat, Zalo)
Email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Vietnam Budget Car Rental
Address: No. 117 119 Ly Chinh Thang Street, District 03, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Tel 01: (+84) 838 48 6868
Tel 02: (+84) 988 038 301 (WhatsApp,Viber)
4. Traveling to Cu Chi Tunnels from Ho Chi Minh City by motorbike
Vietnam is famous for its crazy traffic. However, numerous foreign travelers when visiting Vietnam is hungry for experiencing driving motorbikes and joining such crazy traffic. This fact implicates that driving motorbike is really an interesting experience. If you’re seeking for something new and challenge, don’t hesitate to hire a motorbike and go straight to Cu Chi Tunnels. Take it into consideration that the distance of 70 kilometers is not an easy thing. You’ve to prepare carefully before starting your trips such as choosing a good and suitable motorbike, filling up your fuel tank, carrying a map, turned on the Google Map and reserving the contact information of the motorbike rental shop to contact when you need.
Driving motorbike is not only a cool, flexible way but also a cheap way of traveling. Hiring a motorbike for a day often costs you from VND 100,000 to VND 120,000. Here is the address of some reliable motorbike rental shops in Ho Chi Minh City:
|Chi’s Cafe||185/30 Pham Ngu Lao||(+84) 28 3836 7622||chiscafe.com|
|Tran Thi Hanh Car Rental service||2/0 Pham Cu Luong, Ward 2, Tan Binh District||(+84) 905 704 479||N/A|
|Dragon bikes||182/5A De Tham||(+84) 909 283 208||dragonbiketours.com|
|Co Nga motorbike||28 Mai Xuan Thuong||(+84) 909 001 005||N/A|
|Thanh Lan rental service||17C Nguyen Thi Minh Khai||(+84) 902 840 361||chothuexemaygiare.net|
|Car rental service||Street 7, Binh Chieu Ward, Thu Duc District||(+84) 903 103 243||N/A|
|An Duc Motorbike rental||18A/16 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai||(+84) 903 162 408||N/A|
5. Traveling to Cu Chi Tunnels from Ho Chi Minh City by boat
Thanks to the development of the waterway, now you can travel to Cu Chi Tunnels by boat from Ho Chi Minh Center City. At present, there are no company operating boats between two such destinations. In other words, you have to book a waterway tour from a travel agency. Traveling with a tour is not a bad choice. The operator will prepare everything for you including pickup service, convenient vehicle, entrance ticket, breakfast, lunch, tour guide, etc. As a consequence, you don’t have to worry about anything. Another advantage of going on a tour is the chance of admiring the peaceful beauty of Thanh Da Islet and Tan Cang Terminal. Let’s check the information of some following tour to choose a suitable one:
|Travel Service Saigon Tourist||VND 1,889,000/adult
Free for children under 3 years old
|Address: No. 45 Le Thanh Ton Street, District 01 Ho Chi Minh City
Tel: (+84) 838 279 279
|Les River Experience||VND 1,889,000/adult
VND 1,640,000/children under 12 years old
Free for children under 3 years old
|Address: No. 02 Ngo Duc Ke Street, District 01, Ho Chi Minh City.
Tel: (+84) 838 275 000
|Saigon River Tour||VND 1,889,000/adult
VND 1,425,000/children from 9 to 12 years old
VND 1,425,000/children from 4 to 8 years old
Free for children under 3 years old
|Address: Room 4, IBC Building, No. 1A Me Linh Square, Ben Nghe Ward, District 01, Ho Chi Minh City
Tel: (+84) 902 446 346
IV. THINGS TO DO IN CU CHI TUNNELS, HO CHI MINH, VIETNAM
Visiting Cu Chi Tunnels, you will have a golden chance of learning more about the history of Vietnam as well as of the world. In addition, you can discover the difficult and risky life of the Vietnamese soldiers and militiaman during the Vietnamese War and the Indochina War. Despite being a national historical monument, there are many interesting activities for you to try. You also find here a number of food vendors serving delicious local foods and the foods which the Vietnam South Forces lived on during wartime.
1. Crawling the historical relic tunnels like a rat
As mentioned above, Cu Chi Tunnels now are only 121 kilometers long. This heroic wonder is divided into 2 main part, namely Ben Dinh and Ben Duoc Tunnels. They both are under the protection of the government and are open to serve tourist.
Ben Duoc Tunnels
Address: Phu Hiep Hamlet, Phu My Hung Commune, Cu Chi District, Ho Chi Minh City
Tel: (+84) 83 794 8820
Role during the war: Committee Area basement, Command Ministry of Saigon – Cho Lon – Gia Dinh Military Zone
Title: Information as National Historic Site (by Ministry of Culture under with Decision No. 54/ VHQD April 29th, 1979)
After passing the guard, the first thing you’ll see is an exhibition of the various weapon such as bomb, artillery, the cannon which were used by the Vietnam South Force during Vietnam War and which were left by the American Army. Then, you’ll go forward to the forest while listening to the beautiful melody which is a combination of Vietnamese war songs and bird songs. To give the visitors chances of learning more about the history, there is a hall located in the heart of the forest where you can find a lot of historical documents related to Cu Chi Tunnels. There are several female tour guide in the black South Vietnam pijama, broad-brimmed hat introducing thoroughly the development of Cu Chi Tunnels as well as some momentous historic events including the Tet Offensive 1968.
