How To Get To Cu Chi Tunnels – A Complete Guide

The Cu Chi Tunnels Tour was one of our highlights when visiting Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. We had mixed reactions from friends when we mentioned that we were planning a visit to the tunnels. Some said ‘that it was too touristy and a waste of money’ others enjoyed the experience and recommended that we visit. We always go with our instincts and in this case, as always, our instincts were right.

Our Cu Chi Tunnels guide will assist in giving you options on how to get to the Cu Chi Tunnels. Whether you go with a tour, on your own, by motorbike, local bus or speedboat you do have to plan your journey well in advance. Although it is only 46 km from Ho Chi Minh City, that 46 km could take you up to 3 hours depending on traffic and road conditions.

Throughout our 2 months of travel from North to South Vietnam, we had been brushing up on our history of Vietnam. From the War Museum in Hanoi, to the Walk of Revolution Tour in Hue and adding in the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh and now the Cu Chi Tunnels, we had a clearer understanding of Vietnam’s turbulent war history.

Our YouTube Video of the Cu Chi Tunnels

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Pro-Tip

If you have allowed a few days in Ho Chi Minh City we can recommend visiting the War Remnants Museum and the Reunification Palace first before you visit the Cu Chi Tunnels.

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Cu Chi Tunnels How To Get There

Cu Chi Tunnels Location Map

Cu Chi Tunnels Location Map

Saigon to Cu Chi Tunnels

A fun way to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels is in an old restored Army Jeep with lunch. Click here for details.

Getting To Cu Chi Tunnels by Local Bus

From Ben Thanh Market take Bus #13 to Cu Chi Bus Station.

From Cu Chi Bus Station take Bus #79 to the Cu Chi Tunnels.

From Cho Lon Coach Station take Bus #94 to Cu Chi Bus Station.

From Cu Chi Bus Station take Bus #79 to Cu Chi Tunnels.

NB:

The journey will take around 2.5 hours and costs VND26,000 (USD$1.00).

Entrance Fees

Ben Dinh VND 110,000 (USD$ 4.80)

Ben Duoc VND 90,000 (USD$3.90)

Enjoy bike riding – now you can combine a boat and bike riding to see the Cu Chi Tunnels. Click here for more details.

Getting To Cu Chi Tunnels by Boat

The tour takes around 6 – 7 hours. You take the speed boat up the Saigon River for an hour. At the Cu Chi Tunnels, you will visit the traps used and have the opportunity to crawl through some of the tunnels. For an extra charge, you can shoot an M16 rifle at the shooting range.

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Why Choose A “Get Your Guide Tour” Over Do It Yourself

Heavy traffic and traffic jams are the ‘norm’ in Vietnam, it is a major consideration if you are thinking of visiting the Cu Chi tunnels yourself.   One thing for certain is that we did not want to do a bus tour with a 50 seat capacity touring bus full of other tourists. We wanted a tour that was smaller, around 20 people maximum. We wanted a guide that was knowledgeable and who could give us the Cu Chi tunnels facts, figures and the history.

Every hotel and travel agency in Ho Chi Minh City sells Cu Chi tunnels day tours either half-day or full-day.  The one question we had with so many tours available, how could we tell one tour from the other, were we getting a guide or just a driver with some knowledge and where could we read the latest reviews about the tour.

We have used Get Your Guide many times throughout our travels and we felt comfortable using them again for this tour. We could read the latest reviews and we knew up front what was included and what was not.

Get Your Guide has a range of tours to the Cu Chi Tunnels that suit all budgets, desires and time constraints.

 

Duc was our guide for our Cu Chi Tunnels half-day tour. Duc was a guide for Vietnam Adventure Tours who run tours on behalf of Get Your Guide. He was a great guide, funny and knowledgeable.

We were guests of Get Your Guide and as always our opinions are our own.

Opening Hours

Opening Hours: 8 am to 5 pm.

Frequently Asked Questions on the Cu Chi Tunnels

What were the Cu Chi Tunnels Used for?

During the War of Independence in the 1940s communist forces began to dig a tunnel complex by hand. The tunnel complex grew in the 1960s with the presence of the Americans during the Vietnam War.

The Viet Cong used the tunnels as sleeping quarters, weapon rooms, a command centre,  a hospital and a communications and supply route. There was even a theatre and a music hall built.

How deep are the Cu Chi Tunnels?

There are 3 levels. Secret doors enabled the Vietcong to get in and out via secret stairwells.

The first level reaches 3 – 4m deep.

