Ho Chi Minh Trail by Motorbike 2012 – DaLat to HoiAn

by Dwight Z.

Nov 2012 – Motorbike Trip north on the Ho Chi Minh Trail Highway

(Highway 14) from DaLat to Buon Ma Thuot, Pleiku, KonTum, Dak Glei and then east to HoiAn.  It took 4 days and we covered about 200 kilometers each day.  The total trip covered 700 kilometers / 420 miles.  We rode tandem on regular motorbikes – 125cc – took a lot of breaks to rest and take photographs as we proceeded north.  Hotels cost from US$7.50 in Dalat, to US$10 in Buon Ma Thuot, Pleiku and Dak Glei; and US$15 in HoiAn a night –  single occupancy.  The weather was good – had to “poncho-up” only twice on the road.  We got to see rivers, lakes, waterfalls, local people making a living from the land and passed within about 12 kilometers of the Lao border.  We ate at local restaurants for the most part – meals cost from US$1 to $3 except for occasions when we spent a bit more for a special meal – usually dinner.

This was my second trip on the Ho Chi Minh Trail Highway – I took my first trip north to south in 2003.  There have been some changes – mostly improvements in road conditions.  Roads have changed course and are a bit safer.  Hotels and cafes are more prevalent, and provide both a wider range of services and better services.

The road from DaLat to Buon Ma Thuot  is quite “curvy” and hilly as it winds its way southwest before turning north on the first day – 195 kilometers, the longest leg of our journey – a good 8 hour ride.  The second day (Buon Ma Thuot to Pleiku) was much better – in regard to both scenery and road conditions – 185 kilometers and 6 hours on the road.  The 3rd day was short – 150 kilometers and a 5 hour ride –  included an extended stop in KonTum to visit the orphanage at the oldest wood frame  Catholic Church in Vietnam.  The last day was very scenic before we turned east.  We could see the mountains of Laos to the west in the morning.  The deep green valleys and  forested mountains offered some great photographic opportunities.  The last day was at a bit slower pace as we dropped down out of the mountains into the more populated villages that we surrounded by rice fields.  The last day included about 20 kilometers on Highway AH1 before we arrived in HoiAn with plenty of time to visit with friends before nightfall.

Vietnam 2012 Ho Chi Minh Trail


All in all, this was a very enjoyable trip.  If you’re a skilled motorcycle rider (and map reader) you would have no problem negotiating this trip without a guide.  Good daily planning and good negotiating skills at finding a hotel room before the “sun goes down” are all you would need for a great experience – and a reliable motorbike. Good (and safe) food is available in the larger cities, and even smaller villages.

If you’re interested in taking this trip – from south to north, or north to south – just drop me a note on my CONTACT ME page with the type of tour you have in mind and I’ll be happy to make any suggestion needed.

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