HO CHI MINH TRAIL LAOS MOTORCYCLE TOURS

motorcycle tours LAOS

- HO CHI MINH TRAIL MOTORCYCLE TOUR -

The Ho Chi Minh Trail is a truly legendary route.

Stretching from the north of Vietnam and travelling right down to what was then Saigon – now Ho Chi Minh City – in the south of the country. In reality, it’s not just one trail, but a collection of seemingly thousands of back roads and trails that scythe through the achingly beautiful landscapes of neighbouring Laos, passing through everything from deep valleys lined with rice paddies to dense jungles far from civilisation. It’s a truly epic route and for motorcycle riders, it’s a true bucket list motorcycle tour.

But for all the beauty of the trail as it is today, the origins of the Ho Chi Minh Trail are far from peaceful. Between 1959 and 1975, the trail provided a vital route for the Viet Cong to transport arms and supplies to help in their resistance to the American forces during the Vietnam War. Such was the importance of the supply route to the communist forces, the US dropped over half a million tonnes of bombs onto the trail in Cambodia and a staggering three million tonnes in Laos in an ultimately unsuccessful effort to stem the flow of arms to the Vietnamese fighters.

contact Toby

Your motorcycle tour expert

One of the great achievements of military engineering of the 20th century.”United States National Security Agency

Forty years later, the Ho Chi Minh Trail is an altogether more agreeable place to be. It still cuts through the landscape, but where there was bomb ravaged vistas, there is now mile after mile of stunning scenery, and beautiful tribal villages of friendly and welcoming people. The debris of the war has been recycled, so village huts are supported on enormous bomb casings and spent artillery shells are now pressed into use as flower planters and animal drinking troughs. This is a very special place.

Your 10 day motorcycle tour up the Ho Chi Minh Trail will not disappoint! Riding some of the best tracks in Southeast Asia, you will be accompanied and supported by a team of guides, mechanics and an expedition medic at every moment. When you are not riding the bikes on the sweeping and joyful tracks and roads, you’ll stay in everything from luxury hotels to tents campsites alongside rivers. You’ll take a boat trip through a cave nearly 7 kilometres long (with your bike!), meet with members of remote hill tribes and swim in a blue lagoon before sinking a cool beer while watching the sunset.

Tour Key Points

  • Skill Level Required - Novice - Intermediate
  • Tour Type - On & off-road
  • Distance - 1,745 km
  • Duration - 10 days (9 riding days + 1 non-riding day)
  • Tour Price - £2795
  • Start City - Pakse, Laos
  • End City - Luang Prabang, Laos

Tour Dates & Prices

HO-CHI-MINI-TRAIL-motorcycle-tour-map

Tour Key Info

  • The motorcycles: The highly capable Kawasaki KLX300 is the bike of choice for this adventure. If you fancy more horsepower, we also have the mighty Yamaha WR450f in our stable.
  • Duration: 10 days total including arrival day.
  • Terrain: Mostly off-road with a huge variety of riding terrain available, from tight singletrack, sweeping dirt roads and smooth highway.
  • Average daily ride hours: 5 – 8 with plenty of drink / photo stops.
  • Support crew: professional local guides/mechanics and a support vehicle to carry your luggage, spare parts and a spare motorcycle.
  • Medical support: A western medic will be riding with the group. He carries an extensive trauma kit with him on the bike and has a larger medical kit in the support vehicle.
  • Suitable for pillion riders? No

Tour Highlights

  • Take a boat trip through a cave nearly seven kilometres long (with your bike!)
  • Meet with members of remote hill tribes.
  • Fast paced dirt roads, river crossings on small wooden boats, steep rocky hills, river crossings and winding dirt roads.
  • Snake alongside the Nam Kham River, taking in the stunning views as we approach the World Heritage town of Luang Prabang.

HO CHI MINH TRAIL MOTORCYCLE TOUR ITINERARY

Ho Chi Minh Trail

If it’s your first time in this stunning country, arriving in the bustling city of Pakse will be a treat for all your senses, from the beautifully colourful streets to the amazing cooking smells and the noise of the markets. We’ll pick you up from the airport and follow the mighty Mekong river through truly stunning landscape all the way up to Champasak. This beautiful riverside resort town marks the start point for your epic adventure, and there will be a chance to cool off in the pool before a delicious welcome meal and a chance to meet your new riding buddies.

