The Chu Chi Tunnels are part of a massive war museum that offers a sneak-peek at the underground life of Vietnamese soldiers back in 1948. Located 70km northwest of Ho Chi Minh City, the historical site comprises more than 120km of underground tunnels with several trapdoors, living areas, kitchens, storage facilities, armoury, hospitals, and command centres.
After the end of the war against French invaders, the Chu Chi Tunnels were also utilised and expanded during the American War by incorporating effective air filtration systems, which helped Vietnamese soldiers survive the Chu Chi carpet-bombing by the Americans. As they were built so deep underground, military tanks could pass overhead without causing any damage to the tunnels.
Today, it is one of Ho Chi Minh’s most iconic attractions where visitors can enjoy activities such as following the claustrophobia-inducing routes of the underground army, firing an M16 assault rifle, as well sampling meals that the underground soldiers had to live with years ago. The tunnels have been coated with cement and widened so it is not quite the harrowing experience it would have been all those years ago, plus there are emergency exit points every ten metres for safety. Still, during the 100 metres of tunnel you get a sense of what it would have been like during the war.
Prior to entering the underground tunnels, visitors are presented with a short film of the Chu Chi Tunnels so that they have an understanding of how the tunnel system actually works. There is also a shooting range on site. Those who want to fire an M16 rifle are required to pay per bullet with a minimum of 10 bullets.
The Chu Chi Tunnels are a 40-minute drive from Ho Chi Minh City. Note that the crawl through the underground tunnels may not be suitable for visitors with respiratory difficulties or claustrophobia.