- Place or Historical Monument
Củ Chi is a Vietnamese tourist 'attraction' with a particular story to tell. Lots of people visit the country due to its dark past. In this respect, Củ Chi is a site you should visit, if only to understand some harsh realities.
These underground tunnels were dug in the 1940s and resemble an ants nest. This 200 kilometre maze was a Việtcộng hideaway and HQ. To get a feel of the place, you need to head about three metres further underground. It's claustrophobic and oppressive. I crawled through the tunnels with only my torch to guide me. The atmosphere was quite overwhelming. I gasped for air, my heart raced and every muscle in my body tensed up the further in I went. The fear of getting lost in this dark labyrinth terrified me and I stuck as close as possible to the person in front of me. I spent an hour exploring this tunnel, which is one that is suitable for visits. I was relieved when I emerged from the tunnel, although being bent in half for so long took its toll.
What I don't recommend is the M-16 and AK-47 firing range, where for a quid or so you can take a shot. In view of what happened during the war, I found the idea very distasteful.
You can discover part of Vietnam's history when you visit Cu Chi, which was the most heavily bombed and destroyed area of Vietnam, and which delonstrates to you the extent of the war between the Americans and the Vietnamese. There are 250 km of tunnels from Cu Chi to the Cambodian frontier, which were first used for moving soldiers and arms, and which then became places to live and find protection from American attacks.
The description of some of the traps created by the Vietnamese makes you realise how ingenious they were, but also how violent the war was. If you want to know the details, and understand how cleverly the Vietnamese managed to defend themselves with very limited means, then a guide is indispensable.
The most difficult part of this visit for me was imagining human beings living in the conditions that we saw in the tunnels. It was a real underground city with bedrooms, kitchens, hospitals and meeting rooms - almost unbelievable but nevertheless real. The deeper you go into the tunnels, the more their particular atmosphere makes you feel tense.