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, bicycle and truck for hundreds of kilometers through the otherwise impenetrable jungle that covered Vietnam’s mountainous border with Laos. A testimony to the ingenuity, fortitude and commitment of the northern Vietnamese, the trail slipped from use at the end of the war…
Besides incredible riding, deep in the Vietnamese countryside, this ride takes in the charming ancient trading town of Hoian, Khe Sanh battle site and DMZ. We also take time to stay overnight in a traditional Thai hill tribe and visit to some tribal villages on the way.
The government already built a new highway on most of the original trail. However, we still have some parts on tracks and short-cuts that offer off-road riders a chance to test out their riding skills. The riding hours are longer than a Northern Vietnam trip, however the scenery is not as beautiful as in North Vietnam. It’s more about Vietnam War!
Please note that Ho Chi Minh trail rides cost more than our standard rides as we have to pay the guide(s) and bikes back to Hanoi. In addition, food and hotel in South Vietnam cost more than in the Northern mountain parts.
We also recommend you to bring your riding gear as if you get all from us, it’s not easy for our guide(s) to carry them back Hanoi.
DAY 1: HANOI MOTORCYCLE TOUR TO MAI CHAU (HOA BINH)
In the morning we start our motorbike tour by leaving Hanoi on dyke roads to avoid the heavy traffic around 9 am , we ride our motorcycles west to Mai Chau, an area of beautiful landscape and home to the Thai ethnic minority. We will ride on Highway 6 passing extensive farming lands comprising a sea of paddy fields split by tree-lined roads punctuated by limestone karst scenery. After a light lunch in Hoa Binh Province, we cross Thung Khe, one of the most beautiful mountain passes in North Vietnam then descent to the mountain valley settlement of Mai Chau. After dinner we join performance, where you can dance and share a range of special liquors (rice wine) with the locals. Overnight in a house-on-stilts of the Thai people.
Summary: Distance: 160 km Meals: Lunch, Dinner Accommodation: Home-stay
DAY 2: MAI CHAU MOTORCYCLE TOUR TO VINH CITY
Say goodbye to the villagers we then head south on a beautiful winding road which follow the banks of the Ma River. After some hours riding on undulating quiet road we join the new Ho Chi Minh Highway. This newly carved route leads us due south, through remote back country, not far from the Laos border. Lunch will be on the way with local foods. In the afternoon we cut eastward towards the coast and stay overnight in the peaceful city of Vinh, which is close to where Ho Chi Minh was born. Dinner in local restaurant and overnight in hotel.
Summary Distance: 268 km Accommodation: Hotel in Vinh City Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
DAY 3: VINH MOTORCYCLE TOUR TO HUONG KHE (HA TINH)
This morning we head inland towards the Laos border after 40min riding we can reach the birthplace of Ho Chi Minh in Kim Lien Village. The place is truly a shrine to the Vietnamese and visited by few westerners. After paying respects to Uncle Ho, we head to the HCM Highway via Thanh Chuong District. You cross the Lam River on the Ro Bridge and then drive primarily on the beautiful new highway of Ho Chi Minh. Lunch break in Pho Chau Town, a tiny town about 40km from Thanh Chuong. After lunch, we continue on the quiet highway to Dong Loc Intersection, (main junction for supply lines during the war) which is widely regarded in Vietnamese eyes as the beginning of Ho Chi Minh Trail. We then pass through remote back country, close to the border , as the scenery steadily becomes dominated by karst limestone rock formations. We will reach our overnight spot, Huong Khe Town, around 5pm. Dinner in local restaurant and overnight in a mini hotel.
Summary Distance: 160 km Accommodation: Hotel in Huong Khe Town Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
DAY 4: HUONG KHE MOTORCYCLE TOUR PASSING PHONG NHA TO DONG HOI (QUANG BINH)
Today’s motor ride is on a very quiet section of the new highway. En route, you will come to Khe Ve Intersection and Pheo – the very first branch of the Ho Chi Minh Trail into Laos. Continuing on from Pheo, we will arrive in Phong Nha around noon. After lunch in local restaurant, we board a dragon boat to explore the famous Nature World Heritage Site of Phong Nha cave. After the exploration of Phong Nga, we ride 30km eastward to the coastal town of Dong Hoi, our today’s overnight spot. Dinner and overnight in hotel.
