Motorcycling the Ho Chi Minh Trail - Half Challenge

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

Trip Duration:

11 days 10 nights


Activity:

Culture Tour, SightSeeing, Motorcycling, Nature Explore, Homestay,


Physical Grading:


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.

Tour Highlights
  • Motorcycling average 175km/day on less tourist road of Ho Chi Minh trail from North to Central Vietnam
  • Visit to President Ho Chi Minh homeland: the house, village and learn about his humble family in Nghe An
  • Stop historical sites of DMZ area then riding under the shades of Truong Son range with very familiar well-known names, especially for veterans such as: Ben Hai River, Vinh Moc tunnel, Khe Sanh, Ta Con airbase etc
  • Motorcycling through a series of Heritage lines including Phong Nha caves, Hue citadel and Hoi An town

Day by Day Program:

Day 1: Arrival in Hanoi
Day 2: City tour of Hanoi
Day 3: Ride to Mai Chau/village homestay
Day 4: Head south to Vinh 
Day 5: Drive to Huong Khe
Day 6: Drive to Phong Nha for cave exploration / continue to Dong Hoi
Day 7: Ride to Dong Ha
Day 8: Head west to Khe Sanh/ride to Aluoi
Day 9: Long drive to Hoian
Day 10: In Hoian
Day 11: Transfer to Da Nang Airport for departure

Services and Activities included:

Semi-automatic Honda 125CC
Best Rated Hotel Accommodations
Unlimited Mileage
Helmets for the driver and passenger
Daily breakfast
Other meals as indicated in itinerary
Homestay permission
Professional English speaking tour leaders
Water & Snacks on driving days
First-aid kit
National Park and other Entrance Fees
Preparation and Orientation
All taxes, fees, and environmental surcharges
Support truck and mechanic as in indicated price option


Tour Exclusions:

Travel insurance
Visa process and stamp
Domestic air-tickets
Tips and gratitude
Gasoline average US$ 10 per day
Transportation between hotel and location (restrictions may apply at certain locations)
Personal motorbike protection gears
Others not mentioned




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    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 - no motorbiking
    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 ~ 170km/106miles
    In the morning we take our very first ride to the  Ho Chi Minh Trail Museum on the outskirts of Hanoi (if support truck requested, we will take taxi while the truck transfer bikes there in advance). 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 motor vehicles 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. Overnight in a stilt house of the Thai people.
    Summary
    Distance: 170km
    Home-stay: village in Mai Chau
    Meal: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.

     
    Day 04: Mai Chau – Tan Ky in Nghe An ~ 270km/168miles
    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  Tan Ky, which is close to where Ho Chi Minh was born. Overnight in hotel.
    Summary
    Distance: 270km
    Hotel in Tan Ky
    Meal: Breakfast, Lunch

     
    Day 05: Tan Ky – Huong Khe ~ 160km/99miles
    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. Overnight in a mini hotel.  
    Summary
    Distance: 160km
    Hotel: Huong Khe Town
    Meal: Breakfast, Lunch

     
    Day 06: Huong Khe – Phong Nha – Dong Hoi (Quang Binh) ~ 210km/130miles
    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 coastal town of  Dong Hoi, our today’s overnight spot. Overnight in hotel.
    Summary
    Distance: 210km
    Hotel: Dong Hoi Town
    Meal: Breakfast, Lunch

     
    Day 07: Dong Hoi – Dong Ha (Quang Tri) ~ 180km/112miles
    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 ride to the mystic  Vinh Moc Tunnel and the famous  DMZ site,  Doc Mieu fire base and the historic  Hien Luong Bridge. 
    Overnight in Dong Ha.
    Summary
    Distance: 100km in the moring & 80km in the afternoon
    Hotel: Dong Ha Town
    Meal: Breakfast, Lunch

     
    Day 08: Dong Ha – Khe Sanh – A Luoi (Thua Thien Hue Province) ~ 200km/124miles
    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  Huong 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.  Overnight in a simple gueshouse.
    Summary
    Distance: 200km
    Hotel: guesthouse in A Luoi Town
    Meal: Breakfast, Lunch
     

    Day 09: A Luoi – Hien – Thanh My – Hoi An ~ 220km/137miles
    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. Overnight in Hoi An.
    Summary
    Distance: 220km
    Hotel: Hoi An Town
    Meal: Breakfast, Lunch

     
    Day 10: Hoi An – a day off

    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: Hoi an Departure
    Our guide and driver are at your disposal until we transfer you to the Danang airport for your flight home or connect to another adventures in Cambodia, Laos or Myanmar with ActiveTravel.Asia. End of services
    Summary
    Transfer: 1 hr
    Meal: Breakfast.
     

