13 Days Ho Chi Minh Trail with 12 nights accommodation included.
More Ho Chi Minh Trail Motorbike Tour Itineraries
Booking code of this 13 Days Ho Chi Minh Trail: OV42
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, 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. However, 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, Non Nuoc 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, specially designed for bikers.
This 13 Days Ho Chi Minh Trail on two wheels is a moderate level trip, designed for bikers or experienced riders.
13 Days Ho Chi Minh Trail Itinerary At A Glance
1st day: Hanoi – Phu Yen.
2nd day: Phu Yen – Mai Chau.
3rd day: Mai Chau – Tan Ky.
4th day: Tan Ky – Phong Nha.
5th day: Phong Nha – Dong Hoi.
6th day: Dong Hoi – Khe Sanh.
7th day: Khe Sanh – Hue.
8th day: Hue – Hoi An.
9th day: Hoi An.
10th day: Hoi An – Kon Tum.
11th day: Kon Tum – Buon Ma Thuot.
12th day: Buon Ma Thuot – Nha Trang.
13th day: Nha Trang. Farewell lunch.
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Day 1: Hanoi – Phu Yen (165 km, ~6 hours riding)
Today is the first day of this 13 Days Ho Chi Minh Trail By Motorbike. To get out of Hanoi safely, we will have a short briefing to let you know about the rules. In addition, the guide will show you how to understand him by his body language. We start around 9.30am after the rush hour.
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 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 refueling, surface-to-air missile suppression, fighter cover, close air support, early warning, communications support, and reconnaissance missions. However, there were no prisoners found 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. (L, D)
Day 2: Phu Yen – Mai Chau (145 km, 5 hours riding)
There are many small roads that lead to the mountains around Mai Chau so we’ll take the chance to ride out to isolated H’mong, Dao, and Thai villages. Then you 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.
During this 13 Days Ho Chi Minh Trail By Motorbike, you don’t have many stunning mountain views like Northern Vietnam. In addition, the hill tribes are not as many or authentic as in the Northern part. Therefore, it’s always good to include this part into the ride even it has nothing to do with the Trail. (B, L, D)
Day 3: Mai Chau – 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. Then 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 – 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. In fact, this is the real starting point of the original Ho Chi Minh Trail.
Ride all the way to Phong Nha – Ke Bang, the biggest and also the most beautiful cave in Vietnam and Indochina. Currently, it’s 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 – 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 overlooking the beach, we can take in some sunbathing by the beach. Overnight in Dong Hoi. (B, L, D)
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. In fact, there is still much evidence of bombing on the mountainsides. From time to time we will see remnants of the original Trail. Then 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 – 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 cruise 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 – Hoi An (145 km, 5 hours riding)
See the Forbidden Citadel in the morning. Then 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. Sightseeing day.
Those who wish can ride up to My Khe beach, where US marines first landed. Otherwise, enjoy a free day to explore Hoi An on 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. This is the most relaxing day of this 13 Days Ho Chi Minh Trail By Motorbike. (B, L, D)
Day 10: Hoi An – Kon Tum (~290 km, ~9 h)
We strike back up to the mountains before rejoining the Trail at Phuoc Son (also known as Kham Duc). From there we head up the towering Lo So Pass, passing through remote areas thinly populated by people of the Ba Na ethnicity. Then edging close to the border with Laos, where a number of Trail arteries crossed over in Laos, we continue on to Kon Tum.
Overnight in Kon Tum. (B, L, D)
Day 11: Kon Tum – Buon Ma Thuot (~240 km, ~8 h)
In the morning we head south through the Central Highlands, passing Pleiku and then the Ia Drang valley battlefield, before continuing onto Buon Ma Thuot (also known as Buon Me Thuot), the city where northern forces launched their final assault on the then Saigon. Buon Ma Thuot produces the most and also the best coffee products in Vietnam.
Overnight in Buon Ma Thuot. (B, L, D)
Day 12: Buon Ma Thuot – Nha Trang (~190 km, ~7 h)
We take an easy drive back down off the Tay Son highlands towards the coast, then arriving at Highway 1 some 30 km north of Nha Trang. Taking in this scenic coastal stretch past turquoise waters and scarlet fishing boats, we arrive in the bright lights of Nha Trang and its relaxing holiday options.
Overnight in Nha Trang. (B, L, D)
Day 13: Nha Trang (relax). End of 13 Days Ho Chi Minh Trail.
A free day by the beach before gathering for a seafood feast to recount our adventure and toast the Ho Chi Minh Trail. There are two options: Return to Hanoi by train or by air or go down South on your own. End this 13 Days Ho Chi Minh Trail by motorbike after lunch. (B, L)
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DETAILS OF DESTINATIONS
A small town, ~170km Northwest of Hanoi. It’s in the heart of the third-largest rice field in Northern Vietnam. In fact, the road from Hanoi to Son Tay is crowded, skirting along the Red River. On the other hand, the road from Son Tay to Phu Yen is quite scenic and quiet. It is one of the less travelled places in Northern Vietnam. As a result, the accommodation condition in Phu Yen is basic.
This is our first stop on this 13 Days Ho Chi Minh Trail By Motorbike.