Summary Distance: 210 km Accommodation: Hotel in Dong Hoi Town Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
DAY 5: DONG HOI MOTORCYCLE TOUR TO DONG HA (QUANG TRI)
Today’s motor ride is also on the new, quiet highway. Along the way, we will have a short stop at Truong Son National Cemetery to pay respect to the soldiers who fought and died on the trail during the American War. After here we head to Dong Ha Town passing Ben Tat Bridge, built by the VC over the Ben Hai River. Arriving in Dong Ha, we will check into the hotel, and have some lunch. In the afternoon, we drive to the mystic Vinh Moc Tunnel and the famous DMZ, Doc Mieu fire base and the historic Hien Luong Bridge. Dinner and overnight in Dong Ha.
Summary Distance: 176 km in the morning & 80 km in the afternoon Accommodation: Hotel in Dong Ha Town Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
DAY 6: DONG HA MOTORCYCLE TOUR PASSING KHE SANH TO A LUOI (QUANG TRI)
Continuing our motorbike tour west on Highway 9, we will climb into the Truong Son foothills. About 16km from Khe Sanh is the Dakrong Bridge and the road turns winding and narrow. A bit further, we will come to Huang Hoa, once known as Khe Sanh Base, which was established as a forward base by General Westmoreland near Laos to secure Highway 9. About 3km from Khe Sanh is Ta Con Airbase. Lunch in Khe Sanh and then head out across the famous Dakrong River Bridge on Rte. 14 Near the town of Ta Rut, we will stop for a visit with the Pa Co people and a walk through their village. From Ta Rut, you head over scenic Pe Ke Pass and then down to A Luoi for the night. Dinner in local restaurant and overnight in a simple guest house.
Summary Distance: 200 km Accommodation: Guesthouse in A Luoi Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
DAY 7: A LUOI MOTORCYCLE TOUR PASSING HIEN – THANH MY TO HOI AN (QUANG NAM)
Today’s riding is the best riding of the whole route. For the first 110 km, we cross one of the longest and most stunning pass on new and quiet road, through stunning scenery of primitive forests backed by the imposing Truong Son mountain range. There are also two long tunnels and very little traffic. The next 68 km from Hien to Thanh My are on good road with some gentle climbs. Lunch on the way in local restaurant. The last 40km of the day are on an older, bumpier road all the way from Ai Nghia to the charming ancient town of Hoian. Dinner and overnight in Hoian.
Summary Distance: 240 km Accommodation: Hotel in Hoian Town Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
DAY 8: HOIAN – FREE AT LEISURE
Hoi An, nestled on the banks of the Thu Bon River. Before the river silted up, Hoi An was one of the most important trading ports in Southeast Asia, and a center for East-West exchange and trade. The rooftops of Hoian retain a magical old world Oriental feel and are a favorite subject for Vietnamese artists. In the early 1980s Hoian’s ancient quarters and historical monuments came under the protection and restoration efforts of UNESCO and the Polish government. Those who wish can ride up to Da Nang Beach, where US marines first landed, otherwise enjoy a free day to explore Hoi An by foot or by motorbike taxi. 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.
Summary Accommodation: Hotel in Hoian Town Meals: Breakfast
DAY 9: HOI AN MOTORCYCLE TOUR PASSING MY SON – DONG PHU TO KHAM DUC (PHUOC SON)
Time to hit the road again! We leave Hoi An in the morning and head to My Son, a world heritage site that is the Cham version of Angkor Wat. Most of the temples are dedicated to the Hindu god, Shiva, considered by the Cham as the founder and protector of their dynasties. From My Son, we will continue along the highway, busy at first, until the road shifts and becomes smaller, although paved. Then the drive becomes challenging, but a lot of fun and progress is far slower. We will continue riding along the river, but the road itself, new and not very busy, climbs up along a very steep valley with the river rushing below. The river below is dotted with unique rock formations and there are waterfalls along the way. Lunch will be in Dong Phu. Leaving Dong Phu, eventually, we will come to the town of Kham Duc or Phuoc Son. Overnight in Kham Duc Hotel.
