Newest Review: ... Once our leader had sorted our tickets we went down a steep manmade tunnel. I half expected there to be a maze of tunnels at the other... more
Tunnels of War
Cu Chi Tunnels (Vietnam)
Member Name: Essexgirl2006
Cu Chi Tunnels (Vietnam)
Advantages: Interesting, interactive museum
Disadvantages: Quite a way out of the city
When you arrive there are toilets (satisfactory) and a shop, before you walk to the main part of the tunnel museum. You walk through an underpass; the pass would be suitable for wheelchairs and for those with a limited mobility. This isn't always the case here, as you given an introduction in a small hut with three or four very steep steps down. Your guide will show you a map of a cross section of the tunnels and you are shown a propaganda movie made by the Viet Cong. Our guide was keen to emphasise that the movie was made some years ago and that the outlook of the Vietnamese has changed somewhat, as the movie is quite anti-American (as was the feeling of the Viet Cong). The movie is not long, and we then leave to explore the area further. We had an English speaking guide with our party but you will also be accompanied by a local Cu Chi guide, but I am not sure how well these guides speak English. The Cu Chi guide will demonstrate how things worked for you - you will see lots of traps that were laid down by the Viet Cong for any unsuspecting US soldier, and learn how they protected the entrances from any passing troops. As the Vietnamese are a lot slimmer than many Europeans, our guide demonstrated how they slid into an actual hole and disappeared in a matter of seconds. You can have a go if you like, some of our party did, but I was too concerned that my bottom might have gotten stuck!
The tunnels led to a network of rooms where the Viet-Cong spent their days (a hospital, weapons store, kitchens etc), coming up at night (if it was safe), through different traps to either fetch food or to create further booby traps for the US troops. There was also a tunnel exit apparently within a US army compound that the VC used to steal plans and secret information. You do get the chance to go down a tunnel. It has been specially widened to fit Westerners and most should be able to traverse it bent over, or could crawl if they preferred. The tunnel was lit (which our guide didn't tell us) and quite short, our guide's estimate of 4-5 minutes was far too long, it took longer to get down the steep, narrow steps into the tunnel. Personally this was too hard for me as I had a foot injury, so I could only poke my head in (where I saw more steps). The whole area of the tunnel exhibits is in forest so there are uneven steps and ground as you are walking on forest paths, so would not be suitable for wheelchair users, and those with limited mobility or foot/leg injuries would find it slow-going.
As well as going in a tunnel and seeing the harsh traps awaiting the unsuspecting soldiers, there were a few huts demonstrating how life would have been for tunnel dwellers and what jobs they did down there. You will struggle to spot tunnel entrances or ventilation shafts but they will be pointed out to you and your guide will inform you as to how they worked and how they thwarted US attempts to find them. You also see craters where bombs had been dropped as part of the US policy to get them out. You do get a chance for a short break to have a cold drink or ice cream or snack and visit a larger gift shop. Drinks seem fairly priced. If you wish to fire an AK-47 or similar you can purchase bullets at the rather pricey rate of $1 a pop. Having visited the War Remnants museum that morning (see separate review), it seemed a bit inappropriate to fire weapons, although you can hear them going off as you walk around the area. At the end we got to sit down and try some tapioca (cassava) that they ate regularly in the tunnels, in fact was part of their daily diet. I don't think I could eat that every day!
If you have your own transport it would no doubt be cheaper to come here directly, but as most visitors will be staying in Ho Chi Minh City, an organised tour seems the best way to get here. I do recommend a visit here, to help add a greater understanding to the life of the Vietnamese during the American-Vietnam War, and a respect for the lengths these resistance fighters would go to thwart their enemy.
Summary: An interesting museum around the resistance movement.