The tunnels of Củ Chiwere known to the Americans during the Vietnamese War but there was little they were able to do to stop their use. They are a huge network of underground tunnels in the Củ Chi District of Ho Chi Minh City. The Viet Cong used them as their operational headquarters for the 1968 offensive known as Tet, the local name for the New Year holiday.
The offensive was a series of surprise attacks launched throughout South Vietnam simultaneously. The Viet Cong has many successes before the Americans regained lost areas and although the Viet Cong suffered many casualties the operation had a serious impact on American public opinion. Perhaps it signalled the need for negotiations because the Viet Cong were proving to be extremely difficult adversaries? This Cu Chi Travel Guide aims to give you an insight into the role they played in the War.
How to get there
The Cu Chi Tunnels are fairly close(around 40 km) to Ho Chi Minh Citywhich is a well-connected city easily accessed from other parts of the country as well as abroad. There are organised tours taking parties to the tunnels that have been opened to visitors and those on Vietnam family tours will have all the travel arrangements made for them.
Best time to visit Cu Chi tunnels
The best time to visit is between the months of November and March. After that the monsoons will start and any time from July there may be typhoons as well. However the rainy season should not be dismissed as it might only rain for a couple of hours in the afternoon and be dry otherwise. Average temperatures approach 30C which is a further reason why the tunnels were so uncomfortable.
It is difficult for tourists to imagine life within the tunnels and this Cu Chi Travel Guide will try to explain why. The tunnels were used as hiding places during combat but they were also places where people had to live for extensive periods. There were hospitals and stores while the interconnecting tunnels allowed communications underground when travel above ground was impossible.
Living underground was not easy and those onVietnam tour packagesthat enter the tunnels will see why. There were insects and rats aplenty in those days, hardly an ideal place to rest after fighting all day. Bombing raids meant that at times they lived in the tunnels for several days. Disease was rife, especially malaria which can be a killer.
Certainly the Americans tried to minimise their effectiveness with bombs and land forces. It was not really a success because even when an entrance was discovered it was regarded as too dangerous to enter and indeed the tunnels were usually too narrow for the soldiers anyway. The Viet Cong regularly used booby traps or stick pits so the Americans used gas, tar or water to try to get them to come out but the design of the tunnels made that ineffective.
In the later stages of the War the Americans were more successful causing some parts to collapse with persistent bombing but by then the tunnels had largely done their job in protecting local resistance personnel.
There are over 100 km of tunnels preserved as a war memorial; Ben Dinh and Ben Duoc are open to visitors and in some parts they have been enlarged to allow tourists to enter and see for themselves.
Vietnam travel packages will take clients to the tunnels from their accommodation elsewhere. That is likely to be Ho Chi Minh City which has hostels and hotels to suit all tastes and budgets. Vietnam private tours will offer a range of hotels for clients to pick from and collect them for a visit to the tunnels.
The Vietnam War was not the proudest campaign in American military history. The tunnels made a great contribution to the Viet Cong war effort and they are certainly worth visiting. The legacy of the war does not include hostility towards foreigners including Americans. The Vietnamese are naturally friendly and hospitable people happy to show tourists their country.
The temperatures in and around the tunnels can be uncomfortable and it is important to wear light clothing and carry plenty of water. Some people will be too big to get into tunnels designed for the relatively small local population and the Viet Cong. Even the tunnels that have been enlarged and lit may be inaccessible. However go along anyway and enjoy the experience.