Accommodation: Luxury riverside resort with a pool.

Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner.

ho-chi-minh-trail-motorcycle-tour-adventure-(9)

It’s the first day of the tour and after breakfast it’s time to check out the bikes and get them adjusted for the journey ahead. The first part of the day will continue to track the Mekong north away from the town before our first experience of a Laos ferry takes us across the massive river. From there it’s dirt roads and trails up towards the Xe Pian National Park. We then head onto tiny and twisting local tracks and ox-cart trails through the dense forests to take us to our first overnight stop on the Ho Chi Minh trail. The riding is truly wonderful, but you’ll have to concentrate on the many creek crossings if you don’t want to be the first one to take a dip – but don’t worry, it’s so warm you’ll hardly notice!

Accommodation: Guesthouse.

Included meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner.

ho-chi-minh-trail-motorcycle-tour-adventure-(21)

We start the day with a quick blast along the blacktop to look at an enormous abandoned Russian missile – it’s a stark reminder of the turbulent history of the Ho Chi Minh trail, and great for selfies!

After this it’s onto a wonderful mix of dirt trails that climb up into the hills, and there’s more military hardware littering the side of the trails, from tanks to bomb shells. The trails continue to climb to give astounding views over the forests that cover the rolling hills below, the scars of the battles now hidden beneath the canopies of the trees.

We take a break for a delicious lunch with the local people in Chaleunxai before heading on upwards to over 1300m and into the villages of the remote hill tribes that are only seen in the south of this wonderful country.

The day continues as we cross a new bridge over a wide river below and pick up the main road towards the wide Bolaven Plateau an on to our evening’s accommodation at a beautifully picturesque and luxurious garden resort. After 230 km a cool beer is a welcome sight!

Accommodation: Luxury resort with a pool.

Included meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner.

ho-chi-minh-trail-motorcycle-tour-adventure-(12)

It’s another long day today, but we’ll start with some tasty coffee grown in the plantations surrounding the resort.  We’ll saddle up and travel along a sweeping dirt road to catch up with the indigenous people of the A-Lak tribe whose lives are lived almost unchanged for centuries. It’s an incredible experience.

This area was heavily shelled in the Vietnam conflict, but years after the bombs stopped falling the locals have turned the craters into fishing lakes and pools for the water buffalo or just for the children to play in.

Our first river crossing is another echo of the war, as the remains of the bridge wrecked by American bombings still stands on the banks of the now peaceful water.  We’ll splash our way past and on to some fantastic trails, down steep hills, up inclines, through forest creeks and across every surface from chunky rocks to deep sand. We’ll travel through cool woodland glades and tiny villages and finish our day’s ride crossing the final river of the day on impossibly small wooden boats to reach the town of Xepon.

Accommodation: Town hotel.

Included meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner.

ho-chi-minh-trail-motorcycle-tour-adventure-(13)

Leave your bags in the room and give your laundry to the concierge as today were on a circular route that will bring us back to Xepon in the evening.  After a hearty breakfast we head a short way up the road to visit the Laos-Vietnam War Museum, a fascinating display of the weapons of the conflict accompanied by explanations of just how Laos fitted into this terrible war. It’s a sobering experience that ties in the history of the trail that we are following.

After that you’ll be ready for a bit more riding, so it’s time to jump on the dirt bikes and head due south towards the longest bamboo bridge in the country. But we’re not there to just look – we’re riding over that bad-boy so buckle up and focus on where you’re going chaps- it only moves up and down and side to side …

There’s still a lot of unexploded bombs on the far side of the river, so we’ll be keeping very firmly to the safe route as we head away and follow a fantastic mix of trails and dirt roads back to Xepon.

Accommodation: Town hotel.

Included meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner.

ho-chi-minh-trail-motorcycle-tour-adventure-(22)

Leaving the comfort of the Xepon hotel we’ll be straight onto a tough and technical dirt road on the way to Vilabouly which is a one of the biggest sites for the gold mining industry in Laos. Leaving the mins behind we’ll head onto rocky trails that will lead us through the vast Hin Nam No National park.

