Travel Guide to Cu Chi Tunnels in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam – Tours VS Visiting By Yourself
Cu Chi Tunnels are a huge tunnel system spawning over 121 km near Ho Chi Minh (Saigon), in the Cu Chi District. They’re one of the most popular tourist destinations in HCMC and in all of Vietnam and an important symbol of the American War… which is why I won’t be at all surprised if you have them on your travel itinerary as well. These tunnels are a must-visit, regardless if you’re passionate about history or not!
In case you’re planning a trip there soon, this complete travel guide to Cu Chi Tunnels will tell you everything you must know before your visit!
Quick info and a bit of Cu Chi Tunnels history
If you want to symbolize the determined spirit of the Vietnamese people, no other site can be as symbolic as the Cu Chi Tunnels. This 75-mile (121km) immense network of connecting tunnels located in the Cu Chi district of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam has turned into a war memorial park and is now a popular tourist destination in Asia.
The construction of the tunnels began in the late 1940s during the war against the French, to provide a way to communicate between villages and to evade French army sweeps of the area. It took over 25 years to build the entire underground network that stretched up to the Cambodian border, with repairs to the old tunnels and extensions taking place in the 1960s.
The tunnels’ great significance to the Viet Cong came about in their confrontation with American forces, playing a major role in their surviving (and eventual overcoming of) the Vietnam War. The tunnels were utilized by Viet Cong soldiers as a hiding place during the war. They also served as communication and supply routes, hospitals, food and weapon stocks, and living quarters for countless Vietnamese guerillas. The tunnel network, sections of which were several stories deep, incorporated numerous trapdoors, constructed living areas, storage provisions, weapon factories, field hospitals, command centres, and kitchens.
Now you can see very little evidence of the fighting and bombing that shuddered Cu Chi during the war. In the late 1960s, America carpet-bombed the whole place and destroyed most of the tunnels and everything around. In spite of the tunnels’ destruction, they served their purpose and played a key role in North Vietnam winning the war.
So I guess it’s needless to say that Cu Chi tunnels are one of the most important sights in Ho Chi Minh City and they should definitely be on your itinerary for the city, regardless if you’re passionate about the Vietnam War or history in general.
Now let’s find out everything tourists need to know before visiting the Cu Chi tunnel system in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon):
Where are the Cu Chi Tunnels located?
The Cu Chi Tunnels are located around 60 km northwest of Ho Chi Minh City, in southern Vietnam. It takes around 1h30min to get there from HCMC by car and 2 hours by bus.
Cu Chi Tunnels address: Đ. Tỉnh Lộ 15, Phú Hiệp, Củ Chi, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh 733814, Vietnam. Find it on Google Maps here.
Co-ordinates: 11.142680, 106.462304
RELATED READ: 12 Things To Do in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
Cu Chi Tunnels entrance fee
If you are visiting the Cu Chi Tunnels with a tour, your entrance price will be covered in the tour price. If you are making your own way to the underground tunnels, you can easily buy your tickets on arrival.
Ben Dinh and Ben Duoc have different entrance fees:
- Ben Dinh entrance Fee: 110.000 VND (4.80 USD) per person
- Ben Duoc entrance Fee: 90.000 VND (3.90 USD) per person
There’s also a shooting range at Cu Chi where you can try your hand at real shooting just like the soldiers, for separate prices. You can choose your desired gun which will come with a 10-bullet set. If this interests you, below are the prices for 1 bullet:
- AK 47: 40.000 VND
- M16: 35.000 VND
- M30: 30.000 VND
- M60: 40.000 VND
- and more
RELATED READ: Where to Stay in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
Which site should I visit: Ben Dinh vs Ben Duoc
There are two tunnel display sites that you can choose to visit: Ben Dinh or Ben Duoc.
Personally, I would recommend visiting Ben Duoc, as it contains part of the earliest, authentic tunnel system used by the Viet Cong and provides a more authentic experience. However, if you’d prefer a more comfortable visit, Ben Dinh has been altered for tourists with tunnel recreations and repairs to make tunnels more spacious to accommodate travellers. Great for families too!
In terms of distance, Ben Dinh is closer to Ho Chi Minh, while Ben Duoc is a bit further away.
In both Ben Dinh and Ben Duoc, low-power lights have been used in the tunnels to make travelling through them easier, and both sites display the different types of booby traps that were utilised during the war, so when it comes to safety and information, both sites have you covered. Plus, another nice thing while you’re there is that you can also enjoy a very simple meal similar to what Viet Cong guerillas would have eaten in those days. Interesting!
TOP TIP: If you’re a history buff, make sure you go to the War Remnant Museum as well. There’s also a pretty beautiful temple at Ben Duoc, built in the memory of all Vietnamese people that were killed at Cu Chi – worth a quick glance as well!
Best time to visit Cu Chi Tunnels
Cu Chi Tunnels opening hours:
- Sunday – Friday from 7 AM to 6 PM
- Saturday from 7 AM to 5 PM
If you are going there with a tour, you can choose from a morning one that usually starts at 8 AM or an afternoon tour from 12:30 PM. Make sure you reserve around 2 hours to explore the site and 4 to 5 hours in total for the trip with transportation included. More details and recommendations below!
If you want to visit by yourself, early morning would be the best idea in order to beat the crowds. As close to the opening time as possible!
As for the season, it’s generally considered that the Cu Chi Tunnels are best visited during the dry season, from October to April. You can visit during the rainy season (May to November) as well and there will be no flooding inside the tunnels, but it will be a less comfortable experience as the grounds are mainly outdoors. Extra humidity and muddy, so be prepared!
