Trap Door, Cu Chi Tunnel, Vietnam If you’re traveling in Vietnam and you’re a war history buff like Keith, a visit  to Cu Chi Tunnel is a must. Cu Chi Tunnels are complex network of underground fortress dug beneath the jungles of South Vietnam.

The tunnels were initially dug by Viet Minh guerillas as a safe haven during their battle with the Japanese and French and was further expanded by Viet Cong guerillas during their fight with the South Vietnamese and US forces.

Located in the Cu Chi District of Ho Chi Minh City, this  elaborate underground system stretched 75 miles from Saigon to the Cambodian border and went several stories deep. It was built over a period of 25 years starting in 1948.


Trap Door, Cu Chi Tunnel, VietnamThe access to the tunnels are mostly through the narrow trapdoors like this one.

Trap Door, Cu Chi Tunnel, VietnamNow you see it….

Hidden Trap Door, Cu Chi Tunnel, Vietnam…now you don’t.

The guerillas covered the trapdoors with vegetation as well as chili peppers to mask any odor from sniffing dogs.

The tunnels enabled the guerrillas to mount surprise attacks and then as quickly as they had appeared they vanished ino the trapdoors without any trace.

“No one has ever demonstrated more ability to hide his installations than the Viet Cong; they were human moles.” -US General William Westmoreland

Cu Chi Tunnels, Vietnam

The crawling space in the tunnel ranged from .5 to 1 meter wide, enough for small persons to wiggle their way in.

Some tunnels were widened to accommodate tourists, but be warned it is still very claustrophobic. We didn’t go very far. Aside from feeling suffocated, we also felt hot inside.

The guerillas stayed underground up to few days at a time and surfacing only at night time. We can now appreciate the difficulty they must have gone through.

Hospital in Cu Chi Tunnel, Vietnam.jpgAside from sleeping quarters for guerillas, the tunnels also housed hospitals (pictured above), command centers, conference areas, ammunition storage, and kitchens.

The tunnels were also used to connect villages under Vietcongs control so the guerrillas could move between areas undetected.

Ventilation Shaft,  Cu Chi Tunnel, VietnamOne of the ventilations shafts. They were comouflaged by foliage to avoid being detected by enemies.

Tools used to dig Cu Chi Tunnel, VietnamThe tunnels were dug by bare hands using simple tools such as this small hoe and wicker basket.

Booby Trap, Cu Chi Tunnel, VietnamAbove ground, the guerillas set up numerous booby traps with bamboo spikes.

The strategic design of the tunnels as well as the use of the booby traps made the ground attacks by American troops unsuccessful. They then resorted to “carpet bombing.”

B52 Bomb Crater, Cu Chi Tunnel, VietnamOne of the craters of B52 bomb.  It was said that the area of Cu chi was the most bombed, gassed and defoliated in the history of war.

Reforestration, Cu Chi Tunnels, VietnamThanks to the reforestration effort, the vegetation in the area is lush again.

American bombs and shells, Cu-Chi TunnelsThe  recovered American shells and bombs, some of which were recycled by Viet Cong to manufacture their artilleries.

American Tank, Cu Chi Tunnel, VietnamAn abandoned American tank.

American Tank, Cu Chi Tunnel, VietnamNot content in climbing the tank, some kid had to check out and play with parts of the  real war stuff.

Vietcong Sandals, Cu Chi Tunnel, VietnamOne of the Viet Cong memorabilia that our guide showed us with great pride was the sandals worn by the guerillas. The sandals were made from recycled rubber tire. They were designed to appear like the toe area was at the back and the heel area is on the front.  This was meant to give the enemies false impression that the footprints of the guerrillas were heading to the opposite direction.

Shooting Range, Cu Chi Tunnel, Vietnam.jpgThere is a shooting range where visitors can fire assault rifles used by both American and Vietcong troops during the war.Tapioca meal, Cu Chi Tunnel, VietnamAt the end of the tour, we were served a snack of boiled cassava and tea, which were the Vietcong’s staple food while hiding underground.

Tapioca Meal, Ch Chi Tunnels, Vietna

Visiting Cu chi Tunnels gave us a better understanding of the sheer will power that the South Vietnamese and American forces were up against and how much determination they had exerted to fight the VietCong.  Vietcong’s impressive “low tech-high concept” approach may have won them the war, but they also lost so many lives.


Getting there:  Bus tours can be booked for about $45 per person from Ho Chi Minh City.  For a little more per person, we rented a car for $100. It included a driver, a guide and the entrance fee. The departure time was flexible and the tour was private. With traffic, the travel time took an hour and 45 minutes from and to downtown Ho Chi Minh City. Bus tours or car rentals can be arranged through the hotels.

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About Marisol

Taking you on our journey one photo - and footstep - at a time.

