Cu Chi tunnels/Ho Chi Mihn city (Saigon)

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The Cu Chi tunnels are tunnels that were used during the Vietnamese war by the Vietnamese soldiers. Cu Chi is a small town a two hour bus ride from the city.

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The tunnels were constructed over a period of 20 years and reminded me of an ant hill. The soldiers lived underground where they had meeting rooms, sleeping rooms, and kitchens.

For ventilation, the troops had to disguise the holes so the American soldiers would not know where they were hiding. They did this in the form of above ground dirt piles meant to look like ant holes.

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After time the American soldiers started realizing what the Vietnamese were up to, shooting the soldiers then disappearing into the ground only to pop up into a different location. So they started bringing in dogs trained to smell the scent of the Vietnamese soldiers.

Once the Americans found the source of the smell, they would send what were nicknamed “tunnel rats” into the holes to attack the Vietnamese. The Vietnamese set up booby traps underground to kill these tunnel rats.

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In these traps (the one above very popular) they would stick snake venom or feces on the tips of the bamboo spikes so that when the American soldiers fell in they would get poisoned or get an infection.

To counter the dogs giving away the location of the Vietnamese, they at first shot the dogs but the Americans would hear the gun shots which also gave away their location. So they started putting pieces of American soldier’s clothing in the ventilation holes to trick the dogs as well as pepper so when they sniffed it would send them scurrying away.

The entrances for the tunnels were intentionally made very small so the bigger boned American soldiers could not squeeze through.

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For the tour, these entrances and tunnels were widened so we could fit inside easily, however it was still very uncomfortable and gave you a sense of what these people went through living underground for years.

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The Vietnamese were very poor and did not have many weapons like the US did. So they had to be resourceful, taking American weapons after they were killed or cutting open bombs to use the gunpowder to make their own new weapons.

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They also practiced a lot of nasty guerilla warfare with their wide array of traps.

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This fish trap, for example, was stuck under a hidden hole that was covered with leaves or other natural brush. When the soldier would fall in, his leg would get stuck in this trap like a fish or lobster trap. Mines would be put under the trap, so when the solder’s comrades came to help him, they would detonate the mine and kill them both.

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This rolling trap was made so when a soldier would fall in, these spikes would rotate and pierce them all the way down their body.

At the end of the tour, they had a shooting range where you could shoot weapons used in the war for around 20 bucks for ten bullets.

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Overall the Cu Chi tunnels were a worthwhile experience. The drive was long and I didn’t like how touristy it was, but the information was very interesting. If I were to do it again, I was told there is a local kid who’s dad was in the war and they give a private tour of the tunnels which I think would be much more worthwhile. Since it was an exhibit, it was very staged and like I said the tunnels were not in their original condition but altered and made bigger, and many of the traps were reconstructions. The bus was $6 and the entrance was $4 so it was a good cheap thing to do while stuck in Saigon city.

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