RELATED READ: 10 Unmissable Da Nang Tourist Attractions
How to visit Cu Chi Tunnels
There are plenty of travel agencies in District 1 that provide half or full day trip options to the Cu Chi tunnels. Morning tours generally go from 8:00 AM – 2:30 PM, while afternoon tours are from 12:30 PM to 6:40 PM.
Most of these tours include pick up and drop off at centrally located hotels in District 1, an English-speaking tour guide, tapioca, hot tea, and bottled water. The best part about guided tours is that a knowledgeable local guide will tell you heaps of interesting information and underground stories about the tunnel system, booby traps, “tunnel rats” soldiers and more. And for an extra fee, some tours also take you to the Cu Chi shooting range where you can try shooting an AK 47 or other guns. Real bullet experience, guys!
Costs start from 200.000 VND (8.70 USD) and can reach up to 2.000.000 VND (86.80 USD) according to the transportation and facilities provided during the trip.
Here are some hand-picked tour options that you can book in advance. Scroll down to find out how to travel to Cu Chi Tunnels by yourself in case you don’t want to join a local tour:
a) Organised tours
- Cu Chi Tunnels: Morning or Afternoon Guided Tour – my top recommendation for a half-day tour to the tunnels!
- Cu Chi Tunnels Half-Day Tour
- Full-Day Cu Chi Tunnels and Mekong Delta Tour
- Cu Chi Tunnels Guided VIP Tour with Transfers by Limousine
- Cu Chi and Mekong Delta 2-Day Tour with Airport Transfers – if you don’t want to squeeze the two into a one day tour, this one is great because everything happens in two days: the tunnels on the first day and Mekong Delta on the second day.
b) How to get to Cu Chi Tunnels by yourself
The most challenging part about visiting the Cu Chi tunnel complex by yourself is getting there. In order to help you out, I have noted the most popular options below:
BY BUS. The cheapest transport to travel from Ho Chi Minh City to the Cu Chi Tunnels is by public bus. From the Central Bus terminal at 23-9 Park in District 1, take bus 13 headed to Cu Chi bus station. From Cu Chi bus station (the last stop on bus 13), switch to bus 79 headed to Ben Duoc Tunnel. You can walk to the tunnel entrance from there.
The total travel time is around 2 hours and it will cost 16.000 VND one-way (0.70 USD). Keep in mind that the final bus back from the Ben Duoc bus stop leaves at around 5:30 PM.
BY BOAT. If you enjoy waterways then a boat tour could be the ideal travel option for you to explore Cu Chi tunnels. There are several boat tour companies offering services to the Cu Chi Tunnels such as the Saigon River Tour Company and Les Rives. My recommendation is to book this VIP speedboat tour online.
BY TAXI. If you are travelling with a small group or family, hiring a taxi to Cu Chi tunnels is probably your best option. Ma Linh and Vinasun are two popular taxi companies in Ho Chi Minh City where you can book your trip to the tunnels in advance. The price should be around 500.000 to 600.000 VND (21.70 to 26 USD). Booking a Grab (Southeast Asia’s version of Uber) is also a good, cheaper option.
BONUS: My top tips for Cu Chi Tunnels
Now that you know all the most precious, practical information about exploring both Ben Duoc and Ben Dinh sites at Cu Chi, I couldn’t let you leave without sharing some of the best tips I learned while I was there!
- Claustrophobic? High blood pressure? You can still see the grounds and learn about the tunnels function without having to go into the underground tunnels themselves.
- Please note that there are sometimes bats inside the tunnels at Ben Duoc;
- Though there is no dress code for the tunnels, wear clothes that you won’t mind getting dirty.
- Make sure you wear a comfortable pair of shoes, as there is a lot of walking.
- Remember to bring; water bottle, sun-block, bug spray, and insect repellent.
- Careful about pickpockets – just to be safe, make sure you keep an eye on your belongings at all times!
- There’s a shooting range nearby, so if you’re afraid you’ll be bothered by the loud firing noises, make sure you bring some earplugs with you.
RELATED READ: 9 Things to do in Hoi An, Vietnam – A Complete Hoi An Guide
BONUS #2: Recommended camera gear for Ho Chi Minh
Here’s our camera gear that we take all around with us as we travel, perfect for your Vietnam trip and the tunnels too. It has everything you’ll ever need!
CAMERA: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
EVERYDAY LENS: Canon EF 24-70mm F/2.8L II USM Zoom Lens
WIDE ANGLE LENS: Sigma 10-20mm f3.5 EX DC
PORTRAIT LENS: Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG
GOPRO: GoPro HERO8 Black
NV FILTER: Hoya 82mm Variable Density Screw-in Filter
HARD DRIVE: LaCie 4 TB
RELATED READ: If you want to read more about our photography gear, I recommend checking out my dedicated article: What’s in my Camera Bag – All My Travel Blogging Gear
This was my complete guide for the famous Cu Chi Tunnels in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh). I have gathered all the most important information in this post – a bit of history about the Vietnam War tunnels, entrance prices, recommended tours, what you should expect to see there, plus some precious tips. In short, you have everything you could need to know here before your trip to this famous complex in Southern Vietnam!
In case you need more helpful tips and information for your trip to Ho Chi Minh, I recommend clicking here to find all my posts and stories about this wonderful place. And here you can find all my articles about Vietnam!