Biking in Legend Ho Chi Minh Trail Tour
Ho Chi Minh Trail, a complicated road system, winds along the Truong Son Range, facilitated a huge movement of soldiers and war supplies from North Vietnam to battlefields in South. The route is incredibly beautiful with new mountain views around every corner, very little traffic, and virtually no tourists. Our cycling on Ho Chi Minh Trail brings you a great challenge on physical while give your oppotunities to learn about the Vietnamese history while enjoy wonderful nature. The bikes start up at stunning valley Mai Chau and concludes in Hoian, a charming ancient town in center Vietnam.
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Vacation Style Holiday Type
Activity Level Tough
Group Size Small Group
Hanoi, Ha Long, Mai Chau, Pu Luong, Ngoc Lac, Thai Hoa, Nghe An, Huong Khe, Phong Nha, Hue, Hoi An, Qui Nhon, Nha Trang, Phan Thiet, Ho Chi Minh
The Ho Chi Minh Trail was an elaborate system of mountain and jungle trails linking North Vietnam, South Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos during the Vietnam War against the United States. Today, the many paths of the Ho Chi Minh trail criss-cross the newly built Ho Chi Minh Highway. On this tour we explore the northern section of the Ho Chi Minh trail, which was previously inaccessible, from Ngoc Lac to the Hai Van Pass in Danang. This wide, smooth undulating highway is a bikers dream as there is little traffic on the road. And it conveniently will take us through farms, orchards, tribal villages and offers us easy access to some of the country’s top attractions — one of Vietnam’s most spectacular caves, the ancient royal seat of Hue, the picturesque trading port of Hoi An and South China Sea beaches.
Cycle in the beautiful, quiet Vietnamese countryside, through lush fields, down jungle paths and past stunning limestone cliffs along the famous Ho Chi Minh Trail; which was once used to carry supplies during the war. Enjoy real local, cultural and natural experiences along the way.
Tour busy city streets on a cyclo (a pedal-powered trishaw). Ride along a route which was used to carry ammunition and supplies during the war. Spend the night at a Thai Village home stay, a great way to experience the nature and culture of the area. Cycle through a mountain range passing stunning limestone cliffs and lush fields. Roll along on the smooth tarmac of the Ho Chi Minh highway, stopping off at the birthplace of Ho Chi Minh. Go through scenic villages with limestone karst formations.
See Phong Nha National Park, an area of tunnels and underground rivers formed 250 million years ago. Cycle across the 17th Parallel and end the day in the former US Marine base of Khe Sahn. Explore the back roads of Hue and the Imperial Citadel where the Nguyen Dynasty ruled 1200 years ago. Complete a challenging climb to the top of Hai Van pass then cruise down to the beach for a cooling swim. Pedal through eucalyptus forest, paddy fields and small villages to the ancient centre of Cham civilization.
Hanoi – Arrival
Upon arrival at Hanoi Airport our guide who will accompany you to your hotel will welcome you, Vietnam’s capital, is a stylish and gracious city that retains an unique old world charm and some Asia ‘s most striking colonial architecture. The many lakes and parks make for relaxing atmosphere. If time permits we embark on a cyclo for a short excursion through the bustling old quarter streets named after the specific goods once offered for sale at these places. O/N in Ha Noi.(D)
Hanoi – Ha Long Bay (Kayaking Tour)
Heading out of town we make our way towards Halong Bay, truly one of Vietnam ‘s most scenic impressive sights. On arrival in Halong we embark on a boat for an exploration of the legendary Halong Bay. Along the trip we learn some kayak orientation and instruction in paddling technique. We begin our first kayaking experience to discover the limestone karst formations which are littered with beaches, grottoes and beautiful caves, and visit one of the many hidden grottoes beneath towering cliffs. At the end of afternoon we return to our escorted boat for relaxation and dinner. The night paddle is available for kayaking fervor. O/N on board.(B,L,D)
Ha Long Bay – Hanoi (Kayaking Tour)
The views of sailing junks navigating past over 3,000 limestone islands and outcrops jutting out of the clear and emerald water of the bay are nothing short of spectacular. After breakfast on board we continue cruising and make stop for second paddle. We circumnavigate the island, observing some secluded lagoons and enjoying last swimming opportunity. In late morning we regroup at our escorted boat for two hour cruise to Halong Pier. Here we meet up with out waiting for vehicle for return journey. Overnight in Hanoi.(B,L,D)
We leave for Mai Chau very early. Arriving at lunchtime, enjoy a cooked lunch at a local Tai village house before setting off along a spectacularly beautiful river valley towards Hoi Xuan along an undulating tarmac road. (Old highway 15A) The road follows the flow of River Song Ma. This is an old supply route of the HCM Trail that fed the main trail with ammunitions during the American War with Vietnam. Overnight at the edge of Pu Luong Nature Reserve in a traditional Thai village homestay, part of an ecotourist community project set up by Fauna and Flora International in 2003. Overnight village house on stilts. 25 km. (B,L,D)
