Củ Chi Tunnels

The Củ Chi Tunnels are a system of largely hand-dug tunnels located in Saigon (present day Ho Chi Minh City) in Vietnam.  Many sections of these tunnels have been preserved since Saigon fell in 1975 and have been included in various war memorial parks throughout Vietnam. Cu Chi

Tourists who visit the Củ Chi Tunnels can crawl through safe sections of the tunnels, fire an AK-47 rifle in a range, eat a meal soldiers would’ve eaten in those tunnels, and view booby traps and command centers.  Sounds pretty cool, yeah? The tunnels have become one of the largest tourist destinations in Vietnam, but do you know the bloody history behind them?

Work on the Củ Chi Tunnels began in the 1940’s as Vietnam was fighting for independence from the French.  Over the years, the tunnels were gradually expanded by the Viet Cong until the early 1960’s when the work on the tunnels became much more urgent in the face of the United States’ increased military presence.  By the end of the war, these tunnels would end up stretching over 250 kilometers all the way to the border of Vietnam and Cambodia.

These tunnels were used by guerrillas to mount attacks on Saigon and Viet Cong soldiers would often set booby traps in the tunnels.  When set off, these traps would overturn boxes of scorpions and poisonous snakes, set off grenades, and other offenses designed to slow and ward off enemy troops.  Because of this”tunnel rats”, or soldiers small in stature, were trained to scout out booby traps in the tunnels and watch for enemy soldiers.  The Củ Chi Tunnels were the location for the launch of many attacks but perhaps most famously, they were used as the stronghold in the Tet Offensive of 1968.

Tunnels

The United States relied on aerial bombing during the Vietnam War.  This tactic caused not only VC troops, but civilians as well to seek shelter in the Củ Chi Tunnels.  People were spending significant time in the tunnels so they slowly began to become more than just a tunnel system.  Entire villages were born underground and there were even hospitals, kitchens, music halls and theaters for the inhabitants of this mini-civilization.

Despite, or maybe because of, its dubious history, the Củ Chi Tunnels are a huge tourist destination and one day I’d love to see them for myself.  How about you guys……did the Củ Chi Tunnels make your bucket list of travel destinations?

~ Jordan

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