Active + Adventure

Controversial Tourist Attractions

by Bob Payne

Cu Chi Tunnels

The infamy: About 40 miles northwest of Ho Chi Minh City, this vast tunnel complex was an underground city in which, during the Vietnam War, thousands of Vietnamese soldiers and civilians lived and died. Many of the deaths were a result of some of the most intense U.S. bombing of the war, which is saying a lot.

Tasteless tourism? Sections of the tunnels have been widened so that Western visitors with supersized posteriors can squeeze into them while being led by Vietnamese guides. The guides, often wearing Viet Cong–style black pajamas as part of the show, will insist on repeating what good friends everyone is now and will confirm that, yes, as part of the tour, they can arrange for you to fire an AK-47 assault rifle, the weapon of choice of the Viet Cong, for about one dollar per shell.

Why go? The Cu Chi tunnels are examples of extraordinary resourcefulness and inventiveness under the most extreme conditions possible, and everyone can benefit from being reminded that every story has, at a minimum, two sides.

Saigon Tourist, $25 for a half-day tour.

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.



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