Ho Chi Minh Trail by Gravel Bike

Vietnam Mai

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Overview

Ho Chi Minh Trail is home to mountains covered with lush tropical forests. The rolling terrain combined with gradual long climbs from low-lying riverside valleys to highlands is just perfect – a cyclist’s delight. Here you get to ride along beautiful rivers and through spectacular karst mountain ranges and lush valleys. This is an excellent way to experience life along the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

Start

Hanoi | 13:00hrs

Finish

Hue

Lodging

casual

Level

moderate to challenging

Avg. dist. cycled

100km / 60mi

Group size

Min. 2, Max. 12

Fly-In

HAN

Fly-Out

HUI

Highlights

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Ho Chi Minh Trail

an epic route that merges culture, adventure, and history

Itinerary

Brief Itinerary

DayPlacecasual Inns or similarMealsDistanceActivity
DAY 1HanoiSilk Path Boutique HotelD
DAY 2Mai ChauMai Chau LodgeB,L,D100km / 60micycling
DAY 3Ngoc LacGold TimeB,L,D110km / 66micycling
DAY 4VinhSaigon Kim LienB,L,D120km / 72micycling
DAY 5Huong KheDuc Tai 2B,L,D80km / 48micycling
DAY 6Phong NhaPhong NhaB,L,D80km / 48micycling
DAY 7HueThe ScarlettB,L,D100km / 60micycling
DAY 8DepartureB

Detailed Itinerary

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Day 1: Hanoi

Our guide meets you at your hotel at 13:00hrs for a bike fit.

Post that, walk the busy streets of Hanoi visiting some of the cultural and historical highlights of Hanoi. Visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, One Pillar Pagoda, which was constructed nearly a millennium ago, and is delicately elevated in a pond. Also visit the Temple of Literature, dating back close to a thousand years, is a wonderfully preserved piece of ancient Vietnamese architecture and stands to honor the scholarly achievements of the country’s academics and philosophers. Continue exploring the area around Hoan Kiem (Sword) Lake, the old quarter including Ngoc Son Temple, which sits perched on a little island in the lake. In the evening, we convene over dinner.

Meals: D
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Day 2: Mai Chau

Our guide meets you at your hotel and then shuttle you out of Hanoi early morning. The initial stretch has a bit of climb and then it delves down to the foothills of mountains. The topography is adorned with timber and fern trees. It’s a long day interspersed with transfers and rides. Cycle past a spectacular mountain range with karst cliffs, terraced rice fields, and a typical agricultural landscape, ending at the beautiful valleys of Mai Chau. The experience is truly unique as we get to experience a good change in landscape.

Mai Chau is a collection of villages and offers a true rural cycling experience.

Meals: B,L,D
Cycling Distance: 100km / 60mi
Accommodation: Mai Chau Lodge
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Day 3: Ngoc Lac

Our today’s route takes you away from the river and through a range of mountains that stretch from Mai Chau to Cuc Phuong National Park and the ancient capital of Hoa Lu. As you cycle, the scenery progressively gets more beautiful with limestone cliffs and lush vegetation in a backdrop. The route is challenging with several hills to ascend, but a vehicle is always nearby for you to take a rest in. Arrive in the town of Ngoc Lac late this afternoon for your overnight stay.

Meals: B,L,D
Cycling Distance: 110km / 66mi
Accommodation: Gold Time
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Day 4: Vinh

Pedal along the newly built Ho Chi Minh highway for today’s journey. The tarmac makes for smooth, fast riding and there are very few cars or vehicles on the road. A parallel dirt and gravel highway runs alongside which is a challenging option for those who wish! Along the way, visit Ly Thai To Pagoda which was built in honor of the first king of the Ly dynasty, and Kim Lien village, the birthplace of Ho Chi Minh. Later shuttle out of the mountains to Vinh.

Meals: B,L,D
Cycling Distance: 120km / 72mi
Accommodation: Saigon Kim Lien
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Day 5: Huong Khe

We continue our ride toward the south. The journey winds through lush jungle and beautiful villages nestled under the Truong Son mountain range. During the ride, take your time to admire the stunning scenery and the intricate karst formations. After a long day of pedaling, arrive in the remote town of Huong Khe. Located in the Nghe An province, this small town is a quiet place to rest up for another busy day of riding.

Meals: B,L,D
Cycling Distance: 80km / 48mi
Accommodation: Duc Tai 2
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Day 6: Phong Nha

Continue along the Ho Chi Minh Highway today to Phong Nha. The route is still a dream to ride on and you’ll appreciate the smooth tarmac as the mountains rise and the road winds up, down, and along the hillsides. The scenery is spectacular and the road is tranquil. After cycling around 80km, trade in your bike for a restful 1-hour bus journey to Phong Nha National Park. The park contains one of the most spectacular caves in Vietnam - a true natural wonder with 65 km of tunnels and underground rivers.

