Ho Chi Minh Trail – Route Overview

(Click on the above image to see the full scale map)

The original Ho Chi Minh Trail was a dirt track that the North Vietnamese used to move supplies, often by bicycle or Ox-drawn carts, from Hanoi down to the battles in the South during the Vietnam war. Over time the trail evolved to a point where in the dry season a truck could drive the entire trail and be completely under natural or man made camouflage for the entire journey. Quite the feat of engineering especially given the Yanks dumped more bombs on the trail than were dropped during the entirety of WW2.

From what I can gather parts of the original trail still exist but the bulk of the trail has now been replaced and is primarily known as Highway 14 that runs parallel to the Laos/Cambodia boarder for about 2000kms from Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi.

My research suggests that the Vietnam government over the past decade has significantly increased roading investment with H14 being one of the benefactors. Obviously this still remains to be seen!

In total I’ve broken the route down to 9 legs with an average stay of 3.5 days at each stop. This excludes 6 days in Hanoi at the end of the trip that can be used as contingency if required. This blog will provide a complete review of each leg complete with a GPS track and any issues and highlights en-counted on the route.

A comprehensive review of the 10 towns visited along the way will also be provided.

Hopefully this information will prove useful for fellow travelers and also entertaining as my bright red scooter (Nicknamed “Jonny”) and I battle the unknown.

It is worth noting that large legs of the original trail path actually crossed into both Laos and Cambodia. Some of these trails can still be accessed and the best source for information that I’ve found on both these trails and other outstanding rides across Asia is the Ride Asia website – well worth checking out if you want to venture a bit further afield (although you might have to leave Jonny at home and take a bigger brother!).

Related Links:

Ho Chi Minh Trail Essentials
Ho Chi Minh to Mui Ne – Leg 1

 

As a foot note between Buon Ma Tout and Kon Tum in the central south there is an alternate option that more closely follows the traditional HCMT – Highway 14c. At time of writing I will be bi-passing this route due to advice given by a motor cycle tour guide. His concern was a) not being able to comment on the quality of the roads b) the proximity to the boarder with Cambodia resulting in added police presence, a potential issue given my lack of local motorbike license, and c) the remoteness of the area and therefore fuel stop issues. I’ll provide an update on 14c once I reach Buon Ma Tout and can discuss this option further with some locals. 14c is marked below by the red dots.

As a footnote to above the ‘c’ stands for ‘Controlled’ so best to be avoided.

HW14c

6 Comments

  1. Thomas

    Amazing blog – great information 🙂

    Really helped me plan my trip…

  2. You know I love your blog!!!

    • Dave

      Thanks Lunettes,

      If you have any questions about either Koh Phangan or Vietnam don’t hesitate to ask.

      DaveG

  3. I every time spent my half an hour to read this weblog’s articles everyday along with a cup of coffee.

  4. Do I need a visa from JCM/Danang or Hanoi or is it available at the border when I go from Buon Ma Thuot by vietnamees bike on the 14Cup to Laos? thanks Gans

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