Nowadays, we know Vietnam for its good food, rich culture, and amazing landscape. Or even the infamous crazy traffic. But back in the days, it’s hard to talk about Vietnam without mentioning the dark past that made this country famous for. The dark era of war or better known as Vietnam War and Cu Chi Tunnels played a major part of this war.
I am not avid fans of the history lesson, but sometimes you need to know the past of something to be able to appreciate it. Dig deeper and you might actually find yourself appreciate this place even more. Both literally and metaphorically.
Cu Chi Tunnels isn’t just about the underground tunnels, it a massive network underground that facilitated the Vietnam Soldier during the war. It got famous in the 1960s when the Viet Cong used this against the American Soldiers. The tunnels stretch over 250km underground from outside of Saigon reaching to the Cambodian border.
The soldiers weren’t just using this to hide from the enemy, but they lived in these tunnels. There were living quarters, kitchen, hospital, command center, all inside the tunnels. Plus the countless trapdoor spread all over the tunnels. It’s already sound impressive but wait until you see those tunnels in person.
Cu Chi Tour Package
There are lots of places where you can buy the Cu Chi Tunnels tour package. If you are staying especially in Ho Chi Minh (also read our Ho Chi Minh travel journal), it will be super easy for you. Ask your hotel reception or walk around the street for a tourist center. They will mostly likely able to help you find the travel place that sells these package or even offered you one.
For us, we were buying the package from the travel company at our hotel, Duc Vuong Hotel. It was just downstair from the reception area of the hotel. It cost us VND 260,000 per person for the package. The package includes return transfer from our hotel, English-speaking guide, and entrance fee for the tunnels.
It was SIC or Seat in Coach type of tours which mean we shared the van with other tourists and became one group. Usually, the price depends on the service that you will be getting. Some might include lunch or other attraction which will be higher in price than this.
We were picked up from the hotel at 8 am with a mini-van and joined the others. I think there were 10 people in the group including us. Our guide name was Thung, I think. The Vietnamese language has pretty distinguished sounds and how to pronounce them, so that’s how I heard his name was. Could be wrong, sorry Thung!
The journey took around 2 hours with 1 stop for about 30 minutes. We were stopping by this handcraft store/workshop. Our guide said that all the handcraft was made by hand and by local people. We first passing them making a mosaic picture with shattered shell and others stuff then we were guided into the store.
I think it’s one of those places where the group tours need to make a stop into. Like they have some kind of agreement with the shop. But our guide didn’t force us to buy or anything. We can buy them if we like, no pressure. And it also acts as a toilet stop for us.
Traps! (Not a Tourist’s ones)
Once we arrived, Thung gave our entry ticket which we then need to show to get inside the area. It’s been raining all day since the morning and he said when it is raining hard the tunnels could get flooded and no one allowed to get inside. But luckily for us, the rain did stop when we reach the place.
The area is literally a jungle, that’s why we also not allowed to wander around our self. Either in the tunnels (obviously) nor the area itself because of the traps around. We were shown ranges of bobby traps. Ones that will trap the enemy’s foot, another that will stab you right in the face, etc. He said that many of the spikes were covered in poison. Creepy…
He also shows us this unique sandal that the Viet Cong soldier used back then. They flipped the sole. So when a person wearing it and left footprints, the enemy will see the footprints heading to opposite direction. Pretty smart, eh? It made with tires, so it’s really strong. After I broke many of my sandals, I’m kinda tempted to buy that tho.
Trying the Tunnel
Then it was the time for us to try to tunnels our self. First, we were given an example tunnel hole where we can try to get inside and took picture holding the covering. Typical tourist photos. Thung said that the tunnels in this area already enlarged to fit western tourist body size because generally, western people have a much bigger body than Asian. And that boy from our group who tried to take the picture just barely have any room to move!
After that walking around, he showed us the entrance to one of the tunnel. This tunnel was again, enlarge for tourist purposes, were offered to us to try. It was around 2 km long. Did I try it? Obviously, yes. When will I ever get a chance to walk inside a war tunnel anywhere else? But not everyone needs to come, for those who are claustrophobic or not in shapes, our guide was accompanying them walked to the exit point of the tunnel.
I consider myself pretty small in western standard. I am 158cm tall and the tunnel was half my height. You do the math on how small it is. We were being accompanied by another guide through the tunnel. Inside the tunnel was really dark, damp, and the air is kinda chill.
At first, we all just squat walking through. But the longer I was inside, the more I felt all the energy was drained from by body. And the tunnel was getting smaller to the end. Nearing the exit, we literally need to crawl. Everybody was drench in sweat and gasping for air. That’s one heck of an experience, imagine all the soldier back on those days!
Taste of the past
After that exhausting experience, our guide was giving us this snacks. It’s boiled cassava with crushed peanuts and sugar as a dipping in the side. He said this is what the Vietnamese would eat back then. A break for us to catch up with our breath. Then another photo stop in one of the used tanks.
The last activities they have here was the shooting range. They charged per bullets with different price depending on the gun you choose and a minimum of 10 bullets. They offered selections of guns, ranging from Carbine, AK4, to M30 Machine Gun. You know nothing about guns? Don’t be ashamed, neither do I. 😂
But since we were already here so might as well pumped our adrenaline even more. I choose the smallest gun they offer which is the carbine, for 10 bullets it’s VND 250,000. He (read: Leonard) as a typical man choose the “big toy” a.k.a the machine gun M30. But somehow it was not available at that time so he changed into the M1. It cost VND 300,000 for 10 bullets for the M1.
They provided ear protection for the shooter and there was a guide accompanying us. We suppose to tried and hit the target across the field but all the weapons were actually bolted to the wall. So I can’t really move the gun anywhere. I get it, it was for safety reason but that made it almost impossible to hit anything really.
In the same area where we brought the bullets were also the souvenirs shop. And they do also sell the bullet as a key chain there, pretty rad souvenirs. But we didn’t want to risk having a trouble in the airport later on so we pass on that. They also sell foods, drinks, and snacks there.
Then on our way back, just before we exit the area, the last thing was to watch a short film. It supposed to be the introduction film but I say it was full-on propaganda. But after seeing that multiple times during our visit here, I didn’t really felt too disturbed by it. All the museum and the film usually made way back when people was just still soo traumatize by the war. Which of course, why wouldn’t you? But even our guide said that they don’t hate American tourist because it’s their jobs now and they get money from tourists. Life just goes on.
That’s it for our experience in the Cu Chi Tunnels. A must do! If you have ever been here, share your experience in the comments below, we would love to read about it! Thanks for reading and share this post if you find it helpful (And our others travel journal). Also, check these links below if you want to make your next trip planning easier and yeah I will get something from it! Everyone happy! 😊
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