Cruise Blog

Pre-cruise excursion to Cu Chi Tunnels

posted Mar 13, 2014, 1:03 AM by Long Quoc Tran   [ updated Nov 8, 2016, 5:53 PM ]

Before the cruise on Jayavarman or right after you finish the cruise, you can visit Cu Chi Tunnels

Cu Chi is about 40 km northwest of Ho Chi Minh City in Southern Vietnam. The Cu Chi Tunnels are an elaborate underground community made up of 250 km of tunnels and chambers below the city


The tunnels were dug with simple tools and bare hands during the French occupation in the 1940s, and further expanded during the Vietnam War in the 1960s to provide refuge and a defensive advantage over the American soldiers. Despite all the bombings in their town, the Cu Chi people were able to continue their lives beneath the soil, where they slept, ate, planned attacks, healed their sick, and taught their young. Some even wed and gave birth underground, but over 10,000 lost their lives here.

cu chi

How to get there

A multitude of tour buses leave Ho Chi Minh City for the Cu Chi tunnels daily. Expect to pay around US$5 for a half day guided trip (not including admission to the tunnels), with 90 minutes travel and about an hour and a half touring the area. Buses mostly leave around 8:00, so consider a private car if this isn't suitable. Tour operators on Pham Ngu Lao will quote from $45-75 return by private car, or possibly lower -- don't be afraid to shop around.

If you're making the trip independently, hop on bus 13 from the Ben Thanh bus station. The last stop on the route is Cu Chi. Bus fare is 7,000 VND, and the ride is about 1.5 hours. When you arrive at the Cu Chi bus station negotiate a motorbike driver for the 20-minute ride for around 100,000 VND return (pay attention as starting price could be 200,000 VND or more). It is also possible to take bus 79. Ask the driver for Cu Chi tunnels, the ride will last about 45 minutes and cost 5,000 VND. The bus will reach a T-junction with Ben Duoc on the left and Ben Dinh on the right. Get off at this point and walk on to Ben Dinh, or stay on the bus as it drives right pass the Ben Duoc entrance. Warning, the buses are sometimes very warm and crowded but manageable.

Admission to the tunnels is 90,000 VND as at Febuary 2013, which includes a guide who may or may not speak English well. While friendly, these guides may attempt to rush the tour or distance you from paid guides/groups -- just indicate that you aren't ready to move on yet and take your time if you feel you're being rushed.

There are actually two locations frequented by tourists:

Ben Duoc This is further out from Ho Chi Minh and many local Vietnamese go there. Tour companies can organize a day tour on demand, but you would be better off hiring a motorbike. Entrance is 80,000 dong and a motorbike should cost about $1-2 per hour. The round trip is about 6 hours. A walking tour with tunnels and temple last about 1-2h. The tunnels feature enlarged tunnel segments for you to crawl through and demos of the sleeping, medical and command quarters underground. The ticket office also features two Mig's. Some guides here are lethargic and speak little English, but have show improvements recently. There are many dioramas including a mock village. A starch lunch is served for which a donation box is provided. Bats are also present.

Ben Dinh This is the touristed tunnels and you'll be in good company. Note that all the tunnel sections at this site have been specially created for tourists and were never part of the real network. Also note that bats can be found roosting in some of the tunnels, so if you get bitten or scratched by one find a hospital quickly as bats may carry rabies.

If you drive to Ben Dinh on your own you find the real coordinates to the tunnels here (as the coordinates shown on google maps are obviously wrong and there are very little signs directing to the tunnels)

What to see

If you visit this place, you will have the opportunity to experience to walk down the tunnels, and see the weapons Viet Cong used to against their enemy. This is an important historical site to visit outside of Ho Chi Minh City.

