The Ho Chi Minh Trail in Vietnam is one of the most scenic routes for a motorbike trip. Built between 1959 and 1975 it was a staggering 12000 miles long and served a lot during the war. Although today much of the trail has vanished under the mines, tarmac, and development, much of the trail can still be explored through motorcycle road trips.
The Ho Chi Minh Highway has been built between Hanoi and Saigon and novice motorcycle riders can opt for this route. However, for those who want a tougher and a more authentic riding experience you should try the routes over the Annamite mountains in Laos or even Cambodia. It is recommended that you use a Laos GPS map or have a local data SIM card in your smartphone. Also, the best time to plan a road trip would be between October and April when the weather is more clement.
The trail has become famous and several travel companies and bike rental outfits make a business by renting motorcycles and guides. Depending on your level of motorcycling experience you can choose whether you wish to travel with a guide, go with a group or alone.
It is important that you hire your motorcycle wisely. It makes no sense to hire a 400-cc bike if you’re a novice. It is recommended that you speak with your bike provider and work out a vague route. Understand from him how much tarmac or dirt is involved and then hire a motorcycle that will suit your needs. It is imperative that you carry essential motorcycle gear, a medical kit, tool kit, spare parts and emergency food supply while on the trail.
In addition to all the above pre-requisites, you should also be careful about unexploded ordnance or UXO. It is believed that approximately 15 million tons of bombs were dropped on Vietnam during the war. Few millions were unleashed on Laos and Cambodia too. These explosives still remain, killing several local people every year. Be extra careful in remote regions of Laos, where you never know where a bomb could be lurking underground.
Stay safe, and adventure on.