The Ultimate Cu Chi Tunnels Guide

The legendary underground Cu  Chi Tunnels is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Ho Chi Minh City. Visiting Cu Chi Tunnels is the best ways to understand more about the persistent, clever, heroic character of Vietnamese people and the prolonged resistance and the heart-broken war in Vietnam. Planning a trip to Cu Chi Tunnels is not as difficult as you think after you read this Ultimate Cu Chi Tunnels Guide.

I. Cu Chi District

Cu Chi District is a suburban district of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The district is located 33 km northwest of Ho Chi Minh center. As of 2010, The district covers the total area of 435 km2 and has a population of 355,822. The district consists of Cu Chi Town and 20 communes: Phu Hoa Dong, Tan Thanh Dong, Tan Thanh Tay, Tan An Hoi, Tan Thong Hoi, Trung An, Phuoc Vinh An, Hoa Phu, Thai My, Phuoc Thanh, An Phu, Trung Lap Thuong, Nhuan Duc, Pham Van Coi, Binh My, Phuoc Hiep, Trung Lap Ha, Tan Phu Trung, Phu My Hung, An Nhon Tay.

Known as “historic zone” or “steel region”, Cu Chi District is home to the famous Cu Chi tunnels, constructed during Vietnam War, and served as the headquarters for Viet Cong soldiers. The district is known nationwide and worldwide as the base where Vietnamese people mounted the operation of Tet Mau Than (Tet Offensive) in 1968. Today, the district has many industrial zones and on its developing way. It is also one of the most tourists visited districts by tourists thanks to the legend tunnels and many interesting activities.

II. Cu Chi Tunnels

Located about 50 km northwest of Ho Chi Minh City center, Cu Chi Tunnels is a 200-km underground system of tunnels, served as the headquarters of Viet Cong during Vietnam War. The tunnels were built by locals and Viet Cong during and First Indochina War (1946 – 1954) and Vietnam War (1955 – 1975). The tunnels are roughly 0.5 m wide and 0.3 m high, they are just enough for one person to go through by bending or dragging. The tunnels have 3 levels, the bottom floor is more than 12 m underneath. The upper soil layer is 3 – 4 m thick and it is able to support a 50-ton tank, survive light bombs and light cannons. The multi-tiered and multi-layered system has many branches which connect to shelters, hideouts, and entrances to other tunnels.

The network of underground tunnels also provides hospitals, sleeping quarters, meeting rooms, kitchens, stores, working rooms, dining rooms, schools, dormitories. There are also some wells providing clear and clean water to the entire tunnels is amazingly still active until today. Some tunnels link to rivers such as Saigon River.

The entrances are usually hidden in mounds disguised as molehills. A large number of doors connected different routes and many traps were set and once the fear of many American soldiers as well as the Republic of Vietnam soldiers. Even American troops with over 3,000 well-trained sniffer dogs could not navigate the courses. Vietnamese use American soap, pepper, chilly spray to deter the dogs. Americans tried pumping gas or CS gas into the tunnel. However, the layered system, many of the tunnels corner with countless doors closed and the tunnel was flooded disable all attempts of the U.S. Army. At one point American troops brought in a well-trained squad of 3000 sniffer dogs, but the German Shepherds were too bulky to navigate the courses.

It is impossible to draw a  detailed map of the tunnels due to the complexity and difficulties of visiting all parts of the tunnels, some of which are narrow, dark, cold, and wet. Today, some parts of the tunnels have been modified to be 0.8 – 1 m wide in order to accommodate visitors. Many of the tunnels are expanded replicas, to avoid any claustrophobia they would induce in tourists.

III. What to do in Cu Chi Tunnels?

There are 2 Cu Chi Tunnels sites where tourists come to explore the tunnels: Ben Dinh and Ben Duoc. In comparison to Ben Duoc, Ben Dinh is nearer from Ho Chi Minh City, more crowded, and more touristed.

1. Ben Dinh

Location: 741 Highway 15, Nhuan Duc Commune, Cu Chi District, Ho Chi Minh City; 42 – 50 km from the center Ho Chi Minh City, depending on the driving route.

