|$0||16 days||from 6 to 12 participants||Beginner|
We start in Hanoi and travel directly to the south. The so-called Ho Chi Minh trails, used during the Vietnam War, are to be found here. In the towering mountains on the border with Laos live several traditional tribes still who have had little or no contact with tourists. Spectacular roads then take us further towards the south, travelling along coffee plantations and the pointed roof houses of the mountain tribes.
We recuperate for two days in a beautiful coastal town and explore the Mekong Delta thoroughly. The former city of Saigon marks the end of this journey which enables you to become acquainted with the people and the awe-inspiring nature of the other, unknown Vietnam.
This tour can be combined with the Northern Vietnam Highlights (10 days) tour upfront and the Southern Vietnam Tour (10 days) afterwards.
On our way to the hotel we will gain our first impressions of this typical, busy Asian city. During the colonial era, Hanoi was the capital of French Indochina. The French history is still plainly visible, for example, in the wide boulevards and the old villas. Depending on our time of arrival, we will be making a small city tour on our motor cycles. Or we can discover some of the highlights of Hanoi. In the evening you can enjoy delicious Vietnamese cuisine at the welcome dinner.
Our journey to the West will start in the busy morning rush hour of the capital city, From Xuan Mai we will be following a part of the Ho Chi Minh trail till lunch time. This legendary road was once just a trail through the jungle that the North Vietnamese troops used to supply the Vietcong in the South during the Vietnam War.
Continuing our travel, we will follow calm and small country roads along the Pu Luong National Park to Mai Chau. Here we will spend the night in the home of a Thai. It isn’t luxurious, but an extraordinary experience. Of course, that evening we will enjoy rice wine that will be served by the village elder.
Along and through the Pu Luong NP, we will drive on calm country roads towards the South-East. After which we will get back to the Ho Chi Minh trail. Then we will drive along the Cuc Phuong and/or Ben Em National Park. We will find our way through rice and cor fields and along multiple lakes. Parts of the road can be unpaved. We will stay in a small town.
We follow the Ho Chi Minh route further south. The road is now slightly narrower and the region more sparsely populated. Tourists hardly come here. We will gain insight in life on the country side of Vietnam. We will drive through small villages, along rubber plantations, tea and corn fields, and past bullocks that graze and plough in the rice fields. Remarkable is that in this area there are more churches than temples. We will spend the night in a trading town.
Today we will get up early. We follow almost deserted roads through spectacular mountains. We will drive along the Vu Quang National Park, a remote area on the border with Laos. Several years ago, the saola or spindlehorn, also known as the Vu Quang ox, was spotted for the first time. It is one of the rarest animals in the world. People of the Muong ethnic minority group live in and around this national park.
To conclude this wonderful day we visit the Phong Nha caves. These caves were formed about 250 million years ago and are the largest and most beautiful caves in the country. The cavern is at least 8 kilometres deep with a network of underground rivers. We spend the night in a small village nearby the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park.
An adventurous route today. We will drive through a part of the Ke Bang National Park. This park consists for 90% of primary forest: forest that has not been influenced by humans and that has a high level of biodiversity. Here we also find the most covert part of the Ho Chi Minh trail: the section which ended in the DMZ, Vietnam’s Demilitarized Zone. During the Vietnam War, this was a neutral zone between North and South Vietnam. The then US Secretary of Defense established a defense line here named after him, the McNamara Line. This line joined a ribbon of US bases across the entire width of the land. Vietnam is at its narrowest here, a mere 90 kilometers between Laos and the coast. The new road, passing through undulating parkland, comes out in Khe Sanh. This was the most well-known American base on the defense line. Decades after the war, whole villages in the vicinity lived on the proceeds of metal from this base, ranging from bullet casings to bulldozers buried in their entirety. This region is mainly populated by the Bru-Van Kieu ethnic group. These people are recognizable by their black, betel nut stained teeth. In the afternoon, we will head towards the coast and end in Vinh Moc.
Today will have a short travel time. We will visit the tunnel complex Vinh Moc. Where the Chi Chi tunnels in the South – near Ho Chi Minh City – mainly functioned as war routes, the Vinh Moc tunnels are shelters for village inhabitants to escape the intensive American bombings. In that time, approximately 60 families lived there and 17 children were born there. After the guided tour, we will get back on our motor cycles and drive via the coast to Hue: the former imperial capital city of Vietnam. We will try to arrive here early in the afternoon, so we still have enough time to visit the ancient Hue Citadel, where the Forbidden Purple City is located.
If there was no time yesterday to visit the Hue Citadel, we will today. After this we leave the city, riding further towards the south to Hoi An, a well-maintained historical trading port noted on the UNESCO World Heritage List. We follow a section of Highway No. 1, leaving it to make a brief detour through the Bach Ma National Park. It is a stunning route by means of which we also avoid the busy main road. On the way, we can stop for a drink or bite to eat near the ruins of Hai Van Quan Gate, built in 1826 under king Minh Manh. From Danang onwards we ride on the highway to the south, along which route we come to the Marble Mountains. During the war, American ships on the coast were bombarded from caves in these mountains. Nowadays it is a marble quarry and the surrounding villages are home to marble artists. From there it isn’t far to Hoi An anymore.
Hoi An is a small town with traditional houses that many travellers experience as one of the most attractive and fun places in Vietnam. You will have to get used to the large amount of foreign tourists wandering around here again. It is definitely worth spending a whole day in the town. Situated along the river is a colorful market and traditional streets filled with historical Chinese-influenced buildings and small Chinese shrines. You can take a boat trip across the river and ride to the nearby beach. Delicious restaurants and charming cafes are in abundance in Hoi An.