The second level reaches 5 – 6 m deep.

The third level reaches 8 – 10m deep.

How did the Viet Cong Dig The Tunnels By Hand

The tunnels were dug a short distance at a time by digging with their hands.  They had no equipment available to use.

How far are the Cu Chi Tunnels from Ho Chi Minh City?

There are two sites for the Cu Chi Tunnels. Most of the tours (our Get Your Guide tour included) visit the Ben Dinh site which is located 50 km from Ho Chi Minh. The second site, Ben Duoc, is around 60 km which can add another hour of travel.

What is the difference between Ben Dinh and Ben Duoc?

The tunnels at the Ben Dinh site have been reconstructed and enlarged where the tunnels at the Ben Duoc site still are mostly original and there are fewer tourists there. There is the opportunity of firing an AK47 and other rifles at Ben Dinh (this is not included in the price of the tickets, you have to pay extra for the bullets).

How long are the Cu Chi Tunnels?

The tunnels are 250 km in length and reach the Cambodian border.

What were the ‘tunnel rats’?

The tunnel rats were the names given to the Americans who were given the task of going underground to locate the enemy troops and find any booby traps.  Only the smallest of the Americans would be suitable for the job.

How long do you need at the Cu Chi Tunnels?

It takes about 2 hours to see the Ben Dinh Cu Chi Tunnels complex.

What do you wear to Cu Chi?

You need to wear comfortable clothes that will get dusty and dirty especially if you climb into the tunnels.  Bear in mind that you will be crawling on your knees in the tunnels so long trousers are recommended.  We would also recommend sneakers or shoes that are covered in.  Large bags will not make it through the tunnels, so consider bringing just a very small day pack if you need to.

Don’t forget to bring water, sunscreen and insect repellent. You may also want to consider a headlamp.

Our Cu Chi Tunnels Experience

Our Booking Experience

We booked our Get Your Guide Morning Cu Chi Tunnels Tour online. Within a few hours we received confirmation from Vietnam Adventure Tours with the details:

  • pick up time from our hotel
  • group size 22 persons
  • air-conditioned bus
  • English speaking tour guide
  • Water
  • Entrance Fee
  • Tapioca

The tour excludes:

  • travel insurance
  • personal expenses
  • lunch

Lamphat Handicap Lacquer Company Visit

All tours to Cu Chi Tunnels include a visit to the Lamphat Handicap Lacquer Company. Vietnam is famous for its lacquerware that dates back to the 3rd and 4th centuries. The lacquerware was being produced by handicapped Vietnamese who were war victims who still wanted to be able to work and earn a living.

A visit to the Lamphat Handicapped Lacquerware Factory

The process of creating Vietnamese Lacquerware

We were shown around the company and explained that 16 coats of duck eggshells and 24 coats of mother of pearl were used in the quite detailed process that goes through 20 stages.

Placing the duck egg shells into the pattern

Laying the delicate eggshells into the pre-drawn pattern

The eggshell is then coloured by the artist from natural mineral pigments that have been mixed with chemical dyes.

Painting the egg shells with a mineral and chemical mix

Painting the eggshells with a mineral pigment and chemical dye

The lacquerware is polished, varnished, polished and then the final shining process takes place. The end products are beautiful. They create bowls, plates, pictures and more. If you are interested in purchasing lacquerware whilst in Vietnam a visit to Lamphat is recommended, not only are you getting an original you are also helping the handicapped people earn a living.

The final product after many layers of lacquer and rubbing with water.

The final product

The traffic was very heavy after we left the Lamphat Handicap Company on our way to Cu Chi.

Watching the movie in the mini bus

We had time to watch a movie about the War and the Cu Chi Tunnels whilst in traffic jams

Our guide took this time to show us a movie about the Tunnels.

Main Entrance Cu Chi Tunnels

Modern Main Entrance at the Cu Chi Tunnels where you purchase tickets, drinks and a small shop

On arrival at the Cu Chi Tunnels, we were a little surprised. We did not expect a modern building that included the ticket sales and a shop and then a long undercover walkway to get to the tunnels, we were thinking something a bit more rustic. Luckily, our tickets were included in the price of our tour, so we did not have to queue.

After wandering through the tunnel we headed towards a map that showed the layout of the 250 km of tunnels. Duc explained to us each region.

Cu Chi Tunnels Map

Map of Cu Chi Tunnels

Map of the layout of tunnels at Cu Chi

There is also a diagram of what the tunnels looked like underground.

