An intricate and immense network of underground tunnels lies in the Cu Chi district of Ho Chi Minh city—a mere fraction of the labyrinthine system that exists throughout much of the country, used by the Vietnamese during the Vietnam War (1955-1975). These tunnels served multiple purposes, from hiding spots and tactical sally ports for guerrilla raids to serving as communication and supply routes. Caches along the system were also used as storage, recovery rooms and living quarters. To this day, the tunnels are regarded as a marvel of engineering.
It’s a fascinating and awe-inspiring glimpse into Vietnamese fortitude—and it’s just a bus ride from the bustling business district.
Upon arrival, guests’ first steps into the facility immediately take them underground.
For most visitors, the entry tunnel is the only one they’ll manage to fit through. While some of the tunnels have been modified to fit tourists, most remain little more than crawl spaces, snaking and torturous.
Not for the claustrophobic, nor the faint of heart. The Cu Chi tunnels were diverse and ingeniously built to withstand most attacks and attempts at flushing its inhabitants out. A grenade thrown into an access hole would harmlessly explode in an empty passageway that dipped down into a safe anteroom.
Enemy troops attempting to break in had to deal with booby traps set at most “entrances” to the tunnels.
Access holes were dug just big enough to accommodate mostly Vietnamese fighters, built slimmer and shorter than their Western counterparts,. These soldiers would only leave the tunnel systems at night to check on their crops, scavenge for food or engage in skirmishes with the enemy.
Primitive, clever and lethal traps were essential to the defense of the tunnel system.
A small sample of the mines and bombs unearthed from the Cu Chi area after peace was declared.
For those interested, a shooting range is also housed within the the tunnel—to give visitors a means of relieving the stress of the cramped, practically airless tour of the tunnels. A luxury not enjoyed by the brave fighters who manned these underground redoubts for survival and eventual victory. What’s on your itinerary for Ho Chi Minh?