Opening hours: 8:00 – 17:00

Entrance fee: 110,000 VND/person (foreigner); 20,000 VND/person (Vietnamese people).

Ben Dinh is a section of Cu Chi Tunnels, it was served as the headquaters of Huyen Uy Cu Chi. Ben Dinh is a perfect area for building the tunnels thanks to the large forest and hard soil. Located on the bank of Saigon River, Ben Dinh is a good place for a withdrawal under heavy enemy pressure. Most of the tour agencies take their customers to Ben Dinh because it is nearer from the city center, and perhaps the tunnels in Ben Dinh are easier to crawl.

What to do in Ben Dinh?

  • See the map and simplified models of the tunnels.
  • Watch a short documentary film.
  • See the ventilation system, made of bamboo pipes, disguised as molehills.
  • See secret cellar doors hidden under leaves and how to enter and exit the tunnels through entrances.
  • See boob traps.
  • Many deadly traps, arranged in a multitude, were American troops’ fear. The traps include Tiger trap jaws, Fish trap, Door trap, See sawtrap, Klipping aronnit trap, etc. Seeing how the traps work, you will be surprised at the guerilla intelligence.
  • See meeting space, bomb making area, sleeping bunker, surgery room, weapon making area, rubber shoes making area.
  • See the B52 bomb crater made by a high explosive bomb dropped in the jungle of Cu Chi during the war and M41 tank body, trapped in the woods and destroyed by Viet Cong delay action mine in 1970.
  • Crawl a section of tunnels. This perhaps is the most exciting thing to do in Cu Chi Tunnels. A part of the tunnels has been modified (widened, lightened) to accommodate tourists. However, you still feel the bad condition in the tunnels which are humid, dark, lack of air. You can go through the exit points existing every 20 m if you do not want to crawl further and deeper.
  • Enjoy boiled cassava and tea. After crawling and exploring the tunnels, you should go to an area next to Hoang Cam Kitchen. There you can wash your hands and your face with the water from bamboo tubes. It is totally refreshing. Nice cooks serve you boiled cassava with a mix of salt, toasted sesame, and crushed peanuts and some tea on wooden tables. Steamed cassava is a popular food of  Cu Chi people and Viet Cong soldiers during the war because of lack of foods. However, many visitors enjoy this sticky and buttery food so much. Hoang Cam Kitchen or Smokeless Kitchen is worth seeing in Cu Chi Tunnels. The key of this kitchen is Hoang Cam Stove, named after the inventor – a Viet Cong soldier. It is a stove intake and chimney system, diffused and dissipated smoke from cooking which prevented aerial detection of smoke. Besides the stove, you can see some wood, an old wooden cupboard, and a few kitchen utensils.
  • Entertain yourself with sport defense shooting, paintball, swan boat, kayak, bicycle ride. Below is the price at the shooting range:
    • M16: 35,000 VND/1 bullet
    • AK 47: 40,000 VND/1 bullet
    • Machine gun M30: 30,000 VND/1 bullet
    • CARBIN: 25,000 VND/1 bullet
    • Machine gun M60: 40,000 VND/1 bullet
    • Garand: 30,000 VND/1 bullet

An Ultimate Cu Chi Tunnels Guide

The area where tourists see a map and simplified models of the tunnels and watch a short film about the tunnels.

An Ultimate Cu Chi Tunnels Guide

An Ultimate Cu Chi Tunnels Guide

The ventilation system, made of bamboo pipes, disguised as molehills.

An Ultimate Cu Chi Tunnels Guide

An Ultimate Cu Chi Tunnels Guide

Local guides show travellers how a trap works

An Ultimate Cu Chi Tunnels Guide

An Ultimate Cu Chi Tunnels Guide

Exit the tunnels.

An Ultimate Cu Chi Tunnels Guide

Meeting room

An Ultimate Cu Chi Tunnels Guide

Sleeping bunker

Wash their hands.

An Ultimate Cu Chi Tunnels Guide

Eat boiled cassava.