After this we enter what Ride Expeditions Head Honcho Toby has dubbed ‘Swiss Cheese Valley’ and you’ll see why straight away.

Having taken another tasty lunch with the local people it’s a river crossing on those rickety wooden boats again to try not to wobble about too much – we don’t want to be fishing for dirt bikes! The last part of the day is on an unexpectedly smooth and flowing blacktop ribbon that will lead us to our campsite for the night on the banks of the Nam Thern Lake.  While you sup on a cold one, we’ll fire up the barbie and you can dine like kings as the sun goes down. Does it get better than this??

Accommodation: Private campsite – individual tents.

Included meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner.

ho-chi-minh-trail-motorcycle-tour-adventure-(17)

As we’ve been raking up the miles, today is low on the distance and high on the scenery. We’ll leave the tents after a leisurely breakfast and head up a winding track that enters the deep valley that houses the entrance to the massive Konglor Cave. With your bike loaded on the front of your own boat, we’ll float through the stunning seven-kilometer-long river cave all the way through to our support truck that will be waiting with cold drinks.

Suitably refreshed you might just want to go for a swim in the crystal-clear lagoon and just chill out. If you can drag yourself away, it’s back on the bikes for a short schlep on to our overnight stop at another great riverside resort where dinner and a crackling fire pit is waiting.

Accommodation: Luxurious riverside resort.

Included meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner.

ho-chi-minh-trail-motorcycle-tour-adventure-(14)

If you like mountains you are going to love today as we are going to climb high up into the stunning Nam Kading range. The first part of the day is on tarmac, but in the afternoon it’s back to those dirt trails through tiny and fascinating hill villages of Hmong and Khmu. These places are so far off the beaten track that few tourists ever get to witness them, so count yourself truly blessed to be with the warm and friendly people in these remote communities.

The trails eventually take us to the small town of Muang Mok hidden in the mountains like an eagle’s eyrie, where we will spend the night. This is something special.

Accommodation: Guesthouse.

Included meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner.

ho-chi-minh-trail-motorcycle-tour-adventure-1 (2)

Starting the day high in the mountains the trails today are truly epic, from sweeping dirt trails and narrow winding tracks as we head towards Phonsavanh.  We may have time to call in to the Mines advisory group and hear more about the history of the region and their efforts to make the country safe again.

It’s pretty cold in this part of Laos so you are going to need to wrap up warm for both the ride and the exploring once we get off the bikes. But don’t worry, our night’s accommodation is in tiny little cottages each with their own log fire – what a wonderful way to end the day.

Phonsavanh is a chilly place – please remember to pack warm layers for this afternoon / tomorrow mornings ride.

Accommodation: Beautiful hilltop cottages – each equipped with open wood fires and surrounded by pine tree forest.

Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner.

ho-chi-minh-trail-motorcycle-tour-adventure-(2)

It’s the final day of the tour so after stocking up with another great breakfast we’ll jump on the bikes, drop the clutch and set out for the trails once more. The trails run alongside the Nam Kham river for mile after mile of epic riding as we head for our destination of Luang Prabang.

As a place to finish the tour, this vibrant and exciting town could not be better. Sitting on the banks on the mighty Mekong and teeming with shops and markets it’s the perfect end point for the tour. We’ll ride into our luxurious hotel, ditch the riding kit and grab a shower before heading into the may bars in Luang Prabang to celebrate your achievement – 1745 km over ten epic days. We’ll raise a glass to that.

Accommodation: Luxury hotel with a pool.

Included meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner.

contact Toby

Your motorcycle tour expert

Newsletter Terms & Conditions

Why book with Ride Expeditions

Ride Expeditions is a British owned company that has always operated with the standard of ‘combining expert local knowledge with high western standards‘. It is this winning combination that has resulted in our success of running the ultimate motorcycle adventure tours.
protected-trust-service-logo-ride-expeditions-adventure-motorcycle-tours

As a UK Ltd company we have been able to affiliate ourselves with the PTS (Protected Trust Services), giving you the consumer 100% financial security when booking a tour through Ride Expeditions Ltd UK.

