Apr 27 2011
The Cu Chi tunnels are a site worth seeing if you are visiting Saigon. However, since they are roughly 70km round trip from the city centre, visiting them on a tour can take the majority of a day. When time in the city is limited they may seem unreachable, but fear not: you can get there and back and still have half a day to spare.
Start by hiring a taxi for the trip. You should do this the night before because you are going to want to get an early start to the day. The taxi will cost around 800,000 VND, giving you a round trip to the tunnels and a taxi for six hours; each additional hour will cost 50,000 extra. Have the taxi pick you up at 6:00, putting you in Cu Chi when it opens at 7:00.
Being early is an advantage because you beat the larger tour groups, which is great because you don’t have to wait for them to slowly go through the narrow tunnels. Also, since you came to the tunnels independently, you are not part of a larger tour group, giving you a more intimate experience with your tunnel guide.
Because you won’t be waiting for the tour group stragglers, you’ll have much more time in the tunnels for pictures, and if you’re lucky your guide may be a bit of a photographer himself. One thing to watch out for, however, is that because you will be one of the first people through the tunnels, the bats that inhabit these underground areas may not yet have been scared off to other hiding spots. Be prepared to feel a bat brush by on your crawl through.
After you explore the tunnels, you will still have plenty of time to check out other nearby attractions such as the memorial temple, Cu Chi village, the shooting gallery, and even grab a bite to eat. Then it’s back to your taxi and Saigon, where you will still have the rest of the day to explore.
This half-day option works best if you are in a group of three or more, because you can save time and split the taxi fare. For a cheaper tunnel excursion try the bus. Go to Thanh bus station (opposite Ben Thanh market) take bus number 13 for 7,000 VND (from Saigon to Củ Chi) and then take a second bus, number 79 for 5,000 VND(Củ Chi- Dầu Tiếng). Remember to check returning bus times before enjoying the tunnels.
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