Guidebook Discover the astonishing Cu Chi Tunnels

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Discover the astonishing Cu Chi Tunnels

“This sprawling network of cramped passageways was an entire world unto itself,” says Atlas Obscura. “Though the tunnels became famous in the Vietnam War, parts of the network were first constructed in the 1940s by peasants fighting French occupation forces,” and by the mid-1960s, the tunnel system had grown to over 75 miles in length. “Viet Cong soldiers living in the tunnels would spend most of their day digging new passageways, only daring to venture out at night for supplies and to perform guerilla raids.” The Tunnels are one of Vietnam’s most popular tourist attractions and “look like a little like a theme park with many kitsch souvenir shops and even a shooting range to amuse visitors,” says The Culture Trip, but don’t be put off because “the horrors of the war at the underground tunnels are worth commemorating.”

Visitors can walk (stooped over) through a 100-metre length of tunnel, notes Travelfish. “We were surprised our tour guide did not give the group any prep about the experience, when clearly there were people in their 50-60s … as a result, several people bailed at the first exit and one was near panic.” And the larger your group, “the slower the conga line to move through the tunnel … it is very hot, very humid and dimly lit,” and the final part “requires a full crawl.”

The tunnels are so narrow that only the slightly-built Vietnamese could manoeuvre inside, explains Anubhuti Krishna in The Hindu. “It is said that even if an American soldier succeeded in getting into a tunnel, he wouldn’t have come out alive … not only was there a lack of space, but there were also traps waiting for him,” ranging from “the famous chair trap, door trap, punji sticks, to more innovative hot oil, snakes, and even fire.” And no-one should pretend the tunnels weren’t a desperate place: “death, destruction, weapons, traps, warfare, propaganda, sabotage -- these words dominate every conversation at Cu Chi.”

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