The 75-mile (121 km)-long complex of tunnels at Cu Chi has been preserved by the government of Vietnam, and turned into a war memorial park. The tunnels are a popular tourist attraction, and visitors are invited to crawl 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. Underground conference rooms where campaigns such as the Tết Offensive were planned in 1968 have been restored, and visitors may enjoy a simple meal of food that Viet Cong fighters would have eaten.
Above-ground attractions include caged monkeys, vendors selling souvenirs, and a shooting range where visitors can fire a number of assault rifles, such as the M16 rifle or AK-47, as well as a light machine gun like the M60.
This is the site of the Cu Chi tunnels, one of the most famous battlegrounds of the Vietnam War. Today it is one of the country's prime tourist attractions, part of a new industry of war tourism. Sometimes, these spots seem to be memorials to wartime propaganda as much to the war itself.
Following the man in green fatigues, the tourists arrive at an open-sided hut, where the women in black show them to their seats. There, on a big-screen television set, the Vietnam War plays on: B-52's drop strings of bombs, villagers run for cover, communist guerrillas fight back.
The Cu Chi tunnels, a 75-mile-long underground maze where thousands of fighters and villagers could hide, are at the top of the list of tourist spots for Ho Chi Minh City, 45 miles to the southeast. Another is the city's Museum of War Remnants, with its displays of captured weapons and its catalog of horrors, which only recently amended its name, with changing times, from the Museum of American War Crimes. If you visit this place, you will have the opportunity to experience to walk down the tunnels, and see the weapons Viet Cong used to against their enemy. This is an important historical site to visit outside of Ho Chi Minh City.
The 75-mile (121 km)-long complex of tunnels at Cu Chi has been preserved by the government of Vietnam, and turned into a war memorial park. The tunnels are a popular tourist attraction, and visitors are invited to crawl 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. Underground conference rooms where campaigns such as the Tết Offensive were planned in 1968 have been restored, and visitors may enjoy a simple meal of food that Viet Cong fighters would have eaten.
Above-ground attractions include caged monkeys, vendors selling souvenirs, and a shooting range where visitors can fire a number of assault rifles, such as the M16 rifle or AK-47, as well as a light machine gun like the M60.
This is the site of the Cu Chi tunnels, one of the most famous battlegrounds of the Vietnam War. Today it is one of the country's prime tourist attractions, part of a new industry of war tourism. Sometimes, these spots seem to be memorials to wartime propaganda as much to the war itself.
Following the man in green fatigues, the tourists arrive at an open-sided hut, where the women in black show them to their seats. There, on a big-screen television set, the Vietnam War plays on: B-52's drop strings of bombs, villagers run for cover, communist guerrillas fight back.
The Cu Chi tunnels, a 75-mile-long underground maze where thousands of fighters and villagers could hide, are at the top of the list of tourist spots for Ho Chi Minh City, 45 miles to the southeast. Another is the city's Museum of War Remnants, with its displays of captured weapons and its catalog of horrors, which only recently amended its name, with changing times, from the Museum of American War Crimes.

What to do

Fire Weapons - choose between the AK-47, M16,.30 Caliber Machine Gun, M60, M1 carbine, M1 Garand and Russian SKS. Great fun, if you can put from your mind what these "toys" were really designed for! As of May 2012, firing an AK-47 costs 35,000 dong per bullet.You do not have to go the Cu Chi tunnels in order to fire a gun, the range and tunnels are separate. It is located outside the Cu Chi complex, by walking it is 1.5 miles or take a motorbike.

Where to eat

There are a number of stalls selling food and drinks near the entrance. Mid-way around the walking track is a kiosk/restaurant selling drinks and food and ice-cream at reasonable prices, and at the end there are samples of traditional "Tapiaco (Asian Potato)" to try.

Where to stay

Mekong Ecolodge, Quarter 5, An Hoa Hamlet, Dong Hoa Hiep, ☎ +84 933 449 391 (info@mekonglodge.com). US$65.

You can also rent a room in any hotels in Ho Chi Minh city stay and visit Cu Chi tunnel in one day. After that you can return to the downtown and enjoy your night in the lively atmosphere.

Shopping

There are numerous souvenir shops at the end of the walking track. Given the location there is some focus on war memorabilia, as well as the traditional Vietnamese souvenirs found elsewhere.

