Going to the Cu Chi tunnels DIY way is something any backpacker can easily do especially that I did it on my own while I was solo traveling the Indochina countries last December 2019. This way is highly recommended especially if you are on a budget. Moreover, you have control over your time and not to have to follow on a group tour.
Before anything else, I’ll give you a bit of information about the country Vietnam. Vietnam is a Southeast Asia country known for its bustling cities, French colonial landmarks, Vietnamese war sites and Cu Chi tunnels. The country is also famous to backpackers as an entry or exit point for backpackers traveling the Indochina countries. One of the most important and touristy site in Vietnam is the Cu Chi tunnels.
About Cu Chi Tunnels in Vietnam
The Cu Chi tunnels in Vietnam is a very important historical site which dates back from the Vietnamese war and French colonial periods. These tunnels were used to create a secret underground passage to protect the soldiers, men, women and children from the French invaders. The passages lead to different types of rooms including escape rooms, general room, dining area, kitchen, hospital and other more.
Most of the tunnels are really narrow that’s why soldiers back in the days crawl their way in and out. In order to be able to breathe inside these passages, the soldiers built air ventilation that connects from the surface. They camouflaged these air ventilations including the cover of the tunnel to the ground so that the invaders won’t find them.
Cu Chi was considered a death zone or death circle to any intruders who comes here since the place is surrounded with booby traps. Now, the Cu Chi tunnels became an interesting tourist spot in Vietnam, especially to those who wants to learn about the history of the Vietnamese war.
The 2 Cu Chi tunnel sites in Vietnam
To begin with, there are actually 2 Cu Chi tunnel sites in Vietnam: Ben Duoc and Ben Dinh. Most pf the tour agencies go to Ben Dinh which is why the place is a bit crowded compared to Ben Duoc. Ben Duoc is where you wanna go.
How much will I spend doing the Cu Chi tunnels DIY?
I only spent VND 124,000/ USD 5.36 / PHP 272.00 doing Cu Chi tunnels DIY way. You can book this tour from Klook and will cost you around PHP 600.00 for a group tour. If you want to go there and save extra money for your travel budget, I highly recommend doing it the DIY way!
How to go there – Cu Chi Tunnels DIY itinerary and expenses
Below is my step by step guide for you and a few tips and tricks so you won’t get lost on your way. Trust me, this is very easy peasy lemon squeezy!
Step 1: Download the BusMap App and Google Translator App
Before starting the actual journey, download the BusMap App here. This app will be your very guide when in Vietnam. It’s very user friendly and you just have to input the starting point and the destination, after that it will show you options to get there.
The next app you need to download is any google translator app. You have to know that Vietnam is not an English speaking country. For you to communicate properly with the Vietnamese, download this app to minimize the hassle. Download google translate app here.
Step 2: Go to Ben Xe Buyt Sai Gon station and ride Bus 13
If your hotel is located in District 1, walk towards Ben Xe Buyt Sai Gon station which is labelled as Saigon Bus TDH on Google Maps. Look for Bus # 13 that has a signage of Cu Chi. The travel time is 1 hour and 40 minutes and the fare is VND 10,000. Drop off at the end-point station or the Ben Xe Cu Chi station and transfer to Bus # 79.
Step 3: From Ben Xe Cu Chi Station, transfer to Bus 79
Arriving at the end-point station or Ben Xe Cu Chi station, transfer to bus 79 and pay the fare of VND 7,000. The travel time is approximately 25 minutes only. Advise the driver that you are going to Ben Duoc Cu Chi Tunnels so that they will drop you off at the entrance point.
Step 4: Drop off at Ben Duoc Cu Chi
Once you get off from the bus, walk towards the arch entrance. Tip: do not forget to mention to the driver that you are going to Ben Duoc Cu Chi so you won’t get lost.
Step 5: Walk towards the ticket booth
Once you pass by the arch entrance, the place might look a bit confusing since it lacks signs or directions where to go. But don’t panic since all you have to do is continue walking until you find the ticketing booth. Buy your ticket for VND 90,000 which includes a tour guide that will explain to you the history of the tunnels and there is also a short film that covers a brief documentation about the Vietnamese war.
What to see in Ben Duoc Cu Chi
Afetr buying your ticket, just follow the path that the cashier at the ticketing booth will point you at. Take note that Ben Duoc Cu Chi is quite a big place. The tickets you bought includes a map of the whole place. Although the map might be confusing at first since it’s in Vietnamese language. You will first pass by the Ben Duoc Memorial Temple while walking towards the path,
Ben Duoc Memorial Temple
Trivia: the Ben Duoc Memorial Temple was built in memory of those who dies in the war during the Vietnamese war against the French colonizers. This is a very huge temple and when I came here, there were no tourists at all. It’s really a recommended place if you want to avoid the touristy Cu CHi tunnels sites.
Vietnamese War Machines and Aircraft
After the Ben Duoc Memorial Temple, you will now pass by a path covered by forest. It’s a bit far and again, you might get confused if it’s the correct path. Just follow the only path and it will lead you at the end of the road where you will see the war machines and aircrafts used during the war. You will also see the actual bombs and huge missiles that was recovered from the war.
Cu Chi Tunnels
In front of these war machines, there is an entrance where you will meet up with your tour guide. Present the Cu Chi tunnels ticket you bought earlier and they will put a sticker on your shirt before entering.
You will now walk towards an actual forest trail for approximately 5 minutes and reach the part where you will watch a short documentation about the Vietnamese war and Indochina war against the French colonizers. The documentation is about 15 minutes.
After that, your tour guide will now take your group to the tunnels and experience squeezing yourself to a very narrow tunnels!
The Cu Chi Tunnels Experience
I personally enjoyed this experience after watching the documentation. For me, the short film made me a bit emotional watching the tragic events that happened during the war. Seeing the tunnels that the Vietnamese actually used during the war added a moment of contemplation to the whole experience.
Our tour guide was very proactive and knowledgeable about their history. I learned lots of important things that happened during the war including some relevant Vietnam history.
What you need to know about some of the tunnels – Cu Chi Tunnels DIY
- Some tunnels were reconstructed so that tourists will fit inside the tunnels
- There is enough ventilation inside the tunnels, the air is actually cold inside!
- There are a few small bats that live inside the tunnels
- You’ll see different rooms inside: Commander room, living room, kitchen, hospital, etc.
- During the war, Vietnamese placed booby traps inside the tunnels to catch French intruders who are trying to get in the tunnels. Only those who live inside the tunnels knows where the traps are planted.
It’s not for claustrophobic people!
Like I have said earlier, some tunnels are still the original size and are very narrow! This is not recommended for claustrophobic people. Still, there are tunnels renovated for the sake of the tourists.
Check out the mannequins inside the tunnels
Aside from the narrow tunnels, you can also expect lots of mannequins down there! Honestly, it was a bit creepy for me since I really don’t like mannequins. For larger rooms like the dining area and hospital, you can see some of these mannequins portraying the life of the Vietnamese during the war.
A simple healthy snack after the tour!
They will serve you a local food made out of sugar cane. Enjoy your snacks! After eating your snacks, you can go to the souvenir shops if you want to buy a token for your visit.
Vietnam Travel Vlog on Youtube
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