History Vinh Moc tunnels and DMZ
The DMZ (Demilitarized zone acronym) is an established dividing line to separate North Vietnam and South Vietnam after the Indochina war. The DMZ zone of Vietnam ranged from the border with Laos to the Sea (the parallel 17). Much of this DMZ dividing line crossed the River Ben Hai.
Americans, who lived in Southern Vietnam, wanted to force to Vinh Moc peasants to abandon their land, so as to avoid to help Northern Communist forces established on the nearby island with Co (at 28 kilometers from the coast). The people, who had no other place where refuge, refused to leave their lands and the village where he had spent most of his life.
The zone of Vinh Moc was bombed duramente, says that an average of 7 tons of bombs per each inhabitant fell. To flee the bombings and due to the favourable geology of terrain, it was decided to begin excavating a complex of tunnels under the village of Vinh Moc in 1965, thus copying performance and result of the Cu Chi tunnels located on the outskirts of the former Saigon, now Ho Chi Minh City.
Information about the tunnels of Vinh Moc
The complex of Vinh Moc tunnels were built on the shore North of the Ben Hai River. The construction sites it took 13 months (1965 and 1966), or what is the same, 18,000 work days of all persons of the village, which were used for its construction only instruments of tillage and with which moved a total of 6,000 m3 of Earth.
It is estimated that 300 people (about 60 families) lived permanently in tunnels during the years 1966 to 1972, 17 children were born in the interior of the Vinh Moc tunnels.
The tunnels extend 2.8 km-long, divided in 3 levels underground 12 meters, 18 meters and 22 meters respectively.
The top level was suitable for the life of the families, that leader in small dwellings dug into the limestone rock of 4 meters wide, 0.8 meters in height and 1.8 meters wide.
The second level was used to store the weapons and supplies, in addition to maintaining strategic meetings.
The last and deepest level, was used to seek refuge from the bombing, since American bombs were designed to penetrate 10 meters under the ground.
Vinh Moc tunnels have a total of 13 Gates: 7 of those doors give sea and other 6 grounding, although rarely families leaving abroad unless they were necessary food and there was no danger. Maritime outputs were used to transport weaponry and supplies to resistance in the island with Co, located at 28 kilometers from the Vinh Moc tunnels.
With the passage of time the tunnel complex was growing in size and complexity, reaching constructed wells, kitchens, barns, maternity wards and hospitals.
Trip to the DMZ of Vietnam
The central area of Hue has several points which played an important role in the history of the Vietnam war and which constitute a part of tourist visits to the DMZ zone of Vietnam. Sightseeing by the Vietnamese DMZ zone along the so-called Highway 1 and Highway 9, visiting his village Dong has, military bases Doc Mieu and Khe Sanh, the Hien Luong Bridge over Ben Hai River, the road of Ho Chi Minh City by the passage of clouds, cemetery Truong Son, Con Co islandstack rocks rockpile and the tunnels and Museum of Vinh Moc.
The tunnels and the Museum of Vinh Moc
Without a doubt the highlight of the visit touring the DMZ area of Vietnam are the Vinh Moc tunnels. These tunnels were opened to tourism in the year 1995 and 3 underground levels you can visit. Open on schedule from 7: 00 to 16: 30, the entry costs 20,000 VND (less than 1€) but does not include Guide, making it advisable to look well at the maps of the underground galleries in addition to carry flashlights.
Vinh Moc tunnels are less claustrophobic to the tunnels of Cu Chi, since the climate of the area is not so damp and corridors are higher (0.9 meters wide and 1.8 meters high), allowing to walk in a manner almost straight the greater part of the journey. The main corridor is 780 meters long and has been reinforced with wood.
Inside the tunnel of the Vietnam War in Vinh Moc
Entrance to the tunnels of Vinh Moc
Access to the tunnels of Vinh Moc
In the outside area of the Vinh Moc tunnels were dug 8 kilometers of trenches, which are still visible today. These trenches took 3 years to build.
Trincheros Vinh Moc in the DMZ
Vinh Moc The museum presents various photographs showing how tough life in the tunnels, along with weapons and bombs dropped on the area. Probably the most interesting of Vinh Moc museum are photos showing how the tunnels were constructed.
Vinh Moc Pumps displayed
Life inside the tunnels of Vinh Moc
Travel to Vinh Moc tunnels
To scroll up to the complex of Vinh Moc tunnels can go by train (station trains Sa Lung 20 kilometers of tunnels). From Hue train takes 1 hour and 30 minutes, and the price of the ticket is 1€ (with opening hours from 6: 00). You can also go to the Vinh Moc tunnels in car / motorbike from Dong has (30 km, taking about 40 minutes). Another alternative are tourist tours that run through much of the DMZ for half a day, are hired in Hue and their prices range between 10 € the cheapest and 80 € the most expensive.
Map of the DMZ in Hue (click to enlarge)
Hien Luong Bridge and Ben Hai river
The Ben Hai River was the border dividing between North Vietnam and South Vietnam during the years 1954 to 1975. To cross from one side to another is necessary to traverse the Hien Luong Bridge, bridge known as the bridge of suffering, suffering represented by the sculpture of a woman waiting for her husband who crossed to the other side of the bridge and never returned (this sculpture found in the southern part of the bridge).
Originally the Hien Luong Bridge measured 2 meters width and 162 metres long (year 1928), destroyed on several occasions by the French and the Americans, now there are 2 jumpers on the Ben Hai River: a modern bridge used for the transportation of vehicles and a restored bridge following the criteria of construction and structure of the originating in 1952 bridge.
Bridge over the Ben Hai river
As a curiosity today you can still see a few huge megaphones of nearly 2 meters in diameter, with which the Americans and the Government of Vietnam in the South were dedicated to transmit political propaganda.
This media war is the highlight, but we also have around the border police building, the museum of the 17th parallel, a few bunkers and impressive flag in the north.
Border between North and South Vietnam
Flag on the bridge over the Ben Hai river
Monument in the Ben Hai river in the Vietnam War
Truong Son Cemetery
It's a national cemetery with 10,300 graves belonging to soldiers and Vietnamese population who had died in the offensive of the Ho Chi Minh route, route that went through the passage of clouds from the North of Vietnam in the South direction.
According to Vietnamese tradition a body should be buried so that the soul rests in peace. The forces of North Vietnam did not have sufficient resources as to transport the corpses of fighters to their home towns, which the dead were buried in the same place in which perished and on some occasions, even were buried. After the end of the war, all possible bodies were recovered and were finally buried in the cemetery Truong Son (estimated 300,000 bodies could not be recovered).
Truong Son Cemetery of the DMZ
The Truong Son cemetery is divided into 5 zones, areas where people were buried according to their province of origin. Most of the headstones and graves are just a stone inscription. In the cemetery there are statues to remember the fallen and a small garden.
Visit interesting but you have to remember that it is a sacred place and today, many families come to pay their respects to their loved ones who died in the Vietnam War.
The Truong Son cemetery is located 9 kilometres west of the Hien Luong Bridge (right margin of the 15 Highway), occupies an area of 106 acres and was inaugurated on April 10, 1977. As a curiosity we say the cemetery stands on the area that served as a base of operations for the division 559.