Are you planning to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels in Vietnam during your stay in Ho Chi Minh City?
If so, you can do it in 2 ways: paying for a group tour, or spend a fraction of the money buying a bus ticket and doing it on your own. This post is all about the latest.

 

Which Cu Chi Tunnels to Visit (Ben Duoc vs Ben Dinh)

Most guided tours you’ll find around Ho Chi Minh City drive tourists to Ben Dinh. The Ben Dinh tunnels are the ones that were reconstructed and widened by the Vietnamese government so tourists could fit in there.

On the other hand, the tunnels in Ben Duoc are a part of the authentic Cu Chi network of tunnels used during the war — the real deal.  Plus, you can easily get there by public bus, so you should definitely visit the ones in Ben Duoc.

 

Man going down the stairs to a tunnel entrance..

 

Public Bus to the Cu Chi Tunnels

The bus trip from Ho Chi Minh City to the Ben Duoc Cu Chi Tunnels will take around 2h20.

Go to the Ho Chi Minh Bus Station at the western end of Backpacker Street (Pham Ngu Lao) in District 1.
Hop on the Bus Nº13 to Cu Chi Station.
The tickets are purchased inside the bus and they’ll cost €0.28 / $0.34 USD per person. This is the first part of the trip and will take 1h40.

 

Bus 13 to Cu Chi Station

 

When you reach the Cu Chi Station and if you want to keep saving money you’ll have to swerve around the horde of taxi drivers offering their services to all the tourists that got off the bus. They’ll say there are no more buses onwards and taking a taxi is the only alternative. That’s not true.
Smile, and let them talk while you look around for the Bus Nº79.

 

Cu Chi bus station

 

Get on the Bus Nº79 and buy the ticket to Ben Duoc from the ticket agent. The ticket will be a further €0.24 / $0.30 USD and the trip will take around 40 minutes. We asked the ticket agent to let us know where we needed to get off and he did.

Nonetheless, after 40 minutes you’ll reach an intersection with two blue traffic signs pointing to Ben Duoc (left) and Ben Dinh (right). The bus will turn left and two minutes later you’ll have to hop off. Here’s the spot:

 

Ben Duoc bus stop

 

Locals will help you too. They’re super friendly and know that if you’re on that bus, you plan to visit the Ben Duoc tunnels. Like we mentioned before, only group tours go to Ben Dinh.





Entrance of Ben Duoc tunnels

 

Visiting the Cu Chi Tunnels

Cu Chi tunnels entrance fee: €3.95 / $4.80 USD
Tickets will include an English-speaking guide.

After buying the tickets we were directed to a wooden gazebo to watch a short video on the Vietnam War and the key role the tunnels had during war operations.

 

Watching a short video on the Vietnam war

 

Our guide for the day introduced himself and explained how the tunnels were dug and the underground living conditions the Viet Cong troops had to endure for months.

More aware of what we were about to see, the guide took us on a little journey through the forest, showing us:

  • Bomb craters
  • Booby traps
  • Missiles
  • Tunnel ventilation systems scattered in between trees.

 

Jungle on Ben Duoc

Bomb crater

Cu Chi Tunnels

Missiles shells at Cu Chi

Mannequins of Cu Chi soldiers

 

We were all invited to crawl inside sections of the tunnels and it was nerve-racking (especially for two tall guys like Nuno and me).

 

Nuno entering the Cu Chi tunnel

 

Inside the tunnels, the air was thin and hot. The lights were dim and fruit bats kept flying through people’s hair. If you’re claustrophobic or anxiety-prone, don’t even.
Here’s a short video we made that day:

Afterward, we were called to taste what Vietnamese soldiers ate back then: boiled manioc dipped in salt, sugar, and crushed peanuts.

 

Boiled manioc dipped in salt, sugar and crushed peanuts

 

If you’re willing to pay some extra you can fire an AK-47 rifle on a shooting range. In our case, we decided to visit the buildings and gardens around the memorial park. It was nice to see that a battlefield where so many people were killed, now grows beautiful orchids as a form of tribute.

 

 

Cu Chi Temple Memorial building

Pink orchid at the Cu Chi gardens

 

Why were the Cu Chi Tunnels Built?

They’re an underground tunnel system dug by the Vietnamese during the fight for independence against French colonists, then used and developed to fight Americans during the Vietnam War (or American War as the Vietnamese call it). At its pinnacle, the tunnels became a complex anthill with several storeys deep, hospitals, living quarters, and communication routes that stretched for more than 250 kilometers long.

Nowadays they’re a reminder of Vietnam’s underground warfare, the determination of its people, and a famous tourist attraction.

 

Mannequins on a hospital set below the Cu Chi Tunnels





Returning to Ho Chi Minh City

Now that you know how to get to the Cu Chi tunnels by bus, you’ll also need to know how to head back from Ben Duoc to Ho Chi Minh City.
First, have in mind that the last Nº79 bus of the day to HCMC is at 5:30 PM. After that, you’re on your own!
Catch it on the same road you hopped off. Then, at the Cu Chi Station get on the Nº13 all the way back to District 1.

Looking for things to do in HCMC? Check out the post Waking Up in Ho Chi Minh City.

It’s important to mention that the bus rides to and from Ben Duoc were really enjoyable! Experiencing public transports in Vietnam is something you shouldn’t miss, it will make you feel like one of the gang. It’s a great way to chat with locals and meet travelers alike.

 

 

On our way to the Cu Chi Tunnels, we met an Israeli family of 5: mom, dad, and 3 kids with 13, 8, and 4 years old. It was their first time in Vietnam.
The family was traveling for 3 months and the parents were super stoked to be sharing this experience with their kids.
(We’re sharing this to inspire all those parents believing they can’t travel anymore because they have a child. Obviously, travel logistics will be different and WAY more demanding, but it goes to show that it’s possible!)

 

Why we avoided the Guided Tours

At the reception of our hotel, we saw a bunch of flyers for organized group tours to the Cu Chi Tunnels starting at €6,50 for half a day (entrance fees were not included). Meaning that we would be paying the “tourist fee” for transportation plus getting a time constraint. And even though €6,50 is not that much money, we knew we could do it for at least a third of the money and actually did it for way less.

 

If you have any questions or some extra info to share that everybody can benefit from, leave it down in the comments! 

Nuno and Mario

Hi there! We’re Nuno and Mário and we share helpful tips to make travel planning easy for you.

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