Mekong Delta or Cu Chi Tunnels

Old Dec 19th, 2002, 05:04 PM
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David
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Mekong Delta or Cu Chi Tunnels

Will have time in Ho Chi Minh City to take one day excursion. Choices are The Cu Chi Tunnels vs. My Tho (Life on the Mekong River Delta).
Which would you suggest and why?
 
Old Dec 19th, 2002, 06:13 PM
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Nancy
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My personal opinion is that the Cu Chi Tunnels are a testament to what desperate people will do when threatened; the way these people lived in tiny, tiny tunnels for years will amaze you. If you are an American, I think the tunnels will really make you wonder how the hell we thought we could defeat the north Vietnamese, clearly the most tenacious people in the world...the Mekong Delta is beautiful, but if you really only have one day, I would vote for the tunnels.
 
Old Dec 20th, 2002, 11:13 AM
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Joe
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Good question. My wife and I had that very choice when we had one extra day in Saigon last month. We chose the delta trip in lieu of the tunnels as it allowed us to get a glimpse of the culture as it exists today, and get a sense of how people live. No regrets for us, as we enjoyed the trip immensely. I agree completely with Nancy's view of the tunnels, and in all honesty, my personal choice initially would have been the tunnels. However, based on input from others we knew who had done both, we understood them to be quite cramped and dirty, and my wife said no way to that. In hindsight, I am glad we did the delta trip, as our interest was more into the culture, than the history associated with the war. I also was led to believe the tunnels are also a little touristy in the sense that some of the various aspects are recreations of what used to exist. (For that matter, the delta trip will also be a little touristy depending on what kind of tour you take, and where they take you. We hired a private guide and driver, so it was just the two of us. Sometimes we were around huge tour groups, and sometimes we were completeluy on our own.) Finally, I believe the tunnels can be done in a half a day, while the delta is an all day trip. If you are getting a chance to see other parts of the country in rural settings, and away from the main cities - then maybe the tunnels would be the selection. I think it comes down to history vs the Vietnam of today - both slections should be eye opening...
 
Old Dec 20th, 2002, 12:51 PM
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David
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Nancy- Once again thank you for your expertise. I trust your opinion.

Joe- By any chance, were you on a cruise? We will be taking the Spirit and I may want to get information about booking excursions privately rather than taking the ship's tours. Thanks.
 
Old Dec 20th, 2002, 01:06 PM
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No on the cruise - we were visiting my nephew in Saigon, and flew in from Bangkok as a part of a larger vacation. We got the name of a good guide from my sister-in-law. They had used them on previous trips there. Email me at [email protected] if you want more information.
 
Old Dec 26th, 2002, 06:00 PM
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David
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Any other thoughts on this topic would be appreciated.
 
Old Dec 27th, 2002, 09:40 PM
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Alan
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Hi, David!
Both trips are interesting... Nancy's evaluation of the tunnels is spot on. If, however, you have only one day, I think I would vote for the delta, as on the tunnel trip you spend quite a lot of your time on buses looking out of the window. What you are looking at is interesting, but the only places they will let you stop are the "kick-back" cafes and souvenir shops, which are, naturally enough, the least-interesting places on the route. My recollection is that on the cruise you are spending a lot of time doing what the cruise says you will do -- observing life on the delta -- and much less time looking at other tourists sitting in rows.
 
Old Dec 29th, 2002, 10:04 AM
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eric
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we were in VT last November, and we especially wanted to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels. We were very thrilled to see the real traps, tunnels and even fired an M16! We did not however take a tourist bus, we had a private car and we took as much time as we can exploring the tunnels. We went down that tunnel, and it was not easy but that made the whole trip very interesting. The Mekong river played a great part to the success of the tunnels during the recent war. So, in brief, I would say.. the tunnels is a great part of the Vietnamese historical landscape that will give you a glimpse of how the people became; and a thrilling adventure as well. You will not be dissappointed if these are what you sought for. Inquiries are welcome.
 
Old Feb 11th, 2003, 08:18 AM
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Last year we had some time and drove out to the CuChi tunnels. While interesting, it is very touristy. If you really want an experience, see the Vinh Moc tunnels just north of the old DMZ. A whole village lived underground for several years during the Vietnam War. If I had had more time, I would have loved to explore the Mekong Delta area.
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Old Feb 13th, 2003, 04:43 AM
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We visited both in January. While both were certainly interesting if it came to a choice I would vote for the Mekong without a moments hesitation. The comments above about the tenacity of the Vietnamese are true but I found that the Cu Chi excursion didn't add a lot to my understanding of that phenomenon. To really understand that you would need to experience the real conditions and we can't do that - all we get is a glimpse of how they lived but the tunnels are enlarged, the upper level living areas have the roofs raised etc - and there not much to see above ground. If you had some personal connection to the war in this area that may be different. The Mekong trip on the other hand really does give you a view into life as it is lived daily by the locals - really interesting
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Old Feb 13th, 2003, 07:46 PM
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I've done both as well, and my advice depends on whether or not you have seen other waterside villages (or will have, by the time you get there). I've been to similar villages (to what you will see on the Mekong tour) in Cambodia and Thailand, and the experience is much the same in Vietnam. It was a great tour, and very interesting to see the villages and how people live - at one point on the tour, we had some free time to explore a small village, and I met an interesting woman who invited me to her home because she wanted to practice her English. That being said, though, it was very similar to other villages in the other countries I've mentioned.

Therefore, if you've been to the canal tour in Bangkok or in the countryside of another Southeast Asian country, you may want to choose the Chu Chi tunnels, since they are really unique. We didn't find them touristy at all (well, ok, the ONE part with the dummies dressed in combat gear . . . ), but that could also be because we were there in low season so there weren't many other people there. We also went by private tour, although we took motorcycle guides because we thought it would be fun (it was fun for the first 30 minutes, but not so comfortable for the next hour!!). A private tour would be well worth it over a bus tour.

Visiting the Chu Chi tunnels was one of the most moving travel experiences I've ever had, and I don't have any personal familial connection to the war. It just really brought the experience to life in a vivid way that can't be achieved through a book, movie, or traditional museum (although the former War Crimes museum in Ho Chi Minh is close).

(I don't in any way mean to suggest that if you've seen one village in Asia you've seen them all, I'm just trying to say that if you HAVE seen one, the Chu Chi tunnels would be a more unique experience).
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Old Feb 17th, 2003, 09:20 AM
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I'm back from Vietnam! I wound up going to the Cu Chi Tunnels and finding it most ineresting and a very unique experience, despite the "prodaganda" video and the commercialism. I was able to fit through the tunnels and crawled some of the way. My wife elected to take the tour to the Mekong Delta which she found somewhat disappointing, much more touristy. In general however, we truly enjoyed our visit to Vietnam. Our cruise stopped at Ho Chi Minh City for two days, Danang (took the tour to Hoi An and China Beach) and Haiphong (for Hanoi).

Thanks to all for your inofrmation.
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