During the war in Vietnam, thousands of people in the Vietnamese province of Cu Chi lived in an elaborate system of underground tunnels. Originally built in the time of the French, the tunnels were enlarged during the American presence. When the Americans began bombing the villages of Cu Chi, the survivors went underground where they remained for the duration of the war.
The secret tunnels, which joined village to village and often passes beneath American bases, were not only fortifications for Viet Cong guerillas, but were also the center of community life. Hidden beneath the destroyed villages were schools and public spaces were hospitals where children were born and surgery was performed on casualties of war: underground were schools and public spaces where couples were married and private places where lovers met. There were even theaters where performers entertained with song and dance and traditional stories
At its height the tunnel system stretched over 250km. from Saigon to the Cambodian border and was three levels deep. The network included innumerable trap doors, specially constructed living areas, storage facilities, weapons factories, field hospitals, command centers and kitchens. Today the remaining tunnels have become a major tourist attraction giving the visitor a unique experience and a feel of what underground life in the American war must have been like. The tunnels have been widened for our benefit (otherwise we would not be able to enter them!) For those interested there’s even the opportunity to fire off rounds from an AK47 or MK16 at the nearby rifle range.