11 Days Ho Chi Minh Trail Motorbike Tour Introduction
This 11 Days Ho Chi Minh Trail takes you from Hanoi to Northwest Vietnam and back down to Nha Trang. You will see many beauty spots of Vietnam like Mai Chau, Vinh Moc, Hue, Hoi An and Nha Trang. In addition, the riding is quite relaxing and thrilling. All in all, it’s a hilarious voyage down the historical Ho Chi Minh Trail!
Below is a video clip from one of off-road motorcycle tours on the historical HCM Trail. In case you want to watch more videos please check our YouTube channel.
Day 1: Hanoi – Phu Yen (165 km, ~6 hours riding)
This is the first day of our 11 Days Ho Chi Minh Trail. We head out of Hanoi and then ride to Phu Yen on a 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 air crafts, 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 refueling, surface-to-air missile suppression, fighter cover, close air support, early warning, communications support, and reconnaissance missions. Surprisingly, there were no prisoners in the 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.
Day 2: Phu Yen – 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. In fact, 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.
Day 3: Mai Chau – Tan Ky (290 km, 9 hours riding)
Today is probably the most demanding day of this 11 Days Ho Chi Minh Trail. 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.
Day 4: Tan Ky – Phong Nha (280 km, 8 hours riding)
First, 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.
Then 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.
Day 5: Phong Nha – 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. This place 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.
Day 6: Dong Hoi – 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.
Day 7: Khe Sanh – 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. Finally, we continue on to the beautiful city of Hue which lies along the banks of the Perfume River. Overnight in Hue.
Day 8: Hue – 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.
Day 9: Hoi An
Whole morning exploring the old town of Hoi An. Afternoon at the Cua Dai beach, about 6km from the old town. This is probably the most relaxing day of this 11 Days Ho Chi Minh Trail.
About Hoi An
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”.
Present Hoi An
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 Southeast 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 visits to the numerous art and craft shops and tailors, who produce made-to-measure clothes for a fraction of the western price.
Day 10: Hoi An – Quy Nhon (280 km, 8 hours riding)
Today is a long day of this 11 Days Ho Chi Minh Trail. However, the roads are flat and easy. 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.
Day 11: Quy Nhon – 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.
There are two options: Return to Hanoi by train or by air or go down South on your own.
More Ho Chi Minh Trail Motorcycle Tour Itineraries
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