    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.
    Group size Price guide (USD/person)
    WHAT ATA SUPPLIES?
    We use Future Neo 2009 125CC in this quotation by default. The reason is that the neat and very good design by Honda Vietnam is perfectly suitable for Vietnam road paths. The gear shift is changed easily and smoothly. This models can give you good experiences over almost motorcycling paths of Vietnam. Honda Future Neo is our choice in the quotation as its very affordable price, popular spare parts, easy-to-control even for motorcycling beginners
    Curb weight : 105 kg
    Overall length: 1890mm
    Overall width: 705mm
    Overall height: 1085 mm
    Wheel base: 1,240 mm
    Seat height : 767 mm
    Fuel tank capacity: 3.7l
    Engine oil capacity: 0.9 litre when dismantling machine; 0.7 litre when changing lubricant
    Engine type: Gasoline, 04-stroke, single, air-cooled
    Gear box: Mechanical, 4-step rotary system
    Starting system: Electric/kick starter
    For Upgrade Dirt Bikes options: our top picked Dirt Bike upgrade is YAMAHA ZTX 125. This is a real offroad bikes by the second player in Vietnam motor market - Yamaha. The company focuses on young customers with active lifestyle. Our model is 2015 with many improvement in performance and give you real motorbiking experience in Vietnam. The upgrade surcharge is very affordable while the experience brought back is far more.
    Overall length: 2090mm
    Overall width: 830mm
    Overall height: 1115mm
    Minimum ground clearance: 260mm
    Weight (with full fuel tank): 118kg
    Seat height: 840mm
    Maximum horse power: 12.5PS/8000r/min
    Fuel tank capacity: 11 liter
    Engine type single cylinder, cool air, 5 strokes
    High Quality Helmets - Manufacturer: Vietnam: Injection-molded thermoplastic shell construction. Full-face helmet, provided in long motorbiking trips, offers maximum protection during off-road use. Half face helmet will be provided for traversing inside the city.
    Saddle bags (roughly 7 kg each side)
    Extra rucksack or bag strapped 
    ATA first-aid kit: Available on any ATA trip
    If you pick the price option Incl. Mechanic and Support truck, we will supply:
    Support truck: Vietnam with various terrain and great scenery is an ideal place for adventure motorcycling. Although it is so fun and adventurous to ride in Vietnam it is surely a challenge for any foreign rider since the traffic is so different from the rest of the world. Moreover, we want everyone to enjoy their motorbiking experience on this trip and we recognize the importance of group members being allowed to ride at their own pace. At times there can be a fair distance between the front and rear riders in the group, with the support vehicle and tour leader out of sight. The support vehicle will pick up any group members who wish to take a break from motorcycling at any time. 
    01 professional mechanic along the motorbiking trip who greatly understand the technical issues and fix our motorbikes as manufacturer's requirements. That will maximize your safety and the duration of our motorbikes usages.
    Spare parts of the motorbike such as: Tyres, Pump, Plastic tyre levers, Brake cable, Gear cable etc.
     