An Ultimate Cu Chi Tunnels Guide

2. Ben Duoc

Location: Phu My Commune, Cu Chi District, Ho Chi Minh City; about 60 km from the center Ho Chi Minh City.

Opening hours: 8:00 – 17:00.

Entrance fee: 90,000 VND/person (foreigner); 20,000 VND/person (Vietnamese people).

What to do in Ben Duoc?

  • See many helicopters, bombs, tanks which were used by the U.S. Army and Cu Chi guerillas during the war.
  • Watch a documentary film and listen to the explanation about the tunnels at a pavilion in the middle of the forests.  Go underground through the tunnels and dugouts, see working space, surgery room, meeting room, shelter, fighting bunker, kitchen, weapon factory. See items used by Viet Cong to attack the enemy, shoes, foods, clothing, weapon, that were made by the soldiers and locals themselves. Crawl the tunnels, you can exit through entrances existing every 20 m. The visited section has a total length of about 200 m and 2 layers.
  • Visit Ben Duoc Memorial Temple. Built in 1993, Ben Duoc Temple is a memorial temple of Viet Minh and National Liberation Front of South Vietnam Heroes during the Indochina War and Vietnam War. It represents the patriotism of Vietnamese people and served as a memorial. Ben Duoc Temple is divided into 6 parts including three-arched-entrances gate, memorial stele house, main temple, tower, garden and basement. The statue of President Ho Chi Minh is placed in the main hall. The basement with 9 separately rooms with heroic Saigon Cho Lon theme.
  • Visit the Stimulation Area Of Cu Chi Liberated Area. At this area, you can see the scenery of Cu Chi village in different periods of the war, from destroyed houses and forests to peaceful image of farmers and buffaloes on the fields. One of the highlights is “Little Vietnam” with miniature models of One Pillar Pagoda, Nha Rong Wharf, Hue Citadel, Long Bien Bridge, Saigon Bridge, My Thuan Bridge, Hoang Sa and Truong Sa Islands, . You can also swim in the East Sea Stimulated Lake, which is 15 walking minutes from the tunnels. The swimming fee is 20,000 VND/person.
  • Try a fire at shooting ranges. There is one firing range at each tunnel section. Prices are as below: Carbine, Garand, MK60, PKMS, M30: 55,000 VND/bullet; AR15, K63, AK47, RPD, RPK: 55,000 VND/bullet.

Tips at Ben Duoc:

Because Ben Duoc site is a large area, you can choose to go from the entrance to the tunnels by electronic car which costs 5,000 VND.

IV. What is the best time traveling Cu Chi Tunnels?

The best time to travel Cu Chi Tunnels, as well as Ho Chi Minh, is the dry season from December to April. During the dry season, there is no rain so that it is perfect to explore Cu Chi Tunnels and do numerous outdoor activities. Do not worry about the strong sun. Tourists coming to Ben Dinh and Ben Duoc protect themselves from the sun by walking under the shade of the jungles. It is always cool and fresh at the 2 Cu Chi Tunnels sites. In the rainy season from May to November, the rain may interrupt your Cu Chi Tunnels trip. However, it does not rain all of the days. So that you can decide to go to Cu Chi if the forecast says there is no rain on the day.

V. How to get to Cu Chi Tunnels from the city center?

There is a number of ways to reach Cu Chi Tunnels from the city center. One of the simplest ways is to book a Cu Chi Tunnels Tour from a trusted tour agency and just enjoy your tour:

Cu Chi Tunnels Tour Half Day

Ho Chi Minh City & Cu Chi Tunnels Tour Full Day

Cu Chi Tunnels Tour & Cooking Class Full Day

Cu Chi Tunnels & Cao Dai Temple Tour Full Day

Cu Chi Tunnels & Mekong Delta Tour Full Day

Cu Chi Tunnels Tour by Motorbike Full Day

If you would like to travel the tunnels by yourself, it is brilliant. The advantages of this choice include flexibility, low cost, and hidden gems. Joining a group tour, you must sit on the bus/van and spend your time picking up/dropping off other tourists, waiting for the others to explore the tunnels and gather before leaving. The time is limited for you to see many interesting things and take photographs at your wish. It is better to choose a private Cu Chi Tunnels Tour which is more expensive. Many tourists have chosen to travel the tunnels by themselves and have found that it was great.

