Is Cu Chi Tunnels Tour worth to discover

Is Cu Chi Tunnels Tour worth to discover?

One of the places you feel you could not miss is the Cu Chi Tunnels — an extensive network of tunnels (like 75 miles worth) that were hand-carved during the French occupation, and then expanded during the later conflicts in the 1960’s and 70’s. This (somewhat ridiculous) diorama shows how there were layers to the tunnels, and a complex system of connecting rooms, air vents, escape routes, and booby traps.

On that note, I think it’s important to mention that Cu Chi Tunnels is not treated as a typical reverent war memorial (though there is a temple and memorial at Ben Duoc). There is no reverent reflection on the horrors of war; rather you exit the park through a gift shop that sells souvenir bullets. Many of the reviews people would read noted that the propaganda was intense and borderline disturbing, but they were not really found that to be the case. Yes, there were elements of nationalism, and a rather glib approach to what were probably gruesome deaths, but it is supposed that if you go in understanding that the point of both sites is to celebrate the ingenuity and heroism of the Cu Chi people, and the succor provided to them by the tunnel network across a few generations of war, it all makes more sense.

Truly, outside of the booby traps, it did not feel that different to you than visiting something like the Churchill War Rooms in London — there was a very narrow focus showcasing how a particular group overcame adversity during a time of broader conflict, without giving air time to the causes, or implications, or controversies, or really any thought to the human costs or the other side. So, there’s that.

For a more comprehensive and somber approach to the war, you will want to carve out time for the War Remnants Museum in Saigon, but the tunnels themselves are absolutely worth a visit in my opinion.

How to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels

Out of the gate, it is emphasized that like many things in Vietnam, visiting Cu Chi is one of those things where you can basically spend whatever you want.

You can take public transit and spend just a few dollars. You can book group tours or private Cu Chi Tunnel tour or Cu Chi Tunnel Tour by speedboat or motorbike tours, you can book excursions with guides or without, with meals included or not, as a half-day or as a full-day with other stops — truly, there is just such a massive range that no matter your budget or travel style, there is a way to fit this in.

And while it took a chunk of time, you would feel it was worth carving time out of our itinerary in Ho Chi Minh City to visit.


Should you visit Cu Chi Tunnels in Ben Dinh or Ben Duoc?

Beyond budget, one of the major considerations is which of the two tunnel sites you decide you want to visit.

99% of the advertised Cu Chi Tunnels tours go to Ben Dinh — it is a massive operation, visited by sometimes thousands of tourists per day, has a firing range where you can shoot machine guns, etc. The tunnels there have apparently been reconstructed and significantly expanded, so they are probably a bit more comfortable to explore, if that is a concern.

The Ben Duoc site is a bit further away from Ho Chi Minh City, and depending on your mode of transportation probably adds an hour to your day. some people suppose that it is well worth it, personally, as Cu Chi Tunnels Tour at Ben Duoc is a much more authentic experience (parts of the original tunnel system have been preserved), and it is significantly less crowded. On the working days, there are not many groups, comprising a total of about hundreds people.

Here is a map showing the incredible expanse of Cu Chi tunnel network (all the black lines are tunnels, red color represents for populated and the blue line stands for Saigon river system.

Both sites have the same propaganda videos and awkwardly jovial booby-trap exhibits, and in both cases the areas where tourists are allowed have been reinforced, and some of the entrances have been expanded.

The Cu Chi tunnels Tour at Ben Duoc, however, have not been enlarged for the most part. So you can really get a better sense of what the tunnels were like when they were in use. As such, they are not exactly easy to get around in — to give a sense of scale; this is the largest of the tunnels we were able to explore.

The tunnels got progressively smaller, with the last one requiring not only crawling on hands and knees, but basically shimmying on stomachs and forearms. It is clear that most Western males would have enough shoulder room to negotiate that final tunnel, much less a French or American soldier with gear, so it is no wonder that these tunnels were as effective as they were.

This is probably a good time to note that entering any/ all of these tunnels is optional, none of them are more than a few hundred meters long, and the staff will guide you to the exit of a particular set of tunnels where you can wait for your group if you are not feeling it.

So choosing to visit Ben Duoc or Ben Dinh — even if you do not go in the tunnels at all, we think the relative remoteness or closest will lead to a different experience.

Choose your way of transport

Once you have decided which site you want to visit, you will need to decide how to get there. I strongly recommend taking the time to visit Cu Chi Tunnels, but regardless of which site you go to, it should be depended on what you prefer.

If you want to take the Cu Chi Tunnels tour by speedboat, you will take less time to get there but you will have to be transfer to Tan Cang Pier before taking speedboat and it takes you normally around 20 minutes to get there from your hotel. The alternative is to spend time to visit one of a lacquer ware factory to see how handicaps, who were victims due to being affected from agent orange from Vietnam War, make famous Traditional lacquer ware painting.

The stop and go you will have on the Cu Chi Tunnels tour by speedboat is the occasional reverse to unjam water hyacinths from the propeller. Apparently it is the peak of water hyacinth season.



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