Ho Chi Minh Trail – Conclusion

Well what a hell of an experience that turned out to be.

Nothing can really prepare you for driving the length of a country like Vietnam but I have to be completely honest and say that at times I was somewhat concerned my body was going to be found in a ditch on the side of the road! With vans, buses, trucks, other motorbikes and every type of wildlife imaginable attacking you from all angles 2 hours on a motorbike in Vietnam feels like an absolute lifetime.

But just like nothing can really prepare yourself for the trip it is also impossible to explain the sense of achievement when you reach your destination – where ever that maybe in Vietnam. For me arriving into Hanoi, albeit under quite trying circumstances, was one of the proudest moments of my life to date.

Every day on the road was a challenge and every town a new experience. Whether it be the joy of staying with a Vietnamese family in Da Lat or Khe Sanh or spending an entire day with the police chasing down my lost phone in Buon Ma Thuot there was never a dull moment.

When all is said and done it is the people that will be the lasting memory of my amazing three months in Vietnam. The kindness shown to me was quite incredible and I would go back in a heartbeat…

THE HO CHI MINH TRAIL:

As mentioned many times the road itself is of amazing quality given the remoteness of some of the legs. But it is also this remoteness that provides the biggest hazard. In total I suffered 5 punctures, two of which were in the middle of nowhere, fortunately it would appear that a bike shop is never more than 30km away from any point on the trail but if I suffered a major mechanical breakdown it would have been a different story.

Bottom line is this: If you are planning on doing the trail don’t do it solo and spend the extra money to ensure you get yourself a good bike. Jonny did the trick – but only just and all it would have taken was one major break-down and I could have been in some serious trouble. If I had my time again I would have forked out for a touring bike as although it is quite an achievement to complete the trail on a scooter the likes of the limited petrol range and the multiple punchers became very testing.

THE STATISTICS:

Total Distance Traveled: 2,703km
Total Time Spent on the Road: 74 hours or just over 3 days.
Total Petrol Cost: Shade over 2 million DONG (about 100USD)
Mechanical Repairs Costs: Also roughly 2 million DONG (3 x oil changes, 3 x new tubes and tires and quite a few hours tracking down electrical demons)
Motor Bike Cost: Purchased for 425 – sold for 345 (USD). Total cost 80 USD – a figure that would stack up quite favorably when compared to rental options. Note it is a bit harder selling a Ho Chi Minh registered (and vice versa) bike in Hanoi – so target other tourists. I sold mine via Craig’s List to a guy who had relocated to Hanoi from the Philippines.
Total Bike related Costs (excluding accommodation): About 300USD
Best use of a Scooter: Literally thousands of pictures to choose from but below took the cake πŸ™‚

Best use of a Scooter

THE CONCLUSION:

Life changing trip and if you ever get the chance don’t hesitate but make sure you give yourself enough time to visit the central highlands districts rather than just the tourist spots as otherwise you might miss experiencing the real Vietnam and its amazing people.

Dave Gordon

1 Comment

  1. Lewis crew

    Good read Dave, im sat here at Lak lake, heading to Buon ma thuot in the morning then maybe Plieku the same day. This is my 2nd time in Vietnam, first i went north to south and loved it so much ive come back to do the return! i especially like this sentence!

    Bottom line is this: If you are planning on doing the trail don’t do it solo and spend the extra money to ensure you get yourself a good bike.

    This time im alone and a bit nervous but loving every minute so far!
    fingers crossed the bike holds up.

    cheers again

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