Cu Chi Tunnels Underground Map

How the spider web of tunnels looked like

There were many small groups in front of us.  At times we did have to wait for a few minutes until the previous group moved onto the next section.

Cu Chi Tunnels Trap

One of many traps at Cu Chi Tunnels

This is one trap you would not want to walk over

Definitely, this one is a ‘booby trap’. Check out the spikes.

Many traps scattered throughout.

 

The Vietnamese were smaller than the US troops and were able to fit into much smaller spaces. They used these holes as lookouts.  They fought the GI’s (as they were called) during the evening, they had an advantage they knew the terrain.

The size of the small tunnel

Holes so small that the GIs could not fit in or even locate where they were.

It was not easy to get into the tunnel hole or get out of it.

Tunnel hole

Duc our guide showing how difficult it was to get in and out of

Examples of Traps Used by the Vietnamese

Swinging Up Trap

Swinging Up Trap

Swinging Up Trap

Rolling Trap

Rolling Trap

Rolling Trap

Shooting Range

You can hear the shooting range before you see it at Ben Dinh. There are regulations, you have to be over 18 years of age and in good health.   Each bullet works out to the USD$2.00 and you have to buy them in sets of 10.

Pro-Tip:

There is a coffee shop near the shooting range. It is very noisy, but it is where the groups wait whilst some of the group members try their hand at shooting.

Going Down The Tunnels

Well, we were a little nervous. If you have high blood pressure or a fear of confined spaces it is not recommended to enter. Duc explained that at certain distances there is an opportunity to climb out. We lasted to the first escape passage, finding it very hot and claustrophobic.  About 50% of us ‘baled’ at the first opportunity and at the end of the tunnel only 2 remained.  The tunnels became smaller and towards the end, they were crawling along on their stomachs. Give it a go!

What did the Vietnamese Eat Whilst in The Tunnels

Tapioca and tea

The diet of the Vietnamese in the tunnels – tapioca with a spice mix and tea

Food was short during this time, the Vietnamese ate Tapioca.  Tapioca is the starch that is extracted from the roots of the cassava plant. During the tour, we were able to taste the tapioca which came with a spice that livened up what could have been a very bland dish.  Tea was also served with the tapioca.

After we had our small snack we headed back to the bus and the long traffic jams back into Ho Chi Minh City.

Where To Stay in Ho Chi Minh City

During our time in Ho Chi Minh City, we stayed in two different properties both located centrally in District 1.  If you stay in District 1 you are in walking distance to the major sites in Ho Chi Minh City.

The 5-star luxury Pullman Saigon Centre Hotel is located at 148 Đường Trần Hưng Đạo, Phường Nguyễn Cư Trinh, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh 070000, Vietnam. The hotel offers luxury accommodation in the heart of District 1 with a swimming pool, gym, good WiFi and their Urbane Lounge and the Mad Cow Wine and Grill that offers excellent views over the city. The hotel is in walking distance to Bui Vien Street, nicknamed ‘Backpackers Street” which is full of bars and restaurants. It is perfect for families, couples and solo travellers. Breakfast is included.

Read our article 5 Days in Saigon staying at the Pullman Saigon Centre Hotel

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We also stayed at the 3 star Lotus Boutique Hotel located at 55/29 Lê Thị Hồng Gấm, Phường Nguyễn Thái Bình, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam. The hotel is located in District 1 and offers comfortable accommodation, with a roof top swimming pool with views, gym, good WiFi and breakfast is included.  It is a popular mid-range hotel and we would recommend booking in advance.

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NB

The Get Your Guide Tour will collect you from hotels in District 1.

 

Essential Visitor Information for Ho Chi Minh

Getting In 

Ho Chi Minh’s Tah Son Nhat International Airport is the largest in Vietnam.  It is located 6 km North of District 1.

You can pre-book your airport transfer here.

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Visa

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Travel Insurance

We recommend taking out travel insurance as soon as you book your flights and pay deposits on any cruises, tours or hotels.

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Do You Have Any Questions on Visiting The Cu Chi Tunnels?

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2 Comments

  • I visited the Cu Chi at the suggestion of a friend, and it was a worthwhile experience. However, as you mentioned, actually crawling through the tunnels is not for everyone. Based on a book I had already read on the tunnels, I was expecting more of a cave-like experience with actually rooms you could stand up in. NOT! The crawl space was very cramped. When I asked my friend about it later, she said, “Oh I didn’t actually crawl through the tunnels.”.

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