Vinh Moc Tunnel
Vinh Moc Tunnel (Địa đạo Vĩnh Mốc) – an underground miniaturized village – is the largest historical tunnel in the DMZ of Vietnam
Deep beneath the dark earth, hidden from screeching bombers and harbouring desperate soldiers, the people of Vinh Linh, Quang Tri lived for many years in the now famous Vinh Moc Tunnel. They survived, and even prospered in their makeshift underground community. During that time, 17 children were born in the tunnels, each of whose lives is a testament to just how perfect the complex network of caves and warrens were at protecting those forces within. As time goes by, it has become both a historical evidence and a tourist destination for discovering a heroic period of Vietnam’s history.
The DMZ (a tunnel complex of Vietnam), lies on the south of China Sea, north of Ben Hai River. Within this complex, Vinh Moc tunnel is located in Vinh Moc, Vinh Thach Commune, Vinh Linh District, Quang Tri Province. The complex in Vinh Linh has as many as more than 60 tunnels such as Tan My, Mu Giai, Tan Ly tunnels, among which Vinh Moc is the most solid and firm village tunnel, with 3 floors and round staircase, still remaining as in its past days.
The tunnel soil is a dense clay, allowing easy hands digging of the tunnels. Air caused the clay to harden, making the walls extremely strong. The tunnel network’s total length is nearly 2 km, structured into three floors with the first 13 m beneath the ground, the second 15 m, and the third, 23 m. The village tunnel was built in over two years and required approximately 6,000 cubic metres of earth to be dug out. The main inner axis is 2,034m long, 1-1.2m wide, and 1.5-4.1m high. The two side cliffs are moulded into small temporary houses every 3m. The tunnel center has a 150 seated hall, clinics and maternity place. It is linked to the sea by seven exits, which also function as ventilators, and to a nearby hill by another six.
Those known of Vietnam’s heroic historical war must have some understanding of the tunnel network in Quang Tri citadel – a witness of the severe war. The Vinh Moc spectacular tunnel network within the zone stands as a testament to the endurance, wisdom and bravery of the local people in their fight for independence.
|Gate No 10
The Vinh Moc tunnel complex was built to shelter the people of Son Trung and Son Ha communes in Vinh Linh county of Quang Tri Province. It was constructed in several stages, beginning in 1966 and coming into use until 1971. The complex grew to consist of wells, kitchens, rooms for each family and clinics. Around 60 families lived in the tunnels; as many as 17 children were born inside the tunnels as well. Finally, the tunnels were a success and no villagers lost their lives thanks to them. The only direct hit was from a bomb that failed to explode, the resulting hole was utilized as a ventilation shaft.
|Gate No 04
Historical Name. “Their real name is Son Vinh Tunnels,” one designer witnessing this said, “From the very beginning we called it Son Vinh tunnels. Son means mountain and Vinh not only refers to Vinh Moc, but to the Vinh Linh people. The people of Son Trung and Son Ha communes and the men of border-post also helped build the tunnels.”
Ten years after the war had ended, I heard that the Vinh Moc Tunnels were opened to tourists. Arriving at the t
unnels tourists always put their hands on the wooden planks to feel how cold they were. These days, the government is striving to preserve their existence.
|Gate No 05
Historical story. In the mid-1960s, the area was a burnt and blackened wasteland, constantly under attack from the US. During a meeting of the local Vietnamese soldiers to discuss how to stop all the constant casualties and better protect the community, some put forth the idea of moving the people underground. For them, it would be meaningless if the local people could not be protected since without the people their post would cease to exist.
|Gate No 03
After the meeting, an initial plan to construct a U-shaped tunnel on the seaside cliff was put forward. The US had not yet begun using the infamous B-52 bombers at Vinh Linh, but it was only a matter of time. As the plan manifested, the soldiers followed up with two A-shaped tunnels, connecting them with the U-turn and forming a connected chain of tunnels and bomb shelters. This initial network also acted as a base to retaliate against the enemy if they landed at Vinh Linh and conveniently as an entry point for supplies to the Con Co Island nearby.
Yet, of course it wasn’t that simple. The tunnels needed 5m-deep ventilation openings, and as the community within expanded, they had to develop wells, kitchens, bedrooms and health-stations. The tunnels also had to store provisions for the army and locals, and had to be able to house as well as transport hundreds of tonnes of rice. The tunnels are not just famous for the uniqueness of the constructors’ endeavor, but for the meticulous ingenuity of their design. All the kitchens required chimneys, which had to be able to disperse their smoke without attracting enemy planes, no easy feat for a designer who was trying to fight a war.
|Gate No 03
When the underground channels were designed, the designers had the foresight to consider their protection as well as their construction. They must be well against damage long, tropical rains, and monsoon. Architects would like to visit this historical and solid shelter to figure out how their elders could succeed in constructing such a complex, huge, but firm and sufficient place of living. The tunnel is accurately a miniaturized image of a deep underground village with all necessary services (houses for all families, birthplace, health-stations, etc.), but can stand still firmly until now. The answer may be revealed in a heroic mentality and great endeavor of the people in that historical period.