Summary Distance: 200 km Accommodation: Hotel in Kham Duc Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
DAY 10: KHAM DUC MOTORCYCLE TOUR TO KON TUM
After breakfast in local restaurant we continue riding north on Highway 14 today on a bit of a bumpy section of the road to Kon Tum. Today is really a day to visit different minority villages. We will ride over Lo Xo Pass, making lots of stops along the way to meet De and Trieng minorities, who live along the Dak Po Ko river. Along the river are many amazing hanging bridges, built by the local people to cross to the opposite shore. Lunch will be in Tan Canh, and we can visit a village of Se Dang, before driving on to Kon Tum. Along the way, we also pass one of the key towns and battle sites of the Vietnam War – Dak To and outpost Charlie. In Kon Tum we can visit the Catholic church and the orphanage, based behind the Catholic Church in town and run by a group of French nuns. If time permits, you can also visit a beautiful Bahnar village near town. Overnight in Kon Tum at the Dac Bla Hotel.
Summary Distance: 190 km Accommodation: Hotel in Kon Tum Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
DAY 11: KON TUM MOTORCYCLE TOUR TO BUON ME THUOT
The new Ho Chi Minh Highway was built on the old trail, but from Kon Tum to Daklak, the historic HCM trail (Highway 14C), runs parallel to Highway 14 linking Kon Tum, Pleiku, and Buon Me Thuot. We will continue riding Highway 14 today, finding that traffic is busier than usual. Lunch will be in Pleiku. From here, we ride along the Tun River and up over a pass. Along the way are coffee plantations and the stilt houses of the Central Highland’s largest ethnic group, the Gia Rai. Eventually, we will cross the Nha Rong pass down into Buon Me Thuot, the provincial capital of Dac Lac Province, and the site of the last battle of the Vietnam war in March 1975. At night we can stop by the beer parlors or sample the local coffee grown in the region. It is far and away the best coffee in Vietnam and worth bringing home. Overnight at the Thang Loi Hotel.
Summary Distance: 240 km Accommodation: Hotel in Buon Ma Thuot Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
DAY 12: BUON MA THUOT – LAK LAKE – DALAT
This morning, we take a motor ride to Lak Lake on Rte. 27, a small paved road with poor surfacing and quite busy. Here we can have a break for refreshment and troll around the by the lake. There are said to be about 31 different ethnic groups in Dac Lac, each with their own traditional dress and customs. Some of the villages are known for elephant hunting and taming, some for weaving and other arts. After lunch in Lak Lake, we continue on to Da Lat. The road is narrow, winding, but not busy. We have three passes to cross – Krong No, Chuoi, and Phu Son. The drive itself is quite beautiful and lined with dense forests. Late in the afternoon, we will arrive in the hill town of Da Lat. Overnight in Dalat.
Summary Distance: 200 km Accommodation: Hotel in Da Lat Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
DAY 13: DALAT TOURING
Dalat is known as “The City of Love” and is a favorite holiday resort for Vietnamese as well as the French. With evergreen forests, waterfalls, beautiful lakes, the country’s best flower gardens, and delicious fresh produce, Dalat has always provided a welcome respite from the heat of the lowlands. We can spend the day visiting the highlights of Dalat – its gardens, cathedral, waterfalls, market, Valley of Love, convent, university and key pagodas. Overnight in Da Lat.
Summary Accommodation: Hotel in Dalat Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
DAY 14: DA LAT MOTORCYCLE TOUR TO CAT TIEN NATIONAL PARK
Motorcycle down on road 20, we ride to Cat Tien National Park. This forest area used to be the head quarter of Vietnamese army during the war. The park suffered historically during the Vietnam War when it was extensively sprayed with herbicides like the defoliant Agent Orange. To this day these areas have extensive bamboo and grassland cover and trees have not yet grown back.
Summary Distance: 190 km Accommodation: Guest House in Nam Cat Tien Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
DAY 15: CAT TIEN – SAIGON
This is not so long but is a big day as traffic is very crazy when we enter Saigon (HCM City). We ride straight to the train station where we end the ride. If you need information about places to stay and/or to eat, our guide will be able to recommend some.
Summary Distance: 160 km Accommodation: Not included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
End of services
Note on client safety: We reserve the right to deviate from this itinerary for any reasons, including road and weather conditions, frequency of visits to a village, or for any other factor which may influence client safety.
