10 Days Throughout Vietnam on Hochiminh Trail
Hochiminh Trail is the best route to travel for those who love both nature and history. It offers beautiful scenery, landscapes and history lessons along the way. Revisiting the historical sites and meeting local people, who live among the relics of war, will make your trip really meaningful. You will also have the opportunity to enjoy outdoor activities in the national park and nature-reserve
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Vacation Style Holiday Type
Activity Level Road Trips
Group Size Large Group
Itinerary at a glance
Day 1: Saigon – Yokdon NP
Day 2: Elephant’s time – Kon Tum
Day 3: Transfer to Hoian
Day 4: Free time in Hoian
Day 5: Hoian – Aluoi Town via Hochiminh Trail
Day 6: Aluoi – Khe Sanh
Day 7: Khe Sanh – West Truong Son Route – Paradise Cave
Day 8: Dong Loc Junction – Vinh City
Day 9: Vinh City – Ho Citadel – Van Long
Day 10: Van Long Nature Reserve – Transfer to Hanoi
Types of road: paved mountain roads
Vehicle types: pick-up cars
No of passengers per car: 01 – 03
No of vehicles: 01 -10
- Hotel, resort, farm-stay: western breakfast
- Guesthouse: blanket, pillow, mattress and mosquito net provided; western toilet; hot shower
Meals: local food (fish, pork, beef, chicken, egg, vegetable…)
Activities: hiking, caving, swimming, kayaking
Group size: 01 – 30
Duration of trip: 10 days
Guides: 01 – 02 guides/group
Minimum driving age: 22
IDP (International Driving Pass)
Driving distances: 2,000km
Manual or automatic: both
No of passengers per car: 01 – 04
Saigon - Yokdon NP (L/D)
Leave Saigon in the morning on National road 14 (a part of the historic Hochiminh Trail), the chosen route for getting to the central highlands. Upon reaching the Yok Don National Park center in the afternoon, we rest for a while before attending a hosted meal in the village. This cultural meal will be your first experience with the minority tribe in the central highlands. The central highlands region is home to a large population of ethnic minorities, such as the people of Malayo-Polynesian languages (Jarai and Ede) and the people of Mon-Khmer languages (Bahnar and K’hor). These minority groups for a long time used to make up the majority of the region’s population. Over the last few decades however, the Kinh (or Viet) became the majority with over 87% of the country´s population. You will have a meal and share stories, hearing about their unique traditions and culture and tell tales from your own country.
Elephant’s time - Kon Tum (B/L)
Today, you will get up early to join in an exciting activity; following the locals, you will go to the forest to find the elephants. On their day off, the elephants are set free in the forest. It could take
time to find them, wandering freely in the forest. Once you find them, you and the mahouts (the elephant trainers) will walk them to the river. It´s time to play with the giant, but very friendly animals. You will give them a bath and play with them in the river.
After this unique experience, you return to the guest house, check out and leave for Buon Ma Thuot City. The central highlands are the home of the coffee plantations in Vietnam – so in the city, you will visit the one and only museum of coffee, to learn about and try the best local coffee. Lunch will be served here.
Following the lunch, you will be transferred to Kon Tum City.
Note: Depending on the arrival time, you could also visit the famous wooden church. Built in 1913 by a French priest, the wooden church is a well-known site in Kon Tum. The church was built using hundreds of cubic meters of high-quality wood and the whole structure stands one meter above the ground on wooden pillars – just like the houses of the surrounding hill-tribes.
Transfer to Hoian (B/L)
Today you will enjoy the scenic ride along National road 14, part of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, to Hoi An. It is a less trafficked road, so you have time to witness local life and enjoy the scenery with some parts of the road running through the forest. You will drive past some historical sites which relates to the Vietnam War, such as Dak To, Ngoc Hoi, Dak Glei and Kham Duc. But the most impressive parts today is the Lo Xo Pass and driving along Ngoc Linh Mountain.
Reaching Hoi An ancient town in the afternoon, you are free to enjoy your own time to explore the old streets lined with Chinese traders’ homes. Wooden houses reincarnated as restaurants, cafés, and outlets for local artists, craftsmen and tailors, and the most impressive site – the beautiful 16th century Japanese Bridge. A unique fusion of Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese architecture is well displayed in Hoi An. This place is perceived as Vietnam’s most tourist-friendly town.
Free time in Hoian (B)
A day off to do what you feel like: relaxing by the pool, exploring the ancient town, tasting the famous local cuisine or go shopping for souvenirs for family and friends. Cycling is also a nice activity in this area, wheather you prefer a leisurely tour of the small villages or a more strenuous mountain-bike ride on Son Tra Peninsula
Hoi An – Aluoi Town via Ho Chi Minh Trail (B/L/D)
Pick up at your hotel and we start the ride through the mountainous area of Quang Nam Province, travelling along the Truong Son Range on the legendary Ho Chi Minh Trail. The stops on the way will offer you beautiful scenery and the chance to visit the hill-tribe villages. The largest minority group inhabiting in the region is Ka tu (Vietnamese called Co tu). The Ka Tu believes in and worships Giang (Genie). The houses are shaped in the form of an ellipse. In the middle of the village is the Guol (Communal House), a large and beautiful building used as the reception area for guests, to hold meetings, rituals and cultural performances. Patriarchy prevails among the Co Tu as the children take the family name of their father. The right of inheritance is reserved only for sons. Marriage dowries are also common practice.
