Think Ho Chi Minh and Ben Duoc Cu Chi Tunnels comes to any traveller’s mind immediately.
The tunnels were used by Viet Cong soldiers as hiding spots during combat, as well as serving as communication and supply routes, hospitals, food and weapon caches and living quarters for numerous North Vietnamese fighters. The tunnel systems were of great importance to the Viet Cong in their resistance to American forces, and helped counter the growing American military effort.
We asked around and most tours had quoted us 20 USD to join a tour to visit Cu Chi tunnel. Furthermore, these tours bring you to the Ben Dinh site which is closer to Saigon, and has undergone tunnel reconstructions to accommodate the larger-sized Western tourists.
Ben Duoc, however, had smaller tunnels and were part of the original Cu Chi tunnels used by the Vietnamese during the Vietnamese War. It only costs a grand total of 1.20 usd each for a round trip there, but the thrill of getting lost was the real adventure.
We had done some research on the Internet and used it as a guide to get to the tunnels. There were some changes to the route suggested by Julie and this was the final route to follow after examining the comments by other travellers.
Step 1: Head over to Ben CV 23/9 Bus Terminal and board bus 13
Duration: 1 hour
Cost: 7,000 VND per ticket
If you’re unsure where the bus is, just ask around. The locals would gladly direct you to the right direction. The journey to Cu Chi Terminal takes approximately 1.5 hours.
Step 2: Change to bus 79 at Cu Chi Bus Station
Journey: 40-50 minutes
Cost: 6,000 VND per ticket
Step 3: Alight when you’re told and follow the signs
Step 4: Purchase your tickets and make your way in
Along the way, take in some sights of the Chinese temple.
It is a 10-minutes walk to the tunnel under the scotching sun so remember to bring your sunblock, shades and maybe a brolly if you want to avoid getting tanned.
At the ticketing checkpoint, we were issued a guide who led us to watch a 20-mins film. It was some propaganda black-and-white film which talks about the provocation by the Americans and the intelligence used by the Cu Chi locals to retaliate.
This is one of the openings the Vietnamese used to allow air to enter the tunnels. There are 3 levels for the tunnel – 3m, 6m, 9m deep. American apparels that were left behind were cut and placed around the ventilation point and chili and spices were also rubbed near these openings. This was to avoid detection by dogs.
One of the entrance which the Vietnamese used to enter the tunnel. Look at my foot as compared to the tunnel. Surprisingly, we were able to fit in though it looked pretty darn small.
Can you spot the same opening?
First tunnel entrance which was not an issue for us.
We simply had to crouch and walk through. On some parts, space may be tighter and we’d need to waddle through but it was still acceptable. I was pretty worried of the tight spaces initially but turns out, it wasn’t much of an issue at all. In fact, it was actually quite a breeze climbing through as we have a smaller build as compared to our Western counterparts.
We climbed through a total of 3 tunnels and we came to the last stop and were served some tea and tapioca.
We decided to lead the thug life by shooting some bullets on the AK-47. Each bullet costs 2 USD but for commoners like me, it’s a great experience as I’ll probably not get to touch and feel a gun in real life.
The journey back took a slightly longer time as it was peak hour as we entered HCM city again. We spent the entire journey sleeping, despite the lousy seats and poor air-conditioning.
And the first stop we headed when we arrived? F-O-O-D. It was drizzling when we alighted the bus and we walked along the streets to find this little boy grilling meat in the rain.
There is only pork, chicken or fish sold here and both of us chose grilled pork over rice and a piece of fish to share.
It is a small stall and it can be difficult to spot them. There’s only 3-4 small tables and of course, this is street food so don’t expect top-quality cleanliness. In fact, we had to battle with the flies as we took every bite.
If you’re looking for other places to visit in Ho Chi Minh, check out our list here.