1. By taxi:

Advantages:

  • Safe, fast and comfortable;

Disadvantages:

  • High cost;
  • Most of the taxi drivers do not speak English;
  • Taxi scams.

It takes 1.5 hours to drive from the city center to Cu Chi. The price of taxi in Ho Chi Minh City is around 15,000 VND/km. However, if you book a long journey, the price is a bit cheaper. One-way transfer from Ho Chi Minh to Cu Chi by taxi costs 600,000 – 700,000 VND.

List of good taxis in Ho Chi Minh: Taxi Vinasun, Taxi Mai Linh, Taxi Saigon Airport, Taxi Hoang Long, Taxi Gas Saigon Petrolimex, Taxi Savico, Taxi Dau Khi.

You can tell the hotel receptionist help you to call and deal the price with the taxi to avoid taxi scams.

2. By private car:

Advantages:

  • High-quality service;
  • Safe, fast and comfortable;
  • You can request for an English speaking driver;
  • You can tell the driver to stop on the way for other attractions such as Trung An Fruit Garden, Cu Chi Wildlife Rescue Station, Ho Chi Minh Cooking Class, and many hidden eating places in Cu Chi. Read more at https://scootersaigontour.com/an-ultimate-cu-chi-tunnels-guide/

Disadvantages:

  • High cost.
  • Booking a private car with trusted travel agencies or with your hotel is a good choice. You can also request for an English speaking driver. Scooter Saigon Tour offers 2-way Ho Chi Minh – Cu Chi transfer at the price 1,000,000 VND. You can call/sms/whatsapp/viber +84909190247.

3. By bus:

Advantages:

  • Cheap, safe, and comfort;

Disadvantages:

  • The staffs on buses do not speak English;
  • It takes more time in comparison to taxi because you have to reach the bus station, then wait for the buses, and the buses stop at bus stations for dropping off and picking up other passengers;
  • Pickpocket and snatch theft;

To reach Cu Chi Tunnels from Ho Chi Minh center, catch Bus #13 from 23/9 Bus Station to Cu Chi Bus Station. At the Cu Chi Bus Station, catch Bus #79 to Ben Duoc site or Bus #63 to Ben Dinh. Bus #13 also pass Ben Thanh Central Bus Station – one of the most crowded bus station in Saigon. So that if you can not catch the bus from 23/9 Bus Station, you can catch it at Ben Thanh Bus Station. If you go to Ben Duoc, total bus fare is 16,000 VND which is less than 1 USD. The total trip time is 115 minutes, approximately 2 hours. If you go to Ben Dinh, total bus fare is 18,000 VND which is less than 1 USD. The total trip time is 120 minutes or 2 hours.

Read more information including tips to avoid scams, pickpocket, snatch theft, routes to get to Cu Chi Tunnels from Ho Chi Minh center at https://scootersaigontour.com/how-to-get-to-cu-chi-tunnels-by-bus/.

4. By motorbike:

If you would like to try something adventurous, let choose motorbike to get to Cu Chi Tunnels.

An Ultimate Cu Chi Tunnels Guide

Advantages:

  • High-quality service;
  • Safe, fast and comfortable;
  • You can request for an English speaking driver;
  • You can tell the driver to stop on the way for other attractions such as Trung An Fruit Garden, Cu Chi Wildlife Rescue Station, Ho Chi Minh Cooking Class, and many hidden eating places in Cu Chi. Read more at https://scootersaigontour.com/an-ultimate-cu-chi-tunnels-guide/

Disadvantages:

  • High cost.
  • Booking a private car with trusted travel agencies or with your hotel is a good choice. You can also request for an English speaking driver. Scooter Saigon Tour offers 2-way Ho Chi Minh – Cu Chi transfer at the price 1,000,000 VND. You can call/sms/whatsapp/viber +84909190247.

