These tunnels are a symbol of Vietnams continual fight against foreign oppression and imperialism. The tunnel system covers close to 200 km including under what was once a US air base. The tunnels once spanned an area stretching from close to the Cambodian border to the city limits of Ho Chi Minh City. They can be seen to represent the Vietnamese attributes of ingenuity, loyalty, hard work and determination. They were originally constructed to fight against the French in the 1940s, to give a peasant army a means of communication between villages whilst remaining undetected. In 1960 the Viet Cong repaired and added to the tunnels to fight against the South Vietnamese and American forces. The Commander of the American forces in the region held the opinion that the Viet Cong who were responsible for digging them were like human moles. Although the tunnels were mainly designed with a fighting role in mind they also contained a wide array of chambers including field hospitals, meeting rooms and even private offices and sleeping quarters for senior officers. To repel attacks and infiltration, the tunnels contained many elaborate booby traps including concealed pits with bamboo spikes at the base, and mines and crossbows which would be triggered by trip wires. When you visit the tunnels, your guide should point out some of these traps, then look back over your path and try to decide how many of those you would have triggered. Some of the tunnels went under water, with a primitive S-Bend effect where the tunnel would open under the surface of a river, this allowing the Viet Cong to leave the tunnels virtually undetected.
Before entering the actual Cu Chi tunnels, you may see a screening of a propaganda film about them that has some amazing footage. You will then be guided around the tunnels by an English speaking guide. You will only visit some of the tunnels which have been preserved in a state not dissimilar to how they were during the war including those areas used as a field hospital, meeting room and other official quarters. It is also possible to fire an AK – 47 on site for USD 1 a bullet. The firing range closes at 4.30 PM, whilst the tunnels close at 5 PM.