What to do in Ben Tre

posted Mar 12, 2014, 7:46 PM by Tran Quoc Long   [ updated Mar 17, 2014, 6:53 PM by Long Quoc Tran ]

Ben Tre Province provides some of the most beautiful scenery in the Mekong delta. The milk coffee colored waters wind their way along small channels lined with water palms, thatch and bamboo houses are nestled in the lush orchards. The famous Vietnamese poet Nguyen Dinh Chieu was born in Ben Tre Province, but until now this fact hasn't spawned touristic exploitation.

How to get there

By Boat

Ferries from Rach Mieu in My Tho (20 min/24h) arrive some 10 km north of Ben Tre, so you might want to hire a Xe Om to take you to the town center.

There is also a ferry from Vinh Long Province to the north-western part of the island, again you may want to hire some sort of transport to cover the remaining distance to Ben Tre town. There is also bus 8 from ferry pier to Ben Tre. It seems frequent, costs about 25,000 Dong for 2h trip. You will need a taxi (moto ~ 20,000 Dong for 10min ride). Pay attention when arriving in Ben Tre as the bus goes to outer bus station. Best seems to stop at the roundabout after the two big bridge and Mat Kinh Dien Bien Phu optic shop and take a taxi (moto ~ 15-20k Dong) to the town center.

By Bus

Direct (mini-)bus services from Ho Chi Minh City are to be found at Cholon and Mien Tay bus station. A new bridge, constructed in 2009, now connects the city to My Tho so the bus ride is direct, without a ferry. On arrival at the bus station in Ben Tre, a very welcoming man with good English will try to get you to his travelling guide rated guest house by showing books and stuff. In fact, the ride there takes you back where your bus came from, halfway to My Tho, about 10km from Ben Tre. Make sure to get from Ben Tre bus station into the town of Ben Tre, not elsewhere.

How to get around

The town is stretched along the river, so a bicycle or a motorbike seem to be the best way, especially if you are planning to take it to the orchards on the far side of the river.

What to see

There are no real sights in their own right, but you could have a look at the unspoiled market or visit the rice wine factory on the south bank, 0.5 km west from the old bridge. You can also visit the inevitable coconut candy factory here. It's a must if you haven't been to one yet, since in this "factory" basically everything is done by hand.

What to do

Trung Tam Dieu / Ben Tre tour operation center (closed during lunch) has some tours by boat (US$ 25/30 for 1/2 persons 3-4h), by bike or cart and homestay addresses. It also gives some information on the city. Another option is to speak to one of the man standing around the tourist oriented boat pier (best change is between 2PM and 5PM), which is located on the area west of the new bridge. Some offer nice boat tours combined with biking on one of the islands for around 30USD.

Explore the Delta. boat trips are one of the nicest ways to negotiate the network of channels, but the land in between the waters is just as fascinating. It's fun to follow some of the small trails along the channels, crossing sidearms on very basic bridges and walking by fruit and coconut orchards.

Coconut candy factory. There are apparently four factories across town. The shop selling the coconut candy (keo dua) is in the front and the factory is in the back. The visit of the factory where you see the women making the handmade candy is free. 212B Dai Lo Dong Khoi (there is a second shop across the street). Enjoy!

Ben Tre green tourist (Bao Duyen Tourist), 18D, An Thuan A, My Thanh An, TP Ben Tre, Ben Tre, Viet Nam (Email: baoduyentour@yahoo.com), ☎ 0753817366 - 01267593979.

Shopping

There is a big coopmart with low Air conditioning (food, department store, game center) near 'Cong Vien Dong Khoi' park and north of lake/pond

Where to eat

The usual food stalls are found around the market. Be warned that one of the favourite soups in the Delta, Hu Tieu, contains boiled intestines and liver, so choose wisely. There is also a floating restaurant near the old bridge. Sweet bakery for breakfast? Go to the huge CoopMart (8-22) just behind street Hai Ba Trung. It's very good here and budget.

Nam Song, Phan Ngoc Tong. Attention extra 2,000 Dong if you use the wet tissu. I never saw a single local eating here, and we were never able to get food here. prices from 25k (com ga) to 250k (tom xao).

Where to drink

Coldest beer in Ben Tre? Go to the Oasis. Bar closes at 9.30pm.

Club 007: Most popular nightclub in town. Extremely loud techno(earplugs recommended). Only busy on weekends. Mostly 18-30 year old crowd with some slightly older, wealthy locals in the VIP area.

