Cu Chi Tunnels Tour
If you are visiting Ho Chi Minh, a Cu Chi Tunnels Tour of the tunnels used during the Vietnam War is presumably high on your list. If so, a tour to the Cu Chi Tunnels with Les Rives is a brilliant way to do so (1899000 Vietnamese Dong / approximately £62).
We were picked up from our hotel in a private car at 7am (complimentary pickups available in Districts 1 – 3) and taken to Bach Dang pier where we boarded a speed boat to transport us down the river to Cu Chi. The trip on the speedboat takes just over an hour and it is a great way to beat the crowds and see the Vietnamese countryside from the Saigon river. We were also served fresh fruit, pastries and Banh Mi for breakfast.
Cu Chi Tunnels
When we arrived at Cu Chi, our guide started the tour of the tunnel area telling us the history and lots of information as to how they were constructed and how the Vietnamese people lived during the war. There is a short break at a cafe halfway round. You have the option to shoot weapons from WWII in the shooting range (an extra charge applies).
We were shown the bomb craters, booby traps (some of which looked very nasty!), the dining hall, meeting rooms, medical bunkers, equipment / armoury and clothes store. The fake termite mounds created by the Vietnamese to disguise the earth excavated from the tunnels which also contained air vents to allow oxygen into the tunnels were so clever.
The tunnels in Vietnam run for over 200km to the Cambodian border and into Laos. At Cu Chi the tunnels are approximately 48km long over three levels for fighting, communicating and hiding. Level 3 could be up to 8 – 10m deep; deep enough to avoid destruction or collapse if hit by a bomb. Over 700 people would have lived in the tunnels at any one time. The visit is very humbling, especially hearing that 4.8m people have suffered from Agent Orange used during the war.
Experiencing the tunnels
The highlight is of course the tunnels themselves. Your first experience is one of the first things you come across on the tour. A guide is lowering himself into what looks like an impossibly small hole and covering the hole with a camouflage lid. Then it was our turn! You have to lift your arms above your head to make yourself as small as possible and then lower yourself in with the lid straight above your head. Once inside it’s pretty dark and very small. Then straight arms back on the lid to escape!
You also get to go down into the tunnels themselves later on on the tour. They have been widened by 30% to allow tourists access. However, they are still small and not for the claustrophobic! There are options to do a full 60m stretch of tunnels or there are escape points at 20m and 40m! It is amazing to think the Vietnamese used these regularly during the war – a short stint in them was enough for us.
Tea and Lunch
We were then taken to try some tea and Tapioca, that the Vietnamese soldiers ate during the war. We finished the tour by watching a short film and talk about the tunnels from a local guide.
Once the tour was complete around 11:30 we had lunch on the veranda by the jetty in Cu Chi. We were served a selection of foods including lemongrass chicken, caramelized clay pot pork and fish. The journey back down the river was by speedboat and arrived back at our hotel around 1pm.
For those who want to experience what it was really like for the Viet Cong fighting during the Vietnam War, a Cu Chi tunnels tour is a must. A tour with Les Rives is a great way to beat the crowds, experience a speedboat ride and take in all of the history of Cu Chi.
East London Girl: Cu Chi Tunnels Tour
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