International Travel, Itineraries & Trip Planning

How to Do the Cu Chi Tunnels Tour on Your Own

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One of the most popular things to do in Ho Chi Minh City (aka Saigon) is visiting the Cu Chi Tunnels.

Most people join a tour group to make the visit. But if you’re like me and averse to such group tours, however, great news: it’s possible to DIY it!

Here’s everything you need to know about visiting the Cu Chi Tunnels on your own.

1. There are actually two different Cu Chi Tunnels sites

While they’re technically part of the same tunnel network, Ben Duoc and Ben Dinh are two different sites for visiting the Cu Chi Tunnels.

The Ben Duoc Cu Chi Tunnels site may be a little further away from Ho Chi Minh City, but it’s less touristy and more true to what the tunnels were during the Vietnam War.

The Ben Dinh Cu Chi Tunnels, on the other hand, are mostly reconstructions.

And in order to accommodate tourists (especially Western tourists who may be a bit bigger in both height and weight), many of the tunnels there have been enlarged. It’s also where most tour companies go, guaranteeing a crowded experience even if you DIY it.

For the more authentic experience, go to Ben Duoc.

bombs & shells

2. You can tour the Cu Chi Tunnels on your own for $5

While you can certainly hire a driver to take you to the Ben Duoc Cu Chi Tunnels, it can be cost-prohibitive for most people. Instead, tackle the local bus system and get yourself there and back for 34,000 Vietnamese Dong ($1.47 USD).

Go to the bus station near September 23 Park, which is labeled on Google Maps as “Saigon Bus TDH” or “TĐH xe buýt Sài Gòn.” Once there, find Bus 13, which should have a sign on it that says “Cu Chi.” Tickets are 10,000 VND per person as of Feb. 2020 (h/t to reader Anderson).

Take that bus all the way to the terminus; it takes roughly 1 hour 40 minutes. Then hop on Bus 79 and mention Ben Duoc Cu Chi to your driver. Tickets for this bus are 7,000 VND each as of Feb. 2020, and the ride takes about 25 minutes.

Pro tip: download the BusMap app beforehand to make traveling by bus in and around Ho Chi Minh City a breeze. It’s a serious lifesaver. 

Once you get off the bus, cross to the other side of the street toward this sign.

Entrance to Ben Duoc Cu Chi Tunnels

Since this site is way less visited, it is also less catered to visitors and can feel a little confusing upon arrival. But follow the signs that exist carefully and you’ll find a small ticket kiosk along the path that veers to the left.

Tickets to the Ben Duoc Cu Chi Tunnels are 90,000 VND ($3.86 USD) and includes a guide.

Ben Duoc Cu Chi Tunnels tickets

3. You should keep an open mind

Once you have your ticket, follow the path toward the visiting area.

Along the way, you’ll find the Ben Duoc Memorial Temple. It was built to remember and honor those killed during both the Vietnam War and the First Indochina War against the country’s French colonizers.

Ben Duoc Memorial Temple

After another brief stroll along a forested path, you’ll find the meeting point for the tour.

Tours run based on demand, and the ticket kiosk seems to communicate with the guides to let them know whether to start a tour or wait for a couple more folks to show up. When we got to the meeting point, it looked like our guide and the 10 or so other guests had been waiting for us. (Oops, took too long at the temple).

First up was a 20ish-minute documentary. It was blatantly anti-American, but I can imagine that our history books and war memorial sites are no less biased.

The guides are very knowledgeable and will then take you on an interactive tour of the tunnels. You’ll also see craters created by bombs dropped in the area as well as traps set to ambush the enemy.

Whatever your opinions about the Communist Party of Vietnam and the Vietnam War (known there as the American War or the Resistance War Against America), the Cu Chi Tunnels are truly a symbol of the ingenuity, determination, and suffering of the South Vietnamese people.

4. The tunnels are not for the claustrophobic

Part of the tour is getting into the tunnels themselves to experience how Vietnamese soldiers and civilians lived for years during the war.

It was truly a humbling experience to get inside the tunnels, but it is not for everyone.

entering Cu Chi Tunnels

You really had to squeeze and bend over in the tunnels. As someone who is 5’9” but very flexible, I could just barely maneuver inside the tunnels without getting on my hands and knees, but almost everyone else in our group had to.

It was hot and humid inside, and you never knew what other surprises you’d get.

I’d just turned a corner when a bat flew straight over my boyfriend’s head. (Thank goodness I’d turned the corner — it would have scared the shit out of me.)

Cu Chi Tunnels
This photo makes the tunnel look much larger than it actually is.

The good news is that you can still experience the tunnels without getting in.

There are several larger rooms inside the tunnels that were used as hospitals and such, and nowadays mannequins have been displayed to show what it would have been like. You can enter and see these rooms without getting down and dirty or feeling anxious about the close quarters.

Cu Chi Tunnels display

5. Budget a full day for your visit

In the end, we spent approximately 2 hours at the Ben Duoc Cu Chi Tunnels before taking the bus back. (Simply stand by the road outside the entrance area and flag down the next Bus 79 that you see.)

We’d left Ho Chi Minh City around 9:50 a.m. and got back around 5 p.m. So yes, the majority of the day is spent on buses, but it’s a fantastic way to experience something in a more local fashion.