36 responses to “Cu Chi Tunnels: Viet Cong’s Underground Fortress

  1. As fascinating as the tunnels are from a historical perspective, I don’t think there’s any way that I could tour them. Just the thought of it is making me feel claustrophobic – can’t imagine what it would be like spending a lengthy period of time underground!
    Lisa from Gone With The Family recently posted..Starbucks Around the WorldMy Profile

    • Traveling Solemates

      Hi Lisa, I know it’s not for everyone. If not for Keith, I wouldn’t have thought of going. But I did appreciate the historical perspective I gained from it.

    • Traveling Solemates

      Hi Leigh, we didn’t realized the magnitude of traffic; it would have probably put us off, too. But we thought it was worth the trek.

    • Traveling Solemates

      Hi Charlie, we understand that life underground was difficult. But we guess that their survival instinct gave them higher tolerance to bear the hardship.

    • Traveling Solemates

      Hi Jo, they were cleverly comouflaged indeed. Believe me , I had shivers myself when I saw all the booby traps and and the actual size of the tunnels.

  2. This looks so interesting and my husband would love this place especially that shooting range area. Looks like Keith was having fun :) It’s amazing how they were able to create this long and elaborate system including all those camouflaging mechanisms.

    • Traveling Solemates

      Hi Mary, your husband will surely enjoy it as much as Keith did. l It’s like a big boys’ playground where their war toys came to life. You know, I’m not into war thing but I would say the system they had created was pretty impressive.

    • Traveling Solemates

      Hi Muza-chan, yes it is an interesting place indeed. Hope you get there someday.

  3. never planned on visiting this, but due to the mistake of the tour company, I ended up here. and like you two, I really enjoyed it. too bad didn’t get to try the shooting range though.

    • Traveling Solemates

      That was not a bad mistake!

  4. Afraid even small elevators make me uncomfortable so I won’t likely be touring these tunnels. Kudos to you for a most fabulous post – the photos and the info in this one are out of the ballpark!
    Jackie Smith recently posted..Sunday Morning In Ravenna, ItalyMy Profile

    • Traveling Solemates

      Hi Jackie, I know this tunnel tour is not for everyone.
      Thank you for the very nice compliment. We’re glad you enjoyed this post.

    • Traveling Solemates

      The Vietcongs were small people and they sized the trap doors to fit their frames and it was to their advantage that their enemies had huge frame and therefore would not fit into those openings. Glad you enjoyed the history lesson.

  5. How very amazing! I’m not sure I’m brave enough to crawl through those tunnels, but I know two teenage boys who would enjoy a whole day of exploration! Thanks for the great history lesson!
    Karen Dawkins recently posted..What a difference a day makesMy Profile

    • Traveling Solemates

      Hi Karen, you’re welcome. It takes a lot of courage to go through those tunnels. Hey, we’re pretty sure your teenagers are cut out for it . It is definitely a boys’ playground.

  6. I’d heard about the tunnels but didn’t realize they were so tiny or so elaborate. They were very effective in keeping US forces on the offensive.
    Anyway, just looking at your photos made me feel claustrophobic.
    I didn’t know they have cassava there – and it looks the same as what we have here in Jamaica.
    insideJourneys recently posted..A Tour of Falmouth PierMy Profile

    • Traveling Solemates

      Hello Marcia,
      Yes, it’s the same cassava you have in Jamaica. They grow abundantly in Southeast Asia. I remember having them in my backyard when I was growing up in the Philippines. I also learned from an old Jamaican co-worker that we have a lot of the same fruits; we just call them by different names. We have what you call sweet sop , sour sop, etc.

  7. Kira S.

    Hey guys, what an interesting place. I have read and saw enough movies about the Vietnam war but have not heard about these tunnels. Oh my, can’t imagine the condition that those Vietnam soldiers have to go through underground. They must have strong mental and physical conditioning.

    • Traveling Solemates

      Hi Kira, I understand the condition underground was difficult. You’re right it takes a lot of mental and physical strength to withstand the hardship.

  8. Sarah

    Wow, those shoes amazed me! I’ve heard a lot about the tunnels but never in this much detail and with such great photos. The trap doors are tiny!! Glad Keith got to play with some guns :)

    • Traveling Solemates

      Hi Sarah, I would say those sandals were really impressive, a perfect example of “low tech-high concept.” It’s a big boys’ playground and, yes, Keith had a great time 😉

    • Hi Eileen, It’s definitely interesting. I hope you make it there next time.

    • Traveling Solemates

      Hi Nancie, I’m sure it was someone very small who descended into the trap door:) They’re so tiny than even a tiny person like me could hardly fit. It was an interesting tour indeed.

    • Traveling Solemates

      Hi Jan, glad you enjoyed the post.

    • Hi Michelle, they really narrow even the ones that were already enlarged. Yes, Keith had a field day!

  9. Dennis

    I went there too for the sake of experiencing what the Vietcongs made. Despite the tunnels having been widened, it still felt claustrophobic! And I wear pants size 30 haha!
    Dennis recently posted..San Juan, Puerto RicoMy Profile

    • Traveling Solemates

      Hi Dennis,
      Ha! Ha! I’m size 0 and I was still claustrophobic. It’s mind boggling how those Viet Cong fit. -Marisol

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