Pu Luong Nature Reserve-Ngoc Lac
An early morning start to beat the heat of the day. The route takes us away from the river and appears to contour through the same range of mountains that stretch from Mai Chau to Cuc Phuong to Hoa Lu. The road gets more beautiful the closer you ride to Ngoc Lac with looming karst limestone cliffs and lush vegetation. The route is tarmac all the way, but quite hard riding due to the undulating terrain. Overnight in local hotel Ngoc Lac. 70 km. (B,L,D)
Ngoc Lac-Thai Hoa
Ride for the first time on the newly built two lane Ho Chi Minh Highway. It hardly warrants two lanes as there is no traffic! The road makes for smooth fast riding, and for those who prefer there is always the old highway dirt and gravel – that weaves around the new highway allowing for plenty of exploring possibilities along the way.Ride to Muc Son, on the banks of River Song Chu. On the outskirts of this small town are the famous Kan Linh historical relics – a pagoda where the first king of the Ly dynasty, Le Thai To, ruled, in 1428. Continue riding on the trail to Yen Cat. The distance covered today is quite long and there will be the chance to transfer some sections by the back-up vehicle to rest weary legs.There are fewer villages today as the route cuts through forests and jungle. Picnic lunch en route. Overnight Thai Hoa guesthouse. 80+ km. (B,L,D)
Thai Hoa-Nghe An
Continue riding the incredible Ho Chi Minh Trail. Have lunch in Lat town. In Kim Lean visit the famous museum and birthplace of Ho Chi Minh in 1890. This province has a reputation for producing charismatic revolutionary leaders; not only Ho Chi Minh but also Phan Boi Chau – another fervent anti colonialist -was born here. Overnight in Nghe An Town. 100 km. (B,L,D)
Nghe An-Huong Khe
After a relaxing breakfast continue riding on the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The trail is still a dream to ride on. Again there is virtually no traffic. Transfer if tired in the afternoon to Huong Khe for overnight in a local guesthouse. 80 km. (B,L,D)
Huong Khe-Phong Nha National Park
From Huong Khe the mountains rise and the road winds up, down and along the hillsides. The scenery is spectacular, the road tranquil. Ride up to 80km then transfer the last few km to Phong Nha National Park. The park contains one of the most spectacular caves in Vietnam, It is a true speleological wonder. Visit the cave by boat then wander through the cavern, past the foundations of ancient Cham ruins. Pause to admire the incredible formation of stalactites and stalagmites. Formed approximately 250 million years ago Phong Nha was used as a hospital and ammunition depot during the war, the entrance still showing evidence of fighter aircraft attacks. There are community projects underway with Flora and Fauna International and it may be possible to visit village initiatives and learn more about the forests of the National Park. Overnight at the National Park. 80 km. (B,L,D)
Phong Nha National Park-Hue
Explore Phong Nha Cave in the early morning. Continue riding on the Ho Chi Minh Trail across the DMZ (better known as the 17th Parallel,) to Cam Lo. The road is now quite flat and makes for good cruising! Stop en route to visit Truong Son Cemetary, a memorial to the tens of thousands of North Vietnamese soldiers who were killed in the Truong Son Mountains along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Fourteen miles further on is the town of Cam Lo – the Trail here intersects a strategic feeder road (H9) from Dong Ha and at this junction part of the Ho Chi Minh Trail heads across country into Laos. We finish our exploration of the Ho Chi Minh trail here. This is where we end the cycling section of the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Transfer to Hue visiting war relics en route. Overnight Hotel in Hue. 60 km. (B,L,D)
Hue – Hoi An (135 km)
Hue was the capital of Vietnam under the Nguyen Dynasty of emperors from 1802 till 1945. In the morning cycle to the elaborate mausoleums of Emperor Tu Duc and Khai Dinh along the banks of the Perfume River . Leave Hue in the afternoon for the ancient trading port of Hoi An 120km to the south via the spectacular Pass of Ocean Clouds . Arrive in Hoi An late afternoon and transfer to hotel. Overnight in Hoi An.(B,L,D)
Leave Hoi An after breakfast and cycle to the sacred Marble Mountains where caves contain dozens of Buddhist shrines. Stop off at Da Nang to visit the famous China Beach , once a ‘rest and recreation’ resort for American servicemen. Return to Hoi An for lunch and spend the afternoon discovering the delights of Hoi An’s historic town centre or perhaps cycle to Cua Dai Beach 5km away. Overnight in Hoi An.(B,L,D)
Hoi An – Qui Nhon (280 km)
It is just under 300km down Highway One to Qui Nhon. Travel by bus and bike as the scenic highway follows the coast southwards. Transfer to hotel on arrival in Qui Nhon. Overnight in Qui Nhon.
