motorcycle tours cambodia & 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 and Cambodia, 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 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.
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“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 are 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 17 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 with infinity pools to tents in the middle of the Mekong River. You’ll see some of the rarest dolphins in the world, take a boat trip through a cave nearly eight 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.
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HO CHI MINH TRAIL MOTORCYCLE TOUR ITINERARY
For your first day in Cambodia we guarantee you’ll want to take an exciting and breathtaking tour of Phnom Penh in one of the thousands of tuk-tuks in the crazy and frenetic traffic. You can visit the bustling Russian Market and shop in the thousands of tiny shops that line the city’s street. You’ll have the chance to shoot machine guns at the firing range, and if you fancy a bit of history, take in the chilling Killing Fields Memorial or the Genocide Museum.
In the afternoon you’ll meet the full Ride Team and have a chance to see the motorcycles you will be riding for the next 2700 kilometres! We’ll give you all a full briefing on the trip ahead before enjoying some cold beers on a sunset cruise down the Mekong River.
As the sun goes down, we’ll head to a riverside restaurant for a traditional Cambodian dinner by the tranquil water before heading back to the hotel.
Accommodation will be in a quality hotel with a rooftop pool.
The first riding day of this Ho Chi Minh Trail motorcycle tour! After a buffet breakfast on the rooftop terrace with views over the Tonle Sap & Mekong River, we’ll jump on the bikes, start the engines leave the bustle of Phnom Penh city behind us. Crossing the mighty Mekong River on a local ferry, we’ll then head north, riding alongside the river all the way to the riverside town of Kampong Cham, where we will spend the night. We’ll ride a fantastic mix of roads, dirt roads and trails, cross a river island and finish the day by ripping along a sandy river beach.
Accommodation will be in an excellent, newly built riverside hotel with a rooftop bar & restaurant.
The morning’s riding takes us alongside the Mekong to continue north, passing through small villages and fishing communities. We’ll then say goodbye to the Mekong for a while and cut east away from the river.
We will meet the support for a Western style picnic lunch beneath a wooden hut that overlooks rice paddies and the buffalo that graze alongside. The trails are a mix of sweeping riverside tracks, bumpy dirt roads and smooth highway through endless plantations of rubber and cashew nuts.
Accommodation will be in a small town hotel with AC.
For the more experienced riders today we have the option of some technical off-road riding on the ‘King’s Highway’, which offers an exciting mix of open sandy trails and tighter single track trails up into the hills.
For the less experienced riders, we take a gentler but equally enjoyable route, sticking to the blacktop as we cruise the winding roads up into the mountains where we will stop for lunch.
Whichever you choose, the views here are stunning – you might even catch the monkeys swinging through the trees alongside the trails and roads.
In the afternoon we’ll ride together on beautiful dirt roads and single tracks through pine forests and the rolling Mondulkiri hills.
Accommodation will be in wooden bungalows on a hillside at a beautiful Nature Lodge. Cows & ponies will be grazing just off your front step.
Another exciting day with four different trail options ranging in difficulty so we can really tailor this day to suit the skill levels of the group.
From river crossings, rocky hills and winding dirt roads, to sandy tracks & trails through small villages – the possibilities are wide and varied.
Passing through the Mondulkiri province we’ll ride along parts of the infamous Death Highway! It’s a brilliant days riding that finishes us in the enchanting Ratanakiri province and an incredible hillside resort that will be our home for the next 2 nights.
Accommodation will be in a luxurious hillside bungalow resort with an infinity pool that overlooks the forests.
After five days on the bikes, we reckon you’ll be ready for a rest day, and faced with such a great resort, you won’t disagree. There’ll be time to go exploring, maybe relax by the swimming pool and, perhaps more pressing – get some laundry done by the incredibly efficient hotel staff – most of our riding kit tends to come back the cleanest it’s ever been!
The capital of Ratanakiri, Banlung, is home to the spectacular Yeak Laom volcanic lake, hidden in a dense tropical forest, the warm azure water is a Mecca for tourists and locals alike. You can just sit by the waters edge, but you’d be missing an experience if you don’t swim in the fantastic setting.
Once out of the water, the support crew will be on hand with snacks and cold beers to finish off the afternoon – does life get any better?
