VietnamHo Chi MinhPhu Tho Hoa - The Unexploited Tunnels in Ho Chi Minh City

Phu Tho Hoa – The Unexploited Tunnels in Ho Chi Minh City

Most travelers and even locals know about the infamous Cu Chi Tunnels. However, there is another secret tunnel system that few travel guides mention, even though its location is closer to the center of Ho Chi Minh City than that of the Cu Chi Tunnels. This lesser-known attraction is Phu Tho Hoa Tunnels in Tan Phu District. The tunnels had been excavated and finished before the soldiers constructed the tunnel system in Cu Chi.

Address

139 Phu Tho Hoa Street, Phu Tho Hoa Ward, Tan Phu District, Ho Chi Minh City

Opening hours

7:30 AM – 11:30 AM
1:30 PM – 5 PM

Entrance: Free entrance

How to Get to the Phu Tho Hoa Tunnels in Ho Chi Minh City

Phu Tho Hoa Tunnels is about 10 kilometers from the city center, a 45-minute to 1-hour drive if you travel by taxi, bus, or motorbike.

Bus

From the bus station at 23/9 Park (pronounced 23rd September Park) in District 1, you can catch bus number 149 to get to Tan Phu District and walk to the historical monument. The bus fare is VND 6,000.

Taxi

You can also catch a taxi or Grab to get there. It would cost you about VND 150,000 on average.

Motorbike

It would be cheaper than a taxi, faster than the bus, and allow you to explore many places on the way. You can use a motorbike taxi or Grab. The cost is about VND 40,000 or more if you get there from the city center.

A Brief History of the Phu Tho Hoa Tunnels

In 1947, in Phu Tho Hoa Ward, the official resistance committee started a plan to dig a secret tunnel in the area and managed to finish it by the end of the year. To encourage and support the Vietnamese army, the locals also excavated other tunnels below their houses to conceal the Vietnamese soldiers.

This place was chosen to build the secret tunnels because of its complicated terrain and the high land level. Besides, many bamboo and trees in the area made it difficult for the enemies to look for the revolutionary base. In the 1950s, Vietnamese commandoes used this tunnel system as their hidden base and made several surprise attacks on the French in Tan Son Nhat Airport and their bomb storages, which caused panic in the French army.

phu tho hoa tunnels historical stages
The historical stages of Phu Tho Hoa Tunnels

In 1966, the existence of the revolutionary base in Phu Tho Hoa was revealed by national traitors, who ratted out the location to the French. The French army attacked the area, destroyed some tunnels, returned to surround the site in the following months, and later discovered the underground system. Many soldiers were captivated and tortured during this time. Some were even sent to Con Dao Prison, but they still kept the secret of the tunnels.

The Tunnel System at Phu Tho Hoa

There are two levels and 4-meter deep in the ground. The height of the tunnels is only about 1 meter, and the width is about 0.8 meters. Some bulkheads and corners lead to other wards, but only Vietnamese soldiers can remember how to move in the tunnels. This was an intelligent plan to prevent the enemies from exploring the underground system. If they found one tunnel, the Vietnamese soldiers would carefully crawl into other tunnels and camouflage the entrance.

The wooden doors of tunnels were covered with soil and leaves in clumps and secret places, while the ventilation holes mound were constructed near the bamboo.

The space of each tunnel is enough for 5 to 7 people to hide inside. There were three underground rooms, one used as a meeting room. The total length of the tunnels was about 10 kilometers. However, not all tunnels could be well-preserved. They can collapse quickly, so there is only one 30-meter long for visitors to see today.

phu tho hoa tunnels tunnels model
The model of Phu Tho Hoa Tunnels

On the surface, there are fighting bunkers and L-shaped trenches around the tunnels, connecting the three resistance wards, Phu Tho Hoa, Binh Hung Hoa, and Tan Son Nhi. Phu Tho Hoa Tunnels stood out because it was built under local houses in a residential area near army bases. The primary purpose was a base to make sudden attacks instead of being an extensive underground military base for commissioners.

This historical monument has changed a lot since Independence Day. More and more people have been moving to Tan Phu District to settle, so the tunnel area is decreasing. Moreover, there is not enough investment in preserving the tunnels, so not many guests, even the locals, visit here regularly.

Although this place was a vital remark of the revolution with many soldiers who sacrificed their lives, there hasn’t been any memorial tombstone for these soldiers. Tourists also find it challenging to explore the tunnels because there is no light inside. You have to use a flashlight to crawl through the tunnels.

phu tho hoa tunnels yard
The yard in the monument
phu tho hoa tunnels exhibition room
The exhibition room in the historical monument

In the colonial periods, Phu Tho Hoa tunnels played a vital role in several victories of the Vietnamese army in the southern area. When the US army took over Saigon, the tunnels were also a substantial military base for the soldiers to assail enemy posts in the center of the city.

phu tho hoa tunnels tunnels entrance
The tunnel’s entrance at Phu Tho Hoa

Some clothes, tools, and pictures of Vietnamese soldiers who lived and fought in Phu Tho Hoa tunnels are displayed inside the exhibition room.

phu tho hoa tunnels soldiers
Vietnamese soldiers who dug the Phu Tho Hoa Tunnels
phu tho hoa tunnels digging tools
Digging tools used during the construction of Phu Tho Hoa Tunnels

Summary of Phu Tho Hoa Tunnels in Ho Chi Minh City

Phu Tho Hoa Tunnels used to be a unique military base in wartime. It became a national historical monument in 1996. However, most sources of information about these tunnels, like documents, pictures, and the people who dug the tunnels, have all been lost. Therefore, there is little information and exhibition displayed at this monument. However, the management department of Phu Tho Hoa Tunnels is still putting efforts into research and rebuilding the tunnel system so that this place could become another historical tourist attraction in the city.

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