    WHAT YOU SHOULD BRING WITH?
    Original passport
    Good quality helmet (your own helmet is recommended)
    Wellington/riding boots
    Water waterproof gloves
    Summer gloves
    T-shirts/underwear/socks
    Balaclava to cover your face
    Turtleneck shirts
    Long-sleeved shirts
    A pair of extra jeans
    Goggles and sunglasses
    Bandannas
    Light waterproof jackets
    Basic toiletries, Sun block, anti-insect repellent, rain coat.
    GoPro Camera - optional
    Mobile phone with multi sockets - optional
    THIS ADVENTURE INFORMATION
    Duration: 11 days, 10 nights 
    Depart from: Hanoi - End at: Da Nang
    When: Year round
    Activities: Motorcycling
    Transportation: Honda 125CC (semi-automatic gear)
    Accommodation: 1 night homestay, 9 nights hotels
    Tour guide: motocycling English speaking guide
    Support crew: 1 mechanic & support vehicle

    MOTORCYCLING GRADE
    Moderate Grade that means this tour involve in active, physical-required activities can be up to 4 - 5 hours a day at a steady pace. The tour is going to involve a considerable amount of ascent or descent under different weather conditions. Support facilities may not be available on-site and there are some occasional difficult days. You will need a good level of fitness.
    * Suggested preparation: 30 - 45 minutes of aerobic, physical exercise, 3-4 times per week for a few weeks leading up to your adventure are recommended.
    Who suits: For outdoor novices and above.
    Activity: 4-5 hours most days 
    Distances: Hike up to 8 miles (or 13km) most days, motorbiking 100-125miles (150-200km) on paved, twist road most days, sometimes off road
    Surfaces: rolling or mountainous terrain with some steep ascents/descents and uneven trails 
    Elevation change: up to 3,000 ft/day (about 900m)
    Altitude: up to 8,000 ft (about 2500m) 

    MEALS AND FOOD
    - Day 1: Dinner
    - Day 2-9: Breakfast, Lunch
    - Day 10, 11: Breakfast
    All meals, which are indicated in the itinerary, are included in the price of this trip. While in big towns we will enjoy Vietnamese cuisine in fine restaurants. Once we travel away from big towns, the emphasis will be on healthy and nutritious fresh local produce. 

    HOTELS AND HOMESTAY

    In big towns we use the finest 3-star hotels with central location. Please contact us if you prefer higher hotel categories.
    In remote areas we use the best hotels or guest houses available. 
    Homestay in Mai Chau is simple in term of bedding condition and amenities. We will stay overnight in the traditional house-on-stilt of the Thai people and, as the locals do, we will sleep on bamboo floor with mattress, clean sheet, pillows and mosquito nets. Toilet is usually western style and some steps away from the main house.

    OUR MOTORBIKING GUIDE
    The tour will be led by one of our tour guides who is experienced in guiding motorcycling tours in Vietnam. He has been carefully selected and trained in this field and is fully licensed in tour guiding by the government. In addition, he has been trained in first-aid by SOS International and he knows how to deal with difficult situations. You will have a great time traveling with him.

    THE MOTORCYCLING DAYS

    A typical motorcycle riding day starts at about 8.30 am after breakfast. Lunch times can vary depending on the distance. We aim to reach the next overnight stop by 4.30 or 5. During the riding we will have short breaks for rest, snack and photographing.

    MOTORBIKES AND UPGRADE

    The upgrade to Dirt Bikes are always available and upon your request. We have many Dirt Bike models various from 125CC up to 650cc for wide range of riders' experience. They are very much suit to Vietnam roads. 
    Due to the road conditions of Vietnam, big-size or big-engine motorbikes (such as: 1000cc up) are not popular and expensive. Such big-engine motorbikes may not maximize their power as well as technical specs while highway express in Vietnam is not good enough and the awareness of traffic attendants are relatively low. Moreover, the rental prices can be very high due to high imported taxes added into the price. We strongly encourage you contact to our team if you decided to take those ones.

    SUPPORT VEHICLE
    Vietnam with various terrain and great scenery is an ideal place for adventure motorcycling. Although it is so fun and adventurous to ride in Vietnam it is surely a challenge for any foreign rider since the traffic is so different from the rest of the world. Moreover, we want everyone to enjoy their motorbiking experience on this trip and we recognize the importance of group members being allowed to ride at their own pace. At times there can be a fair distance between the front and rear riders in the group, with the support vehicle and tour leader out of sight. The support vehicle will pick up any group members who wish to take a break from motorcycling at any time. 

    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.

     



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