Beside the War Remnants Museum, Cu Chi tunnels is a live museum where you can go back time and watch directly a part of Vietnam war not through artifacts and pictures. This place were where several military campaigns are proposes during the Vietnam War, and were the Viet Cong’s base of operations for the Tết Offensive in 1968 and also were used by Viet Cong soldiers as hiding spots during combat, as well as serving as communication and supply routes, hospitals, food and weapon caches and living quarters for fighters. It played an important role in winning the Southern war.
The tunnels of Cu Chi were built over a period of 25 years that began sometime in the late 1940s. They were the improvised response of a poorly equipped peasant army to its enemy’s high-tech ordnance, helicopters, artillery, bombers and chemical weapons. It consists of a network of tunnels that stretched over 200km with three levels deep. Cu Chi tunnels were not only fortifications for Vietnames soldiers, but were also the center of community life that linked village to village. Hidden beneath the destroyed villages were underground schools and public spaces where couples were married and private places where lovers met. There were even theaters inside the tunnels where performers entertained with song and dance and traditional stories. However, the life under tunnels was difficult. Air, food and water were scarce and the tunnels were infested with ants, poisonous centipedes, scorpions, spiders and vermin. Most of the time, guerrillas would spend the day in the tunnels working or resting and come out only at night to scavenge for supplies, tend their crops or engage the enemy in battle. Sometimes, during periods of heavy bombing or American troop movement, they would be forced to remain underground for many days at a time. Sickness was rampant among the people living in the tunnels, especially malaria, which was the second largest cause of death next to battle wounds.
The tunnel systems were of great importance to the Vietnamese soldiers in their resistance to American forces, and helped to counter the growing American military effort. It had been proved to be a source of frustration to the U.S military in Saigon. Large scale ground operations involving tens of thousands of troops were launched to stop enemy’s steps. Although the U.S military used many ways like spraying chemical defoliants, sending men called ‘tunnel rats’ down into the tunnels to threaten guerrillas, using dogs or bombing to defeat and wipe out this area, Cu Chi tunnels area were still remained and the soldiers remained safe and sound inside the tunnels.
In the present time, only 120-km long complex of tunnels at Cu Chi has since been preserved and turned into a war memorial park. The tunnels are a popular tourist attraction, and visitors are invited to crawl around in the safer parts of the tunnel system. Some tunnels have been made larger to accommodate the larger size of Western tourists, while low-power lights have been installed in several of them to make traveling through them easier and booby traps have been clearly marked. Underground conference rooms where campaigns such as the Tet Offensive were planned in 1968 have been restored, and visitors may enjoy a simple meal of food that Vietnamese fighters would have eaten.
If you like Cu Chi Tunnels, join us on our Cu Chi Tunnels Tour.