The Cu Chi tunnels are a major attraction in Ho Chi Minh and they are not that far from the city center. Therefore, you can easily reach them by local bus that is the cheapest way you can get there.
In the city center, you will have to hop on bus number 13. To check bus schedules and stops you can download the app “BusMap” which is awesome and everything you need to visit Ho Chi Minh by public bus. The app tells how long you have to wait for the bus in real-time. Buses are super cheap in Vietnam and this trip from Ho Chi Minh to the Cu Chi tunnels will cost a bit more than 1€ one way.
But, bus number 13 is not going directly to Cu Chi tunnels. You need to drop off at the last bus stop that is a bus terminal with many buses parked. There, you should search for bus number 79. Bus number 79 is the bus stopping next to the Cu Chi tunnels. Going by bus is cheap but not the fastest option. It will take you about 2h to get from Ho Chi Minh center to the Cu Chi tunnels.
But, I’m used to be on local buses and many times they are very comfortable and new. This one is not that good as it is very old, but it’s just fine.
When you ride local buses in Ho Chi Minh, you enter the bus, sit, and only then someone will go after you to collect the ticket money.
The bus stop is basically at the entrance of the Cu Chi tunnels area. Before entering the site, you have to buy the ticket for 110K dongs. The area is actually big and has a very beautiful temple just before getting to the tunnels. It looked new and there was some ceremony going on when I visited. The area is quiet and chilled surrounded by nature and the usual cicada sounds.
I had no idea how would be this visit to the tunnels. I thought we could room around on our own and explore what’s there to be seen. But things don’t work like that. You need to cross an entrance where the Vietnamese separate people that come on a tour from people that don’t. They glue a blue sticker on our clothes and that’s how a bit further they will identify us. We will have a guide. We can’t simply visit Cu Chi tunnels without one and they provide English-speaking guides to those who eventually go there on their own as most part of the people join a tour.
Our guide was this very funny Vietnamese guy. His accent wasn’t the best, but I could understand most of what he said. He took us to several points in the tunnels complex. He was explaining how the traps would work, what would be their purpose, how the Vietnamese built such tiny tunnels, and how they lived there in an organized maze of tunnels. The tunnels are super tiny. That was also one of their strategies because Vietnamese are smaller than Americans so the rivals wouldn’t fit in their “homes”. The Vietcongs literally lived underground. They had bedrooms, kitchens, living rooms, and wells down there to avoid any need of going up to the ground and eventually be caught or seen by the Americans.
The history behind these tunnels is pretty cool and impressive and that’s why visiting this place is worth a visit, cause otherwise, I didn’t find anything interesting to see besides some old armaments, bullets, guns, bombs…
The tunnels complex is huge, but we only visit small fractions. I totally understand why no one is allowed to roam there on their own. Being lost in those tunnels could actually happen as everything is complete darkness.
To show a bit of Vietnamese history to tourists, they actually opened big entrances in some parts. If the tunnels remained as they were original, many people wouldn’t be able to walk in because they simply wouldn’t fit the entrance. We had the possibility of trying to enter an original tunnel, and damn. That thing is super tight and I’m 1,59m weighing around 60kg. The men in our group didn’t even try to get through that hole on the floor. We also had the chance to walk for a bit in the tunnels to have the feeling of how it would be living there. For the experience of 2 minutes, I can tell that it would be awful. We didn’t walk for longer than that in the tunnels and I confess that I and the others were already having enough of it. We were squatting and it was painful. It’s a great place to know more about how the Vietnamese defeated the Americans.
After our guide showing us everything he was supposed to, he offered us some typical Vietnamese snacks and peanuts.
Just outside there is a garden with an unusual decoration: war helicopters, warplanes, tanks, and so on. Some were original pieces found from the war and the craters caused by shots were very visible. We didn’t spend more than 2 at the Cu Chi tunnels site and we went back to Ho Chi Minh city the same way.
Sneak peek into the tunnels: