The Cu Chi tunnels are defined by determination and perseverance. Once the Vietnam War ended, the country rebuilt itself out of the wreckage. Cu Chi played a significant role in defeating American troops at the end of the war, which is infamous for its underground tunnel network. The mazelike tunnel network was utilized to hide Vietcong soldiers. It also helped them deliver encoded messages and stage surreptitious attacks. The Cu Chi tunnels have turned into a symbolic relic of the war. It is now a frequently visited destination for tourists. They learn about the astounding measures taken by Vietcong troops to stay alive and achieve victory over their enemies. The entire Cu Chi tunnel system reaches across Vietnam before unraveling beneath its cities and towns. The tunnel stretches all the way to Cambodia from certain places.
The tunnels of Cu Chi are historical for their definitive purpose during the Vietnam-American war, but its construction started during the 1940s (when the Indochina war took place). The complexity and placement of the tunnels gave Vietcong soldiers leverage over American troops, inevitably giving them victory. Initially, American troops occupied Cu Chi as the war was going on. As such, Vietcong soldiers had the ability to spy on their enemies and retrieve intel from them. Also, the intricate tunnel mazes, dead ends, booby-traps, and chambers made survival quite hard for intruders.
While the tunnels protected Vietcong troops, the underground conditions were far from safe. The necessities of water, air, and food were in short supply, and that doesn’t even take into account what hygiene was like. This led to the rampant spread of disease and illness, killing off most soldiers. Further, a bevy of deadly or poisonous animals lingered in the darkness of the cramped caverns.
After realizing how beneficial these tunnels were to the opposition, the American forces set out to destroy them. Entire areas ended up getting bulldozed. Rice crops and vegetation were ruined by physical and chemical defoliation. Carpet bombing ensued.
Chemical defoliation and mass destruction had destroyed the area, post-war, and inhabitants of it became scarce. However, the land has since been redeveloped – the area is now filled with small towns and an increasing population.
There are a pair of sites the public can access in Cu Chi. Most of the tours happen in Ben Dinh, though Ben Duoc is the preferred site for some as it is much quieter than its counterpart. Ben Duoc is about 30 minutes away from Ho Chi Minh. Both sites offer similar experiences.
The intricate tunnel layouts (and how they were constructed) will be elaborated on by tour guides during your trip. Tourists will have the opportunity to explore the tunnels up close and personal as they go deep into the tight passageways. They’ll be able to experience what soldiers plights were like as they were caught in the Cu Chi tunnels (sometimes for days, if not weeks). There are exhibits of the vicious traps set by Vietcong troops (that were laid out to injure intruders). A propaganda video elaborates further on the severity of the war.
Many opt to explore the Cu Chi tunnels privately by car or as part of a tour from Ho Chi Minh city. You can also get to the tunnels by bus or boat from Ho Chi Minh.
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