During the American War, the villages around the district of Cu Chi supported a substantial Viet Cong (VC) presence. Faced with American attempts to neutralize them, they quitter literally dug themselves out of harm’s way, and the legendary Cu Chi Tunnels were the result. Today, tourists can visit a short stretch of the tunnels, drop to their hands and knees and squeeze underground for an insight into life as a tunnel – dwelling resistance fighter. Some sections of the tunnels have been widened to allow passage for the fuller frame of Westerners but it’s still a dark, sweaty, claustrophobic experience, and not one you should rush into unless you’re confident you won’t suffer a subternaean freak – out.
There are two sites where the tunnels can be see – Ben Dinh and, 15km beyond, Ben Duoc, though most foreigners get taken to Ben Dinh. If you don’t want to jonnie a crowd in a bus, four people will pay around $50 for a taxi following the same itinerary. Another option is to go boat and return by bus ($14) contact Delta Adventure Tours for details.
The guided tour of Ben Dinh kicks off in a thatched hut, where a map of the region, a cross – section of the tunnels and a black and white movies bristling with national pride fill you in on the background. From there, you head out into the bush, where your guide will point out lethal booby – traps, concealed trap doors and an abandoned tank. There are several models showing how unexploded ordnance was ingeniously converted into lethal mines and traps, and a demonstration of how smoke from underground fires was cleverly dispersed far from its source.
When you reach the shooting range, you have the chance to shoulder an M16 or AK47 and shoot off a few rounds, or stop at the adjacent souvenir and snake stalls. Finally, you get the change to stoop, crawl and drag yourself through a section of the tunnels about 140 meters long (with frequent escape through, but the pitch blackness and inters humidity can be discomforting, so when you emerge, you’ll be glad you don’t have to live down there for weeks on end as the VC did.