Formed approximately 250 million years ago Phong Nha was used as a hospital and ammunition depot during the war, and the entrance still shows evidence of attacks from fighter aircraft. There are also 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 before the end of today. Overnight in Phong Nha.

Meals: B,L,D
Cycling Distance: 80km / 48mi
Accommodation: Phong Nha
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Day 7: Hue

This area is literally riddled with caves, grottos, and limestone formations. Most spectacular of all, of course, is Phong Nha Cave, which is over 7 km long and is known for its myriads of caverns and rocky formations. We'll take a boat out to visit caves and maybe even do some spelunking. The park also boasts the world's largest cave – the Son Doong Cave – which was only discovered in 1991 and properly surveyed in 2009.

After an early morning exploration of Phong Nha Cave, transfer by road to the Ho Chi Minh Trail to resume your ride. Pedal across the DMZ (also known as the 17th Parallel) to Cam Lo. Stop en route to visit Truong Son cemetery, a memorial to the tens of thousands of North Vietnamese soldiers who were killed in the Truong Son Mountains. 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 the country into Laos. We finish our exploration of the Ho Chi Minh trail here and make our way to Hue.

Meals: B,L,D
Cycling Distance: 100km / 60mi
Accommodation: The Scarlett

Day 8: Departure

Travel further as per your onward travel plans.

Meals: B
Accommodation:

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Map

Dates and Prices

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Essential Info

Inclusions

LODGING

All hotels as mentioned in the tour details or similar (subject to availability).

trip leader

Expert Trip Leader(s) who look after your every need and add meaning to your vacation.

bike

Immaculately maintained bike with helmet, suited to a terrain.

shuttle

A Van support follows the group of riders and carries all belongings.

meals

Meals as per itinerary. Guests are given the opportunity to dine on their own so that they discover a location independently.

refreshments

Refreshments and mineral water while cycling.

entrance

Entrance fees to most of the monuments and temples.

Exclusions

Airport pickup and drop

We recommend to book direclty from airport or hotel.

Beverages

Beverages such as alcohol, tea, coffee, juice at a hotel or restaurant.

Gratuity

Gratuities for your guide team are not included in the trip price.

Bikes

When you have a road and the thrill of a journey ahead of you, it’s imperative to have a good bike to enjoy it. Our fleet majorly consist of the below bikes as a part of this tour. However, sometimes due to height or availability constraints, we may provide a different but similar quality bike.

Bike Image

Giant Anyroad or similar

gravel

Included in your trip price

Bike Image

Burchda or similar

ebike

Available at a surcharge

Weather

Coastal Vietnam is a narrow crescent-like coastal strip that is at times only 60 km wide. As a result, it experiences coastal weather phenomena such as high rainfall and occasional typhoons during the wet season that runs from September to December. Travelers during this season should be prepared for last-minute changes to the itinerary. The Best season to visit this region is from January to September with the average temperature hovering around 30°C.

January

Mixed

February

Best

March

Best

April

Best

May

Good

June

Good

July

Good

August

Good

September

Good

October

Good

November

Mixed

December

Mixed

Best

Good

Mixed

Offseason

Visa

Residents from a number of countries have visa exemption status for tourist visits to Vietnam. For a full list of up-to-date visa-exempt countries, see the Vietnam Foreign Affairs website.

Starting August 15, 2023, the Vietnam government will start offering an e-visa valid for up to 90 days with multiple entries, replacing the current 30-day, single-entry option. Furthermore, passport holders from Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Russia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom will benefit from an extended visa exemption period of 45 days, up from the current 15 days. Eligible foreign nationals will either benefit from a longer duration of stay and greater flexibility with the extended e-visa validity of up to 90 days and multiple entries, or enjoy an extended visa exemption period of 45 days.

e-Visa – You can apply for an e-visa through the government website, then, once approved, simply print it out and present it upon arrival in Vietnam. The additional benefit of the e-visa is that it's valid at land borders, not just airports. The processing time ranges from 2 to 7 working days. We recommend applying 2 weeks in advance to avoid unexpected delays. Read more about tourist e-visas for Vietnam at the Vietnam Immigration portal and apply there.

While applying online for an approval letter, please ensure that you have the following documents:

  • Passport scanned copy: A scanned copy of your passport - front (main) page. It shouldn't be a mobile photo or a photo taken from a laptop. Strictly scanned copy done through a computer scanner.
  • Passport size photo: portrait photo (4*6 size, colored photo, white background, straight looking without glasses). A photo taken from a mobile or laptop may or may not work, so I would strictly advise getting one made through a nearby photo studio (retail shop) that specializes in taking photos for visas.

Here is an excellent resource on Vietnam visas that may be worth looking at.

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