While you’d be able to visit the Ben Dinh tunnels with a tour group in as little as half a day, I strongly recommend taking the time for this more authentic experience.

Last note of advice: bring insect repellant! There were some nasty little buggers out there.

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How to Do the Ben Duoc Cu Chi Tunnels Tour on Your Own

21 thoughts on “How to Do the Cu Chi Tunnels Tour on Your Own

  1. Oooooh that entrance looks so tiny! I doubt that I can squeeze my European size 40 through that hole :’) It’s a great tip though, and will absolutely try it if I make it to Ho Chi Minh one day!

  2. I had no idea that you could visit the tunnels on your own! I wasn’t going to go to the tunnels when I was in Vietnam, but a typhoon heading towards the Mekong Delta meant I had extra time in HCMC. So, to the tunnels I went. I agree with you. Say what you will about the north Vietnamese, visiting the tunnels shows why they won they war. The ingenuity and dedication! And, I’ve never been claustrophobic, but doing 30m in the tunnels….hot, humid, and terrifying.

  3. I visited the Cu Chi tunnels in 2015. I went on the worst tour of my trip. I paid so much money and went on the worst tour of my time in Vietnam.

    I really admire you for taking local transport out to the tunnels! And thank you for writing such detailed information on how to get there.

    You’re right. The 20-minute video is pretty anti-American, but what do you expect? I don’t blame them at all.

    Great post!

    1. Oof did you end up on one of those tours where they drive you to shopping “rest stops” where they get commission? And the tour ends up being mostly on the tour bus and at these rest stops vs the actual destination?

    1. Hi Shane, I don’t remember seeing that option anywhere on premise at Ben Duoc. I know it is definitely possible at Ben Dinh as it is option advertised as part of tour packages.

  4. Thank you very much for your informative post. I followed your instructions and made it to Ben Duoc hassle free.
    Something that I didn’t really understand and wanted to ask you about is your comment on the video shown before the visit to the tunnel. You say it is “blatantly anti american”, I watched the video, I didn’t see anything anti-american, they just say that a country thousands of miles away was dropping bombs on Vietnam, including children. This is unfortunately what happened. I haven’t heard any untrue claim.
    To answer the question from Shane, yes you can shoot there. I would just do some readings beforehand. In case you missed something, this is a site were people fought a war, there were many deaths, I cannot really understand why you should go there and shoot, does it make any sense? Can’t you just go and understand what is this about? Or to make it more real shall we also put puppets with the US Army uniform to shoot at?

    1. Hi Federico,

      I’m glad to hear that you were able to use this info to visit Ben Duoc on your own.

      As for the video, I have to say it’s been about 18 months so I’m a bit fuzzy about the details. But I remember specifically hearing things that were very opinionated instead of completely factual. (For example, saying “this apple has a rot all over” is different from saying “this disgusting apple has a miserable rot and deserves to be chucked over the balcony.”) I will say my partner did not have the same reaction, so it’s possible that my professional background just makes me much more attuned to any sort of opining, however subtle.

      Best,
      Rowena

  5. Omg! This post saved my life. Can’t stand the tours anymore and was giving up on the tunnels already haha Thanks for the tips! Wish me luck ?

  6. Hi Rowena
    Thanks so much for the detailed information.. I did this trip today with my son and it went of so easily. Wow.. it seemed as if the whole area was reserved for us as there were hardly any tour operators and it saved the precious dollars as well.
    Your pics to indicate the route and kiosk were particularly helpful.
    Thanks
    Rajneet

    1. Oh, this gives me so much joy to hear! I’m so glad it went well for you and your son, Rajneet. Enjoy the rest of your trip, and happy holidays.

  7. Hi Guys,
    We’re in our way back from the Ben Duoc Cuchi tunnels. We took the public bus and it worked great.
    Thank you for such a good post! We couldn’t have done it this way without it.
    Definitely worth the experience!

    1. Hi Matias, thanks for reporting back! So glad this post was helpful for you. Feel free to share with others who may be going soon, and enjoy the rest of your trip!

  8. Hey Rowena, I’ll go to Ho Chi Minh on February for two days. Is it possible to visit both tunnel in a half day? Or do you visit one will be just enough for the experience?
    And how about renting a motorcycle to get there?
    Thanks for the so detailed article anyway

    1. Hi Jan,

      I would say you only need to visit one set of tunnels. But half a day is not enough time to visit the Ben Duoc Cu Chi Tunnels if you’re taking public transport. Maybe the Ben Dinh ones, but I can’t say for sure since I did not do those.

      Renting a motorcycle in Ho Chi Minh City will get you there faster than public transit. That said, unless you are a very experienced motorbike driver who has driven in a lot of crowded big cities, I would avoid renting one in Ho Chi Minh City. The traffic there is very difficult to navigate!

      Best,
      Rowena

  9. Hi Rowena, thanks so much for sharing all the information! I went via public buses today and everything went smooth.

    I just would like to update about the buses fares (March/2020): the first bus now costs 10,000VND and the second 7,000VND. Entry fee at the tunnels/temple still the same.

    Best,

    1. Hi Anderson,

      Glad to hear the info was useful and that you had a great trip! Thanks so much for the intel, always appreciate updates from folks. Will be updating the post.

      Happy travels,
      Rowena

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