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The Tunnels of Cu Chi in Vietnam: Unusual & Interesting Tourist Destinations

During the 1940s, the Vietnamese built an extensive network of underground tunnels to use in their fight against the French. Years later, the expanded underground maze became one of the most well-known battlegrounds of the Vietnam War, allowing Vietcong (VC) soldiers to pop up from the underbrush, attack, and quickly disappear.

cu chi tunnels

A guide demonstrates a tiny exit hole of the Cu Chi tunnels.

Today, the Cu Chi tunnels, located in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (formerly Saigon), are one of the country's most popular tourist destinations, complete with tour guides, snack stands, and even a chance to shoot an AK-47 rifle or M-16 for a little over a dollar a bullet.

The Cu Chi Tunnels: What's to See

The Cu Chi tunnel system is about 150 miles long, and once included an entire underground city of living quarters, meeting rooms, cafeterias, hospitals and operating rooms, weapons factories, bomb shelters, wells, and even theaters -- everything necessary to conceal and house thousands of guerilla fighters beneath the Vietnam jungle.

Tourists can see B-52 bomb craters, watch an old Vietnamese propaganda film, and hear guides, clad in traditional black "pajamas" and conical straw hats, explain the history of the tunnels, and demonstrate how some of the various booby traps (from sharpened bamboo stakes to trip wires that would release a box of scorpions) worked.

Though some of the Cu Chi tunnels have been widened for tourists, others are still so small that you have to crawl to get through.

Tourists can also travel into the tunnels for a taste of what the VC and U.S. "tunnel rats" (the elite group of small-framed soldiers the U.S. military sent into the tunnels) experienced. Many of the tunnels have been widened to accommodate Western tourists, and some steps and light fixtures have been added.

Still, the tunnels are a tight squeeze, about 3 feet high and 2 feet across, with some areas that require crawling on your hands and knees.

For More Information

If you're thinking of planning a trip to the Cu Chi tunnels, the links below are a good place to start:

Recommended Reading

Six of the World's Grimmest Tourist Destinations

How to Travel Abroad Safely: Six Important Tips You Need to Know in an Emergency


Visit the Vietcong's World: Americans Welcome

The Violent Underground

Cu Chi: The Underground War

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