9 days/ 8 nights motorcycling Ho Chi Minh Trail
About Ho Chi Minh Trail
The legendary Ho Chi Minh Trail was the supply line used by North Vietnam to link North and South Vietnam during the American War. Soldiers, ammunition, weapons, and supplies were carried by hand, on bicycle and truck for hundreds of kilometres through the otherwise impenetrable jungle that covered Vietnam’s mountainous border with Laos. A testimony to the ingenuity, fortitude, and commitment of the North Vietnamese, the Trail slipped from use at the end of the war and was taken back by the jungle.
However, recent road works that follow original sections of the Trail have changed this. This ride takes in the former imperial capital of Hue, the ancient trading town of Hoi An, Khe Sanh battlefield, the infamous A Shaw Valley, Non Nuoc beach, Vietnamese war museums and the DMZ. We also take time to stay overnight in a traditional Thai hill tribe village. Take this one off chance to be among the first to traverse the Ho Chi Minh Trail!
Below is a video clip that has some portions of this Ho Chi Minh Trail trip. In case you want to watch more videos of our Vietnam motorbike tours please check our YouTube channel.
HO CHI MINH TRAIL MOTORCYCLE EXPEDITION DETAILED ITINERARY
Day 1: Hanoi – Mai Chau (~160 km, ~6 h)
Today is the first day of this 18 days Ho Chi Minh Trail ride.
Heading out of Hanoi on road number 6 to Mai Chau, an idyllic valley populated by mainly White Thai ethnic people. Visiting Mai Chau, you have a chance to enjoy folk songs and traditional colourful culture of White Thai in Mai Chau. The scenery of the arrival to Mai Chau is characterized by beautiful limestone mountains and colourful hill tribes who can be seen and visited on the way. We also have an opportunity en route to learn about the culture of the rice-cultivating inhabitants in the Red River Valley and Da River down stream.
After lunch, we have the whole afternoon free to climb up to the top of Thung Nhuoi pass. From the top of the pass, there is a beautiful view of Mai Chau valley. Sometimes it’s too cloudy but still a sight to be enjoyed. After visiting this wonderful site, we drop down to explore more of the area of White Thai people.
In the evening, we can enjoy a local dinner and overnight in a beautiful village at the edge of a river. After dinner, you can spend the evening sitting together around a fire and join in a Thai traditional music show. In their traditional attire, typical of their culture, Thai women invite visitors to participate in the Xoe dance. To the rhythmical and ebullient music, the hosts and guests will dance for hours hand-in-hand. When they get tired, they stop for a while to drink special sticky rice liquor called “ruou can”. Visitors who participate in the Xoe dance once, especially by the light of a fire at night are likely to remember it forever.
Day 2: Mai Chau (~100 km, ~3 h)
Today is an easy day, preparing for challenging days on Ho Chi Minh Trail later.
In the morning, we explore the mountains to the north of Mai Chau, passing H’mong and Dao hill tribe communities living here for centuries. In the evening we enjoy a traditional music and dancing performance if we miss it on the first day.
Alternatively, we could ride to Bai Sang to see the old forgotten Highway 6. In addition, take a boat to explore part of the biggest reservoir in North Vietnam.
Overnight in a Thai ethnicity stilt house in Mai Chau.
Day 3: Mai Chau – Vinh (~280 km, ~8 h)
We head south on a beautiful winding road which follows the banks of the Ma River until the new Ho Chi Minh Highway. This newly carved route leads us down south, through remote back country, not far from the Laotian border. In the afternoon we cut eastwards towards the coast and stay overnight in the coastal city of Vinh, which is close to where Ho Chi Minh was born. Overnight in Vinh.
Day 4: Vinh – Dong Hoi (~230 km, ~7 h)
We ride south along Highway 1, before heading inland towards the Laotian border. Then we pass the Dong Loc intersection, (main junction for supply lines during the War) which is widely regarded in Vietnamese eyes as the beginning of the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Later, you ride through the remote back country, close to the border, as the scenery steadily becomes dominated by karst limestone rock formations. Next, come two famous intersections where until 1972 most of the Trail’s traffic passed over into Laos.
In the afternoon we arrive at the World Heritage site of Phong Nha where local civilians and military sheltered from incessant bombing during wartime. Then we drive down to the coastal town of Dong Hoi, which was heavily shelled by US warships during the war. At a hotel overlooking the beach, we can take in some sunbathing by the beach.
Overnight in Dong Hoi.
Day 5: Dong Hoi – Khe Sanh (~150 km, ~5 h)
We strike south through foothills which were once sprayed heavily by Agent Orange towards the former DMZ. There is still much evidence of bombing on the mountain sides. From time to time, we will see remnants of the original Trail. Then we take in the famous Hien Luong Bridge (former demarcation line between North and South Vietnam), Khe Sanh (former US Marine base), Lang Vay (former US special forces base) and the Truong Son Cemetery.
Overnight in Khe Sanh.
Day 6: Khe Sanh – Hue (~170 km, ~6 h)
In the morning we head south over the Dakrong Bridge (built by the Cubans in 1973) into the infamous A Shau Valley. This used to be an area of intense wartime activity. Passing Hamburger Hill and mountains still barren due to the extended effects of Agent Orange, we arrive at A Luoi. This area is where you find many Bru Van Kieu hill tribe people. Then, cruising through green back country down the steep Me Oi Pass. Finally, we head to the beautiful city of Hue which lies along the banks of the Perfume River.
Overnight in Hue.
Day 7: Hue (boating and walking)
No riding today, just relax.
Hue is the former imperial capital of feudal Vietnam. In addition, it is a perfect place to relax after our drive to date. A boat ride along the Perfume River from where you can appreciate the exuberance of this ancient imperial city. Along the river, you will visit Thien Mu Pagoda, Minh Mang, and Tu Duc Tombs. You can also visit the remains of the Imperial Citadel. Regrettably, the Citadel was largely destroyed during the Tet Offensive in 1968.
Overnight in Hue.
Day 8: Hue – Hoi An (~280km, ~8 h)
We head back up the Me Oi pass to A Luoi in order the rejoin the Trail. Many Ta Oi and Co Tu people will tend their fields. We then skirt the Laotian border on the side of a large mountain covered in thick jungle. At the remote town of Hien, we turn off the trail and drop down the Ba Na mountain range to the World Heritage Site of Hoi An. In fact, Hoi An was a major trading centre in SE Asia in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Overnight in Hoi An.
Day 9: Hoi An – Da Nang
Those who wish can ride up to China Beach, where US marines first landed in Indochina. Otherwise, enjoy a free day to explore Hoi An by foot or by bike. With fine wining and dining (including a range of Hoi An specialties), impressive architecture, fantastic tailoring, endless shopping, and a glorious beach, there is no shortage of activities to indulge in.
Transfer to Danang for the night train to Hanoi or continue your way down South.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org in case you need more details and options of Ho Chi Minh trail motorbike tours in Vietnam.
More Vietnam Guided Motorbike Tours Itineraries
– Ha Giang & Northeast Vietnam
– Private One Day Tour Of Hanoi
– Mai Chau Area
– Middle Northern Vietnam
– North-East Vietnam
– North-West Vietnam
– Big Loop Of Northern Vietnam
– Customize Your Vietnam Guided Motorbike Tours?