5. By speedboat:

To get to Cu Chi from Ho Chi Minh center by speedboat, you can only book a tour Cu Chi Tunnels Tour Half Day which costs about 69 USD/person.

VI. What to wear and bring on the trip to Cu Chi?

If you would like to crawl the tunnels, you should not wear dress, skirt, high heels. The best choice is shorts, trousers, T-shirt, sandals or sneakers.

If you are aware of the sun, you can bring hat, cap, or umbrella. If you travel Cu Chi in the rainy season, you should bring raincoat or umbrella.

Tissues (wet and dry), bug spray, and mosquito spray are helpful in Cu Chi.

An Ultimate Cu Chi Tunnels Guide

VII. What to buy in Cu Chi Tunnels?

Souvenirs from different bullet shells made by skillful local artists, sandals made from used tyred, clothing, hats, scarfs which Cu Chi people and soldiers wore during the war are great things to buy in Cu Chi Tunnels. The prices are reasonable is on the highlight.

1. Souvenirs made of bullet shells

There are some nice items made of bullet shells such as lighters, weapon model, helicopter, oil lamp, keychain. These souvenirs are small and light enough to be put in your luggage. The items cost about 100.000 VND (5 USD).

Oil Lamp Made Of Bullet Shells Souvenirs In Cu Chi Tunnels

Oil lamps made of bullet shells

Souvenirs In Cu Chi Tunnels

Keychains made of bullet shells

Vietnamese Helicopter Made Of Bullet Shells Souvenirs In Cu Chi Tunnels

Helicopters made of bullet shells

2. Vietnamese checkered scarf (Khan ran)

Vietnamese Checkered Scarfs (Khan Ran) In Cu Chi Tunnels

Vietnamese checkered scarfs (Khan ran), hats and traditional clothes in Cu Chi tunnels.

Considered the symbol of Vietnamese farmers and soldiers, Vietnamese checkered scarf plays an important part in Vietnamese life and culture. Almost Vietnamese people who lived during the war period had these scarfs with them during the day. The scarfs were usually worn on the neck and used to wipe off the sweat when they were working hard in rice fields or fighting with enemies. Khan ran is also used to warm the body in the early morning or at night. Women made hats from the scarfs or hide their faces. The scarf looks simple like Vietnamese people in countrysides. This cheap and meaningful Khan ran is one of the most favorite souvenirs in Cu Chi tunnels. This souvenir is cheap so that you can by dozens to gift your friends and family.

3. Traditional clothes of Cu Chi people during the war

Cu Chi people in the past wore black Vietnamese silk ensemble (Ba ba) in daily life. Worn as a top and bottom set, Ba ba is most associated with rural Southern Vietnam. This ensemble consists of the torso and the long-sleeved, button-down and scooped neck shirt which covers the torso. The Ba ba of rich people in the country is glossy and has a light color. The black Ba ba shows us the brave and encouragement of Cu Chi people in the battle protecting national freedom.

Ao Ba Ba Souvenirs In Cu Chi Tunnels

Beautiful Vietnamese Ao Ba ba set.

4. Hat of Cu Chi soldiers

The green hat which Cu Chi people used to wear in the war period is as ordinary and simple as its owner. It’s sunny if you visit Cu Chi tunnels in the afternoon. Why don’t you buy this nice hat at souvenir shop to protect yourself from the sun, then bring it home?

Hat Which Cu Chi People Used To Wear In War Period Is A Popular Souvenir To Buy In The Tunnels

Green Hat Souvenirs In Cu Chi Tunnels

Hats which Cu Chi people used to wear in the war period is a popular souvenir to buy in the tunnels.

5. Sandals made of used tyres

The sandals which you can see in the picture below are things Cu Chi tunnels wore during the war. These tiny sandals made of used tyres look so nice that you would like to buy some to bring home.

Souvenirs Made Of Used Tyre Cu Chi Tunnels Sandals

Sandals made of used tyres in cu chi tunnels.

