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Cycling in Asia forum

Ho Chi Minh Trail - What's The Best & What's Paved?

Posted by themuths on 30/9/2009 at 18:25

Posted from within Vietnam.

I'm having some trouble determining exactly what parts of the Ho Chi Minh Trail are exactly paved. Heard that north of Hue was good to ride, but even that was more hearsay than fact. Want to ride it for at least a few days, though it seems doing so in the north is much more easy and accessible... if it's paved, since we'd rather not take our mountain bikes on muddy and hilly trails for days on end if we can avoid it.

Any help's greatly appreciated,
Thanks
Anderson

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Posted by somtam2000 on 1/10/2009 at 09:10 admin

There is more than one HCM trail as far as today's roads are concerned and I think most are paved. North of Hue you can go to Dong Ha then inland towards Khe Sanh (Route 9) then take a right onto the road that runs north all the way to its junction with Route 15 north of Dong Hoi.

Take a look at the map I made on post 13 of this thread the northern stuff, where they go inland makes use of the HCM trail (or bits of it anyway.

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Posted by MADMAC on 14/10/2009 at 00:11

The Ho Chi Minh trail is in Laos and Cambodia - not Vietnam.

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Posted by somtam2000 on 14/10/2009 at 07:44 admin

madmac, it's in all three -- the network crisscrossed back and forward over the border. Route 14 (running north of Kontum) and then north again of Khe Sanh are considered to follow the path of one of the original trails. You'll see it marked on some Vietnamese maps as duong Ho Chi Minh (Ho Chi Minh Rd/St).

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Posted by MADMAC on 15/10/2009 at 17:46

Somtam
The modern selling of the Ho Chi Minh trail has taken fact and twisted it. The NVA and VC "controlled" no meaningful amounts of territory in South Vietnam during the war. We could interdict any supply line running through the country. The NVA had a very difficult time moving troops or material across the DMZ. Laos, on the other hand, was territory in which the US Army was not operating, and it's proxies lacked the capability to interdict the trail and defeat NVA units there.

This article here explains it best

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Posted by themuths on 15/10/2009 at 22:55

Posted from within Vietnam.

madmac - while i don't dispute your point, the fact that you are presenting a travel company's website as, well, fact, is a bit debatable to say the least. Active Travel Vietnam is selling a product, and are at least somewhat biased...
Now, the HCM trail was certainly in all three countries, to what extent in each is, perhaps, something that may be lost to history since it was quite secret even when it was current.
But, as a cyclist traveling within Vietnam, clearly I'm primarily inquiring about the "twisted" Vietnamese modern version, since that's where I'm at and that's what I'm trying to see :-)
For sure it might not be wholly authentic, but it ought to be at least somewhat scenic.
For the record, time permitting I think we're going to ride from Hue to Dong Ha, perhaps 2 days total, though I'm fearful that the tropical storm en route could cause us some problems...

Thanks for the "suggestions" and the "discussion"

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Posted by somtam2000 on 16/10/2009 at 04:59 admin

Here is a good story on the topic from the Smithsonian -- it covered all three countries.

"The old infiltration and supply route—which the Vietnamese call Truong Son Road, after the nearby mountain range—wasn't a single trail at all. It was a maze of 12,000 miles of trails, roads and bypasses that threaded through eastern Laos and northeastern Cambodia and crisscrossed Vietnam."

Full story here: Smithsonian -- it's a very good read -- road location aside.

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Posted by MADMAC on 16/10/2009 at 18:24

OK obviously it did cross into Vietnam from multiple points. That was the whole point of the trail - it was a supply and infiltration route for the NVA and Vietcong. That's all clear enough. But the terminus points are in South Vietnam. The principal "trail" - the collection of north to south roads that the NVA used as a main supply route - ran through Laos and Cambodia. The sub-routes running into vietnam were small because they had to be. Once in South Vietnam, they were well and truly vulnerable to ground interdiction which was not much of a concern in Laos or Cambodia, the major operation around Tschepone not withstanding.

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