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Are the Cu Chi tunnels worth visiting in your short time in Saigon? Absolutely! It is one of the best day trip options from Ho Chi Minh City, and makes for a great history lesson in combination with a visit to the War Remnants Museum. The purpose of this blog article is to serve as a complete Cu Chi tunnels guide for you. It has everything you need to know, from history, and facts to how to get there, what to eat and even includes some good travelers tips so your journey will be unforgettable.
Located some 60 kilometers to the northwest of Ho Chi Minh City, the Cu Chi tunnel network is an extensive labyrinth of underground tunnels stretching all the way to the Cambodian border. They were built over a period of some 25 years and initial construction began in 1948 by the Viet Minh during the war against the French. Back then, the tunnels were a means of communication between villages and they also helped the Vietnamese evade French soldiers scouting the area.
During the American War, the tunnels were extended over an area of approximately 250 kilometers and thus assumed huge strategic importance to the Viet Cong fighting troops and played an immense role in helping the Vietnamese troops win against the American insurgents. Not only was it home for thousands of Viet Cong guerrillas, but it was also a complicated structure consisting of numerous trenches, bunkers, booby traps, bomb shelters, and an amazing air ventilation system. Believe it or not, there were hospitals, theatres, schools, kitchens, all built into this extraordinary tunnel system. Cu Chi was also used as a base for sabotage teams and intelligence agents to infiltrate Saigon.
You have many options when it comes to transport to the Cu Chi tunnels – motorbike, car, bus or speedboat!
Experiencing the Cu Chi Tunnels by motorbike is the best among all. Most tour companies arrange tours to the Cu Chi tunnels by motorbike or car. It takes around one and a half hours to reach the tunnels at Ben Dinh. Most tours sold by travel agents in town are mainly half-day tours (approximately five hours) and they take you to the Ben Dinh entrance and back. However, if you want to make a full day out of it and have some awesome experiences not pertaining to just the tunnels, then Ben Duoc is for you!
You can take a taxi to the Cu Chi Tunnels too, but this will be super expensive. And really a waste, cos you don’t get anything else out of it. Just comfort. You can expect to pay about 60 USD both ways as it is a 120-kilometer journey. You will save a lot of money by being adventurous!
Apart from taking a motorcycle or a car by yourself, you can also take the public bus to the Cu Chi Tunnels. You only need to catch two buses in order to get to Ben Duoc. First, take the bus #13 from 23-9 park (nearby Pham Ngu Lao – the backpacker area) to Cu Chi bus station. Then transfer to Bus #79 headed to Ben Duoc. The total traveling time this way is roughly two and a half hours and the price will be about 26,000 VND (just over 1 USD).
Make sure you go early in the morning so you have enough time to explore before the buses stop running for the day. Return bus #79 stops running at 5:30 PM and #13 at 9 PM. Please plan it well!
Nowadays, there are only two sets of the Cu Chi tunnels open to the public. These are the Ben Dinh and Ben Duoc sections. Ben Dinh was the base for the Cu Chi District Party Committee, while Ben Duoc (the bigger scale network) was the base of the Party Committee also serving as the Headquarters of Saigon – Cho Lon – Gia Dinh zone and military zone.
These two sites provide very different experiences to visitors. The Ben Dinh entrance is closer (around 50 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City) and can be a more convenient option for you, but it does not provide the same quality of experience. Due to the closer proximity to Saigon has made this location a bit more a tourist trap, providing you with a less-than-authentic experience. If you only have a half day to visit the Cu Chi tunnels though, then this is likely your only option. But really, it does take away from your ability to see the beautiful countryside and rural life of Vietnam.
Both Ben Dinh and Ben Duoc entrances have the same operating hours, however, have different entrance fees.
Opening hours: 8 AM to 5 PM every day, including Sunday!
Entrance ticket:Ben Dinh: 110,000 VND/person
Ben Duoc: 90,000 VND/person
Interestingly, the tunnels that give you a better experience cost less. See what we mean when we say Ben Dinh is a tourist trap!
Both Ben Dinh and Ben Duoc have shooting ranges for tourists to practice a few rounds. The catch is that you must be in a good health condition and at least 16 years old to be able to partake in this activity.
The bullets are sold in sets, and each set has around 10 bullets of the same type. Here is the price list for different types of bullets sold:
To get itineraries about Cu Chi Tunnels tours, please visit Ho Chi Minh Tours