Day 13: Cu Chi Tunnels to Saigon: Almost struggling as much as the Americans to find the Tunnels

Exploring the Cu Chi Tunnels & to Saigon

Distance: 75.4km

Total: 764km

Vietnamese FOD: Vietnam is the world’s second largest producer of coffee (maybe that’s why it’s so good!)

Everyday Randomness: a pure white fluffy dog with dyed purple ears down an alley in Saigon!

A hearty breakfast with the locals cost ua about a €1 each on the way to the tunnels. They are about 15km from where we’re staying so it should have been an easy 30km cycle there and back.

Turns out we were almost as bad as the Americans at finding the tunnels as the Garmin tried numerous times to bring us on roads through military bases and fruit farms. This, coupled with the fact that there are two places on open maps that relate to the tunnels meant that the journey took about an hour and a half! 

Thankfully after all that effort we made it, along with all the other tourists who had come from Saigon. It was very busy (peak time seems to be from about 9 to 12) but I’d really recommend going. The tunnels themselves are very impressive. The ingenuity involved in the measures they took to remain concealed and the traps they designed are equally as remarkable. The tunnels have been widened to twice the original dimensions to fit tourists even though they still look impossibly small considering that 1200 people were living in them at one point!  You also have the opportunity to shoot a real gun with real bullets if you so wish. The sound of gunfire as you walk around adds to the authenticity of the whole experience and you realise how disorientating gunfire is in a jungle! I can’t say I have any desire to ever fire a gun so I passed on that particular offer. The entrance fee is very good value and includes a guide and tea at the end which was a very nice touch! The tour itself takes about 2 hours.

The cycle back to Cu Chi was a lot more straightforward as we set the navigation to be in “driving mode” which solved all of our problems. We collected our bags from the hotel and hopped on the bikes with Saigon as our destination.

We were about 35km from Saigon but it felt like we were in the outskirts of the city almost immediately! The cycle was interesting as there was even some downhill cycling would you believe after all the pan flat cycling in Cambodia I was enjoying the bit of variation.

We made very good time until we were about 10km from the hostel. From there we were in the heart of the city centre. Once again, I was curious to see how much of an improvement it would actually be on Bangkok. It was vastly different. We blended in with the motorbikes and pedalled in between them. The motorbikes/bikes were like a school of fish moving in unison, meandering through the streets of Saigon as a unit. We were greeted many times along the way with some locals even congratulating us for taking the push bike option!

The hostel (La Hostel Saigon) was the perfect spot to have a recovery evening after the eventful day and the staff were super friendly.

We decided to treat ourselves and go to 4Ps pizza. This place is brilliant. They have a place in Hanoi as well which we went to last year. They make their own cheese, the Burrata (mozzarella with cream) is sublime. They also make Camembert ice cream which literally tastes like the cheese with the texture of ice cream!!! It’s like a bizzare trick on the senses but it’s a must and is very good value. 

In high season you should probably book but we justed walked in and sampled some of the excellent craft beer they had on offer while we waited for a table. We tasted and ordered​ a wheat beer and the Irish stout both of which were beautifully light and still had relatively high alcohol percentage. We only had to wait about 20 minutes before we were seated. We ordered two half and half pizzas so that we could taste more of the options. We obviously got the ice cream for dessert and the chocolate cake was also a great decision. The meal was perfect. You could not find that kind of quality in Ireland which is why we were ok with spending almost €20 (food and the beer!) each! Well, well worth it!

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