Cu Chi Tunnels Travel Guide

The Chi Chi Tunnels once stretched from Ho Chi Minh City to the border with Cambodia. They were central to an ingenious strategy of surprise attacks on Southern Vietnamese and US forces during the war of the 1960s.

This complex network of passageways was divided into several stories. Portions were used for cross-country transportation, while other portions were set aside for family living areas, medical clinics, weapon production and cooking areas. The tunnels were linked to the surface by a system of trap doors that allowed guerrillas to appear and vanish in seconds.

The tunnels were legendary in their day. They stretched for 150 miles and connected tracts of Viet Cong enclaves that were cut off by US bases. The VC could ambush their enemies deep in US-held territory, quickly disappearing into trap doors. When all attempts to counter these surprise attacks failed, the US unleashed record amounts of defoliant, Agent Orange and firepower on the region.

There are two major sections that appeal to tourists. Ben Dinh gets the most traffic, but a large part of the network was carved out especially for tourists and didn’t even exist during the war.

Another stretch of tunnels is open at Ben Duoc. There’s more of a production here, with a mock village and re-enactments of life in the medical, tactical and sleeping quarters. The tunnels have been enlarged in both Ben Dinh and Ben Duoc to make room for Western-sized bodies.

One of the most outlandish attractions here is the shooting range. With a lemons-to-lemonade attitude, locals have gathered discarded assault rifles and ammunition. Now tourists can fire M16s and AK47s without enlisting in the armed services. Be forewarned that you pay by the bullet.

Getting There & Away

Cu Chi is 25 miles from Ho Chi Minh City (home to a prominent international airport) and can be reached by tour bus or taxi. Public buses pass though Cu Chi but there aren’t any onward transportation links, so it is best to hire a service in Ho Chi Minh City. Total travel time from Ho Chi Minh City to the actual tunnels sites is 1 hour, 30 minutes.

Hiring a taxi in Ho Chi Minh City lets you stick to your own itinerary, and if you play your cards right you can find a driver who will wait and turn off the meter while you tour the tunnels.