Men’s Journal

Extreme Adventures for Regular Guys

Men’s Journal, a popular men's magazine from back in the day, recommended touring Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh Trail with Explore Indochina!

Motorcycle the Ho Chi Minh Trail

The National Security Agency’s official history of the Vietnam Way designates the Ho Chi Minh Trail “as one of the 20th century’s great achievements of military engineering.”
The 18-foot-wide supply line – built to circumnavigate a U.S. Nay presence in the Gulf of Tonkin – was started in 1959 and ultimately starched 1,800 miles though triple canopy jungle to fronts in South Vietnam. By the late ‘60s the network was moving supplies for hundreds of thousands of North Vietnamese troops, essentially turning the tide of the war.
Today segments of the infamous route can still be pieced together in what amounts to one of the greatest motorcycle tours in the world. Winding paved roads, river crossings, tight mountain passes, and hardly any traffic create a kind of grand prix of motorcycle touring through the Truong Son Mountains, the Red River Delta, and the Ashau Valley of western and central Vietnam.

Riding the Trail Today

A Belarusian 125cc Minsk – with its bomber suspension and steering for bad roads – is the classic ride on the old communist thoroughfare, and after landing in Hanoi you can pick up a used one for less than $400 (though a rented Honda is probably more reliable).
Swarms of mopeds vanish in the rear-view as you flog it along two-lane Route 32 into the tea plantations and the old growth forests of the Truong Son Mountains. Ease back on the throttle over the switch backs near Bau Pass, then drop down into Phu Yen for fried rau muong (spinach). Pass through Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park – a UNESCO Heritage Site, in which the Vietcong hid from U.S. bombers in 40 miles of spectacular caves and under ground rivers – and then into primitive rain forests once stripped by Agent Orange, and Khe Sanh, and the labyrinthine Vinh Moc tunnels.
Reconstruct your former self after the final 90-mile leg in the seaside hamlet of Hoi An, where world-class tailors on ran Hung Dao Road will stitch you a suit for $50.