If you would rather go sightseeing, Banlung also has some great waterfalls and interesting hill tribe communities for those that wish to explore the area.
Accommodation will be in the same hillside bungalow as the night before.
Day seven starts with a life affirming rip along a winding dirt road to reach our first boat crossing of the day – always good fun, but not before a refreshing drink straight from a cold coconut at the local market.
We’ll then load up the bikes on our aquatic taxi and board a wooden boat and chug over to the other side of the river where the trails await.
And what incredible trails they are – a thirty-five kilometre long beauty that winds through the trees, across rivers and passes through tiny and remote villages. We’ll need to cross another two rivers on wooden boats before reaching the end of the trail.
The final part of the days riding takes a long dirt trail back towards the Mekong River. We’ll jump on the last wooden boat of the day and in a mere twenty minutes we’ll be ashore our own private island and campsite in the middle of the river at Preah Rumkel for a sunset barbecue by the water’s edge.
Accommodation will be in tents on our river island.
Waking up on a river island, the only way to start the day is a refreshing swim – and it might well clear your head from the previous evening’s beers! After bidding a fond farewell to our river island we will scoot the boat over to a small village for a delicious breakfast of egg-fried rice and strong Lao coffee.
We will then head back to the boat to chug out into the middle of the river to spot the incredibly rare Irrawaddy Dolphins. There are only around half a dozen left in this part of the country and a mere eighty-five left in the entire Mekong.
With the David Attenborough stuff done, it’s back to the bikes for a quick five-kilometre blat across to the Laos border. Once the paperwork has been inspected, stamped, inspected, stamped again and generally poured over by chirpy customs officials, we head north to visit the staggering Khone waterfalls – the greatest water volume waterfall on the planet and an unmissable sight.
The day continues with a gentle sweeping trail up to the impressive sounding Kong Island, though fortunately no oversize gorillas are resident there. After this it’s a ferry to Mounlaphamok and then we take a dirt road along the Mekong up to Champassak town, to spend our first night in Laos at a gorgeous riverside resort.
Accommodation will be in a luxury resort with a swimming pool beside the Mekong River
After a riverside breakfast, we’ll ride north alongside the Mekong before crossing on another local ferry. We then follow dirt roads and a small dirt track that will lead us through Xe Pian National Park before branching off onto a series of delightfully narrow ox-cart and single-track trails that wind through thick forest. There’s plenty of creek crossings to master so you’ll need to have your wits about you to keep everything but you feet dry!
Accommodation will be in a quality guest house.
To start the day we have a short tarmac ride out of Attapeu to take a look at a huge old Russian missile, a remnant of the Vietnam War and a reminder of the harsh history of this region.
From here it’s onto some great dirt roads that climb into the hills. We’ll stop for selfies and photos at a long abandoned Russian tank rusting alongside the track before continuing along the trail, enjoying fantastic panoramic views over the forests. The landscape here is stunning – it’s hard to imagine that so much conflict went on in those rolling hills.
Stopping for lunch with the locals in Chaleunxai village, in the afternoon we continue to ride upwards, climbing up to almost 1,300 meters and passing through hill tribe villages only found in the south of Laos.
After crossing a wide river on an old and battered metal barge, we continue our journey on the main road towards the Bolaven Plateau on the top of a long-extinct volcano before pressing on to our evening’s destination at a beautiful & luxurious garden resort.
Accommodation will be in a luxury resort with a pool.
After breakfast at the resort with coffee grown in the surrounding plantations, we head out on a dirt road to meet the people of the A-Lak tribe who are indigenous to this region and who still live a life largely unchanged over centuries.
This region is peppered with bomb craters from the Vietnam War, though with a pragmatic approach, the local people have now put them to use as fishing lakes and swimming pools for the water buffalo and small children.
The first river crossing we encounter on this day’s riding was the site of one of countless bridges targeted in American bombing raids to break the chain of supplies travelling the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Although the conflict is long gone, the bridges too are consigned to history.
It’s a great day on the trails too, with a series of small climbs, descents, creek crossings, rocky sections and sand. We ride along remains of the original roads of the Ho Chi Minh Trail as we pass through dense woodlands, small villages and valleys, finishing this epic day with a river crossing on tiny wooden boats!
Accommodation will be in a quality town hotel.