Aluoi – Khe Sanh (B/L/D)
Aluoi Town, where you will stay overnight, belongs to Aluoi district. During the Vietnam war, in the late 1960s, many areas and mountains in the A Luoi Region became historical. For example, the Battle of A Shau, with the 5th Special Forces Camp that was overrun in 1966, as well as the 4,878-foot Dong Re Lao Mountain, best known as ”Signal Hill”, seized by 1st Cavalry Division LRRP / Rangers in 1968 – during Operation Delaware. Ap Bia Mountain, also known as Hamburger Hill, is another famous spot where the Americans were unable to dislodge the 1200 NVA troops hiding and fighting from concrete bunkers on top of the hill. The Americans even built a road from Hue to the valley below and tried again, with five battalions and much air support. The surviving NVA somehow managed to fight their way out and cross the nearby border into Laos.
We will keep driving on Ho Chi Minh Trail heading to Khe Sanh, established as a forward base by General Westmoreland near Laos to secure Highway 9. Troop build-ups escalated, and on January 21, 1968, the NVA, in order to divert US attention from the future Tet Offensive, launched a full-scale attack on the base. Three months later, after NVA losses estimated at 10,000 men, and US losses of about 500 men, the NVA quietly withdrew. Three months after that, the Americans also withdrew, leaving what has been described as a “lunar landscape” behind. Even today, the vegetation in this area is sparse compared to many other war zones.
In Khe Sanh, you will visit Ta Con Airbase, a former airfield near the border with Laos. The museum here is small, but displays many rare photos, dioramas, and artefacts from combatants on both sides of the war.
Khe Sanh – West Truong Son Route – Paradise Cave – Phong Nha (B/L/D)
Today, you will drive hundreds of kilometers without seeing anything but mountains and forest. This is considered the less trafficked road in Vietnam and you will enjoy a memorable picnic lunch set up by the road side in the middle of the national park.
In the afternoon, you will visit one of the most beautiful caves in Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park: Paradise Cave. Discovered by a local man as late as 2005, Paradise Cave is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The cave has since been explored by the British Cave Research Association and found to be 31 km in length. Your visit to some of the accessible areas of this cave gives you a taste of the wonders laying in the depths.
Phong Nha – Dong Loc Junction - Vinh City (B/L)
After breakfast, we continue on Route 15 to Dong Loc Junction. This is where a unit of ten young female volunteers, aged 17 to 20 and led by Vo Thi Tan, was assigned to keep the road open to traffic in the summer of 1968. Despite repeated heavy bombardments, they stayed at their post, using only shovels and hoes to level bomb craters. During an air attack on July 24, 1968, they were all tragically killed. A monument engraved with the names of the ten heroines was erected on a hill at the Dong Loc Road Junction. You will also visit Volunteer Youth Museum, where you can learn more about the Ho Chi Minh Trail. This point used to be the main junction of the supply line during the war against the United States and American aircrafts heavily bombarded the area in repeated efforts to destroy the junction. The 12-mile section of road suffered 2,057 air bombardments.
Vinh City – Ho Citadel - Van Long (B/L)
Back to the Ho Chi Minh Trail, today you will visit a world heritage site named Ho Citadel
where the Ho Dynasty reigned for merely seven years (1400-1407), a drop in the ocean of Viet Nam’s turbulent history. The citadel is now empty – that’s right – no palaces, no temples, and no monuments – just four walls surrounding nothing but farmland. However, according to UNESCO, the citadel represents “an outstanding example of a new style of Southeast Asian imperial city”. The Citadel of Ho Dynasty are the remains of a late 14th century castle constructed from stone blocks. It was constructed by the Ho Dynasty from 1397 on. It is a symbol of Neo-Confucianism. You will reach the resort in the afternoon and can enjoy some relaxing time by the pool.
Van Long Nature Reserve - Transfer to Hanoi (B/L)
Take a rowing boat trip through picturesque karst landscapes. The surroundings are so calm and quiet that you can hear the rowing of oars through calm water, the fish swimming and the birds singing. These wetlands are a paradise for birdwatchers with rare, large water birds as well as the globally endangered, white-breeched langur. After lunch, you will drive for 2.5 hours to reach Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam. Transfer to your hotel in the Old Quarter- the most interesting part of the city where you can easily walk around at your own pace.
- Hotels, resort, farmstay: western breakfasts
- Guesthouse: clean, blanket, pillow, mattress and mosquito net provided; western toilet; hot shower
Meals: local foods (fish, pork, beef, chicken, egg, vegetable…)