The Road To freedom- with Virginia Morris
14 DAY TOUR – INCREDIBLE HO CHI MINH TRAIL ADVENTURE INTO HISTORY WITH DR VIRGINIA MORRIS
Start Point: Vientiane
Finish Point: Pakse
Distance: 2400 Kilometers
Vehicles: 4×4 Trucks
Terrain: 70% off Road
Day 1: Vientiane to Ban Nahin
Our adventure begins as we take the road out of Vientiane to Nahin. Once clear of the town the countryside opens up, and during their growing season, we are flanked by lush fields of rice. Riding on we go into Khammouan Province, where the Karst Mountains appear. Mountains which remain visible to us until we reach the Limestone Forest.
Then, we are surrounded by stunning views as we near the Vietnamese border, following which we arrive at our overnight stop, Nahin. At Nahin we stay at the beautiful Sainamhai Resort beside the Nam Hai river, dining at the Grande Palace in the evening.
Day 2: Ban Nahin to Mu Gai Pass
After breakfast we head up to the Mui Gai Pass, which was a major entry point for the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) on its way into Laos during the Vietnam War. The more Northerly entry point to the Nape is now a reservoir, and the Trails have gone forever.
As we arrive at the bottom of the Mui Gai Pass we’ll see if we can take the old Trail up to the top. It’s overgrown in the wet season and not always possible. From the top of the Pass you can see the challenge ahead, as we look down the Annamite mountains and some of its great views.
Day 3: Mu Gai Pass – Exploration Day
An early awakening this morning, to enjoy a view of the sunrise and the pass. Then we head off onto the local trail to visit some key villages. This area was a hot spot in the war. It was also the focus of one of the biggest search operations ever mounted in Laos. An operation to rescue a pilot shot down in the Phanop Valley.
From there we’ll ride to visit the caves, where people lived for an incredible nine years to escape the bombing campaign. This whole area was a maze of trails during that time, and some remaining cobblestone paths can still be seen. We won’t cover much distance today, but there will really be a lot to see.
Day 4: Mu Gai to Ban Nongping
We have a fantastic day ahead of us. Our first job is to cross the awesome fords of the Xe Bang Fai River. Depending on the time of year it will definitely get your attention, and sometimes your feet wet. Our destination is the Xe Bangfai River Cave. The cave swallows the river for 7 km, and is the longest river cave in Laos. It is not only 76 mtr wide and 56 mtr high, but also a spectacular piece of wonderment and natural beauty. The cave was used during the war as a link between Vietnam and Laos. We will stay overnight at a homestay in Ban Nongping Village.
Day 5: Ban Nongping – Vilabury
The Trail today is all dirt. Dirt tracks all the way to the Vietnamese border and the Ban Karia Pass; the Ban Laboy Ford also awaits us. A Ford that holds the unenviable record as the most bombed out area in the Indochina War. In spite of that rained destruction, a pristine section of cobblestones still remain up to the Ban Kari Pass. Once done, we will head back on Route 912, which was a key one out of the pass. It’s a great stretch of trail down into Vilabury, and our overnight accommodation in a local guest house.
Day 6: Vilabury to Xepon
Today is an easy ride down to Expon via Muang Phine. Expon is an interesting area, as it houses a museum that honours the Battle of Lam Son 719. The battle was a last ditch attempt by the South Vietnamese Army to try and stop the flow of arms down the Trail, although it didn’t go to plan for them. The afternoon can be spent relaxing a little.
Day 7: Xepon to Expon
Halfway point of the tour and we will explore the Cave Complex west of Xepon. This complex carved through a mountain, is yet another incredible construction created in extreme conditions. After the caves we’ll ride to Phu Tamok, and some fantastic scenery. This mountain was used for fire bases in the Battle of Lam Son 719. It’s quite a climb to the top, with a few steep sections, but the views are well worth the doing of it. From there we’ll go back to last night’s accommodation.
Day 8: Xepon to Salavan
After two days exploring Expon, we’ll take the jungle track down to Ta Oy via Nong. Here we traverse a fast disappearing piece of the Trail which offers some fantastic scenery. As roads are developed, this section of the Trail is also becoming shorter. Some stretches though, still house the cobblestones which proved to be fantastic as all weather roads. On arrival into Ta Oy, we take twisty tarmac roads over the mountains and finish our day in Salavan
Day 9: Salavan to Xekong
Today will mainly be on tarmac. The mountain pass has been upgraded over the years, and makes for a great journey with some wonderful views. On the way down we need to negotiate quirky forest tracks, before arriving in Xekong for our overnight stay. The old ferry here is now redundant as a new bridge spans the river. More Trail gone forever, but its history still remains. We stay overnight in a hotel by the river, where you should enjoy a great sunset.
Day 10: Xekong to Dachung
With a lot of riding behind us, there’s still more to go. We now take the Trail to Dakchung, where some really remote sections await us, as we head into the mountains close to Vietnamese border. This was a busy trail back in the day. Progress though, has seen parts of the Trail now being closed due to hydropower projects. Irrespectively, still some great riding to be had in a countryside nothing short of beautiful. Not too many tourists travel these roads, and for the evening we ride to a rural spot. Overnight accommodation will be in local guest houses.
Day 11: Dakchung to Attapue
After a night in Dakchung we will head back towards Attapue. These trails are being upgraded, so we are back onto the tarmac, stopping off to see a few sights. A SAM missile site reminds us of how active this area was during the Vietnam War, as the Trail got closer to Cambodia, it saw countless action during the war, with much of it still evident. On arrival at Attapue we’ll will dine by the river sampling the locals’ generous hospitality.
On arrival at our hotel in Attapue, we will be greeted by Virginia for an evening dinner. She will then travel with us until Pakse.
Day 12: Attapue to Nong Fa Lake
After breakfast we will head on the Tarmac towards Vietnam. From that surface, we switch to the dirt road up to Nong Fa Lake, where Virginia and Clive had a marriage ceremony in 2005. Nong Fa Lake may have been a stopping of point for soldiers making their way south, as its rumoured they would rest up there before completing their journey. A far cry from that, it is now a natural beauty spot. We will take a ‘packed lunch’ and enjoy the area, before heading down the mountain to our overnight accommodation.
Day 13: Nong Fa Lake to Tad Fane
We will ride the tarmac back to Attapue before heading onto Route 18b. An interesting dirt road before we head north through the forest, and see some stunning waterfalls before arriving at Tad Fane. Tad Fane is a local beauty spot which houses some interesting activities, and has some majestic waterfalls. We will overnight in a homestay on the Bolaven Plateau
Day 14: Tad Fane to Pakse
Our final day in the saddle. It’s also an easy one as we roll into Pakse. Our activity for today will be discovering Wat Phu. Wat Phu is an area of ancient temples spread across, and over, a huge site. At this point you will have covered the Ho Chi Minh Trail from its most Northern entry point, to its most southerly exit point at Cambodia. Along the route you will have seen, and hopefully learnt, much about the Trail, its people and Laos itself.
14 DAY TOUR THE ROAD TO FREEDOM with Virginia & Clive Morris
- Local Guide/Mechanic/Driver
- Third party vehicle insurance
- Travel Permits
- 1 pax: Price on application
- 2 pax $3915.00 Per Person
- 3 Pax $3560.00 Per Person
- 4 Pax $3077.00 Per Person
- 5 Pax $2910.00 Per Person
- 6 Pax $2798.00 Per Person
Lao Adv Tours Reserves the rights to change routes and planning. Weather conditions can change very quickly. All rights reserved.