30 km from Hoi is My Son. My Son was the political and religious center of the Cham people who held sway in Vietnam from the fourth to the thirteenth century. Although the war has left its mark here as well, it is still an interesting and attractive place to visit. Thereafter we quickly leave the other tourists far behind us and withdraw into the unknown mountainous region of the central highlands for a few more adventurous routes. We make our way along a narrow trail to Route 14 which will take us to Kham Duc. This is a quiet lonely village located far from anywhere else in the central highlands. The hotel and the restaurants here are simple.
We follow the Ho Chi Minh trail further south. The road condition worsens here but there are hardly any other people on the road. After the beautiful Lo Xo pass we come to the region of the Rong ethnic minorities. Their villages are instantly recognizable by the unusually high roof of the communal building. This building style is also to be found amongst ethnic groups on some Indonesian islands. It is a fantastic mountainous region, riding through villages of different ethnic minorities on a good road which follows the Dak Po river continuously. We drive through Plei Kan, following a challenging unpaved road to Kontum, where we’ll have lunch. Kontum is the center of the peoples of the central highlands and has changed rapidly in recent years due to the intensive production of tea and coffee in the region. We will stay in trading town Plei Ku.
Today will be long, but beautiful and mostly exciting. This part of the Ho Chi Minh trail has been a busy connecting road between the big cities of the central highlands for years. So watch out for big trucks and busses. We will drive lots of kilometres in the morning, followed by an unpaved trail to avoid a part of the busy highway. Anyway, if the water level is alright! Therefore, this part will be without the car in procession, we will meet each other later on. Then, we will drive via Ea Sup and Yok Don National Park to Dak Mill, a small village next to a lake. Oh and watch out for crossing elephants!
Today will be another exciting day, as we will try to drive along the Cambodian border. Westerners are actually prohibited to be here, but that will make it even more exciting! We will try to drive via the Bu Gia Map park: an important battlefield during the Vietnam War. If the road is closed off, we will drive via Dak Lac to Thac Mo. The province of Dak Lac is home to 44 ethnic groups, the biggest groups being: the Ede, the M’nng and the Thai. The Ede is characterised by their matriarchal system: women are the head of the family, the children take their last name and only daughters have inheritance right. Thac Mo is located next to the Thac Mo lake.
The last leg of our journey will be to big and busy Ho Chi Minh City. In the past, it was called Saigon city, after the Sai Gon river, We will drive into the city, past the central cathedral and the Reunification (Independence) Palace. This palace was the workplace of the former president of South Vietnam, and is memorable because a North Vietnamese tank once drove into its gates. There is a lot to see in Ho Chi Minh. A must is a visit to the American Warcrime Museum. The Benh Tanh market is very suitable for getting souvenirs. But it is especially fun to drive or walk around in this gigantic city. Despite Hanoi being the political capital, Ho Chi Minh is the biggest city of Vietnam. It is the industrial and commercial centre of the country.
In the morning we will leave Vietnam, to arrive back in Amsterdam in the evening.
Itinerary may change without further notice due to weather-, road- or any other condition that OVERCROSS or its guides feel will jeopardize the safety of the group or material.
You ride on a Kawasaki KLX 150cc for this trip (first picture). If you prefer a Honda XR 250cc motorbike than this will cost 126 euro extra, please indicate this on your booking. Availability of the 250 cc is limited (second picture).
This trip will be led by our local guide who also is the mechanic. This person has been the permanent mechanic on our Vietnam trips for the past 12 years. He knows all the routes, hotels and restaurants well and speaks good English.
A support car will accompany this trip. This will be driven by our permanent local driver. The support vehicle will transport the luggage, spare parts and tools. There is space in the support car for any companion passengers who do not wish to or cannot double up on a motorcycle.
During this trip through North Vietnam, we ride neither at a high altitude nor through extremely desolate regions. We ride on light motorcycles which make the trip suitable also for those riders who have never undertaken an adventurous motorcycle trip before. The daily distances are not long giving rise to frequent opportunities for stopping along the way to take photographs or to visit villages. What might well prove difficult, however, is dealing with the extremely busy traffic in and around Hanoi. One must also take into account that on the main roads, which we do our best to avoid as much as possible, can be busy with trucks which do not comply with traffic regulations.
Only a small section of the trip goes over dirt roads and paths, amounting to a total of two to three days in the current schedule. These trails are not very difficult and are more than practicable without any off road experience or off road training beforehand. When the weather is worse than expected, however, it can be these off road days in particular which prove to be problematic.
The following items are mandatory: helmet, motorcycle jacket with protection, gloves, a good hard wearing pair of (motorcycle) trousers with protection and solid high (mountain) boots. It can be very warm in the lowland parts of the trip, especially in Spring and Autumn. Accordingly, a protective summer motorcycle jacket is recommended. One can wear extra clothing under one’s jacket as necessary. Furthermore, a good pair of sunglasses and a helmet with visor that protects against dust are useful. The rainy season in northern Vietnam lasts from June to the end of August. We plan our trips before or after the rainy season. Nonetheless, the weather forecasts are subject to change so one must be prepared for a possible rain shower on all the trips. Finally, it can be quite cold in December and January in the mountains so it is advisable to bring warm motorcycle gear then.
It has recently become possible to purchase a visa for Vietnam on arrival at Hanoi airport. This costs USD 25 Nonetheless, this is only possible if you are in possession of a so-called letter of invitation. We arrange this letter on your behalf, the costs of which are included in the costs for the trip.
More details about the trip and items to bring can be found in the tour’s handbook which you will receive approximately one month prior to departure.
|There are no fix dates for this tour. We are happy to set up dates to your liking.|
$445 single room supplement