It is always exciting when we get to a new city. There are new foods to explore, new street markets to wander, and new people to meet. Sometimes, though, it is a bit overwhelming. So when Les Rives reached out to us to collaborate on a post highlighting some of the main tourist spots in Saigon, we jumped at the opportunity to sit back and let Les Rives do the planning! All I have to say is, I wish there was a Les Rives in every city we traveled!
We began our Saigon adventures by taking a luxury speed boat from Saigon on the Saigon River to the Cu Chi Tunnels. We had a delicious breakfast aboard the speed boat, and our guide gave us an intro to what we would be experiencing once we arrived at the tunnels.
The Cu Chi Tunnels were a prime battle spot during the Vietnam War as it laid along a route directly to Saigon. Consequently, the people of the region were subject to severe bombings and bombardments, forcing them to find refuge underground. Why underground? According to our guide the tunnels were dug to a depth such that a majority of American bombs could not reach them. These tunnels became havens for supply routes, food and living quarters during times of conflict.
Having taken American history growing up, it was very interesting hearing about the “American War,” from the Vietnamese perspective. Not only did our guide illustrate how much the Vietnamese did not want to be at war, it just propelled my UC Berkeley belief that no one wanted to be part of the “Vietnam War,” but getting political is not my intention with this blog or this post. My main takeaway from this tour was the human aspect to the Cu Chi Tunnels. Imagining what it must have been like for the Vietnamese living and fighting in these tunnels and what it must have been like for the foreign “tunnel rats” being sent into the tunnels during the war.
WHAT TO EXPECT DURING YOUR CU CHI TUNNEL TOUR
1. Watch a short perspective-bending propaganda film
2. Watch a Cu Chi Tunnel employee climb into the tunnels (like above) – then it’s your turn!
3. Learn about the Cu Chi booby traps (they are really terrifying – think bamboo spikes)
4. Crawl through a widened Cu Chi Tunnel (key word – widened!)
5. Try some traditional Cu Chi food
Initially, I was nervous about the Vietnamese reception of two American tourists, especially two American tourists visiting the Cu Chi Tunnels. Well, aside from watching an interesting documentary (read: propaganda piece) on the war from the 1970s, I have to say, the Vietnamese were extremely hospitable and happy to show off their home country to us. Les Rives organized a beautiful tour that made visiting the Cu Chi Tunnels a must see destination while in Saigon.
We are currently in China, follow along with our adventures on Instagram!