Tour Inclusions

  • Kawasaki KLX300
  • Western medic riding with the group
  • GEOS search & rescue cover
  • 4×4 support vehicle + spare motorcycle
  • Professional local guides / mechanic(s)
  • Excellent twin-share accommodation as per itinerary
  • All fuel
  • All meals as per itinerary
  • Ride Expeditions personalised travel app for android and IOS
  • Ride Expeditions riding jersey
  • Welcome pack
  • Airport pickup
  • Entrance fees / crossings etc.
  • We donate a percentage of tour profits to a local charity / school
  • 1 tree planted on your behalf

Tour Exclusions

  • Personal travel insurance
  • Flights
  • Motorcycle damages -we require a £500 security to be 'held' on your card. Alternatively, we can offer our own damage insurance - see 'Optional Extras' below.
  • Meals not listed in the itinerary​
  • Visa - approx $30
  • Alcohol
  • Other personal expenses
  • Emergency transportation

Optional Extras

  • Change to Yamaha WRF450 + £400
  • Single room accommodation + £190
  • Protective riding gear + £175
  • Motorcycle damage insurance + £175 for Kawasaki KLX300 or £199 for Yamaha WRF450

Motorcycle Tour Bikes

KAWASAKI KLX 300

Rider Testimonials

Anton C reviewed:

What an experience!!

“Thank you Toby and Sopal for going above and beyond to impeccably organise a full day tour for me at the very last minute! Having been on numerous outings and tours in South east Asia over several years this has been by some distance the most memorable!” … READ MORE

Jeremy P reviewed:

Brilliant, keen for another

“The reviews aren’t fake! I rode the cardamom mountain explorer while my better half was on a tour bus. We went every where the tour buses couldn’t go. I feel that we saw a good amount of the real Cambodia that most westerners won’t ever see.” …READ MORE

Ginomussos reviewed:

Awesome experience

“Want a challenge? this is it. Had a once in a lifetime experiencie here! wouldn’t change anything. Excellent riding spots, every day new challenge, amazing places and stops. Incredible support team and bikes ready for speed!”

Wabe B reviewed:

Absolutely spot on.

“Best trip I’ve done ever. Would recommend it to any keen enduro rider. Awesome mix of riding and Fut (our guide) and his crew were spot on!!!! He’s got the pace to challenge most riders I know. Definitely a must!!”

Ho Chi Minh Trail Motorcycle Tour FAQ

Below is a selection of Frequently Asked Questions relating to the this tour. For all other FAQs related to payments and our company in general, please visit the General FAQs Page.

Q: Do I need a valid motorcycle licence?
A: The answer is a big YES – we require all riders have a valid licence that would entitle them to ride the capacity of bike selected in their home country. If you can’t ride a 450 at home, you won’t be covered to ride one on our tours.

It’s also a requirement for you to have also an International Driver’s Permit which is a few pounds from your local Post Office for UK nationals. PLEASE BE SURE TO DOUBLE CHECK THE REQUIREMENTS OF YOUR TRAVEL INSURANCE COMPANY.

Q:: What about riding experience?
A: We want confident and experienced riders on our tours, so for this reason we want you to have at least two years active riding experience. This is not necessarily the same as having had a licence for two years if you have only owned a bike for six weeks!

Following on from this, as this tour is predominantly off-road, it is more than preferable if you have a good amount of off-road riding experience before booking up. Should you have any doubts, give our us a call and ask to speak to the tour leader – he will talk through any queries you may have.

Q: Does having a step-through moped in 1996 count as good experience?
A: Only if you are intending to go shopping in Cambodia rather taking on hundreds of miles along the infamous Ho Chi Minh Trail.

Q: What about travel insurance?
A: As with any foreign travel, proper insurance is a good move, so we insist that all riders have appropriate insurance in place. The policy you chose needs to cover you for riding motorcycles and importantly – for riding the capacity of bike that you have chosen. Mainstream companies may not offer such cover, so we’re happy to provide recommendations.

Just to cover eventualities, your insurance should have provision for medical evacuation and repatriation back home.