Afterward, you will visit the underground network system of Ben Duoc Tunnels including the office of Command Ministry of Saigon – Cho Lon – Gia Dinh Military Zone, weapon storage, living vaults, vaults for surgery, water well, breathing holes, Hoang Cam Oven, ammunition sewing house, etc. You also can find out the creative way of how people can hide the smoke from Hoang Cam stove while still preparing foods. In addition, the visitors can try the typical food of Vietnam South Force which has become specialties such as rice ball (compressed rice) and cassava served with grilled salty peanuts.
Ben Dinh Tunnel
Address: Ben Dinh Hamlet, Nhuan Duc Commune, Cu Chi District, Ho Chi Minh City
Role during the war: Cu Chi District Commissioner Basement
Title: National Historic Site (by Ministry of Culture – Information under Decision No. 101/2004/QD BVHTT on December 15th, 2004 )
Thanks to its strategic position on the solid land, Ben Dinh Tunnels was chosen to be the principal commissioner basement as well as the headquarter of Viet Cong during tough wartime from 1968 to 1975.
Like visiting Ben Duoc Tunnels, when coming to Ben Binh Tunnels you can visit the hall learn more about the history and discover the extensive underneath network system. Besides, you can have chances of visiting the complicated system of combat trenches, vaults for making weapons, and the strategic tunnels leading to the garrison of the American Army Division No.25.
When visiting this relic wonder, you will have the feeling of coming back to the war times due to the bombing voices. You also can challenge yourself by trying shooting the Military & Sports Rifle Range. Especially, Ben Dinh Area features a floating, spacious restaurant on Saigon Market where you can enjoy a variety of delicious local dishes as well as admiring the peaceful scenery of a typical Vietnam Southeast rural land.
3. Trying sports shooting defense at Cu Chi tunnels
If you’re seeking for something challenging and extreme, sports shooting defense is a way to go. Being a collective group of competitive and recreational activities, sports shooting sport requires many people involved. This activity will be a proficiency test of accuracy, precision as well as speed in using various types of ranged weapons, mainly referring to a rifle. At the beginning of the game, can choose the suitable types of guns. After completing the guide, you can try to shoot the gun to the animal-shaped and moving targets before taking part in the game.
3. Joining paint shooting at Cu Chi tunnels
Being the latest campaign game at Cu Chi Tunnels, paint shooting activity is attracting more and more visitors. To win this game, in addition to the accuracy, the precision of shooting you should have the strategic mind, good judgment and the capability of cooperating with your teammate. The difference of this game is that you will play amongst the forest instead of in a motel room as you played before. Each participant will be equipped with mask, masks, uniforms, armor, and guns AR15 or AK47. All the participants have to complete the shooting guide and the regulation; therefore, this game will be guaranteed to be safe for everyone.
4. Going Swan pedal and Kayaking at Cu Chi tunnels
If you love admiring the beauty of the landscape or enjoying relaxing moments amongst nature, going swan pedal and kayaking is a great choice for you. Swan pedal and kayak are available most of the time, which allow you to make an amazing excursion to enjoy the stunning scenery of the Vietnam Southeast land. The special thing is that the lake here stimulates the shape of the East Ocean. Besides, you can visit the stimulation of many islands of Vietnam such as Bach Long Vi Hoang Sa, Truong Sa, Con Dao, Phu Quoc Island as well as 3 models symbolizing for 3 main cities of Vietnam including One Pillar Pagoda (Hanoi), Ngo Mon (Hue Ancient Capital), Ben Nha Rong (Ho Chi Minh City).
5. Visting souvenir shops at Cu Chi tunnels
Away from the Cu Chi Tunnels is a special souvenir shop. There are more than 1300 items here, which give you a wide range of choice. Unlike other souvenir shops, you saw before, all souvenirs here related to war such as lamps, lighters, and beard sandals made from old tires and lacquer item. You can find here a considerable number of gifts made from shells of bullets such as ballpoint pens, strap, necklace. You also find some special things including art luxury goods, beautiful goods made of rattan, bamboo, and leaves. Most special products here are handmade products from the traditional villages in Cu Chi District.
V. WHAT & WHERE TO EAT AT CU CHI TUNNELS
1. Enjoying local foods at Ben Duoc restaurant
Being a floating market on Saigon Market, Ben Duoc Restaurant represents the essence of Vietnam Southeast Land. When visiting this restaurant, you will have chances of enjoying the beautiful, peaceful scenery which is a harmony of river and landscape. Ben Duoc Restaurant is a cluster of houses with thick grass roofs and built from bush materials, which make it always cool. Ben Duoc Restaurant serves a wide range of rural foods such as giang leaf sour soup, fish cooked with sauce, small fish girdle cake, banh xeo, and 7 special dishes made of beef. This restaurant often offers a lot of special promotion for customers traveling in the group.
2. Discovering Vietnamese cuisine at Ben Dinh restaurant
Like Ben Duoc Restaurant, Ben Dinh Restaurant is built on Saigon River. Thanks to its special location, Ben Duoc Restaurant offer you fresh air and relaxing moments amongst the charming natural scenery. Visiting Ben Dinh Restaurant, you will always feel comfortable with the proficiency and friendliness of the staff. In addition, you can have chances of enjoying the variety of tasty dish which represents the characteristic of the Vietnam Southeast countryside including tomato soup Jiang, braised fish, fish cake, and shrimp pancakes.
In conclusion, Cu Chi Tunnels are a national relic wonder which is reserving and representing the national history during the Vietnam War. Visiting Vietnamese Tunnel Rats, you will not only have chances of learning more about history but also memorizing the great contribution of the national hero. The remnant of the war also reminds visitors of appreciating the peace we have now. To my experience, it’s one of the real aims of traveling.