VIII. What to do in Cu Chi District?

1. Trung An Fruit Garden

No need to go to Mekong Delta in South Vietnam, you still have a big chance to troll into lush fruit garden, enjoy the fresh air, plug the fruits including rambutan, jackfruit, mangosteen, pineapple, durian yourself, and enjoy the delicious fruits as much as you would like. You can also order some foods such as Chicken rice congee at the gardens. Best fruit gardens in Trung An Commune:

Tu Tuan fruit garden, 78 Song Lu Street, Trung An Commune, Ho Chi Minh City.

Tu Tuan fruit garden, 464 Street 464, Trung An Commune, Ho Chi Minh City.

Tu Hui fruit garden, 336/20 Trung An Street, Bon Phu Hamlet, Trung An Commune, Ho Chi Minh City.

2. Cu Chi Wildlife Rescue Station

Location: 50 Road 15 (Provincial Highway 15), Cho Cu Ha Hamlet, Cu Chi District, Ho Chi Minh City; near An Nhon Tay crossroad; 50 km northwest of Ho Chi Minh City center; 8.5 km southeast of Cu Chi Tunnels site; right on the way from the city center to Ben Dinh or Ben Duoc.

Established in September 2016, Cu Chi Wildlife Rescue Station covers an area of 4,000 m2. The Cu Chi Wildlife Rescue Station rescues animals that are confiscated from the illegal animal trade. It is home to many species including bear, gibbon, wild cat, pangolin, cobra, freshwater turtles, langur, loris, sea turtles, monitor, and birds.

3. Ho Chi Minh Cooking Class

Location: 275 Road 2 (Provincial Highway 2), Hamlet 3, Phuoc Vinh An Commune, Cu Chi District, Ho Chi Minh City; near An Nhon Tay crossroad; 30 km northwest of Ho Chi Minh City center; 25 km south of Cu Chi Tunnels site; right on the way from the city center to Ben Dinh or Ben Duoc.

Website: http://www.hochiminhcookingclass.com/contact.aspx

The highlight of this cooking class is a large farm choose the fresh ingredients. The cooking class is located in the countryside of Cu Chi so that you can enjoy the fresh air, learn more about local life, the Vietnamese rich cuisine and culture.

An Ultimate Cu Chi Tunnels Guide

An Ultimate Cu Chi Tunnels Guide

IX. What and where to eat in Cu Chi District?

1. Minh Quy Rice Noodle Soup with Pig Leg

Location: 27/6, Road 22 (National Highway 22), Tan Thoi Nhi Commune, Hoc Mon District, Ho Chi Minh City.

Opening hours: 6:00 – 10:00.

Prices: 55:000 VND.

What to eat there? – Rice Noodle Soup with Pig Leg

This restaurant is located on the way from the city center to Cu Chi sites. You should visit it as soon as possible in the morning because the restaurant sells well and usually closes when it runs out of the food.

2. Xuan Dao Calf or Bo To Xuan Dao

Location: Khu Pho 2, Road 22 (National Highway 22), Tan Thoi Nhi Commune, Hoc Mon District, Ho Chi Minh City.

Opening hours: 7:00 – 21:00.

Prices: 50:000 – 600.000 VND.

What to eat there? – The restaurant is famous for dishes from veal, calf’s tail, penis, skin, tendon: boiled/grilled/stir-fried

3. Vuon Cau Cafe

Location: 295A Road 22 (National Highway 22), Tan Thoi Nhi Commune, Hoc Mon District, Ho Chi Minh City.

Opening hours: 6:30 – 20:00.

Prices: 5:000 – 150.000 VND.

What to eat and drink there? – Sugarcane juce with durian, Steamed cassava with coconut milk, Silk-worm cake, and many other Vietnamese cakes and drinks.

4. Ben Dinh Restaurant

Location: 741 Highway 15, Nhuan Duc Commune, Cu Chi District, Ho Chi Minh City; right in the Ben Dinh area.

Opening hours: 8:00 – 17:00.

5. Ben Duoc Restaurant

Location: Phu My Commune, Cu Chi District, Ho Chi Minh City; about 60 km from the center Ho Chi Minh City; right in the Ben Duoc area.

Opening hours: 8:00 – 17:00.

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