The Cu Chi Tunnels

Cu Chi tunnels map

The infamous Cu Chi tunnel complex that caused such grief for American and ARVN soldiers is open for business. Tourists are pouring in in their hundreds on a daily basis to this forested area about forty five kilometers north of Saigon, learning more about how warfare was done by the VC and PAVN forces that were stationed in the area.

Cu Chi tunnel entrance

The Cu Chi tunnels museum will also provide a deeper understanding of the ordeal that the regular VC soldier had to endure week after week, month after month as bombs rained down on them, snakes and centipedes were lurking in the tunnels waiting for their chance to deliver a deadly bite.

Cu Chi tunnels

The Viet Minh guerillas dug the first tunnels in this area already during the French era, some of them were established even as early as the 1800’s, over the decades it developed in to a whole network stretching tens of kilometers in all directions. Determining the authenticity of these particular tunnels is difficult as some of them clearly are dug out for the museum only, or at least enlarged to fit the western tourist. At the site there are a number of souvenir shops where war related items and other are for sale, there’s also a shooting range where visitors can try out some of the weapons from the era.

Cu Chi tunnels, artillery on display

Walking along the trails in the jungle is a good way of getting an idea of what soldiers on both sides went through. The whole area was heavily bombed during the war which the large amount of craters in the area will attest to and little vegetation was left. However today the jungle has reclaimed what it lost forty five years ago thus providing an authentic jungle experience.

Cu Chi tunnels, the jungle is back

U.S. and ARVN troops would patrol the area in order to find VC bases and forces, often running in to ambushes. Those firefights would often be over in a matter of minutes as the VC troops melted away in the jungle and disappeared in to the tunnel systems.

Cu Chi tunnels bomb crater

The Cu Chi tunnel museum will also give the visitor a good idea of how close to Saigon the VC forces would operate on a daily basis. This helps to explain how they were able smuggle weapons and ammunition enough in to Saigon in order to launch attacks during the Tet offensive.

Cu Chi tunnels gift shop

Being a tourist attraction this might not be one of the most adventurous destinations for the history traveler and despite its relative lack of authenticity we do recommend a visit to the Cu Chi Tunnels.



How to get there

There are tours available on a daily basis going to the tunnels. It’s about a two hour drive from the city center of Saigon. The tours are inexpensive but you get what you pay for. It is also possible to rent a car with a driver from your hotel and get there in style. English speaking guides are available for all visitors upon arrival.


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8 thoughts on “Cu Chi Tunnels”

  1. I posted a request for info on a friend stationed at Lai Khe a few days ago. The post never showed and I would like to know if I did something wrong. I would like to hear from you please. I suffer from agent orange and PTSD. I went to the VA in Long Beach, Calif. the doctors mocked my condition, Thank You.

    1. Hello Derwood.
      No you haven’t done anything wrong. It is just that I have to approve all comments before they get published on the website. I check in once or twice per day to do that so they don’t come up innediately. Your comment is there bow on the Lai Khe page.
      /Jonas, founder of

  2. First of all, congrats on the website. You’ve done a great job and, for someone who’s more focussed on the Australian involvement in Vietnam, I have found it hugely informative.
    I recommend travelling to or from the Tunnels by speedboat from Saigon city centre – a much more pleasant journey than being stuck in a tourist minibus. Not a lot of people know that it was the Australian forces of 3 Field Troop who were the first to go down the tunnels – but then a lot of American veterans don’t even know Australians were involved in the war at all.
    Regarding the discovery of the “underground city” I have been reliably informed that prior to Operation Crimp, a week-long joint search and destroy operation in the Ho Bo woods, on January 1, 1967, US forces had strict orders to smoke the enemy out (literally), but not enter the tunnels. That was until it was discovered that there was a lot more than rat runs down there; classrooms, hospital bunkers, kitchens, you name it.
    That’s not to say US troops never explored tunnels prior to that, but it was after Crimp that the “Tunnel Rats” on all sides became legendary for their heroic adventures underground.
    Sandy McGregor, the co-author of our book Tunnel Rats (Allen & Unwin, Sydney), was awarded the Military Medal for his efforts as troop commander there . The whole troop won a citation from the US government, a ribbon which the current 3 Troop wears to this day.
    The Cu Chi tunnel tourist operation is interesting, and well worth a visit, but it doesn’t show what an amazing feat of military engineering this was, with tunnels going down three or four levels and access routes purportedly stretching all the way to the Mekong River in the west and to the American Bases near Saigon to the south.
    By the way, if you visit the HQ bunkers underneath the former Presidential Palace in Saigon, you can see a huge map with all the countries’ troop involvements listed on it. You might think the 50,000 troops deployed from Australia aren’t mentioned – but then the Vietnamese word for Australian is Uc.
    What’s possibly even more surprising is the mention of the 500,000 soldiers from Korea who took part too.

  3. Just returned from Vietnam. Went to the Chu Chi complex. I was here in 1970. With the 25 ID. 1/27 Wolfhounds. It Brought back many memories. I feel it was healing for me. I talked to the spirits of my brothers I left there. To let them know that I have been working to help the Widow’s , Orphan’s and our brother Veterans who died inside here, and they went home half empty. Rest in peace Brothers. Robert E Lee Stewart 1970/71. Thank You National VFW for the trip.

  4. Going to vietnam jan2019, was stationed at lai khe 1968 am looking forward to see some thing i might know.

    1. That sounds great Brad. I hope you had a look at the Lai Khe page here on the site. Still plenty to see arund the old base area. Let me know if there is anything we can do to provide more information.

      1. Robert, where will you be going? Let us know if we can do anything to help you with information on the sites you will visit.

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