Feb 2, 2012

Cu Chi Tunnels

Vietnam’s Cu Chi Tunnels, used as sleeping quarters, hiding places, communication channels, supply routes, hospitals, meeting venues, and storage facilities during the war, are now are one of the most popular tourist attractions in Vietnam.

Deep within the jungle, an hour-and-a-half away from Ho Chi Minh City, within a bomb-cratered, pockmarked landscape lies an expansive network of underground tunnels that the Viet Cong used to evade the Allied forces. The Cu Chi Tunnels were used as sleeping quarters, hiding places, communication channels, supply routes, hospitals, meeting venues, and storage facilities. Today, the Cu Chi Tunnels are one of the most popular tourist destinations in Vietnam. Come see the Vietnamese side of their war.

During the war, the tunnel’s resident guerrilla fighters were exposed to dangerous ants, centipedes, spiders, scorpions, and the second biggest killer of all Viet Cong – malaria. Tunnels were small, dark, humid, unsanitary, and one of Viet Cong’s greatest assets in winning the war.  The tunnels have since been lit, and widened to fit their most common visitors – Westerners. The short walk/crawl displays booby traps, a hospital section where you can sit and eat tapioca and drink tea. The tunnels are now regularly cleaned, dusted, and maintained for tourism purposes. Booby traps are well-marked, and any tourist that can get in, should have no problem getting out alive.

Booby Traps, Punji Stick Pits & Captured Tanks

Cu Chi Tunnels

via: -AX- ... off until may!

A tour of the Cu Chi Tunnels begins in the woodlands outside of the tunnels. You’ll see re-purposed American tanks and tools, as well as demonstrations of booby traps and punji stick pits. The guerrilla war tools and tactics on display exhibit the resourcefulness of the Viet Cong. A short propaganda-like video explains how the residents of Cu Chi used the tunnels to survive and protect themselves. Interestingly, the video communicates a strong anti-American sentiment. At the end of the tour is an opportunity to shoot M-16s, AK47s, and M60s for 25,000 dong per bullet.

If You Dare Enter The Tunnels…

Cu Chi Tunnels

via: David McKelvey

Crawl through about 100 meters of cramped, humid tunnel space, and then imagine that tunnel expanded over 75 miles, with sleeping quarters, conference chambers, kitchens, hospitals, storerooms, and air-raid shelters spread throughout. If you can avoid it, do not bring a backpack with you into the tunnels, they are smaller than you think and any additional baggage will make it hard to maneuver inside. For those who tend to get claustrophobic, there are exits every 20 metres, and we would recommend skipping the last 40 metres of the tour, as this a section where the walls were not expanded for Western tourists.

No Disney Production Here

Cu Chi Tunnels Image

via: Lisa and Alec

Be sure to explore the Cu Chi Tunnels and surrounding woodlands with a tour, and an English-speaking tour guide. This isn’t Disneyland – nor should you expect it to be. While there are photo opportunities, retail stands, and other ways to spend some cash, this is of course a former war zone. Kids will enjoy the tunnel crawl and the weapons demonstrations, and adults should be amazed by the guerilla war ingenuity of the Viet Cong. The stories and explanations are sure to fascinate anyone with even a slight interest in the human condition.The Cu Chi Tunnels are about an hour and a half drive from downtown Ho Chi Minh City, and a bus tour should cost you around 150,000 dong. Warning: The bus will stop at select tourist-trap-like destinations along the way. Alternatively, you can travel by speedboat up the Saigon River and back. If traveling from Ho Chi Minh City, expect a trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels to take a half-day.

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