Saigon Special Force tour uncovers heart of heroic past

Secret bases formerly utilized to hide weapons and classified correspondence during the Vietnam War afford a glimpse of city's resistance efforts.

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The crew of Saigon Special Force tour on vintage motorbikes. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyen Nam.

Sixteen tourists were among the first to explore various secret Saigon Special Force bases on April 29 after the social distancing ease came into effect in Ho Chi Minh City. Among the bases are two stockpiled with two tons of arms for attacks against enemies.

Saigon Special Force is the name of the Southern liberation task force which specialized in raids aimed at the Saigon regime and the U.S. military forces in Saigon during the Vietnam War from 1955 to 1975.

The "Following the Saigon Special Force Footprint" tour series was designed and introduced by the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Tourism and the Traditional Club of Saigon-Gia Dinh Resistance Force on occasion of the 45th Reunification Day (April 30, 1975 - April 30, 2020) anniversary.

A department representative said HCMC has contributed much to the heroic development of Vietnam, with the Saigon Special Force underground system at the heart of the city’s history.

During the tour, visitors can travel via cars or motorbikes once used by soldiers to the interchange at 113A Dang Dung Street, District 1 to enjoy Dai Han broken rice and Do Phu coffee, then explore the base formerly housing a secret mailbox, money, gold and other resources.

The secret base was located opposite the Korean military residence and next to the house of Ngo Quang Truong, a general of the Republic of Vietnam Military Forces at the time.

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The house on 113A Dang Dung Street, District 1, which used to be a secret base during the Vietnam War. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyen Nam.

The house on 287/2 Vo Van Tan Street, District 3, was bought by Tran Van Lai using personal funds under the direction of superiors. He and his wife secretly dug a tunnel, reinforcing it to create three large basements that contain about two tons of weapons.

According to Tran Vu Binh, son of the late Saigon Special Force member, Hero of the People's Armed Forces Tran Van Lai, to stay undercover, the house used to be a mattress, sofa, and curtain supplier for the Independence Palace. The palace was the home and workplace of the President of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

"I hope the tour of the 'special force network' will offer visitors the chance to follow in the footprints of these brave and intelligent soldiers," said Binh.

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A model of the house on 287/2 Vo Van Tan Street, District 3 in the previous days. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyen Nam.

Le Khang from Binh Thanh District said, "I only learned about the Saigon Special Force through mass media. Now, after the tour, I understand the soldiers' daring skills in a better light." 

Currently, the tour can only accommodate eight to 10 people due to the venues' limited space.

Along with the introduction and reboot of tourism activities, HCMC will promote the "Ho Chi Minh City Now" campaign to make the city's culture, history and lifestyle better known.

All the money earned from this tour will be donated to the Traditional Club of Saigon-Gia Dinh Resistance Force. The tour is now offered by Saigontourist and Vietravel and later by other travel companies.

Vnexpress