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Cu Chi Tunnels Tour & Cao Dai Temple Saigon

Our big, number 1 thing to do in Saigon Vietnam is the Cu Chi Tunnels tour and Cao Dai temple visit as a 1 day tour from Ho Chi Minh City. We did this tour as young backpackers, now, as family travellers, we wanted to show our kids. It was a stand out day from our first RTW and we knew the kids would get a lot from it, I wasn’t going to let them fire an AK47 at the Cu Chi shooting range as I did back then, but still, I knew this tour would be fantastic for kids, they’d have fun and learn a lot. So here’s our review of our Cu Chi Tunnels Tour plus Cao Dai Temple, we decided to book this tour through Get Your Guide, for simplicity and reliability. You can read why we choose to use Get Your Guide often, here. On this tour we were their guests, we use Get Your Guide and we’re always happy to recommend them, we are never required to give good reviews, all opinions are our own, as always. If you want more information on travel in Vietnam, our full Vietnam travel blog and guide is now ready for you.

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Video of Our Day at Cu Chi Tunnels and Cao Dai Temple Tour

 

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Booking a Tour to the Cu Chi Tunnels or Cao Dai Temple

Cao Dai temple Near Saigon
The kids were genuinely interested to discover a new religion. They’ve been in countless Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim and Christian places of worship, Cao Dai was new and weirdly interesting.

Visitors can choose to visit these two attractions singly, shorter tours are available. Cu Chi Tunnels is easy to visit as a half day tour but the Cao Dai Temple really has to be visited for the noon ceremony. It’s a fair way and we did spend quite some time on the mini bus. There was air-con and there was free wi-fi along with commentary and great information from our tour guide.

We chose to book through Get Your Guide for no hassle, everything included, a guaranteed date and their best price guarantee. These tours can also be arranged through any local travel agent, be sure to shop around and bargain over price and what’s included.

Cu Chi Tunnels Tour

Cu Chi Tunnels Near Saigon
This Cu Chi tour, as well as being a great history lesson, is about the best fun boys can have. Tunnels, guns, tanks, man traps and more.

The Cu Chi tunnels are part of an immense network of underground tunnels, hiding places, supply routes, living quarters and more to be found in Vietnam. Cu Chi District is part of Ho Chi Minh City.

You will learn how the tunnels were constructed, how they were used and what life was like for the Vietnamese during the war. The first time we visited, back in 1999, there were two actual tunnel sections open to tourists. One was an enlarged “Western-sized” tunnel, the second was an actual Vietnamese-sized tunnel.

On our visit in 2017 we were only invited to enter one tunnel segment, some enlarged, some fairly tight. You will also see a selection of weapons and traps and discover how the Vietnamese fighters cooked without detection, made their famous sandals, what they ate and what they wore.

The Cu Chi Tunnels Shooting Range

During our tour in 1999 we paid $1 per bullet to fire an AK47 at targets. It was live ammunition, stored in a battered old desk drawer and it was a lot of dangerous fun. For the record, I almost broke my jaw with the recoil but still loved the experience. During our 2017 tour this shooting range was shut. There was no mention of the shooting range in our Get Your Guide itinerary, but others on our bus had booked thinking they’d get the chance to fire guns. I was glad it was shut, telling small boys they can’t fire AK47 s wasn’t something I was looking forward to. The shooting range is still there and I saw signs advertising paintball so maybe it’s been re-purposed.

Cao Dai Temple

Cao Dai Temple Tour from Saigon Get Your Guide Review

The Cao Dai religion ( Caodaism ) is unique to southern Vietnam and was established in 1926, this temple was built by the French around that time. It’s something completely different and rather mysterious. The Cao Dai pantheon of Holy people or saints and sages includes: Buddha, Jesus, Joan of Arc, Muhammad, Julius Caesar and Victor Hugo.

Cao Dai Temple Tour Eye
That ever-watchful Cao Dai eye as worshippers arrive for the ceremony. The kids loved the all-seeing eye Masonic / Illuminati connotations.

The women chanting in the video above are actually reciting the Bible but it’s almost impossible to decipher with their accents. Cao Dai blends Buddhism, Christianity, Taoism, Confucianism and Islam and the holy books of the faith have to be kept in the US because of government mistrust. It is the 3rd largest religion in Vietnam and the temple you will visit is absolutely stunning.

Additional Visit, Craft Facility for the Disabled

Disabled in Vietnam Agent Orange Victims Art Facility Tour

This stop wasn’t included in our stated itinerary and was a ploy to get us to buy, but we enjoyed it. The techniques the artists and craftspeople used to turn crushed duck eggs and sea shells into lacquered art works were interesting to watch and it was another reminder of the raised incidence of disability in Vietnam, still, after Agent Orange. We saw the tour as an added bonus and there was no hard sell.

An Educational Tour for Worldschooling or Homeschooling Kids

Cu Chi Tunnels Tour Get Your Guide Reviw Educational Worldschoolers
Why were they fighting? How did they do it? What did they eat? How did they survive? And a willing guide and expert to play teacher for the day. Awesome education happening right here. You can’t get this stuff from books.

We’re in Vietnam to learn about Vietnam and the Vietnam or American War is a big part of that. We started by watching a few movies and finding content n YouTube. The book below is one for parents to read, I read it years ago.

