Our guide demonstrates the uses of the tunnels

The Cu Chi tunnels history is an extremely important one in the modern history of Vietnam. Since the late 1940’s against the French and then from the 1960’s on wards against the American forces, The Cu Chi tunnels would help re-shape the country forever.

 

Plan showing the elaborate Cu Chi tunnels
Plan showing the elaborate Cu Chi tunnels

Cu Chi tunnels history

The tunnels were constructed in the 1940’s by the peasant army of the Vietnamese to push back the French invading forces.

 

Peasant army begins construction of the tunnels
Cu Chi tunnels history – Peasant army begins construction of the tunnels

With the integrity of the tunnels still intact, the Viet Cong forces refortified the Cu Chi tunnels for the war against the Americans in the 1960’s. 

After enlarging the tunnels for better strategic use, the Northern Vietnamese forces created a spider web like construct that could contain upwards of 10,000 troops.

Hospitals, communication centres and sleeping areas built underground meant the Viet Cong could utilise a new breed of guerrilla warfare against the American forces.

Meeting room inside Cu Chi tunnels
Meeting room inside Cu Chi tunnels

 

The ‘hit and run’ tactics used were so effective, that victory parades were held in nearby villages. Even with the American GI’s being so close by.

American strategy to combat the tunnels

The Cu Chi tunnels were so well hidden, that the Americans had no idea they even existed. When the tunnels were discovered, the Americans had very few ideas of how to fight against such an enemy.

The tunnels had a massive demoralising effect on the American army. Knowing that the Viet Cong were so close to Saigon. They started to attack from the air with bombing and chemical warfare.

 

US Air Force begins carpet bombing of Vietnam in 1965
US Air Force begins carpet bombing of Vietnam in 1965

 

The Cu Chi tunnels history is a fascinating piece of Vietnamese folklore. Taking a trip to the tunnels when visiting Ho Chi Minh City is a must for any traveller.

There are many ways to visit the Cu Chi tunnels, but I would recommend a trip by boat. For a unique experience that you will not forget;

More Reading: Cu Chi tunnels by boat – Something a little different

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