Our second day was actually the biggest day for us because this is the day we were really looking forward to since this is the only tourist spot we really planned a bit thoroughly. The only place we lined up for this day was the Cu Chi tunnels.
We did research about the place and according to some articles we’ve read, there are 2 cu chi tunnel sections tourists could go to – one in Ben Dinh and the other in Ben Duoc – with the latte being the farthest but the less touristy one. Having said that, we opted to go to Ben Duoc to avoid the crowd.
The travel took about 3 and a half hours from the Airbnb. We left at 5 in the morning, took a Grab and a bus, then arrived at the place at around 8:30. The place was actually still closed when we arrived so we ate breakfast first at the restaurant beside the ticket booth.
The entrance costs 9000 VND and the entrance to the tunnels section itself is still roughly 30 minutes away from the ticket booth. At the tunnel entrance, you’ll be guided to a hut for a brief video introduction about the history of the tunnels. There are 3 huts – one for English, another for Chinese and another for Vietnamese (I think). After watching the video, a guide will be assigned to you and he will also orient you through the different levels and purposes of the tunnels. If there won’t be any question, the guide will then lead you to the area of the tunnels.
These tunnels actually played an important part during the Vietnam War. The tunnels served as the hiding places of Vietnamese soldiers and it has several levels that serve different purposes – sleeping quarters, kitchen, clinic, meeting rooms, exhaust – are the primary ones.
(I don’t really have much photos because I was so amazed so you just have to trust my words and see it for yourself.)
You could actually go inside some of the tunnels. According to our guide, the part of the tunnels that are open for tourists were widened for better accommodation but it used to be really narrow. We went in, of course, and it wasn’t really that wide so I can’t imagine how narrow it used to be during the war.
There were also some traps set up in along the area which were actually used by the soldiers before. :O
Our guide also let us travel through these passageways and it was indeed an experience. I actually salute Vietnamese soldiers for building the tunnels. Because of it, they managed to win the war. \m/ I really can’t say much because I was really in awe, listening to the stories. So, be sure to visit these tunnels when you get the chance.
At the end of the tour, you will be served with boiled tapioca, with sugar and peanut, which was grown in the area itself. Overall, the tour lasted for about 2 hours. It depends, of course, at your pace and how much photos you take. And since we weren’t able to take much, we finished a bit early.
On the way out, there were also a few displays of the traps and weapons the soldiers developed during the war. The tunnel was actually inside a compound with a few other places to check out. Two of which are Buddhist temples. We didn’t explore much since we’re expecting the travel back would be worse due to traffic. Nevertheless, the commute back wasn’t much of a hassle but the traffic was real. We had to get back in time since we already booked our bus ticket to Cambodia beforehand and wouldn’t want to miss it.
We booked in advance through 12Go and thank God we did because it was really hassle-free. We arrived at the agency early so we got our ticket and ate at a restaurant close to it which was a Hawaiian-themed cuisine in the first floor and a Vietnamese cuisine at the second floor. Since they offer both, we decided to order from the two restaurants because why not.
The first floor offers poke bowls and we tried out the Korean-inspired dish – Beef kimchi bowl. We ordered the regular sized one however it was still too much for the two of us. Aside from that, we also ordered fresh spring rolls from the restaurant upstairs. We were really looking for the peanut dip we got to try before flying out to Vietnam. Unfortunately, they didn’t serve it like that in Saigon, at least in the food establishments we ate at. But their fresh spring roll was so delicious (as compared to the one we bought at the market).
We didn’t spend much time and ate pretty quickly so as not to get left by the bus. Haha. So we just returned to the agency as soon as we’re done.
The driver came at the exact schedule so we brought out our bags then boarded the bus and off we go. The trip comes with free small bottled water and wet tissue. Downside was that the bus ride took 8 hours. But then, we’re crossing a border so that was expected, I think.
At the border, the conductor collected our passports then we went down to the immigration, waited for our passport to be stamped at the Vietnam end. On the Cambodia side, the bus passed through and stopped by a restaurant near the border where we waited for the conductor to come back with our passports. It was actually a bit scary knowing that we don’t have our passport with us. Nevertheless, we got through. The conductor brought it back stamped from the immigration at the Cambodian side.
The ride from the border to Phnom Penh proper was the longest one. We actually arrived at almost midnight. The only good thing was that the bus stop was a 10-minute walk from the Airbnb we booked so we got to lay and rest pretty soon.
So, our second day was actually spent mostly inside a bus. But I’d commend the hassle-free passing through the Vietnam-Cambodia border. I guess that’s it for now. And remember to visit Cu Chi tunnels in Ho Chi Minh!