The Ho Chi Minh Trail was a vital north-south route for the North Vietnamese to move supplies, troops and munitions to their fighters in the south.
It was never just one trail, but actually a shifting network of multiple trails over a swath of land hundreds of kilometres wide, often weaving in and out of neighbouring Laos.
The trails were the bete noire of American military strategists, but no matter what they did (like blanketing the land with toxic defoliant like Agent Orange to expose the area), they were never able to completely cut off this supply route and the North Vietnamese continued to use it to good advantage right up to the end of the war. Methods to carry supplies were as rudimentary as bicycles, while later in the war whole tanks were secretly moved down. It remains a testament to North Vietnamese determination.
The Ho Chi Minh Trail (now highway QL14) intersects Highway 9 on the other side of the Dakrong Bridge. The bridge was the main access point to the trails during the war, and was bombed and rebuilt repeatedly throughout the conflict. The current bridge was built in 1974. There's nothing interesting to look at, but like the Rockpile, it's on the way to the Khe Sanh Marine base so everyone stops here.
How to get there
To get to the bridge, travel 48 kilometres west from Highway 1 in Dong Ha. At this junction, cross the bridge and head south on QL14 for 90 kilometres to reach A Luoi and the A Shau Valley, home to several significant Vietnam War sites including Hamburger Hill and A Sho Airport.
By Cindy Fan
Last updated on 24th February, 2016.