Qui Nhon – Nha Trang (240 km)
Continue down Highway one by bus and bike to Vietnam ‘s premier beach destination, Nha Trang. Overnight in Nha Trang.(B,L,D)
In the morning take a cruise on Nha Trang Bay to visit some of the offshore islands with time for swimming and snorkeling. Return to shore after a seafood lunch. Afternoon cycling around Nha Trang to visit the 9th century Po Nagar Cham Towers, Long Son Pagoda with its enormous Buddha statue and the interesting Dam Market. Overnight in Nha Trang.(B,L,D)
Nha Trang – Phan Thiet (250 km)
Leave after breakfast by bus and bike for Phan Thiet breaking the 250km journey at Phan Rang to visit the spectacular Po Klong Garai Cham Temple. The landscape between Phan Rang and Phan Thiet changes to an arid semi-desert with sandy soil and prickly pear cactus. In Phan Thiet turn off to the Mui Ne Peninsula with its sandy white beaches and swaying coconut palms. Overnight in Phan Thiet.(B,L,D)
Phan Thiet – Ho Chi Minh City (200 km)
A morning free to relax at the beach or perhaps explore Mui Ne and its spectacular sand dunes. Leave after lunch for the final 200km passing through dense rubber plantations before reaching Bien Hoa and the outer suburbs of Ho Chi Minh City . Transfer to hotel on arrival. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City .(B,L,D)
Ho Chi Minh City – Cu Chi – Ho Chi Minh City (120 km)
A morning City tour of dynamic Ho Chi Minh City, still called Saigon by many locals, takes in the former Presidential Palace, the Notre Dame Cathedral, Old Saigon Post Office, a lacquerware factory and Thien Hau Pagoda in the City’s bustling Chinatown. In the afternoon visit the famous Cu Chi Tunnels, an incredible underground tunnel network constructed by Vietnamese resistance fighters during the long struggle for independence. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City .(B,L,D)
Ho Chi Minh City departure
At leisure until transfer to Tan Son Nhat Airport for onward flight.(B)
When cycling we stay in friendly hotel, guesthouse or homestays. Some are more basic than others! Bear in mind that some of the places we overnight in are not on the standard tourist trail.In larger cities and towns, our hotels are generally more western style and are three or four hotels or resort. Please do not expect the same standard as you would your home.
Homestay in the villages is simple interm of bedding condition and ementies. We will sleep on beds or floor with mattress, clean sheet, pillow and mosquito nets. Toilet is usually western style.
Suitable Bicycle. MTB, Touring Bike, Cyclocross/Gravel bike.
At JET we hold firmly to the opinion that using your own bike, the bike on which you feel at home and comfortable is the finest way to enjoy a cycling adventure.
Most kinds of bicycle, except light-weight racing bikes are suitable for this tour: touring bikes, mountain bikes, hybrids or cyclocross bikes are all fine. Road conditions vary from asphalt to gravel and some hard packed dirt tracks. Tyre’s from 35mm in width upwards will be fine but we recommend 40mm on 700c and 2” on 26” wheels as a minimum.
South East Asia is generally a warm place so the ability to carry one or two water bottles is essential (either on your bike or in a backpack). Our back-up vehicle carries water and tools although for those competent with tools bringing your own pump, puncture kit, and multi took is recommended as it would speed up repairs and minor adjustments. If bringing your own bike please bring along a few spare spokes that fit your wheels (please note that different wheels have different size spokes). If your bike has disk brakes or hub gears please bring any components that you feel may be necessary. We carry some spares for our hire bikes but we cannot guarantee that we will have any tubes other than 26” car type valves. Tyres and tubes other than 26” can be difficult to come by in many parts of the world so please make sure you have spares. If in doubt please ask at your local bike shop. A means of carrying your camera, sunblock etc is also useful – either an on-bike bag, handlebar or saddlebag for example, or a lightweight day-pack.
Recommendation: Although our hire bikes come equipped with a saddle if you have a saddle you use and are happy with it is strongly recommended that you use it on tour. If you use SPD type shoes please bring your own matching pedals. We are happy to fit these for you. You may also like to bring bar ends if you use them at home.
ESSENTIAL! Please be sure that your bicycle is in perfect condition before you leave home. Again, if in doubt please consult your local bike shop.
If you wish to hire a bicycle for the duration of your holiday with us we can arrange for the hire of good quality cycles from our in-country agent. Typically these bikes are mountain bikes, often Trek 4 series or similar. Please request a hire bike at the time of booking, fields to do so are on the booking form. Payment for hire bikes can be made with the balance of the tour payment or in cash on arrival.
Rental Bicycle Recommendation. Although our hire bikes come equipped with a saddle if you have a saddle you use and are happy with it is strongly recommended that you use it on tour. If you use SPD type shoes please bring your own matching pedals. We are happy to fit these for you. You may also like to bring bar ends if you use them at home.