Our first day in Vietnam officially started by having a half-day tour at Cu Chi Tunnels. These tunnels are complex underground community that consist of tunnels and chambers below the city is located at Cu Chi. The district is very famous for their Cu Chi Tunnels. Cu Chi is situated in the Southern part of Vietnam and is said to be a suburban district of Ho Chi Minh City. It is about 40 km northwest of the city, and can be traveled for about two hours.
Prior to getting to Vietnam, I advised our hotel to book us for a Cu Chi half-day tour on our first day. The tour rate costs US $ 6.00 per person which includes round trip transfer to/from Cu Chi and a tour guide. Entrance fee is excluded from the tour fee which costs about VND 80,000 (about US $ 4.00), and will be paid upon arrival in the Cu Chi site.
We woke up at around 7:00 AM (ICT). After an hour of preparation, we went out of our room and headed to the ground floor for the free breakfast. The common area was still flock of guests; so we waited for a couple of minutes until we had our seat. Without even entirely enjoying our breakfast yet, the Cu Chi tour guide arrived and was already fetching us. We hurriedly ate our food and drank the most sought Vietnamese coffee since the tour guide was already pressuring us to hurry.
The tour is a group tour which will be joined by others; it leaves the city in the morning and the hotel staff told us that that’s the only time of the day to get to the Cu Chi tour.
We boarded the bus at around 8:00 AM (ICT) and fetched other tourists along the way.
While the bus is on the move to Cu Chi, our guide discussed things about the tour and shared facts about the country and some personal experiences about his life and family. The guide speaks in English by the way. Forgive me but I will not get into details anymore about the things he shared to us as I already forget some of those (or I must say 90% of them). ;(
After an hour or so traveling the road, we stopped by a sort of a local arts and crafts factory. It’s part of the tour as a free time for the tourists. You can see the different painting and artifacts made by the Vietnamese. How interesting these handiwork are! These arts are also available for sale, and you can also find a lot of souvenir items inside. Even though this is a factory, we still found the things being sold in Ben Thanh Market cheaper.
After the allotted free time, we then boarded the bus. The bus now moved to its main destination, Cu Chi.
In about 45 minutes, we had finally arrived to our main destination. Upon alighting the bus, we headed to the admission area and paid for our entrance fee.
It was already nearing lunch time when we entered the Cu Chi Tunnels site. We were first advised to watch the video presentation about the place. The video presentation was cut short by our tour guide (though the video presentation is kind of interesting and informative; it’s getting boring as it seems like it’s showing same repetitive facts – or is it just me not into history).
We then started our walking tour within the Cu Chi site guided by our tour guide. First stop, the tunnel entrance!
It is said that the Cu Chi tunnels were built in a period of 25 years which began sometime in the late 1940s. The tunnels come into different levels with its corresponding purpose. The tunnels were used as a location of the several military campaigns during the Vietnam War. It is said to be used as hiding spots during the war and which also serves as communication between villages and supply routes, hospitals, food and weapon caches and living quarters for numerous guerrilla fighters. You may check this link to know more about these tunnels.
Only small built people could fit to enter the tunnels. Of course, I fit! 😀
Not only tunnels were built on this site but also traps.
We also stopped on some areas wherein there are things that commemorates events happened on this site.
After half an hour we stopped by a shooting range area and had some free time. It was already passed noontime; we haven’t taken our lunch yet. So for those who will be traveling to Cu Chi, ensure that you have something to grab on in times you get hungry. But don’t worry there are also some food stalls available in the area. All along we thought, the tour was already over but suddenly our tour guide advised us that we will be entering the tunnel. I wasn’t expecting that we will be entering the actual tunnel by ourselves. Well, I don’t have anything to worry as I have already tried if I will fit in. Well, do I still need to check? 😀 Our guide told us to follow the light bulbs to get to the end. It was dark inside so better bring flash light with you. It’s also hot and humid inside; the path is very narrow thus I will not advise this activity for those with fear of enclosed area.
You think it’s easy to walk inside the tunnel? You have to stoop or bend forward for you to walk inside. There came a time I couldn’t take it anymore and would like to crawl inside, instead. Well thanks for my buddy who carried my backpack for the meantime so for me to move forward. We weren’t able to finish the walk inside the tunnel as we couldn’t see light anymore. We walked out from one of the exits and walked towards the main exit. We then saw our tour guide waiting for us at the end of the tunnel.
Being one of the most famous battlegrounds of the Vietnam War, indeed theCu ChiTunnels is one of the Vietnam’s prime tourist attractions. It is said that the site is a part of a new industry of war tourism.
With the 15 minutes walk inside the tunnel, I was able to feel how hard it was to stay inside, what more to live inside. Kudos to the Vietnamese people who were able to live and overcome the hardships and suffering during the war.
Once we’re all settled, we then boarded the bus. It was around 2:00 PM when we finally left Cu Chi Tunnels site.