Q: What happens if I damage the motorcycle?
A: Apart from the usual wear and tear, you are liable for any damage caused. We have two options for you: 1. For an extra £175 for the Kawasaki KLX300 or  £199 for the Yamaha WRF450 we offer a damage protection plan – any damage caused to the motorcycle is then covered by us , with the exception of falling off due to a failed wheelie attempt or drowning the bike in a river! 2. We will ‘hold’ £500 on your debit/credit card as a security against motorcycle damage – this will money will not leave your bank account unless you damage the motorcycle. If you do damage the bike, we will be as fair as we possibly can – we never intend to profit from damage charges.

Q: Do I need a visa?
A: This depends where you are from originally, but the likelihood is that you’ll need a visa. Visa
conditions change regularly. For the most up to date information, contact the
nearest Lao Embassy or Consulate. Depending on where you’re from, you can
usually get a visa on arrival for around US$35 or Thai Baht 1,500.00. You will need
one passport photo.
Check with your local embassy to be entirely sure what you will need and when.

Q: Where do I need to fly to?
A: The trip starts in Pakse and finishes in Luang Prabang. Both of these cities have international airports.

Q: Do I need to carry my luggage on my bike?
A: Given the carrying capacity of a KLX, you’d be lucky to fit more than a big lunchbox! The answer is no, as all your luggage will be in the support truck. The truck will also carry bike spares, fuel, and a spare bike, so all you need to ride with is a small day bag with a drinks reservoir and a camera.

The truck also has spare seats so in case of injury, illness or even ‘over-indulgence’ you can travel in the passenger seats for a while to recover. You will however have to endure truly awful Cambodian pop music on the radio – think fingernails down a blackboard accompanied by a bad-tempered cat…

Q: We’re camping in a few places – do I need to pack camping kit?
A: Are you a frustrated boy scout? Although you are welcome to bring whatever you want on this trip, you don’t actually need to start cramming tents, hammocks, sleeping bags or any other camping kit into your suitcase. Anything you’ll need will be provided by us.

Q: Will we have a local guide?
A: Yes. All of our tours are accompanied by at least one local guide / fixer.

Q: Will a mechanic be riding with us?
A: Yes, of course. At least one mechanic will ride at the back of the group.

Q: Is there any medical support?
A: Yes. This tour is accompanied by a western qualified medic who will be riding with the group and carrying a substantial med-kit, satellite phone and GPS tracker.

Q: What is GEOS?

A: GEOS is the world’s leading search & rescue provider. Our GEOS membership covers all of our riders and this is included in the tour price. In the event of an emergency, our medic / office will liaise with GEOS, ensuring that the best help is on it’s way to you as fast as possible.

Q: What happens in case of an emergency?
A: Our medic will choose the best course of action depending on the situation. He will have a medical kit with him and he can use our satellite device to contact GEOS / our support vehicle / our office. We will assist from our office – we can see your location from the GPS tracker and we’ll have the details of your travel insurance company. Where safety is concerned, rest assured, you’re riding with one of the most prepared motorcycle tour operators in the world.

Q: What riding kit should I wear?
A: As a minimum you should be wearing a motocross/enduro/adventure style helmet with goggles, knee & elbow pads, gloves and a sturdy pair of motocross/enduro/adventure style boots, riding pants and a lightweight jersey  – we provide you a Ride Expeditions jersey with your name printed on the back. Chest/back protection and a neck brace is also highly advisable. Although it will be very warm for most of the trip, there will be the occasional day when it is much cooler – please pack some extra layers for these days.

Q: I don’t have my own riding gear – do you have any I could rent?
A: Yes, we do have high quality gear that is available for rent… the price is $175 for all gear , although we can of course provide individual items of kit at a lower price, so that’s helmet, boots, jersey, pants, knee/elbow pads, chest protection, goggles, gloves. However, to ensure maximum comfort we would always advise that your bring your own kit if possible.

Q: Can my family see where I am?
A: Yes. The tour will be accompanied by one of our GPS trackers that tracks our location throughout the trip. We will send you a link to the online map and you can share this with friends / family.

Q: Do I need any immunisations for Laos?
A: Yes. For obvious reasons ( we’re not doctors) we do not like to advise on which ones you should
or should not get so please visit your local GP or travel clinic and explain you will be visiting Laos and
riding deep into the jungle.

