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Motorcycling the Ho Chi Minh Trail - Half Challenge 11 days

Hanoi - Mai Chau - Vinh - Huong Khe - Phong Nha - Dong Hoi - Dong Ha - Khe Sanh - A Luoi - Hoi An - Da Nang

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 01: 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: 50min
  • Hotel: Hanoi
  • Meal: Welcome dinner

Day 02: 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. The highlight of this cultural, historical site is the garden of stelae where you find 82 stone stelae bearing names, places of birth and achievements of men who received doctorates in each triennial examination from 1442; each stelae sits on a stone tortoise.

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. The Old Quarter also houses some of the most interesting art galleries and fashion houses.  

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 tribal people. On our trip we will meet some tribal groups � now it is time to learn about them. Overnight in Hanoi.

Summary

  • Sightseeing: full day
  • Hotel: Hanoi
  • Meal: breakfast, lunch

Day 03: 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: 140km
  • Home-stay: village in Mai Chau
  • Meal: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 04: 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 boder. 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: 268km
  • Hotel: Vinh City
  • Meal: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 05: 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 renote 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: 160km
  • Hotel: Huong Khe Town
  • Meal: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 06: Huong Khe � Phong Nha � Dong Hoi (Quang Binh)

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 Nha, we ride 30km eastward to the costal town of  Dong Hoi, our today�s overnight spot. Dinner and overnight in hotel.

Summary

  • Distance: 210km
  • Hotel: Dong Hoi Town
  • Meal: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 07: Dong Hoi � Dong Ha (Quang Tri)

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 dride 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: 176km in the moring & 80km in the afternoon
  • Hotel: Dong Ha Town
  • Meal: breakfast, lunch, dinner
  • Day 08: Dong Ha � Khe Sanh � A Luoi (Thua Thien Hue Province)

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 gueshouse.

Summary

  • Distance: 200km
  • Hotel: guesthouse in A Luoi Town
  • Meal: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 09: A Luoi � Hien � Thanh My � Hoi An

Today�s riding is the best riding of the whole route. For the first 110km, 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 68km 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 Hoi An. Dinner and overnight in Hoi An.

Summary

  • Distance: 240km
  • Hotel: Hoi An Town
  • Meal: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 10: Hoi An � 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 Hoi An retain a magical old world Oriental feel and are a favorite subject for Vietnamese artists.  In the early 1980s Hoi An�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 Hoi An on your own. Overnight in Hoi An.

Summary

  • Hotel: Hoi An Town
  • Meal: breakfast

Day 11: Departure

Transfer from Hoi An to Da Nang to take flight to onward destination.

Summary

  • Transfer: 1 hr
  • Meal: breakfast.

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

1899

1599

1299

1199

1099

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.