The colourful history of Vietnam is a matter of historical record. There has been a great deal of people movement in South East Asia over the centuries. The borders that are now in place should now remain in place, but it is important to realise that a unified Vietnam is only four decades old. Holidays in Vietnam are still a fairly recent thing. Long haul air travel has expanded enormously in recent years while before peace broke out in Indochina in general, it was not on the mass tourist market map.
When the Vietnam War ended, the Americans withdrew and Hanoi became the capital of the unified country. The struggle between Hanoi and the Viet Cong against the Saigon Government with American support was long and hard. It was not traditional warfare where one side was on their own side of the line and the enemy on the other side. Within the South there was significant support and infiltration. Many tourists go travelling in Vietnam to visit the sites that they first read about during the War. The Mekong Delta was a significant theatre of war yet one of the most interesting things that is regularly included in Vietnam travel packages is the Cu Chi Tunnels were the Viet Cong and their sympathisers hide from the Americans and the South for long periods of time. The Tunnels were homes of days on end and a means of communication when overland was impossible.
The Tunnels are two hours north of Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) and total 200 kilometres in length. There is a miniature underground city and relics from the War to see and you can go in them but you must bear this in mind. The Vietnamese who ‘’lived ‘’ in these Tunnels were smaller in stature than the average Western tourist so they are fairly narrow. Some have been increased in size but there is a limit.
If you can crawl through the Tunnels you will get a real idea of how this struggle unfolded, and how difficult it was for the Viet Cong. The Americans knew of their existence of course and tried their best to neutralise their effectiveness by regular bombing; they failed and ultimate failed in the overall struggle as well.
If you book a Vietnam tour package, all the arrangements for a visit to the Tunnels will be made in advance. There are few places in the world where it is possible to visit a recent war site which took place under the spotlight of the world’s media. It is a place that is extremely educational to all who visit. The good news for all tourists is that although the War finished relatively recently, the Vietnamese people remain extremely hospitable and welcome visitors from all parts of the world. If you have any interest in 20th Century history, then the Vietnam War and these Tunnels are an ideal place to visit with many other highlights as well if you travel throughout the country.