The Ky Anh Tunnels were established and built during the most intense period during the resistance war against America and remains one of the most historic relics today. The tunnels were dug by the resistance side (Northern Vietnam) from 1965 to 1967 and have a total length of approximately 32 km, weaving their way under the villages, going through houses, straw piles, bamboo bushes and canals to create a hidden, underground world so that the U.S army would not be able to detect them.
The historical attraction of the tunnels is apparent and the main distinguishing feature to other tunnel sites in Vietnam, Cu Chi tunnels (Ho Chi Minh city) and Vinh Moc tunnels (Quang Tri province), is that the community that dug the tunnels and witnessed that war are still residing in the village! Furthermore, they are open to sharing their first account stories and experiences during the tunnel construction and the life within. In addition to the historical diversity, Thach Tan village is also known for its traditional handicraft – mat weaving.
Having established a close relationship with the village since 2017, Evergreen Labs proposed a development plan to support Thach Tan village to create tours for travelers to discover their village. This community based tourism project was fully funded by EXO Foundation and is now available for travelers to enjoy.
What did they do?
In 2019, Evergreenlabs conducted a baseline study to identify and assess the actual needs of Ky Anh community. Together with this needs assessment and approval from the local authorities, an action plan was determined to implement the project hands-in-hands with local stakeholders. Despite the COVID pandemic, the project was successfully implemented and achieved the following results:
Based on the needs assessment of the village, new basic infrastructure and equipment were built such as a dock at Dam river (with boat enhancement), electrical equipment for the greeting house, signs for tourists, etc. The village also organized a major clean-up and awareness was raised on environmental protection enabling to preserve the natural surroundings of the village.
Capacity building and skills training
Trainings were conducted for the different community group members and focused on the depth of practical know-how (steps, tips, do’s and don’ts, etc.) for service customers from different cultures, countries and / or age ranges, including:
● Storytelling / tour guide training
● Culinary and food hygiene training
Considering the current situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, repetitive training(s) will be organized according to the actual needs of the community when the tourism industry picks up again in the future.
Collecting back stories and designing more tour products
Thanks to the project’s baseline assessment, we have realized that the biggest element that hinders the access of foreign tourists to this fascinating destination is the language barrier. Often, foreign tourists / travelers find Ky Anh tunnels randomly as this is not yet a popular tourist destination. This has led the project team to an initiative of developing a self-guided tour running on mobile application that will ease the language barrier and allow walk-in guests to fully explore the village on their own. In order to do this, the project team conducted thorough interviews with war-witnesses who are still residing in the village. We captured historical, first account stories told by community members. Afterwards, these interviews were consolidated and refined for use in the self-guided and organized tours!
How you can help?
You can visit Ky Anh Community Based Tourism project to support its residents and learn their stories.