There’s no need to pack this morning as we ride in a loop, returning to the same hotel tonight. After breakfast we travel a short distance out of the town to visit the Laos-Vietnam War Museum. There are lots of guns, tanks, helicopters, photos, maps & videos on display here and it’s a chance to see and understand what exactly was going on in Laos during the Vietnam War.
After the history lesson, we’re straight back on the bikes and head south towards the longest bamboo bridge in the country, an incredible if slightly scary construction to ride across.
The area on the other side of the water is still littered with unexploded ordinance from the war, but before you reach for the insurance documents, there’s no need to worry – we’ll be keeping to well used and completely safe routes – just maybe don’t wander off for a call of nature!
Accommodation will be in the same hotel as the previous night.
Today’s riding takes us on a rough and winding road to Vilabouly, home to Laos’ largest gold mining operation. From there we ride on rocky dirt tracks that take us through Hin Nam No National Park and onto an area that Ride Expeditions has unofficially Christened – ‘Swiss Cheese Valley’, though quite why you’ll have to wait and see.
Before another delicious lunch with the locals there’s a river crossing on tiny wooden canoes that will test the nerve of all that cross! We finally find some smooth and fast tarmac to cruise up to our next campsite at Nam Thern Lake. The beers are on ice, the barbie is good to go and the sunset over the campfire comes for free.
Accommodation will be in tents.
After so much travel – today is a short and relaxed one, with a morning run up a winding dirt road towards the valley that forms the entrance to the Konglor Cave.
Our support vehicle meets us here for lunch so we can take off our riding kit and break out the shorts and T-shirts for the afternoon. Cruise through the vast seven and a half kilometre long cave on an individual wooden boat with your bike at your side.
At the other end it’s time for a cold drink and a chance for a swim in the deep blue lagoon. We have a short blast on the road to our evening’s stopover at a stunning riverside resort, where dinner and another roaring fire awaits.
Accommodation will be in a stunningly beautiful riverside resort.
For today, it’s a stunning day’s ride up and down the ruggedly beautiful landscape of the Nam Kading mountain range.
The morning will be on the blacktop, but after lunch we hit the dirt tracks and travel through the remotest of villages like Hmong and Khmu that few tourists ever get to experience.
The day ends in the small town of Muang Mok perched high in the mountains that will be our home for the night.
Accommodation will be in a local guesthouse.
The tour may be heading into the final days, but the scenery and trails don’t let up one jot as we follow narrow dirt trails and sweeping tracks towards Phonsavanh and if time permits, we have the chance to visit Mine Advisory Group (MAG) Information Centre to learn more about the history of the region during the Indochina War.
Accommodation will be in beautiful hilltop cottages – each equipped with open wood fires and surrounded by pine tree forest, overlooking the town of Phonsavanh.
After a delicious breakfast in the hillside restaurant we saddle up for our final day of riding on this epic Ho Chi Minh Trail motorcycle tour. Our route snakes alongside the Nam Kham River, taking in the stunning views as we approach the World Heritage town of Luang Prabang.
After arriving at our luxury hotel there’s a chance to lose the riding kit and have a shower before heading into the fantastically vibrant town for some victory beers alongside the Mekong, the same one we’ve tracked and crossed for the whole incredible seventeen days and 2700 kilometres of this epic trip. Now that’s an achievement you’ll never forget!
Accommodation will be in a luxurious hotel with a pool.
Range Of Difficulty Options
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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.
As a UK Ltd company we have been able to affiliate ourselves with the PTS (Protected Travel Services), giving you the consumer 100% financial security when booking a tour through Ride Expeditions Ltd UK.
Motorcycle Tour Bikes
KAWASAKI KLX 300
Anton C reviewed:
“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:
“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
“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:
“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 Ho Chi Minh Motorcycle Tour. For all other FAQs related to payments and our company in general, please visit the General FAQs Page. If you can’t find the answer your looking for here, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll reply with an answer ASAP!
Q: Is it necessary to hold a valid motorcycle license?
A: Yes, it is our requirement that all of our riders have a valid motorcycle license in their home country. It is also recommended that you obtain an international license. PLEASE BE SURE TO DOUBLE CHECK THE REQUIREMENTS OF YOUR TRAVEL INSURANCE COMPANY.
Q: Do I need an international driving permit (IDP)?
