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Motorbiking the Ho Chi Minh Trail - Complete Challenge 18 days

Hanoi - Mai Chau - Vinh - Huong Khe - Phong Nha - Dong Hoi - Dong Ha - Khe Sanh - A Luoi - Hoi An - Da Nang - Phuoc Son - Kon Tum - Buon Ma Thuot - Dalat - Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City)

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 and was taken back by the jungle. Recent road work that follow original sections of the trail have changed this.

Besides incredible driving, 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.

Day 1: Arrival in Hanoi

Arriving in Hanoi, you will clear customs and immigration. Leaving the airport, you will be met by your guide, holding a sign with your name on it. He will transfer you to your hotel. The rest of day is free to wash up and rest. 

In the evening we will attend the famous Water Puppet Show, with its introduction to Vietnamese history and mythology.  At night, you will have a welcome dinner with local delights. Overnight in Hanoi.

Summary

  • Transfer:  50 mins
  • Accommodation:  Hotel in Hanoi
  • Meals:   Welcome dinner

Day 2: Hanoi city tour

After breakfast we will begin our city tour of Hanoi. At first, we visit to Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, and the �Uncle Ho� house. After that we head to the unique One Stilt Pagoda, which date from one thousand year ago.

Continue to the Hanoi�s famous Temple of Literature, the first university of Vietnam founded in 1070.

Lunch in local restaurant before heading to the Old Quarter for a relaxing cyclo tour through the ancient part of Hanoi. Perhaps the most interesting area you will visit is the Old Quarter.  Here many tiny streets join to sell a huge diversity of products.  In the old days, each street bore the name of the product sold � �Shoe Street,� �Noodle Street,� and the like.  Today, the streets sometimes sell a variety of items, but often the names are accurate. 

After the cyclo tour we will drive to the Museum of Ethnology, which is quite away from the central Hanoi. It features a fascinating collection of art and everyday objects gathered from Vietnam and its diverse ethnic minorities. On our trip we will meet some minority groups � now it is time to learn about them. Overnight in Hanoi.

Summary

  • Sightseeing:  Full day city tour
  • Accommodation: Hotel in Hanoi
  • Meals:   Breakfast, Lunch

Day 3: Hanoi � Mai Chau

In the morning we take a short bus drive the Ho Chi Minh Trail Museum on the outskirts of Hanoi. The museum is a great place to learn about the historic trail which we will ride on. After the visit to the museum we will jump on our Minsks and spend sometime to get familiar with the bikes.

Now, let�s begin our adventure. 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 Town, the capital of Hoa Binh Province, we cross two short mountain passes then descent to the mountain valley settlement of Mai Chau. Dinner and overnight in a stilt house of the Thai people.

Summary

  • Distance:  140 km
  • Accommodation: Home-stay in village
  • Meals:   Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Mai Chau � Vinh

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 5: Vinh � Huong Khe

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 6: Huong Khe � Phong Nha � Dong Hoi

Today�s 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 costal 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 7: Dong Hoi � Dong Ha

Today�s 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 8: Dong Ha � Khe Sanh � A Luoi

Continuing 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 9: A Luoi � Hien � Thanh My � Hoian

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 10: 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. 

You will spend the day visiting the town of Hoian on your own. Overnight in Hoian.

Summary

  • Accommodation:  Hotel in Hoian Town
  • Meals:   Breakfast

Day 11: Hoi An � My Son � Dong Phu �  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 driving 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 12: Kham Duc � Kon Tum

After breakfast in local restaurant we continue driving 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 drive 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 13:  Kon Tum � 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 14: Buon Ma Thuot � Lak Lake � Dalat

This morning, we drive 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 15: 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

Day 16: Dalat � Saigon

Today we head to Saigon on bus, since the road is so very crowded and busy! On the way, we will stop for lunch in Bao Loc, where we can also see the impressive Dambri Waterfall. In the afternoon, we will finally arrive in Ho Chi Minh City and the famous Rex Hotel. The rest of the day is free to relax or wander on your own.

We might want to visit the Re-Unification Palace, the former palace of President Thieu and his predecessors. Today this building is a museum and venue for official receptions.  Inside you can visit the private rooms of the president, the �War Room� from where the South Vietnamese forces were controlled, and, most poignantly, the room where the North Vietnamese army finally took control in 1975. A second stop is at the Notre Dame Cathedral, built between 1877 and 1883 and one of the city�s major landmarks. Neo-Romanesque in form, Notre Dame is the major seat of the Catholic religion in modern Vietnam of the Sea.  Tonight, if weather permits we can have dinner outside at the Ben Thanh Market. Overnight in Saigon

Summary

  • Distance:  300 km
  • Accommodation: Hotel in Saigon
  • Meals:   Breakfast, Lunch

Day 17: Saigon

Our day begins with a visit to the Cu Chi Tunnels, one of the few remaining monuments to the Vietnam War. Beneath the ground lie 200 km of tunnels, dug by hand and inhabited by the forces of the Viet Cong during the conflict, which ended in 1975.

From Cu Chi, we will return to Ho Chi Minh City. Here, we can stop at Cholon, the Chinese market.  Tonight you will have a farewell dinner.  Overnight in Saigon.

Summary

  • Accommodation: Hotel in Saigon
  • Meals:   Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 18:  Departure

Free until time to be transferred to the airport for your flight home.

Tour Cost 

Private Tour

Class/Group size

Price per pax (adult) in US Dollars

2 pax

3-4 pax

5-7 pax

8-10 pax

11-14 pax

Single Sup

Superior

3099

2599

2099

1999

1899

25%

  • 25% surcharges applies for Christmas, New Year and Tet Holidays  
  • Surcharge for upgrading to Dirtbike 175CC, 230CC or 250CC (Yamaha, Honda): US$30/motorbike/day

Tour cost includes: 

  • Support vehicle
  • Minsk motorbike 125CC
  • Helmet
  • Gasoline for the ride
  • English or French speaking guide
  • Mechanic (for group from 6 passengers)
  • Hotels & Guesthouse based on twin shared
  • Homestay permission
  • Meals as indicated in the itinerary
  • Water & Snacks
  • First-aid kit
  • Entrance fees & Sightseeing fees

Tour cost excludes: 

  • Travel insurance
  • Visa
  • Tips
  • Personal expenses 
  • 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.