AP 1 - Xa Son Dong - QL60 - TP Ben Tre Ph: 075 3833 369

Where to stay

Ham Luong Hotel, 200 Nguyen Van Tu, 5th Ward, ☎ (+84-75)818 595. One of the best hotels in Ben Tre and fancy for a three star hotel with outside swimming pool, steam bath and sauna. Buffet breakfast is a mix between asian and western food. All rooms have cable internet, TV with English channels and so on. Next to Ben Tre tourist. Rooms between 17 - 39 dollars.

Khach San Phuong Hoang, 28, Hai Ba Trung, Phuong 2, TP. Ben Tre (town center, north of ho truc giang lake/pond), ☎ 0753.57.53.77. Cold shower (some hot ?), Fan or Air condition, Free wifi, Limited english-speaking staff between 120-180,000 Dong for a single room.

Khach San Dong Khoi / Dong Khoi Hotel, 16, Hai Ba Trung, Phuong 2, TP. Ben Tre (town center, north of ho truc giang lake/pond), ☎ 075.3822501 - 075.3822632 (khachsandongkhoi@bentretourist.vn, fax: 075.3822240). hot water except cheapest rooms, free wifi, restaurant, karaoke, massage single 150-240k, strangely prices dropped if checkin after 4pm 100-120k.

Nha Nghi 99, 73, Phan Ngoc Tong, Phuong 2, TP. Ben Tre (town center, street south of ho truc giang lake/pond), ☎ 075.3831234, 075.3811233. Air condition, no wifi, limited english-speaking staff. single 150k Dong.

Oasis hotel, 151 My Thanh An, Ben Tre 1234, Vietnam (across river), ☎ 0752467799. kiwi and vietnamese owners, free wifi, swimming-pool, english, viet, khmer spoken. cold beer, local knowlebge. number one on trip advisor

Que Huong, 38 Hai Ba Trung (Red house in front of the town's chilly lake.), ☎ 075 3835 888. All rooms with hot shower and fresh towel, Fan 100k-120k, A/C 160k-180k. Good service, limited English and friendly.

Hai Long Hotel, 500 A2, KP2, Tan Phu, Ben Tre City, Ben Tre, Viet Nam ((Email: hailong7@yahoo.com)(English speaking : 0918.516.626 )), ☎ 0753.8511236 - 0753.829505.

Two star hotel 100 - 300k Dong.

How to get out

Either go to the outer bus station, but you can get minibus to My Tho or Ho Chi Minh City inside town

to Ho Chi Minh City: 70k Dong, on tran quoc tuan street north of the lake/pond.

to My Tho: ~20k, on dong khoi street, bus stop near school

The cargo boats also will take you to places like Tra Vinh, Can Tho or Vinh Long. The boats leave between 8h30 and 9h every day. It takes a very long time, but it's a adventurous and cheap option (expect to pay between 60.000VND and 120.000VND each person). They leave from the area east of the new bridge. Boats are light blue.

Ba Tri: 40 minute scooter ride east of Ben Tre

Discover Cai Be floating market

posted Mar 12, 2014, 7:44 PM by Tran Quoc Long   [ updated Mar 12, 2014, 7:44 PM ]

Cai Be is a river-land mixed town in Vietnam. It is a district of Tien Giang Province in theMekong Delta region of Vietnam. Along the river, there are docks that handle passengers and goods, and the floating market.

Cai  Be is the north shore of the tree My Thuan Bridge, the gateway to the city of Vinh Long and the Cuu Long River Delta. Nearby Vinh Long, it is the bustling Cai Be Floating Market, where you can see wholesalers on big boats hang a sample of what they sell from the top of a long pole. It is also a leisure time for boating to see small canals and visit orchards.

Cai Be is located on the left hand side of the Upper Mekong River with the population of 275.000 inhabitants (2004). Cai Be used to be the Administrative - Economic and Political Center of South Vietnam which called "Cai Be Dinh" (1732 -1757) and then Long Ho Dinh. Nowadays Cai Be is one of the most important centers for the distribution of the agricultural products, especially the tropical fruits for the whole country and also for the entire region.

