Laotian Commie Tunnels Opened to Tourism

One of the more fascinating places I visited while traveling though Vietnam were the underground tunnels. To escape the American bombing campaign during the war, the North Vietnamese built networks of tunnels that housed entire cities. Crawling through them 40 years later is a very sobering experience.

Neighboring Laos also saw its share of bombings. In fact, according to an article in USA Today, the bombing campaign in Laos–intended to root out rebels sympathetic to the communist cause–was more intensive than that experienced by Europe during World War II.

Naturally, the Laotians retreated underground as well to escape the bombing campaign. But, instead of digging tunnels, they took advantage of natural limestone caves in the Houaphanh province to house some 23,000 people during the nine years of aerial bombardment.

Today, thanks to a tourism development grant, the caves have been opened to curious tourists who can experience for themselves what life must have been like living underground for so many years. Who knows? Perhaps we’ll all be touring Iraqi bunkers in 40 years.