Unlike the famed Cu Chi tunnels—which served as supply caches and strategic combat routes for Viet Cong soldiers and today are swarming with tourists—the Vinh Moc tunnels served a different war time purpose and receive far fewer visitors. Stretching almost two from the coastal town of Vinh Moc to a beach overlooking the South China Sea, the Vinh Moc Tunnels were dug in the late 1960s to serve as a live-in bomb shelter for more than 60 families. The families lived their lives underground, some for up to six years, and one frequently-cited figure says as many as 17 children were born in these underground tunnels their occupation.
Today, visitors can enter the dark and earthen tunnel complex, via a rock-wall rimmed stairway, and, unlike at Cu Chi, walk upright through them. Nooks notched into the sides of the main tunnel served as family quarters or meeting rooms and are today populated by strategically-placed human-sized dummies that show how cramped the villagers must have been. Two deeper layers, up to 70 feet below the ground’s surface, served as storage for weapons and supplies and as a deeper subterranean hiding space from direct bombing attacks. There are more than 10 separate gated entrances to the tunnels that visitors can see along the route. A small on-site museum has photographs and memorabilia that help to paint a picture of life in the tunnels and a map depicting the extent of the Vinh Moc tunnel system.
The tunnels and the museum are open daily from 7 a.m. til 4:30 p.m., there is a 20,000VND admission that does not include a guide. Daytrips to the tunnels and other notable stops around the DMZ area depart from Hue some two hours south; these generally include an English speaking guide, lunch and all entrance fees.