On this tour, you will pass near  Kim Phuc’s ( the girl in the picture’s) village and the exact spot where this iconic war photo was taken. It’s good to be able to tell the kids this story.

Her family were Cao Dai followers, they were leaving their temple when a napalm raid descended onto innocent civilians, many of them children. The photo is also featured prominently in the War Remnants Museum in Saigon.

Kim Phuc is still alive and tours the world giving inspirational talks, interestingly, Chef has met her, she stayed in his hotel and as we’d read the books and knew who she was he got to say hi. We have more war-related tours of Vietnam lined up towards the DMZ.

Of course, they’ve already experienced the extent of the bombing in Laos as part of America’s campaign against the Vietnamese supply routes, the kids’ knowledge about this tragic period of history deepens every day.

Cu Chi Tunnels Tour and Cao Dai Temple Visit Review

Get-Your-Guide-Tour-Review-Saigon-Cu-Chi-Tunnels
A mine of useful, educational information on the Cu Chi Tunnels, the Cao Dai Temple and many aspects of Vietnamese culture and tradition. A clean, air-con bus with wi-fi, good organisation and nothing extra to pay on the day. We can recommend this tour. There’s a long drive, but the kids had so much fun they forgave us. A great day.

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Cao Dai Temple and Cu Chi Tunnels Tour Saigon Vietnam Review Get Your Guide
Cu Chi Tunnels Tour and Cao Dai Temple Visit from Saigon ( Ho Chi Minh City) We booked with Get Your Guide Vietnam. Review 2017.

The tour and our day were a huge success, the boys loved the tunnels and forgave us for the rather long drive time. We were picked up by our guide around 8 am allowing us time for breakfast at our hotel. He gave us priceless insights into Vietnamese culture and traditions during our bus journey and was knowledgeable and helpful at every step.

Our lunch was included, along with a drink and we enjoyed a selection of dishes rather than having to choose one item from the menu ( and paying for it) as the others on our bus had to do. We did not have to pay our admission fees at the tunnels, everyone else did.

So a big thumbs up, a fun, easy, educational day, no stress, no worries, no extra cash. We had plenty of time at the Cao Dai temple and the visit was timed perfectly for the non-ceremony. The bus was comfortable enough but the air-con struggled a bit.

Our driver was great and I didn’t fear for our lives even once, that’s always a bonus! We enjoyed the additional stop at the craft facility for the disabled, others on the bus complained about it ( the same ones that complained about the shooting range being shut). There was absolutely no hard sell and it was an interesting thing to see. Need more Vietnam travel? Head to our full Vietnam travel blog and guide.

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Alyson is the creator of World Travel Family travel blog and is a full-time traveller, blogger and travel writer. A lifetime of wanderlust and now over 7 years on the road, 50+ countries allowed the creation of this website, for you. She has a BSc and worked in pathology before entering the travel arena and creating this website. World Travel Family Travel Blog has been helping you travel more, better and further since 2012, when Alyson and James first had this life changing idea. On this site you can find endless travel information, tips and guides plus how to travel, how to fund travel and how to start your own travel blog.

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Greg

Monday 18th of December 2017

From these two places, Cu Chi tunnels made a bigger impression on me. I looked at the war in Vietnam differently by visiting them.

Tonkin - Travel Vietnam

Saturday 21st of October 2017

Oh, such a great blog! It is our fortune when Vietnam is your favorite country. It is expected that Vietnam will be always on your bucket list and you'll come back Vietnam soon to explore the new lands where you haven't set foot on in Vietnam.

Janine Thomas

Thursday 21st of September 2017

I did not enjoy my visit to the Cu Chi Tunnels. I was quite disturbed by them, but I do accept that they have a significant place in the history of Vietnam.

Thanks for reminding me just how beautiful the The Cao Dai temple is.

Alyson Long for World Travel Family

Thursday 21st of September 2017

Why disturbed Janine? For the second time I came away in awe of the Vietnamese, their determination and resourcefulness in the face of incredibly hard times.

Megan Jerrard

Wednesday 20th of September 2017

Thanks for the recommendation to include both the Cu Chi Tunnels and the Cao Dai Temple into the same trip. I’ve been wanting to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels but hadn’t heard of the temple yet. The tunnels sound like such a fascinating insight into the war. I had no idea there was a shooting range there though – crazy to hear that the recoil back in 99 nearly broke your jaw!! I personally think that it would be best if it has indeed been repurposed to a paintball – I don’t know how I feel about firing guns in a place which is a memorial to war.

The temple is so beautiful – it’s so fantastic that your kids had the chance to experience such an educational tour.

Alyson Long for World Travel Family

Wednesday 20th of September 2017

It was the glory days of backpacking Meg. They used to say you could pay extra to shoot a cow and all sorts of bizarre stuff back then. I'm glad it's shut too it was really dangerous but all the gap year kids ( and this gap year 30 year old) loved it.

Johann

Wednesday 20th of September 2017

Quite interesting read this. So sorry to hear the shooting range was shut, would have been fun to shoot some bullets like the old times. I'm hearing about Caodaism for the first time in all my life. The illuminati symbols are pretty scary though. Great read and glad your kids had fun. That's what matters right?

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