A Thai village in Mai Chau district of Hoa Binh province. It’s about 160km from Phu Yen. In the early 1990s Lac village is the first to open the homestay overnighting business. It became so popular that all surrounding villages stepped into this business. Therefore, Mai Chau becomes the largest home staying complex in Northern Vietnam. Luckily, friendly people and great food make the night here very entertaining and enjoyable. You will stay in a stilt house, or pile dwelling which is made of bamboo and timber. A house is normally elevated 10-12 feet off the ground in order to avoid water damage and provide shelter for animals.
This place offers the only homestay experience on the 13 Days Ho Chi Minh Trail motorbike tour.
A town in the west part of Nghe An province, ~400km South of Hanoi. It is a stop on the Ho Chi Minh Trail/Road. In fact, Km 0 is in this district where the original Ho Chi Minh trail starts. This is home to Kinh, Thai, and Tho people.
Phong Nha – Ke Bang is a national park and UNESCO World Heritage Site in Bo Trach and Minh Hoa districts, Quang Binh province. This location is in central Vietnam, ~500 km south of Hanoi. The park was created to protect one of the world’s two largest karst regions with 300 caves and grottoes. In addition, it also protects the ecosystem of limestone forests in the north-central coast of Vietnam.
Phong Nha holds several world cave records. It has the longest underground river, as well as the largest caverns and passageways. Son Doong is a relatively recently discovered cave in the national park. Found by a local man and explored and publicly announced by the British cave scientists of the British Cave Research Association. In reality, it is the largest cave in the world. A boat ride on the Son river is a good way to relax and take in the beautiful view of this park. However, a tour to discover this cave is very expensive. In addition, you must book very long in advance.
The capital city of Quang Binh province in central Vietnam. The city is on the old National Highway 1A. ~500km south of Hanoi. Dong Hoi has a 12km coastline with white sandy beaches such as Nhat Le, Da Nhay, and Ly Ho. During the Vietnam/American War, this was one of the most fierce battlefields.
The district capital of Huong Hoa district in Quang Tri province. Khe Sanh Combat Base is a war site, it was a United States Marine Corps outpost in South Vietnam. The airstrip was built in September 1962 and later Vietnamese Army rebuilt the old airstrip at Khe Sanh for courier flights into the south. As of 2009, Khe Sanh Combat Base is a museum where relics of the war are exhibited. Most of the former base is now overgrown by wilderness or coffee and banana plants and there is little trace of the war.
Between 1802 and 1945, it was the imperial capital of the Nguyen dynasty. During the Vietnam/American War, Hue became a central position between North Vietnam and South Vietnam. In the Tet Offensive of 1968, possibly the hardest fight, during the Battle of Hue the city suffered considerable damage. After the war, many of the historic features of Hue were neglected. Over the past 20 years, many historical areas of the city have been being restored. In fact, many people found Hue a bit boring but it is still a good stop.
Our ride ends at the train station after we load the bikes on the train in Danang. Thus from Danang to Hoi An, you take a taxi or minibus.
Also known as Faifo, a city on the coast of central Vietnam, in Quang Nam province. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hoi An Ancient Town is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a South-East Asian trading port dating from the 15th to the 19th century. The city served as the largest harbour in South-east Asia in the 1st century. In fact, it was still an important port until the 17th century. The Pagoda Bridge is a unique covered structure built by the Japanese, the only known covered bridge with a Buddhist pagoda attached to one side.
All new hotels are moved to Cua Dai, not far away from the old city where you stay near the beach. In fact, Hoi An is an ideal place for a retreat on this 13 Days Ho Chi Minh Trail motorbike voyage.
Also written as Qui Nhon, is a coastal capital city in Binh Dinh province of central Vietnam. In the past, the city focused on agriculture and fishing. However, there has been a significant shift towards service industries and tourism recently. Things need time to get better but it is a good stop on the trip from North to South, at least not touristy.
The capital town of Kon Tum province in Central Highlands, near the borders with Laos and Cambodia, mostly famous for coffee products. Kon Tum has several vestiges of the French colonial period, as well as several tribal villages directly in the suburbs of the Vietnamese-reconstructed town. Among the town’s landmarks, there is a Roman Catholic wooden church on discrete stilts and a large French-built seminary which hosts a small museum on local hill tribes. In fact, the French missionary presence in Kon Tum traces back to 1851. This town is in a politically sensitive area and some permits are required to visit remote villages.
Buon Ma Thuot
Also written as Ban Me Thuot, the capital city of Dak Lak province, Southern Vietnam. In reality, the city is the largest in Vietnam’s Central Highlands region and is famous as the regional “capital of coffee”, home to many Vietnamese famous coffee brands.
A coastal city and capital of Khanh Hoa province, in Southern Vietnam. Nha Trang is well known for its beaches and scuba diving and has developed into a popular destination for domestic and international tourists, attracting large numbers of visitors on the Southeast Asia circuit. In reality, Nha Trang Bay is considered as among the world’s most beautiful bays. The city is home to the famous Po Nagar Tower built by the Champa. Being a coastal city, Nha Trang is a centre for marine science based at the Nha Trang Oceanography Institute. The Hon Mun marine protected area is one of four first marine protected areas in the world admitted by the IUCN.
Our 13 Days Ho Chi Minh Trail By Motorbike ride ends mid-day the day after we load the bikes on the train at Nha Trang station.