These underground tunnels left over from the Vietnam war are an immense network of connecting underground tunnels located in the Cu Chi suburban district of Vietnam’s largest city, Ho Chi Minh City (formerly named Saigon). The Cu Chi tunnels form a part of a much larger network of tunnels that underlie much of the country. The tunnels were used by Viet Cong soldiers as hiding spots during combat, as well as serving as communication and supply routes, hospitals, food and weapon caches and living quarters for numerous North Vietnamese fighters. The tunnel systems were of great importance to the Viet Cong in their resistance to American forces, and helped to counter the growing American military effort. Today the Cu Chi tunnels are a very popular destination with tourists, exploring Vietnam’s unforgettably tragic past.
This map shows a typical layout of a tunnel system. Filled with long narrow pathways, ammunition storages, traps and even dormitories.
American soldiers used the term “Black Echo” to describe the conditions within the tunnels.
For the Viet Cong, life in the tunnels was difficult. Air, food and water were scarce and the tunnels were infested with ants, poisonous centipedes, scorpions, spiders and vermin.
Most of the time, soldiers would spend the day in the tunnels working or resting and come out only at night to scavenge for supplies, tend their crops, or engage the enemy in battle.
Sometimes, during periods of heavy bombing or American troop movement, they would be forced to remain underground for many days at a time.
Sickness was rampant among the people living in the tunnels, especially malaria, which was the second largest cause of death next to battle wounds.
A captured Viet Cong report suggests that at any given time half the unit had malaria and that “one-hundred percent had intestinal parasites of significance”.
Here a tourist guide shows one of the trap doors on the jungle floor that leads down into the Cu Chi tunnels. Closed and camouflaged, they were almost undetectable.
American soldiers would often accidentally fall through into the tunnels when navigating the lush jungle.
Tourists navigate the dark and narrow tunnels
The tunnels were often rigged with explosive booby traps or punji stake pits.
Model of one part of the Cu Chi tunnels.
The craziest part is that the tunnels shown here are actually the larger ones, some made bigger for Western tourists. The tunnels that tourists don’t get to go through were tiny, and you’d have to crawl along to navigate them. So basically not for those with Claustrophobia.