The nature is fertile, harmonious; people are opened-heart, hospitality; a distinctive ecological system and the river network of South Vietnam together with a floating market; the cultural features are very distinctive but really special in general are made Cai Be as a Mekong Delta in miniature, a safe and attractive destination for travelers all over the world.

Visiting this place, travelers will have chance to enjoy the boat trip of on the mighty of the Mekong river for the dreamy and the pleasure moment. Please join with us to discover the "Countryside Civilization" where something news are waiting for your exploration.

How to get there

After 110km on the National Highway 1A from Ho Chi Minh City, travelers will arrive Cai Be being considered as a wild land where it is always ready waiting the discovery of the travelers.

What to see

Cai Be Floating Market

It is among the others in Mekong Delta such as Cai Rang, Phong Dien, Phung Hiep Floating markets. Up to now, the history ofCai Be Floating Market is still unknown but people believe that it was formed during time of the formation of the delta in 17th to 18th century by people came from the Central of Vietnam. They were the founders of the delta who cultivated and settled down here for years. According to “Gia Dinh Thanh Thong Chi”, Nguyen Lord declared to build the Long Ho Town in Cai Be (called Cai Be Town) in 1732, Cai Be river mouth where located the Cai Be floating market stretching 500m long is the center for many boats in the delta gathering and trading. This is the place for more than 400 boats doing the business everyday. It is so busy in the morning especially at 5-8am but it opens all day. Each boat has one bamboo stick on the front which used to hang the product of the boat. This is a kind of advertising to show what do the boat sell inside. Local people produce the farming products in the farm or in the garden and then they load them to the floating market. Some people come here to buy the products from the merchants and bring back to the markets in the mainland for selling to the customers.

Tropical fruits in Cai Be

Hoa Loc Mango: the name was after the name of Hoa Loc region. People can't forget the sweet and fresh flavor of Hoa Loc Mango. According to Dr. Nguyen Thi Thuong, Hoa Loc Mango is the top of 120 species which Long Dinh Southern Fruit Institute developed and this fruit won the "The Queen Fruit" title in mango competitions.
The father tree is in Mr. Hai Cong garden now and Long Dinh Southern Fruit Institute had reproduced the cheap seedling to sell for farmers in the whole country. To choose the best one, people must distinguish the big shape, light brown skin from the others.
Cai Be orange: this is the most popular one and had a long history in this region. King and sweet orange can be found in Cai Be, An Huu, Tan Phong Island with the nice and unforgettable flavor. Once you come and taste the specialty here you can't leave without emotion.

Dong Hoa Hiep Old House. There are quite some old houses in Dong Hoa Hiep Commune, Cai Be. Best preserved ones include Ba Duc Old House, Cai Huy Old House and Anh Kiet Old HOuse. They were built in old architecture typical in the region. Some were restored under cooperation program of Vietnamese government and Japanese organization, JICA.

What to do

Visiting Cai Be Market, you will have a great photographic opportunities as all manner of produce is traded from boats, communicate with the local, take sampans along canals to visit local houses and enjoy fresh fruits.

Where to eat

Mekong Lodge Riverside Restaurant. A semi-open restaurant with nice settings and great view of Tien River, especially during sunset. Excellent food yet need a wider range of wines.

Where to stay

Mekong Lodge, Hamlet5, Dong Hoa Hiep Commune, Cai Be, ☎ +84 933 449 391. An eco-resort set in a large and well-landscaped green area with good food, pure atmosphere and nice people, typical of Mekong Delta. Request a garden view bungalow if you are light sleepers. from US$60.

Travel Tips

Almost floating markets start in the very early morning and finish before noon. Thus, to catch the liveliest and busiest scenery, you should plan to stay one night in Vinh Long. Bring along camera, hat, sunscreen and insect repellant.
Spend the day on the cruise or boat in Cai Be exploring the fascinating life on the Mekong River. This trip will allow you to visit a floating market and a beautiful island. This trip is an idyllic experience for anyone wishing to indulge in the delta’s most prized assets for a truly memorable and satisfying day visit.

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