Vinh Moc Tunnels is situated in Vinh Linh District, Quang Tri Province, about 100km from Hue City. The tunnels were built to shelter people from the intense bombing of Son Trung and Son Ha communes in Vinh Linh county of Quang Tri Province during the American War (1965-1966).
Situated 13km east of the National Road 1 and just 6km away from the sea, Vinh Moc Tunnels has become one of the most interesting sites to visit in Quang Tri, especially for American war veterans.
The American forces believed the villagers of Vinh Moc were supplying food and armaments to the North Vietnamese garrison on the island of Con Co which was in turn hindering the American bombers on their way to bomb Hanoi. The idea was to force the villagers of Vinh Moc to leave the area but as is typical in Vietnam there was nowhere else to go.
The villagers initially dug the tunnels to move their village 10 metres underground but the American forces designed bombs that burrowed down 10 metres. Eventually, against these odds, the villagers moved the village to a depth of 30 metres. It was constructed in several stages beginning in 1966 and used until early 1972.
The complex grew to include wells, kitchens, rooms for each family and spaces for healthcare. Around sixty families lived in the tunnels; as many as 17 children were born inside the tunnels.
The tunnels were a success and no villagers lost their lives. The only direct hit was from a bomb that failed to explode; the resulting hole was utilized as a ventilation shaft.
Vinh Moc Tunnels Structure
The tunnels used to be thousands of meters long. But now there remain only 1,700m. This underground network is linked with 13 doors (seven opening to the sea and six to the hills). It is linked to the sea by seven exits, which also function as ventilators and to a nearby hill by another six.
The structure is divided into three layers, the deepest being 23m underground. They are connected by a 768m main axis that is 1.6 to 1.8m high and 1.2 to 1.5m wide.
Vinh Moc Tunnels Complex
Along the two sides of the main axis are housing chambers. There is also a large meeting hall with a seating capacity of 50 to 80 people, which was used for meetings, movies, art performances, surgeries, and even the delivery of babies (17 were born here).
There are also four air wells, two watch stations and three water wells. The village featured unique Hoang Cam stoves, named after the general who invented the store to allow for underground cooking without emitting smoke, thus evading the discovery by bombers.
In 1976, the Ministry of Culture and Information recognized Vinh Moc Tunnels as national heritage site and included it in a list of especially important historical sites in Vietnam. For safety reasons, the tunnels were restored with reinforced concrete and internal lightening.
Today, the tunnels are a tourist attraction and can be visited on organized tours. Beside individual tours to the tunnels, they are regularly part of full-day trips, starting from Hue to explore the DMZ. In comparison to the Cu Chi tunnels further south, walking through the Vinh Moc tunnels is a lot more comfortable, because they are situated in a less humid climate zone, and the height of the tunnels allows visitors to stand upright.