Q: What about malaria?
A: Don’t be worried! There is a low risk of malaria in Laos: awareness of risk and bite avoidance
recommended. Again, please contact your local GP for advice.

Q: You have an app???
A: Hell yea we do! Our brand new travel app – available on Android and IOS – will house all your booking details. It will help you get ready for your trip, notify you of any changes we’re making, have a breakdown of the itinerary, show you the local weather and you’re even able to keep a personal journal within the app! It’s very very useful.

Q: Can I pay with Bitcoin?
A: Sadly not. As much as we try to embrace new technology, theoretical virtual currencies that may be worth fortunes at breakfast and nothing at lunchtime tend to make our accountants nervous. In fact he’d prefer shiny buttons.

(Just to clarify, you can’t actually pay with shiny buttons).

Q: What currency should I bring with me?
A: The official local currency of Laos i’s ‘Kip’, however you do not need to acquire any of this prior to
your arrival. Bring US dollars with you and you will naturally acquire a pocket full of Kip as you go.

Q: Are there ATMs on the way?
A: Yes, in all towns, but not the villages.

Q: What is the accommodation like?
A: Please see the drop down description of each days ride under the ‘itinerary’ heading. Daily accommodation is described here. We use excellent quality accommodation where available. In the smaller towns & villages we will stay in the best available accommodation.

Q: Can you cater for vegetarians, vegans and those with food allergies?
A: While we cannot make guarantees, we will always pass on any dietary requirements to places that we eat. That said for a lot of the tour we will be in rural areas, so trying to explain lactose intolerance is trickier than in a city centre wholefood restaurant in Sydney. The food in both countries is both plentiful and delicious, but if there are any ingredients that are going to cause you real issues, let us know – we don’t want to be constantly poised with a loaded Epi-pen.

Q: I don’t like rice, noodles, vegetables or spicy Asian food. Will we be close to a MacDonalds?
A: You are going to be very hungry for ten days….
If you really can’t stomach the idea of going Asian for more than 24 hours we will do what we can to cater to you – we will let you know when Western food options are available and where possible provide western style lunches such as baguette sandwiches imported meats, cheeses, crisps and fruit etc.

Q: Who operates this tour?
A: This tour is operated by Ride Expeditions in collaboration with our local Laos partners. We believe it is this winning combination of western standards and local knowledge is what has made our tours so successful.

Q: How do I book?
A: To secure your place we simply need a US £500 non-refundable deposit. The remainder does not need to be paid until 30 days prior to the tour start date.

Q: What payment methods do you accept?
A: We accept most major credit/debit cards. We can also accept direct bank transfers. We do not accept Paypal or American Express.

Q: Is my money safe?
A: Yes. We a member of Protected Trust Services (PTS). Whenever you book a tour with us, your money is paid into an independent trust account managed by PTS. This money is insured against the failure of our company or any of our suppliers. We couldn’t run away with your money even if we wanted to!

Ho Chi Minh Trail Motorcycle Tour Gallery

More Adventure Motorcycle Tours

Close Menu

KAWASAKI KLX 250 / 300

We use the new fuel injected (2013+) models of the ever faithful Kawasaki KLX250, most of which we bore out to 300cc to improve performance. All of these bikes have been modified with strong handlebars, hand guards, performance exhausts and fuel controllers / ECU’s. This machine is the perfect trailbike to reliably and comfortably take you on an adventure of Cambodia.

By subscribing to our newsletter you agree to receive email from us. The aim of our newsletter service is to keep our customers and visitors updated about tours or new service offerings. The subscription to our newsletter service is not mandatory.

Frequency: The frequency of the newsletter issues will be fortnightly at most.
Limited Liability: We reserve the sole right to either modify or discontinue the newsletter, at any time with or without notice to you. We will not be liable to you or any third party should we exercise such right. Any new features that augment or enhance the then-current services on this site shall also be subject to these Terms of Use.

We reserve the sole right to unsubscribe users / visitors from our newsletter service, without notice. We will do so with any subscriber we deem registered with invalid data.

Privacy policy: We will not communicate / spread / publish or otherwise give away your address or information. You’ll be able to change your subscription settings or delete it altogether at any time.

​To see our full privacy policy, please click HERE.