Note: We provide support truck (120$ per day) for emergency and for your safe riding in Vietnam – Most of other tour operators do not offer that. Contact us if you think it’s necessary.
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* ACCOMMODATION: – We endeavour to select a combination of good quality hotels that reflect the character of the local area as well as being as centrally located as possible, all the while striving to keep the cost affordable.
– Your trip will stay in a range of hotels / guesthouses with standardized quality.
– Please be aware that some hotel rooms, especially those in major urban centres or older cities, may be smaller than what you are used to in other parts of the world. Standards and ratings may also be different to your home country.
– Rooms are en-suite and either twin- or triple-share, depending on what you have booked. If you are a solo traveller, you will always be sharing a room with someone of the same sex otherwise you can pay a supplement to possess a single room
– If you are traveling as a couple and would prefer to have a double bed, please officially request a double room with us. We never presume that two people traveling together are a couple, even if you share the same surname, unless informed otherwise.
* MEALS: – Your included meals are detailed in the ‘More Inclusions’ section of this document.
– Breakfasts are included every day in the hotel (except on the first morning). They are usually ‘continental breakfasts’, which are typical in most countries. A typical breakfast may consist of cereals with milk or yoghurt, bread, croissants, cold meats, cheese and a range of spreads, with fruit juice, tea or coffee to drink. It is rare to get a hot breakfast in Asia, though on some occasions there may be some hot food available as well. Included evening meals are in local restaurants or accommodation places, and are either two or three courses. In most cases table water is provided with the meals, and if you wish to purchase additional drinks you can do so at your own expense.
– If you have any dietary requirements we will make every effort to cater to your specific needs as long as you advise your travel agent when you book, or make note by email before you set out. But please be aware that although we will do everything in our power to arrange it, we cannot guarantee that every restaurant we use will be able to cater to all dietary needs, particularly in Asia. We also cannot cater for tastes or dislikes, as most of our included evening meals feature a set menu.
* Ten Tips to Survive Vietnam’s Traffic: + DON’T spend hours waiting to cross the street on foot: that constant tide of traffic won’t stop until late at night, so
+ DO as the Vietnamese do: take the plunge and inch slowly across. Observe the Miracle of the Red Sea, as the traffic parts like magic, flowing smoothly in front of you or behind, meeting up again on the other side.
+ DON’T make any sudden or unpredictable movements: freeze if you have to, but never lunge forward or backward towards the safety of the sidewalk. In fact, you can do just about anything, but do it with conviction!
+ DON’T forget, if you’re riding or driving, to look where you’re going – all the time: if you hit anything in front of you, then it’s your fault.
+ DO give way to any vehicle bigger and noisier than yours. Trucks and buses are particularly dangerous: often old, sometimes unsafe and usually all over the road.
+ DO watch out for unfamiliar obstacles: water buffaloes, rocks of various sizes, broken-down trucks…, people sitting in the road, missing bridges, girls in ao dai cycling five abreast, slow-moving mountains of farm produce, dog fights, impromptu football matches, piles of building materials – and almost no light on anything at night..
+ DON’T hesitate to take evasive action – even if this sometimes means leaving the tarmac or coming to a dead stop.
+ DO try to avoid getting involved in one of the all-too-frequent minor accidents that plague Vietnam’s roads (and the major ones as well, of course), but if you are unlucky,
+ DON’T lose your cool, in spite of the interference of the large and vocal crowd that may gather: try to settle things amicably and swiftly. Sometimes, paying a reasonable amount of money will save you a lot of hassle.
+ DO remember that the only rule is: you’re not allowed to bump into anybody… irrespective of what they did or should have done, or of what the road signs or traffic lights were telling them to do. Some people still seem to think that anything red means forward, comrade
* Tipping for guides & mechanic: Our crews never expect tips themselves and will not ask for any; that’s not what friends do! However, so if you are really satisfied with all of what they did for you, please don’t mind tipping them a bit with a normal norm of US$ 7 – US$ 10/person for a guide per day and US$ 3 – US$ 5/person for a mechanic per day. (just don’t forget Mum’s souvenir).
Motorbike(s) (Honda or Yamaha)
Gasoline on tour
English or French speaking guide
Mechanic (only for group from 6 passengers)
Accommodation as indicated in the itinerary (based on twin or/and triple shared)