Today, people no longer need the tunnel to shelter but consider it as one of the top destinations of some history-discovering tour. You are fond of history, and you prefer adventure, the foremost suggestion is a visit to Vinh Moc tunnel!
How to get there
Vinh Moc tunnel is usually included in tour itinerary for DMZ tour from Hue city at most travel agencies. As the local transportation from Hue to this area is not very easy for foreigners to navigate, it is recommended that tourists planning to visit this area book a tour. There are a lot of day tours from Hue to DMZ area in Quang Tri for tourists to choose from. Look at some itineraries offered and pick one that is most suitable for your time-frame and liking. Some itineraries for reference can be found here: day tour from Hue
Cu Chi Tunnel
A great evidence and memorial site of southern Vietnam’s heroic and heart-breaking war against foreign invaders is found in Cu Chi Tunnel, northwest of Saigon (Hochiminh city)
Around 70 kilometers northwest of Saigon, Cu Chi Tunnel is right near the so-called “Iron Triangle” of Southern Vietnam. Both the Saigon River and Route 1 pass through this region which used to serve as major supply routes in and out of Saigon during the war. Hence, the Cu Chi (in Vietnamese: Củ Chi
) and the nearby Ben Cat districts had immense strategic value for the NLF (National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam), contributing to persuading the weary Americans into withdrawal, and has now become a popular tourist attraction for both domestic and international visitors.
Significant historical role
The Cu Chi Tunnel is a huge network of underground tunnels in the Cu Chi district, and part of a larger tunnel network underlying much of Vietnam. It became legendary in the war for facilitating the local guerrillas to win over the American troops. At first, there was no direct order of building the tunnels. However, many patriots who worked secretly in the region and were hidden by local families were caught in the French sweep operations. The locals thus had to dig secret shelters as hiding places for these patriots in the ground around their houses, which was the very early part of the tunnel. Still, the French found out and many more were captured hiding in these secret shelters. Gradually they learned to dig tunnels from one shelter to another, making the Cu Chi complex. Finally, in 1965, the tunnel was completed for the Viet Minh to hide from French air and ground sweeps.
If you are historians, or simply history-desirers, and would like to figure out how hard and heart-breaking the Vietnamese people lived and won over the past war, you should come here and try a real supposed day of the Viet tough life in the underground shelter of Cu Chi by yourself.
The tunnel network stretches over 250km in total length, and comprises numerous shelters, classes, sleeping chambers, kitchens and wells inside, which were built to house and feed the growing number of residents. Several rudimentary hospitals were created to treat the wounded. Most of the supplies and materials were stolen or scavenged from U.S. bases or troops.
The tough life underground
Today, tourists flock to the tunnel so as to figure out the tough life endured by the Vietnamese guerrillas during the war time of hiding from the invasion troops. In the gone days, air, food and water were scarce and the tunnels were infested with ants, poisonous centipedes, spiders and mosquitoes. Guerrillas would spend the day in the tunnels working or resting and come out only at night to scavenge supplies, tend their crops or engage the enemy in battle. Yet, during periods of heavy bombing or American troop movement, they would be sometimes forced to remain underground for many days at a time. Sickness was rampant among the people living in the tunnels; especially malaria, which accounted for the second largest cause of death next to battle wounds. A captured NLF report suggests that at any given time half of a PLAF unit had malaria and that “one-hundred percent had intestinal parasites of significance.” In spite of these hardships, the NLF managed to wage successful campaigns against a conscripted army that was technologically far superior. For such a meaningful historical value, the tunnel is now absorptive to hundreds of thousands of tourists, particularly foreign ones, to come and explore the heroic and harsh period of the Vietnamese guerrillas.
Today’s Cu Chi Tunnel – an important tourism destination
After the nation gained back its independence, this 75-mile-long complex of tunnels has been preserved, and turned into a war memorial park, attracting a huge number of tourists. An activity approved by the majority of tourists is crawling around in the safer parts of the tunnel system. Some tunnels have been made larger to accommodate the larger size of western tourists, while low-power lights have been installed in several of them to make traveling through them easier and booby traps have been clearly marked.
Also, if you join our tour to Cu Chi tunnel, you are offered a meal inside the tunnel, which is exactly the same as what was experienced by the past guerrillas. If you are fond of adventure and secret-exploration, this would be of great captivation to you! More importantly, touring Cu Chi, you would learn more about the war and the resilience of the
Vietnamese. Hence, just come and explore a hard but heroic and resilient Vietnam on your own, you will surely never regret!
Cu Chi tunnels are considered one of the can-not-miss Ho Chi Minh tourist attractions with its historical value as a symbol for the iron will of Vietnamese during the war. There are many travel agencies that offer tours from the city to this attraction. Cu Chi tunnels tours are usually designed as half a day or one day trips from Ho Chi Minh city with variable prices to accommodate different level of budgets.
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