Ho Chi Minh Trail Motorbike Tour 11 Days
he 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. 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, My Khe beach, Vietnamese war museums and the DMZ. We also take time to stay overnight in a traditional Thai hill tribe village and visit the former Imperial Tombs of Hue. Take this one off chance to be among the first to traverse the Ho Chi Minh Trail! This is a moderate trip, especially designed for bikers.
Ho Chi Minh Trail motorbike tour 11 days itinerary at a glance
Day 01: Hanoi – Phu Yen.
Day 02: Phu Yen – Mai Chau.
Day 03: Mai Chau – Tan Ky.
Day 04: Tan Ky – Phong Nha.
Day 05: Phong Nha – Dong Hoi.
Day 06: Dong Hoi – Khe Sanh.
Day 07: Khe Sanh – Hue.
Day 08: Hue – Hoi An.
Day 09: Hoi An.
Day 10: Hoi An – Quy Nhon.
Day 11: Quy Nhon – Nha Trang.
Day 1: Hanoi Motorbike Tour – Phu Yen (165 km, ~6 hours riding)
Ride to Phu Yen on country road with a stop in Son Tay. On November 20-21, 1970, a joint force composed of USAF Special Operations and rescue personnel and U.S. Army Special Forces, supported by U.S. Navy Carrier Task Force 77, made a daring raid on the Son Tay prison camp located less than 50 miles from Hanoi. The objective was to rescue as many as 100 U.S. captives thought to be held there. The assault troops, in six ARRS helicopters accompanied by two C-130 aircraft, flew 640km to Son Tay from bases in Thailand. U.S. Navy pilots made a diversionary raid while 116 USAF and Navy aircraft from seven air bases and three aircraft carriers flew refuelling, surface-to-air missile suppression, fighter cover, close air support, early warning, communications support and reconnaissance missions. There was no prisoners found in camp.
After lunch, ride on the winding mountain road to Phu Yen to take in some of the best mountain views in Northwest Vietnam. Overnighting in a hotel.(L, D)
Day 2: Phu Yen Motorbike Tour – Mai Chau (145 km, 5 hours riding)
There are many small roads that lead into the mountains around Mai Chau so we’ll take the chance to ride out to isolated H’mong, Dao and Thai villages. We will take on the challenge of an old road built by the French army and spend the afternoon exploring nearby villages. Overnight in a Thai ethnicity stilt house in Mai Chau. (B, L, D)
Day 3: Mai Chau Motorbike Tour – Tan Ky (290 km, 9 hours riding)
Ride on a small, spectacular and paved trail along the Ma river until Cam Thuy town where we stop for lunch. Hit the Ho Chi Minh trail (now a newly built highway) all the way to Tan Ky town where we spend the night in a hotel. (B, L, D)
Day 4: Tan Ky Motorbike Tour – Phong Nha (280 km, 8 hours riding)
Ride on Ho Chi Minh Highway until Pho Chau where we stop to visit the HCM Trail victory monument which is in fact the real starting point of our HCM Trail ride.
Ride all the way to Phong Nha – Ke Bang, the biggest and also the most beautiful cave in Vietnam and Indochina and is now a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site. The karst formation of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park has evolved since the Paleozoic (some 400 million years ago) and so is the oldest major karst area in Asia. Subject to massive tectonic changes, the park’s karst landscape is extremely complex with many geographic features of considerable significance. The vast area, extending to the border of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, contains spectacular formations including 65 km of caves and underground rivers. (B, L, D)
Day 5: Phong Nha Motorbike Tour – Dong Hoi (60 km, 2 hours riding)
Boating and exploring 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 over looking the beach, we can take in some sunbathing by the beach. Overnight in Dong Hoi. (B, L, D)
Day 6: Dong Hoi Motorbike Tour – Khe Sanh (200 km, 6 hours riding)
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 and from time to time we will see remnants of the original Trail. We take in the Vinh Moc tunnel, the famous Hien Luong Bridge (former demarcation line between North and South Vietnam, the Truong Son Cemetery and finally Khe Sanh (former US Marine base). Overnight in Khe Sanh. (B, L, D)
Day 7: Khe Sanh Motorbike Tour – Hue (180 km, 7 hours riding)
In the morning we head south over the Da Krong Bridge (built by the Cubans in 1973) into the infamous A Shau valley, 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, where there are many Bru Van hill tribe people. Then, cruising through green back country down the steep Me Oi Pass, we continue on to the beautiful city of Hue which lies along the banks of the Perfume River. Overnight in Hue. (B, L, D)
Day 8: Hue Motorbike Tour – Hoi An (145 km, 5 hours riding)
See the Forbidden Citadel in the morning. Join the National Highway 1 and head up the Hai Van Pass (Cloudy Pass) before the World Heritage site of Hoi An, a major trading centre in SE Asia in the 16th and 17th centuries. Overnight in Hoi An. (B, L, D)
Day 9: Hoi An Motorbike Tour
Whole morning exploring the old town of Hoi An. Afternoon at the Cua Dai beach, about 6km from the old town.
The former harbour town of the Champa people at the estuary of the Thu Bon river was an important Vietnamese trading centre in the 16th and 17th centuries, where Chinese from various provinces as well as Japanese, Dutch and Indians settled down. During this period of the China trade, the town was called Hai Pho (Seaside Town) in Vietnamese. During the French colonial period (1883 – 1945), it was called Faifo. Originally Hai Pho was a divided town, because across the “Japanese Bridge”, it used to be the Japanese settlement (16th – 17th century). The bridge (Chua Cau) is a unique covered structure built by the Japanese, the only known covered bridge with a Buddhist pagoda attached to one side.
The town is known to the French and Spanish as Faifo, and by similar names in Portuguese and Dutch. A number of theories have been put forth as to the origin of this name. Some scholars have suggested that it comes from the word “Hai pho” meaning “sea town”, while others have said that it seems more likely to simply be a shortening of Hoi An pho, “the town of Hoi An”, to “Hoi pho” which became “Faifo”.
In 1999, the old town was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) as a well-preserved example of a South-east Asian trading port of the 15th to 19th centuries, whose buildings display a unique blend of local and foreign influences.
Today, Hoi An is still a small city, but it attracts a fair number of tourists, also being a well established place on the backpacker trail. Many visit for the numerous art and craft shops and tailors, who produce made-to-measure clothes for a fraction of the western price. (B, L, D)
Day 10: Hoi An Motorbike Tour – Quy Nhon (280 km, 8 hours riding)
Join the National Highway 1 and head down the beautiful coastal line of Vietnam until Quy Nhon. Traffic is somewhat easier to handle than the Central Highlands of vietnam. Overnight in a beach front hotel. (B, L, D)
Day 11: Quy Nhon Motorbike Tour – Nha Trang (200 km, 6 hours riding). Farewell lunch
Another day filled up with beautiful coast line views. After lunch, we will say goodbye and our guide flies back to Hanoi from Nha Trang. (B, L)
There are two options: Return to Hanoi on train or by air or go down South on your own.
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