Tales From The Ho Chi Minh Trail-Disappearing Trails-Route 23

Route 23: Savannakhet Tad Hay Bridge.


Location: N16° 16.760′ E105° 57.534′ The Red Princes Bridge.


Over the Xe Bang Heing River, this bridge was built in 1942 and designed by Souphanouvong who became the first President of Lao PDR in 1975. It was destroyed by the American bombing in 1967.

Route 23 (1G)
Area of route 23, marked the 1G

South West of Expon lays to small town of Muang Phine, route 23 is to the south of Phine, it takes you as far as Salavan, or as far North to Phine depending which way you traverse it, this is written North to South. It was a well used trail by the NVA, the blown up bridges lay testament to the Ariel bombardment that went on above. If you look, you will see many other bridge columns near river crossings.

Tad Hay Bridge

Is the first big river crossing, the old bridge lays in ruins, ferry’s take the vehicles and people across. The new bridge is being built as I write this.

Rad Hay Bridge
The ruins of the bombed bridge. From the south bank.
Tad Hay Bridge from the north bank.
Ruins of the bridge
Tad Hay Bridge
The North bank view of the blown bridge.
Tad Hay Bridge
Locals crossing the river, bridge in the is in background.
Work is underway on the new bridge.

The last few years has seen a lot of work taking place, firstly with new bridges being built, and more recently the trail has been shortened, it’s been graded but the central part is still pretty intact, but it’s only a matter of time before the whole trail will be turned into a  graded road, eventually paved I guess. The central part was thick forest, sandy in places with some rather strange rock formations, great place to explore.

Route 23
The old trail was a bit rough, Jim found out the hard way.
Dirt Bikes on Route 23 Ho Chi Minh Trail
Ho Chi Minh Trail Route 23, straightened out and graded.
River Crossing in the dry season
Slippery rocks make for a tense crossing
Riding through the forest
The cobblestone road was still visible. 2013
Route 23 Ho Chi Minh Trail
The old cobblestone road

Then its onto the second Bridge…

Blown Bridge
The Ruins of a blown bridge on the ho chi minh trail, name unknown.
This route was a very busy one, it’s easy to imagine the NVA using the bridges.
Blown Bridge
The Colum of the bridge still stands, battle scarred
Blown Bridge Route 23
The North end of the bridge still standing.
Route 23 Bridges

Shortly after this bridge you will hit the main road, if your going further south. There are many trails in this area, some are quiet challenging, other easy, but great riding to be had in this whole area. Route 23 will all be gone in a few years time.


Enjoy this post? Find the rest of our Ho Chi Minh Trail Tales here. Interested in riding in Laos, but looking for  more adventure and in different areas of Laos, Check out our Laos ADV Tours page.

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