How to get to the Cu Chi tunnels was a question I kept asking myself! I am usually someone who likes to arrange a tour myself and do things my own way but given the distance from Ho Chí Minh City I wasn’t sure going solo was the best idea!
In this complete guide I will run you through all the different ways to get to the Cu Chi Tunnels using a tour vs going solo and how my experience went visiting with a group tour arranged by our accommodation.
The Cu Chi Tunnels are located about 1.30 hours away from Ho Chi Minh City and they played huge role in supporting the Vietcong during the Vietnamese War.
Visiting these tunnels gives us a glimpse into what these soldiers went through in this complex underground maze spanning 200km! What was once inhabited by the Vietcong for sometimes weeks at a time is now one of South Vietnams most popular tourist attractions!
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How to get to The Cu Chi Tunnels Using a Tour
There is tons of choice both online and from your accommodation when booking you tour of the Cu Chi Tunnels. We booked ours though the hostel we were staying at called Hideout, it cost 495,000 VND each (£19).
But you can also check out some of the different options and prebook online via on Get Your Guide.
There are 2 options for most tours of either morning or afternoon. The morning tour runs from 8am – 2pm and the afternoon tour from 1pm – 7pm.
The tour operators will collect you from your hotel and drop you off after. Most tour companies operate using large buses which have soft seating and air conditioning.
The Cu Chi tunnels are located 1.30/45 minutes drive north/west from Ho Chi Minh, depending on traffic this journey may take a little bit longer. Our return trip took 2 hours due to heavy traffic when we arrived back in the city.
During this time your tour guide will run through some of the key history in Vietnam and tell you all about what you can expect in when you arrive at Cu Chi.
Very similar to the bus tour but a little bit fancier!
When booking a VIP speedboat tour you are collected from your accommodation in Ho Chi Minh before heading up river for an 1.5 hour speedboat ride to Cu Chi. During this trip all refreshments and fresh fruit are included free of charge.
Entrance to the tunnels is also part of the package followed by a tour of the Cu Chi tunnels with your small group.
Once you are finished you will enjoy a freshly prepared lunch or dinner at a local restaurant before heading back to Ho Chi Minh and being dropped back off at your accommodation.
💡 If you are also planning on seeing the Mekong Delta while you are staying in Ho Chi Minh then another great option is to book a full day tour which includes both a trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels & the Mekong Delta.
How to Get to The Cu Chi Tunnels Without a Tour
The cheapest way and best for those travelling on a budget is to hop on a public bus!
Head to the bus station in District 1, Ho Chi Minh and hop on the number 13 heading for the Cu Chi station. This is a regular bus that leaves every 30 minutes so you shouldn’t have to wait around for too long.
When I said it was the cheapest way to travel, I wasn’t joking, this bus will cost you less than 10,000 VND (40p).
The journey to Cu Chi will take around 1.5 hours, once you’ve arrived you need to jump off and get on the number 79 which then takes you to the tunnels, this bus takes around 45 minutes and again costs less that 10,000 VND! (40p).
Once you arrive at Ben Doc Tunnels there are directions at the bus stop, follow these and you will arrive at the Cu Chi tunnels!
If you are travelling in a small group or as a family the most convenient way to travel to Cu Chi is by Taxi or Grab.
Whilst this is the easiest and the quickest it is also the most expensive, getting a taxi to and from Cu Chi from Ho Chi Minh will cost you 650,000 VND (£25) each way!
There are many taxi companies in Ho Chi Minh and you can call ahead to get a time booked in or you could order a Grab via the app which could work out a little cheaper.
Renting Your Own Transport
If you love a bit of adventure and fancy a road trip then this is the best option for you!
Just be mindful of the business of Ho Chi Minh City as you will need to drive yourself in and out of it, whilst this might seem like a fun way to do to travel there and back, it could also be the most stressful.
Booking a Tour vs Going Solo?
Overall we had a great experience on the tour and our guide was very knowledgeable, he told us so much at Vietnams history, the Vietnamese war and explained a lot about the Communist way of life.
He was happy to answer any questions, and I learnt a lot about the Vietnamese people and the conflict that went on here for 100 years.
If you like a stress free experience and to sit back, relax and be guided round I would definitely recommend booking a tour, there are plenty to choose from both online and from local tour agencies.
The down side to going with a tour however, is that being in a big group you are not able to spend your time at the tunnels how you would like to.
You have to follow your guide and follow the groups pace, it is also common that the bigger your group the less you will see because it takes longer for you to get around.
If you prefer to go off on your own and explore at your own pace I would recommend going solo and getting the bus, a taxi or hiring some transport from Ho Chi Minh.
Our Day Using a Group Tour at The Cu Chi Tunnels
We opted for the afternoon tour and patiently waited in our hostel lobby for our tour guide to collect us.
It was an easy process and our bus was very nice, it wasn’t too big and had comfy seats and air-conditioning.
As the journey to the tunnels is quite long we stopped off half way for a quick toilet break at Saigon Handicapped Handicrafts, here people affected by Agent Orange work at creating beautiful artwork from egg shells.
