AsiaGuideVietnam

Cu Chi Tunnels Day Tour Guide

Think outside of the tunnel, er, box, and book a day tour of the Cu Chi Tunnels during your stay in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. The Cu Chi Tunnels are a network of connecting underground tunnels used during the Vietnam War. Nowadays, the tunnels are an attraction that aim to educate travelers and locals on Vietnam’s history. This guide to the Cu Chi Tunnels details what to expect, tips and tricks, how to get there and all the other additional info you may need to book your day tour of the Cu Chi Tunnels.

Everything You Need to Know: Cu Chi Tunnels Guide

What are the Cu Chi Tunnels?

(image via Martha de Jong-Lantnik, flickr)
(image via Martha de Jong-Lantnik, flickr)

The Cu Chi Tunnels are located outside of Ho Chi Minh, in Cu Chi. Construction on the intricate grid of tunnels started in 1948 during the war against the French, but lasted over 20 years. During the Vietnam War, the Cu Chi Tunnels were an important asset to the Viet Cong. They helped soldiers transport supplies, mount surprise attacks and hide away out of sight. The tunnels were home to soldiers and even contained an air filtration system, hospitals and kitchens. The tunnels are accessed by trap doors camouflaged underneath leaves. The entire system is over 250 km long and up to 12 meters deep, though currently the entirety of the tunnels are not open to tourists. The tunnels are part of a larger war memorial museum, preserved by the government.

What can I expect at the Cu Chi Tunnels?

Cu Chi Tunnel: Vietnam
Cu Chi Tunnel: Vietnam

What can I see?

(image via Lim Ashley, flickr)
(image via Lim Ashley, flickr)

As mentioned, the entire network of the Cu Chi Tunnels is not open for visitation but you can visit two parts: Ben Dinh and Ben Duoc. The Ben Dinh entrance is closer to Ho Chi Minh, so if you only have enough time for a quick visit, this is the better option. The Ben Dinh tunnels have been reconstructed, though they provide an accurate depiction of what life was like in the tunnels. Travelers can walk along the 50 m tunnel length. Ben Duoc, further away from Ho Chi Minh, is a little off-the-beaten-path and includes the authentic tunnels. Because of the location, Ben Duoc won’t be as crowded but requires a little more time than Ben Dinh, it’s recommended to pay a visit for a day trip. Ben Duoc is about 75 m in length.

What do the tunnels look like?

(image via dronepicr, flickr)
(image via dronepicr, flickr)

As you might expect, the tunnels are dark and can be cramped. At Ben Duoc, travelers enter by lifting a small trap door, and sliding in. The tunnels are not always the same depth, so you may have to do some climbing up or down. Within the tunnels you can see recreations of activities; catch sight of wax figures planning an attack or enjoying a meal.

Are the Cu Chi Tunnels safe?

(image via kumby, flickr)
(image via kumby, flickr)

Yes! Tourists can head in and crawl through the tunnel system safely. Emergency exits are located every 10 m in both of the tunnels sections. It is important to note that there is some low lighting at each site, but Ben Duoc contains unlit sections. Tunnel-goers may wish to have a flashlight with them. Ben Duoc is longer and a little more challenging, with portions of unstable footing. However, it does provide a realistic experience of how soldiers lived in tunnels.

Of course, it’s up to the discretion of each traveler but it’s also advised that if you are anxious in small and enclosed spaces, to skip the tour. Also, there is the slight chance you may encounter a bat in the tunnel- be warned!

Which location should I go to?

(image via Santosh Rajbhandari, flickr)
(image via Santosh Rajbhandari, flickr)

Ben Dinh is the site of various battles whereas Ben Duoc saw strategies and tactics being devised. Both locations offer insight into a part of history. Those looking for adventure and to test their nerves should make their way to Ben Duoc. As mentioned, the tunnel is narrow, the route is more challenging and it requires more crawling. As Ben Duoc contains more of the original tunnel, the space and exit are smaller. Tourists who are looking for an easier course should journey to Ben Dinh. The tunnels are reconstructed and have been enlargended to better fit visitors.

War Remnants Museum
War Remnants Museum

How to get there

Book a tour

The easiest option is to book a tour from Ho Chi Minh with hotel pick-up and drop-off. There are multiple tour package options to suit your preferences. A very convenient and inexpensive option is to book a tour from Ho Chi Minh to the Cu Chi Tunnels that includes the entrance fee and transportation. Most tours will take you to Ben Dinh in order to maximize your time and allow for visiting other landmarks.

