Cu Chi Tunnels is a network of underground passageways that run to more than 120 miles (200 kilometers) in total length in this area alone. Work by the Viet Cong commenced in 1948 as a means of shelter from the French air attacks during the Indochina conflict.
Cu Chi is often seen as a symbolic representation of the resilience of the Vietnamese people. It is an extensive network running underneath the Cu Chi District northwest of Saigon. Originally built in the time of the French, the tunnels were enlarged during the America-Vietnam War in order to combat better-supplied. In heavily bombed areas, people spent much of their life underground, and the Cu Chi tunnels grew to house entire underground villages, in effect, with living quarters, kitchens, ordnance factories, hospitals and bomb shelters. In addition to providing underground shelter, the Cu Chi tunnels served a key role during combat operations. Soldiers used these underground routes to house troops, transport communications and supplies, lay booby traps and mount surprise attacks. There were even theaters where performers entertained with song and dance and traditional stories. The 121 kilometer long complex of tunnels at Cu Chi has been preserved by the government of Vietnam, and turned into a war memorial park with two different tunnel display sites, Ben Dinh and Ben Duoc. Visitors to Vietnam can crawl through some of the safer areas of the tunnels, view command centers and booby traps, fire an AK-47 rifle on a firing range and even eat a meal featuring typical foods that soldiers living in the tunnels would have eaten.
Much of the original tunnel system was destroyed in bombing raids during the 1970s but existing parts have been restored and opened as a poignant and fascinating reminder.