Here at Chumtravel, we love history. It is what has made our world what it is today, and without it, cities and cultures would simply, not be the same. When you go on holiday, it is always good to learn a little about where you’re going and the history behind the place itself.
Vietnam is not only one of our favourite holiday destinations, but it is also the home to the impressive Cu Chi Tunnels. During the Vietnam War, the Viet Cong (Communist Guerrilla troops) developed the Cu Chi Tunnels that covered tens of thousands of miles underground. The guerrillas used these routes to transport supplies and communications, to lay booby traps, and even build residential villages under the Cu Chi District found north-west of Saigon (now known as Ho Chi Minh).
To oppose the tunnels, the US and South Vietnamese troops sent “tunnel rats” into the underground mazes to detect the malicious traps set by the guerrillas and to pre-empt their enemy’s actions.
The tunnels were built in the late 1940s – it was a gradual process as most were dug out and built by hand. During the peak time of the war, the tunnels connected VC bases as far as from Saigon all the way to the Cambodian border! (That’s over 250 kilometres!)
The US’s primary form of attack was via aerial bombings. The VC and Northern Vietnamese used the Cu Chi Tunnels in their defence in order to simply survive these destructive attacks. Despite being less equipped, the guerrilla tactics were well thought-out and vicious. Trip wires were set to detonate grenades or would even unleash poisonous snakes and scorpions on the US troops. It was these tactics that the US were trying to prevent by sending in their highly trained and nimble “tunnel rats” to scope out the forthcoming dangers.
In January 1966, an attempt was made to sweep through the Cu Chi Tunnels with 8,000 US and Australian soldiers. It was known as ‘Operation Crimp’ and was largely unsuccessful. ‘Operation Cedar Falls’ launched one year later. This time, 30,000 US soldiers attacked the communist base in Binh Duong (found north of Saigon, in the Iron Triangle by the border of Cambodia). Bulldozers and tanks were sent to drive out the VC and Northern Vietnamese residing within the tunnels. It was a successful movement, and thousands were driven out from the Cu Chi District’s underground city. The Americans destroyed the Communist’s crops, land and rice paddies with powerful herbicides and took part in a series of bombing attacks. The success was short-lived, and the VC movement had re-occupied the tunnels just months later. In 1968, the VC were using the tunnels once again, to their strengths during the Tet Offensive.
Throughout the Vietnam War, it is said that over 45,000 Vietnamese people died defending the Cu Chi Tunnels. When Saigon fell in 1975, the tunnels were well preserved and are to this day. They now draw mass tourism due to their fascinating history.
Vietnam is a beautiful country, full of brilliant food, culture, holiday resorts and history. How about you make a visit to the Cu Chi Tunnels for yourself on your next holiday?