Day 1: In the morning we visit the Ho Chi Minh Trail museum on the outskirts of Hanoi. Then we jump on the bikes and pass extensive farming lands comprising a sea of paddy fields split by tree-lined roads punctuated by limestone karst scenery. After a light lunch near Hoa Binh we cross two mountain passes before descending to the mountain valley settlement of Mai Chau. Overnight in a Thai ethnicity stilt house in Mai Chau. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 2: 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. 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. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 3: We head south on a beautiful winding road which follows the banks of the Ma River until we join the new Ho Chi Minh Highway. This newly carved route leads us due south, through remote back country, not far from the Lao border. In the afternoon we cut eastwards towards the coast and stay overnight in the coastal city of Vinh, which is close to where Ho Chi Minh was born. Overnight in Vinh. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 4: We head south along Highway One, before heading inland towards the Lao border. We pass the Dong Loc intersection, (main junction for supply lines during the War) which is widely regarded in Vietnamese eyes as the beginning of the Ho Chi Minh Trail. We then pass through remote back country, close to the border, as the scenery steadily becomes dominated by karst limestone rock formations. We pass two famous intersections where until 1972 most of the Trail's traffic passed over into Lao. In the afternoon we arrive at the 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 Doing Hoi, which 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. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 5: 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 famous Hien Luong Bridge (former demarcation line between North and South Vietnam, Khe Sanh (former US Marine base), Lang Vie (former US special forces base) and the Truong Son Cemetery. Overnight in Khe Sanh. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 6: 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, we continue on to the beautiful city of Hue which lies along the banks of the Perfume River. Overnight in Hue. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 7: Hue is the former imperial capital of feudal Vietnam and is a perfect place to relax after our driving to date. Take a boat cruise along the Perfume River to visit the tombs of the former Emperors Minh Mang and Tu Duc ior visit the remains of the Imperial Citadel, which was largely destroyed during the Tet Offensive in 1968. Overnight in Hue. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 8: We head back up the Me Oi pass to A Luoi in order the rejoin the Trail. Many Ta Oi and Co Tu people will be seen tending their fields. We then skirt the Lao border on the side of a large mountain covered in thick jungle. At the remote town of Hien we turn off the trail and drop down the Ba Na mountain range to the World Heritage site of Hoi An, a major trading centre in SE Asia in the 16th and 17th centuries. Overnight in Hoi An. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 9: Those who wish can ride up to China Beach, where US marines first landed, otherwise enjoy a free day to explore Hoi An by foot or by bike. 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. Overnight in Hoi An. End of tour. Includes: (B), (L).
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