Vietnam & Cambodia in 7 Days Part 8 – Cu Chi Tunnels
After our Angkor Wat trip in Siem Reap, we spent the following day back on the bus for another 13-hour ride back to Ho Chi Minh City. When we got back to the Nguyen Khang Hotel in the evening, we asked Miss Thu to book us a Cu Chi Tunnel tour for the following day.
The Cu Chi Tunnel tour is one of the popular tours being offered in Vietnam. Cu Chi is a district about 1.5 hours away from HCMC and is one of the tunnel networks used by the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War.
What’s interesting about the Cu Chi Tunnels is how the guerillas were able to live normally underground. The tunnel network has living quarters, kitchens, air filtration system and lots of booby traps to protect against intrusion. Some parts / rooms of the tunnel system even reach down to a third level which protected the guerillas from bombings aboveground.
The Cu Chi Tunnel Tour
This tour takes only half a day to complete. You will leave the tunnels by noon and there are no restaurants anywhere nearby so better bring some food with you and just have a late lunch when you get back to Saigon at around 2 PM.
The bus picked us up at our hotel at around 7 AM and it went around different hotels in the city picking other passengers up.
Our tour guide was Mr. Bin. I know, funny name and he’s also part Filipino. He claims to be the most popular Cu Chi tunnel tour operator in Vietnam since he lived and experienced fighting in that area, for the American’s side. Hehehe.
We eventually went on our way 30 minutes after picking up all passengers and our first stop was at this handicapped handicrafts shop outside Saigon.
Mr. Bin explained that because of the land mines and the use of Agent Orange chemical during the Vietnam War, it left a lot of people including children disabled or disfigured. There’s just way too many of them.
In an effort to keep these disabled people off the street begging, they trained and gave them job that would earn them income in the form of Handicapped Handicrafts.
Check out how creative they are with their egg shells and capiz. The things that they can do even with their disability are just amazing.
The finished products in their showroom looked really beautiful and you can buy souvenirs here as well. They are more pricey than the ones sold in the market but these are authentic and would really help the lives of the handicapped community.
After 30 minutes, we went on our way to the Cu Chi tunnels.
Cu Chi Tunnels
There’s an entrance fee of VND80,000 here that Mr. Bin collected from us while in the bus. Upon arriving at the Cu Chi Tunnels, Mr. Bin bought our tickets for us.
When wee entered the place, the first order of business was to watch a video on how life was in the Cu Chi area during the Vietnam War.
Afterwards. we walked through the jungle to see the actual tunnels and dioramas of guerilla life while our guide gave us some info about each area. Good thing there are lots of trees and the weather that time was cool.
You will see the different traps they used against the Americans. Like the camouflaged false floor above where you will fall into a pit with spikes.
There will be a short break where you can fire some rounds on a shooting range using guns and rifles similar to those that were used during the war. There’s also a souvenir shop and snack bar near this area so better eat something if you’re getting hungry.
The shooting range is not free. You must buy at least three bullets to enter. Bullets range from VND20,000 to VND30,000 depending on the type.
Afterwards, it was time for us to try entering the tunnels. You enter from one point and exit from another point about a hundred meters away. Don’t feel bad if you don’t want to try. There was a lot from the group who just waited for the others in the exit point.
I tried it and I can barely squat-walk in the tunnels. I don’t want to crawl since I had my DSLR with me. It was dark in some areas and I had to rely on my camera’s assist lamp at times.
Moving forward inside the tunnel was hard on the legs while squatting but good thing there was an exit point halfway which I took. Surprisingly, it was not stuffy inside the tunnel. The air was cool and also the walls which were bumpy but smooth and damp.
After a few more stories and guerilla life setups, it was time to go around noon.
So was the tour worth it? I have to say not really unless you want to crawl into some tunnels and know about the lives of the Viet Cong guerillas.
We were supposed to go to this safari / amusement park called Dai Nam but commuting there is tricky if you don’t have someone to guide you and taking a taxi is expensive. So we just made the most of our extra day by going to Cu Chi instead. Still, Dai Nam would probably more interesting.
We got back to the city at around 2 PM and had a late lunch before getting some rest. After shopping for souvenirs in the evening, it was time to pack up for our flight the following day.
Nguyen Khang Hotel offers transport to the airport for $8 in case you don’t want to take your chance with public taxis outside.
Cu Chi tour bus – $9 per person
Entrance to Cu Chi – VND80,000 or $4 each
This is the end of our Vietnam – Cambodia travel series. It was a real blast exploring a new place and a different culture with my wife and we can’t wait for our next trip. Hope this journal/guide will somehow help you in planning your own trip to Vietnam and/or Cambodia. Have a safe trip!