Today was going to be our last day in Vietnam. The only item on our agenda was the Cu Chi Tunnels. The Tunnels are part of a massive war museum in Ho Chi Minh. They offer visitors a sneak-peek at the underground life of Vietnamese soldiers back in 1948. The site has over 120km of underground tunnels, with trapdoors, living areas, kitchens, storage facilities, armoury, hospitals, and command centres. After the war against the French, Vietnamese soldiers expanded the tunnels and included effective air filtration systems, which helped them survive the Chu Chi carpet-bombings. The Cu Chi Tunnels are one of the top tours to take from Saigon. It takes about roughly two hours to reach the tunnels. When i started researching, i understood there are two locations which are open to tourists. Ben Dinh and Ben Duoc. Most tour operators take the tourists to the tunnels at Ben Dinh since they have been carved out to allow for tall and heavy built foreigners to crawl through. However we heard that the tunnels at Ben Duoc were untouched and are most of the tunnels are not restored allowing for that rustic feel. If you are the adventurous type, those should be the ones you should visit. I’ on the other hand am extremely claustrophobic yet adventurous. The average vietnamese soldiers were less than 5 feet tall and would crawl through these tunnels with ease. I am about 5’11” and every time i got tired inside the tunnel, i would bang my head to the ceiling. Its strenuous walking through them but exciting. You can feel the adrenaline pumping. The longest tunnel i crawled through was about 150 meters in length. Be ready to suffer bruised knees and scratched palms if you intend to crawl on all fours.
A bit further from the tunnels, they also have a firing range where you can buy bullets and try your hand at shooting M60s and AK47 rifles. They offer a free shuttle buggy service depending on how many rounds you purchase. We tried our hand at firing an AK..no points for guessing. My wife and I both have pretty bad aim 😉 . After the shooting, the buggy dropped us off at the nearby Ben Duoc Memorial Temple. It was built to memorialize the significant contributions of the soldiers and people who were killed in the Saigon-Gia Dinh region during the anti-American and anti-French fighting. We were probably the only visitors around the time so we strolled around a bit before heading back to the hotel to collect our bags. After driving for two hours, we made it to the hotel, picked our bags and then another 30 minutes in maddening traffic, we made it in time for our flight back home to KL.
Vietnam has given us the kind of experiences that we never imagined. Its been truly special and we would love to visit again. For now its just a matter of when !!!
Click on the links to see the detailed itinerary and images :
Day 1 : KL to Hanoi – Temple of Literature, Hoa Lo Prison, Hoan Kiem Lake, Thang Long Water Puppet Show
Day 2 &3 : Hanoi – Halong Bay – Overnight on Paradise Cruises, Hanoi – Night Market, Food Tour
Day 4 : Hanoi – Saigon – Notre Dame Basilica, Saigon Central Post Office, War Remnants Museum, Ben Thanh Market