A: Yes. An IDP is basically an official, multi-language translation of your driving license. They are cheap, quick and easy to obtain in your home country.
Q: What happens if I damage the motorcycle?
A: Minor damage is covered by us. Major damage caused by rider error will need to be covered by yourself. In these circumstances we will work out the cheapest way to have the repairs done to the necessary standard – we’re incredibly fair in these situations and we would never intend to profit out of this. If this worries you, we can provide a ‘damage reduction plan’ for a small additional daily cost get in touch with us for more details.
Q:: How much riding experience do I need?
A: We require all of our riders to have a minimum of 2 years riding experience under their belts. The actual amount of experience required varies from tour to tour, so please contact us directly for more information. Our tour leaders are more than happy to chat with you on the phone to discuss this in more detail.
Q: Do I need a visa?
A: Depending on your country of citizenship you will most likely need to obtain tourist visas for both Cambodia and Laos. You can get a Cambodian visa online beforehand or apply for one upon arrival at the airport. The Laos visa can be obtained on arrival at the border. Requirements for visas can differ greatly depending on your nationality – we ask that you contact your local embassies in advance to ensure a smooth and easy entry.
Q: What about travel insurance?
A: We insist that all of our riders obtain appropriate travel insurance. Be sure to double check with the insurance company that they will cover you for riding motorcycles (check the engine size) in the countries of travel, and what license they require you to have. As a minimum, the insurance must cover medical evacuation and hospitalisation.
Q: How do we carry our luggage?
A: This tour is accompanied by a support vehicle. Not only will this be carrying a spare bike and an array of spare parts, but it will also carry your main luggage throughout the entire trip.
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: Do I need a tent / sleeping bag / hammock?
A: No. Any camping gear required will always be provided for you.
Q: What do I wear?
A: To go over the basics: Helmet, goggles / glasses, trousers / motocross pants, a sturdy pair of boots and a long sleeved top / jersey, knee pads, elbow pads, chest armour, gloves.
Q: What immunisations do I need?
A: This varies from country to country. Please contact your doctor for specific recommendations.
Q: What about malaria?
A: It is true that malaria does exist in some remote areas of Cambodia & Laos. Generally these areas are quite low-risk, but please contact your doctor in your home country for recommendations on what medication you should be taking.
Q: What happens if I get injured on a ride?
A: A western qualified medic will accompany every ride. If you suffer a minor injury we have a support vehicle you can travel in. In the event of a serious injury we will work together with your travel insurance company to arrange emergency transportation as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Q: Do we have a support vehicle on the trip?
A: Yes. This will carry a spare bike, spare parts and your luggage, but it also has spare seats in case you need a day off of the motorcycle due to illness or injury.
Q: How do I book?
A: To book your place on a ride we require a booking deposit of £500.00. We will issue an invoice for the full tour payment 2 months prior to the start of the tour and we require this to be paid within 30 days. We will also require a US $500 deposit in cash upon arrival in case of bike damage which will then be returned in full at the end of the tour assuming no bike damage (alternatively, we offer our own motorcycle damage insurance – see ‘Optional Extras’ for pricing info).
Q: How do I pay?
A: We will send you an invoice which will include the bank details for Protected Trust Services (PTS) in the UK. This money is paid directly into the independent trust account, keeping your money safe and secure until we complete your tour.
Q: What’s included in the price?
A: See ‘Inclusions’, ‘Exclusions’ and ‘Optional Extras’ sections higher up on this page.
Q: What is the deposit for?
A: To secure your booking we require a £500.00 booking deposit. In the event you wish to cancel the tour, this deposit is non-refundable. This deposit is put towards the final tour price. We also require a US $500 security deposit for motorcycle damages – it will be returned to you at the end of the tour minus any motorcycle damage costs (if any).
Q: Is my money safe?
A: Yes – when you book a tour through our UK company your money is paid directly into an independent trust account, managed by the PTS (Protected Trust Services). This gives you 100% financial security in the unlikely event that us (or any of our suppliers) become insolvent.
Q: Can you cater for vegetarians / food allergies?
A: Although we cannot make any guarantees, we will make every effort possible to ensure that your food requirements are communicated properly to all kitchens. Please get in touch with us if you have more questions about the types of food to expect.