The Cu Chi Tunnels are about a 2 hour bus ride outside of Ho Chi Minh City in the Cu Chi district. This area is much more rural and lush with vegetation, perfect for farming. The district of Cu Chi has a much more relaxed lifestyle and slower pace of life which is nice if you want to get out of the chaos of the city. It is also an area in Vietnam where you can see tunnels dug underground, remnants of the Vietnam war. Several of these tunnels have been preserved and turned into a historically protected area to educate people on life during the war. The tunnels were used by the supporters of the Communist North as a type of guerrilla warfare against the American troops. Land in this region is very soft, making it easy for a person to dig tunnels through it. The tunnels are only big enough for a person to crawl through on their hands and knees and pitch black. Those in the tunnels had to be very careful while traveling underground because it was very easy to get lost and disoriented. However, they were also very well hidden so it was ideal for ambushing unsuspecting soldiers who would be caught so off-guard that they would have no idea where they were even being attacked from. Entrances to the tunnels are small crawl spaces covered by leaves. The only way to enter the small opening is by holding the wooden cover over your head, with your arms straight above you as you lower yourself in.
In addition to the tunnels, the Vietnamese soldiers were quite crafty in creating traps in the jungle by digging deep holes filled with sharpened pieces of bamboo and then covering the hole with a trap door. The bamboo was sharp enough to impale a person so often times Americans had to be left in the traps because there was no way of safely removing them. Several of the tunnels open up into larger underground rooms, some of which were used for making weapons. They would use American bombs and ammunition to create weapons of their own design. All of this was of course done underground so no one would be able to see what they were doing.
Another tourist attraction at the Cu Chi Tunnels is the firing range. Here you can purchase bullets to fire from Vietnam War era weapons, like M60s or AK47s, in a shooting range. This is live ammunition so special precautions are taken when tourists are firing them. All the guns are secured onto a railing and you are required to wear ear protection to prevent damage to your ears. Despite these precautions you still feel and hear the immense power of these weapons. Even when only 2 or 3 guns are being fired at once the sound is jarring. It is scary to imagine what it was like for soldiers fighting during the war, with hundreds of weapons being fired at once in a land that is completely foreign and filled with traps.
The Cu Chi Tunnels are a great place to learn more about the lengths the Northern Vietnamese regime went through to ensure victory over the South during the Vietnam War. It is truly impressive everything the people were willing to do to fight for what they believed in. It is important when visiting a place like this to understand you may not agree with all of the outcome of the war, but instead should be open to learning a different perspective. Tours are easy to book and cost about $10; this includes transportation, tour guide and entrance in to the park. It is also very hot and humid and the ground can be muddy in some places so dress accordingly.