Cu Chi Tunnel is I think the best place in Vietnam to go if you wanted to learn and understand the Vietnam War. Traveling to Ho Chi Minh City, we knew from the start that there’s not much activities or infrastructure to see but that we are going mostly because of its culture and war history (for my dad). My daddy loves war and by that, I mean, he loves knowing the history of it, watching documentaries about it, and watching movies that are somehow based on it. Me? Not so much but I do love learning so here I am.
BOOKING WITH KLOOK
We booked our Chu Chi Tunnel Tour with Klook. This is because Cu Chi is 1.5 hours away from Ho Chi Minh City, depending on the traffic, and their local transportation is not as efficient and advance as the other countries’. I want to save myself from the hassle DIY commute with my parents so despite being the DIY travel girl I’ve always been, I seek help to Klook.
The day of our tour, we went to the meeting place, 220 De Tham Street, at before 7:30AM. It’s a nice street with lots of shops and foods. You’ll easily spot the Klook office since its the most crowded one and the one in front of Starbucks. Turned out, almost all Ho Chi Minh tours meet-ups are set here. We waited for our tour guide to call us and ushered us to our tour bus. Waiting time almost took us an hour.
11:20 AM – Cu Chi Firing Range
We stopped by the shooting range first. This for the people in the tour who wanted to experience to shoot with military guns. One bullet cost around 125 PHP each. My dad loved this place that he went inside the range to watch the shooters while my mom and I were in the watching area above the range. After maybe 5 minutes, I asked my mom to return to the bus since I’m not good with loud noises. I’m afraid of noises like this – fireworks, thunder, guns.
12:20 PM – Handcraft SHOP stopover
After the shooting range, we stopped by a stopover for some restroom and food break. They have some bread and fruit shakes but no rice meals for lunch. Good thing we had a heavy meal for breakfast. Beside this is a handcraft shop that is made for the Agent Orange victims.
I’ve known about Agent Orange in the War Remnant Museum in Ho Chi Minh City. This is a powerful herbicide that the US forces used in the Vietnam War. This is to eliminate the forest covers of the Viet Congs but along with that causes defects, cancer and severe psychological and neurogical problems. Looking at the victims’ photos is so heartbreaking that I decided to skip most of it.
The victims of the Agent Orange are still evident in Vietnam until now and most of them are disabled and have no means to support themselves. So this handcraft shop is one way to support them. They were taught on making egg shells art and many more. I know tour groups are mandatory to stopped on souveneir shops but this one is something that’s fine with me, no hard selling and still more learning.
1:00 PM – Cu Chi tunnel Tour
We started our Cu Chi Tunnel tour with the do’s and dont’s inside. Our tour guide Pan is energetic and has good English. We passed by the bomb craters and bomb cases first as he discussed Vietnam War facts and how the US forces & South Vietnamese tried to bring down the Viet Congs guerilla (the North Vietnamese)
Near the bomb crater, there’s like a small auditorium where you’ll watch how the Viet Congs managed to win the war in Cu Chi using this underground tunnels. These tunnels house troops, used to transport communications and supplies, and used to lay booby traps and mount surprise attacks. You’ll admire how smart and resourceful they are.
After the video presentation, we got to see and experience first hand how it is inside the tunnel. Pan lead more deep in the forest, to the different tunnels that they opened for tourists. The first tunnels are tourist-friendly. It have stairs in the entrance and exit and the tunnels are somehow wide enough.
But the second set of tunnels is somehow close to reality. The entrance is just a tiny square hole in the ground. With just looking it, I get somehow claustrophobic. Pan demonstrated on how the guerrillas enter this tiny hole, they jump inside the hole with the square cover with leaves above their head, closing the hole as they crawl underground. Pan encourages everyone to try it after and he showed a western size hole a few feet from the “asian size” hole. Turns on the original entrance holes are too small for the Western tourists.
I was hesitating at first but my dad went so I tagged along. Compared to the first tunnel, this one is narrower that you needed to crawl at some point. It is humid inside and it smell like mud but the walls are cool. Along the middle of the tunnel, I can feel that panic is starting to form inside me that I already need to get out. Inside there are two ways, the longer one and the shorter one. I picked the shorter one.
The admiration I felt a few minutes before for the guerrillas are switched by sadness. It was heartbreaking to think how they stayed and lived on this underground tunnels for days or months to survive. They built dining, surgery and sleeping bunks in the underground to hide from the enemies.
After the underground experience, Pan lead us to the different traps that the guerrillas made to eliminate the US forces. They have set numerous spike and bomb traps near the entrances and even inside the tunnels. They even used snakes, scorpions and other venomous insect/animals for the tunnel rats. Tunnel rats are the soldiers from US that search and destroy the underground tunnel complexity.
It’s been 2 hours since we started and everyone is starting to get tired. Pan ushered us to a resting area with sweet potatoes in the table. He’s explaining how these are one of the main food of the guerrillas since it’s widely available in Cu Chi. It’s funny to see how the Filipinos are enjoying it (it’s a normal snack here in PH) while the Westerners leave theirs in the table.
After resting for a few minutes, at around quarter to 3PM, Pan told us that the tour is done and we are now heading back to the city. We passed by their souvenir shop on our way to the bus. The travel back took us almost an hour because of the traffic.
CU CHI TUNNEL TOUR TIPS
- Bring and apply a mosquito/insect repellant. The place has a lot of it.
- Bring bottled water and snacks. The tour doesn’t include lunch so take a heavy breakfast and some snacks because you’ll get hungry.
- Wear something comfortable, not hot and crawl-friendly.
- The place can be scorching hot so bring fans, face towels, and hair ties.
So is it worth it to avail Cu Chi Tour in Klook?
Yes, the price is reasonable and will save you the hassle of commuting in a third world country. If you are a fan of a taking your time in some place and breathing all what it can offer, then this tour is perfect for you. The only downside is that they don’t offer any lunch so you’ll definitely get hungry especially if you’re a rice kind of person.
But if you are that “my-time-is-precious-theres-still-so-many-places-to-see” traveler then this is not for you. As contrary to what they offer, this tour did not take only a half day. We got back to the city at 4PM. My advice is that take the other tours (see below) where Cu Chi is partnered with a different place. With this, you’ll be able to maximize your travel time.
Other Cu Chi tunnel Tours
Have you ever crawled the underground tunnels of Cu Chi Tunnels? Or planning soon? Let’s talk or compare notes on the comment section below!