MangoVine
Adventures in East Asia

The Tunnels of Cu Chi from the Vietnam War

On our way back to Ho Chi Minh from Tay Ninh, we dropped into the tunnels of Cu Chi. You can't visit Vietnam and not see any reference to the war and so the tunnels are an excellent way to view the Vietnamese side of the event.

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The tunnels of Cu Chi are an immense network of connecting underground tunnels that total a massive 75 miles, and are part of a much larger network of tunnels that underlie much of Vietnam.

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The tunnels were the location of several military campaigns during the Vietnam War, with the Viet Cong guerrillas using them as hiding spots during combat, as well as serving as communication and supply routes, hospitals, food and weapon caches and living quarters.

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The role of the tunnel systems should not be underestimated in its importance to the Viet Cong in resisting American operations and protracting the war, eventually persuading the weary Americans into withdrawal.

Unfortunately, we only managed to squeeze in an hour and a half, but we were able to experience two guided tours in different parts of the site. The first tour gave a good overview about life overground, demonstrated with mannequins and showing some booby traps, crops and farming methods as well wood and bamboo buildings for lives out in the open. Linh tries processing some rice and finds it more difficult than it looks.

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The second tour allowed us to go down into several tunnels and witness the living conditions as well as experiencing how they had to move about during times of war, whereupon they sometimes had to stay underground for several days at a time.

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Feeling claustrophobic?



During the war, air, food and water were scarce and the tunnels were infested with ants, poisonous centipedes, spiders and mosquitoes. Almost by contrast, the tunnels have been slightly adapted for tourism and are far safer with lots more air passages (practically invisible to the untrained eye) and apart from a lone bat, we saw no visible signs of any other life! The tunnels have even been made larger to accommodate larger western tourists.

Within one of the "dining rooms" we were also able to sample some of the basic food that the inhabitants survived on.

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One of our guides also demonstrated the use of trap doors whereupon he disappeared into one and reappeared unexpectedly from another a few metres away.



There was also a shooting range where visitors can fire an assault rife, which I would loved to have tried out, but we had already run half an hour over the closing time of the tunnels.

Check my Flickr set for more photos of the Tunnels of Cu Chi.

For more information, check the Tunnels of Cu Chi on Wikipedia.


This entry posted in : Attractions. History. Tourism. Vietnam.

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01/06/10  at  05:22 PM
i am going to Vietnam and was really interested in your post, the tunnels looked really interesting...although i don`t think i could go down them as much as i would like to, but thank you for an insight into what lie`s below
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01/06/10  at  07:25 PM
Hi Ann,

Thanks! There were a number of opportunities and entrances of different sizes to try out when we went, so you might want to give it a go anyway. But have fun on your trip in Vietnam!
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