Visiting Cu Chi Tunnels in Vietnam.

About a Day Trip from Saigon out to visit the old Cu Chi Tunnels.

Probably the most popular day trip from Ho Chi Minh City is to go out to the Cu Chi Tunnels which are located around 40kms northwest of the city. The trip itself costs around USD 10 however there is a 90,000 Vietnamese Dong entrance fee to the tunnels which is extra and payed for once you get there. Naturally the trips stop on the 40km trip at a drinks stop which is as always a craft shop filled with a variety of goods which are generally far more expensive than you can purchase in Ho Chi Minh's market areas.
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The way into one of the Cu Chi Tunnels, Vietnam. A trap at Cu Chi Tunnels in Vietnam. Viet Cong shelter - Cu Chi Tunnels, Vietnam. no idea what it is - Cu Chi Tunnels, Vietnam.

As you come into the area near to Cu Chi Tunnels there are lines upon lines of small rubber trees - there have been rubber plantations around this part of Vietnam for many years. Although well known because of the war against the american invaders, the Chi Chu tunnels were originally built in the late 1940s as guerrilla hiding areas in the fight against the French occupiers. These tunnels were increased into a vast network by the Viet Cong in the 1960s - the americans tried many times but never got close to destroying them. This despite indiscriminate carpet bombing and also their disgusting use of the agent orange fungicide which destroyed the rubber plantations (see this article on this appalling weapon used by the americans).
Bombs used during the Vietnam War. A pit at Cu Chi Tunnels near Saigon, Vietnam. Another type of man-trap at Cu Chi Tunnels, Vietnam. Cu Chi Tunnels - some sort of man-trap, Vietnam.
The Viet Cong were able to move around the countryside and attack the americans at will before disappearing out of sight again by using the tunnel system. The tunnels were in effect narrow super-cramped villages with kitchens, living and sleeping areas as well as places for storage. They were extremely unhealthy and dangerous places to be in and the inhabitants suffered badly from the heat and humidity, diarrhoea and were also in danger from snakes, spiders and other creatures.
A Door Trap on display at Cu Chi Tunnels, Vietnam. Spikes at the bottom of a man-trap - Cu Chi Tunnels, Vietnam. A Rolling Trap - Cu Chi Tunnels in Vietnam. Cu Chi Tunnel entrance.
You are taken round by guides who are extremely knowledgeable and informative about what you are looking at. As you wander around the area you can see examples of the different types of booby-traps used by the Viet Cong - really viscious looking traps!. These were often placed beside or near to the tunnel entrances as part of their defences. Far too small for most Westerners and certainly for the fat american military, some of the entrances to the tunnels have been enlarged and also the tunnels have been widened to allow tourists to go through and get something of the experience of being underground. You only have to go a few metres if you wish and can then come up again, or as some people did you can go for quite a distance along them.
Despite having being enlarged (for tourists) these tunnels are often still really cramped and no-one should try going through them if they suffer remotely from claustrophobia - also almost immediately from entering the insides are pitch black and sometimes go quite deep underground.
Towards the end of the tour round the Cu Chi Tunnels there is a small drinks and souvenir area and also you can if you wish go onto the nearbye shooting range and try out one or two old war time guns including m16s and AK47s. (firing these guns costs around USD2 a bullet though).
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