Book a tour to visit the Cao Dai Temple
Book a tour to visit the Cao Dai Temple

Pro-Tip: Book a tour that includes a visit to nearby attractions, like the Cao Dai Temple, to make the most out of your trip.

By public transportation

(image via Riza Nugraha, flickr)
(image via Riza Nugraha, flickr)

To arrive at Ben Duoc by public transportation, you need to take two buses. It’s the most inexpensive option at about US$1.00 but it’s also the more complicated of the options. Here’s how to get to Ben Duoc by public transport:

  • Take the #13 bus from station at the Western end of Backpacker Street (Pham Ngu Lao), in District 1 to Cu Chi Bus Station. Tickets can be purchased an attendant there. This leg of the trip will take about 1.5 hours
  • Transfer to the #79 bus towards Ben Duoc. The entire trip will take you about 2.5 hours. The last #79 bus leaves at 5:30pm, so be sure to plan accordingly

By boat

You can book tickets to arrive to Cu Chi Tunnel by boat. Grab your tickets online, in advance, right here. (https://www.kkday.com/en/product/7918) This tour lets you cruise along the Saigon River then enjoy the sights as you bike the scenic pathways.

Rent a motorbike

You can rent a motorbike or car and drive yourself up to the Cu Chi Tunnels. Go at your own pace and enjoy the views stopping for photo opps!

What else can I see there?

Wax figures in an exhibit demonstrate how soldiers lived (image via NH53, flickr)
Wax figures in an exhibit demonstrate how soldiers lived (image via NH53, flickr)

Ben Dinh Tunnel offers a range of activities aside from the actual tunnel itself. The tunnels are part of a larger museum so be sure to walk through the exhibits. The War Remnants Museum near Ben Dinh features artillery and military weapons.

(image via David McKelvey, flickr)
(image via David McKelvey, flickr)

After touring the tunnel, try your hand at paintball, kayaking or cycling. Many tours will bring you to landmarks or attractions in Saigon after your tunnel experience as well. Check out this tour (https://www.kkday.com/en/product/8416)  and see the famed Notre Dame Cathedral and the Saigon Post Office. Ben Duoc boasts a few nearby historical sites like Ben Duoc Memorial Temple and the Hoang Cam Kitchen.

(image via Lawrence Sinclair, flickr)
(image via Lawrence Sinclair, flickr)

Both Ben Duoc and Ben Dinh have a shooting range where you can try shooting with various guns including M16s and AK47s. Some tours may include the shooting range in the package (like this one), but if you go on your own, the shooting range will be an additional expense (the cost is by bullet and about US$1.00 – 2.00)

What should I wear?

Keep in mind the weather and the fact that you’ll be crawling and crouching down throughout the experience. Choose comfortable, breathable clothing with stretch. As you may be crawling on your hands and knees, expect to get a little messy. You will want to wear clothing you don’t mind dirtying up.

What should I bring?

Here’s a handy packing list for your Cu Chi Tunnels day trip:

(image via Tyler Strause, flickr)
(image via Tyler Strause, flickr)

You may want to bring a flashlight for the unlit passages 

  • Flashlight
  • Camera
  • Hat, sunscreen
  • Bug repellent
  • If booking a tour, you may need to bring your voucher, ID or passport to check-in, be sure to read through the reminders on your tour confirmation
  • Snacks
  • Cash (for transportation, extra activities if needed)
(image via Jules, flickr)
(image via Jules, flickr)

Pro-Tip: Bring snacks with you if you get peckish during the tour. At both of the sites there is one restaurant where you can find traditional soldier food: boiled tapioca and peanuts.

Ticket prices and hours

Cu Chi Tunnels entrance fee: ~US$4.50

Service Hours: 7:00am – 5:00pm, open daily

The tunnels will be open during the rain but the grounds may be muddier than usual. The tunnels remain open during the lunar new year.

(image via David McKelvey, flickr)
(image via David McKelvey, flickr)

Vietnam is home to bustling markets, picturesque beaches, rural wildlife and fascinating history. While the chaotic city life of Ho Chi Minh is an intoxicating experience, there is so much to learn and discover beyond the city center. Day tours from Ho Chi Minh allow travelers to explore the countryside and gain insight into Vietnam’s culture. If you’re hoping to escape Ho Chi Minh for a day and explore Vietnam’s past, an excellent day tour option is the Cu Chi Tunnels.

 
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