You probably will have seen this style of art before either around Vietnam or back home.
We stopped here for half an hour and were giving an explanation on how the art is created before we took our time to look through the gift shop. There was also a small cafe here to get a drink or quick snack.
Once we arrived at the tunnels we were guided round as a group by your tour guide, the entry tickets are included in the price you pay.
Firstly you are shown the map outlining where the Cu Chi tunnels span to and from and its outstanding quite how far they stretch!
Alongside this is a 3D model of what the tunnels look like underground, here it shows the entrances along with all the different rooms added by the Viet Cong and the tunnels to get between.
They added a dining/meeting room, kitchen, hospital, sleeping quarters, a well, bomb shelters, trenches and an escape route to the river. A collection of these rooms altogether was called a unit and overall there were over a hundred of these dotted throughout the huge span of the tunnels.
The map also shows you the area that the Americans decided to create their base camp, little did they know at the time but they built their base right over the top of the tunnels.
This allowed the Viet Cong to keep a good eye on the Americans, and have a good understanding of their movements at most points during the war.
The Viet Cong did not have a base that was visible, they kept everything underground in the tunnels, constantly moving around and ambushing from different points using the tactic of hit and run.
The Americans however employed the tactic of search and destroy meaning during the day they were constantly moving, trekking through the thick jungle in search of Viet Cong.
This meant the Viet Cong spent the majority of daylight hours underground in the tunnels hiding from the Americans only to come out at night when they knew the coast was clear.
You are then led round to one of the original entrances, this has been hollowed out allowing you to climb inside and put the trap door down, leaving no trace at all once covered by some leaves!
Carrying on you are shown a variety of the booby traps the Viet Cong used to against the Americans. These are pretty nasty, they are definitely not something I would have wanted to get myself stuck in!
All throughout your walk in the jungle you will see entrances to the tunnels, trenches used by the Viet Cong in ambushes and old machinery such as a tank that hit a landmine in 1970.
Your tour guide will show you how they created the tunnels and chambers and what equipment they used before heading to the shooting range located half way round the tour.
This shooting range is one of very few in Vietnam attracting both tourists and locals.
Here you have the chance to shoot the guns they would have used during the war such as the M16, AK47 & M12 browning.
Moving on from the shooting range you will learn some of the ways the Viet Cong recycled the materials left behind by the Americans during the Vietnamese war.
Exploded and unexploded bombs were carefully carried to the tunnels and dismantled, using the gun powder for their land mines and the metal was shaped to create the spikes in the traps they used. They also gathered the discarded tyres and made them into sandals!
The best bit of the tour is being able to go down into the tunnels, there are different length options but we did the 20m tunnel.
Even after these tunnels have been made bigger they are still a squeeze! I cannot imagine what they must of been like during the war in the pitch black crawling through these tiny spaces.
The last unit you walk through has all of the rooms preserved and you are able to see them and get a good idea of how the Viet Cong used these areas to their advantage right under the Americans feet.
History of The Cu Chi Tunnels
The Cu Chi Tunnels were originally used by Cu Chi villagers to escape the French when they colonised Vietnam back in the 19th century. The original tunnels were tiny and just a small passage way giving the villagers enough room to hide from the French.
However the tunnels were then improved and extended by the Viet Cong during the Vietnamese war and now stretch around 200km.
The Vietnamese war was fought between communist North Vietnam backed by the Soviet Union and China, and South Vietnam, who were supported by the United States and France.
The Viet Cong were South Vietnamese supporters of Communism who worked directly with North Vietnam against the United States and South Vietnam in the war.
The tunnels that we visit today have been extended massively and there has been lighting added all to accommodate tourists. They can only give us a glimpse of what life underground must of been like.
Top Tips for The Cu Chi Tunnels
The Cu Chi Tunnels are open daily 7am – 5pm.
The entrance fee is 110,000 VND (£4) per person.
- Bring some water and snacks along with you for the drive as it can take 4 hours altogether.
- Make sure you either bring it with you or spray yourself with insect repellant before you go as we got some nasty bites during our walk through the jungle.
- The shooting range isn’t included in the ticket price and you must buy 10 bullets minimum which comes to 600,000 VND (£23)
- The tunnels are narrow and dark so do not go off exploring alone, ensure you follow the staffs instructions.
- You are not allowed to walk around and explore the tunnels alone, you must be accompanied round by the staff. They also double up as tour guides explaining the how the Viet Cong operated and what each tunnel was used for.
Whether you decide to go alone or with a tour the Cu Chi Tunnels are a MUST visit during your stay in Ho Chi Minh, we learnt so much about Vietnam and about the history of the Viet Cong and the Vietnamese War.
Visiting these tunnels today only gives us a glimpse of what life must of been like living underground, but to be so close to something that is so rich in history and important to the country is a well worth the long journey from the city.
I hope I have helped to answer your question of how to get to the Cu Chi Tunnels and given you all you need to decide whether to choose a tour or go it solo! Let me know which you chose in the comments below.
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