LEGENDARY OF HO CHI MINH TRAIL
The Ho Chi Minh Trail was a network of roads built from North Vietnam to South Vietnam through the neighboring countries of Laos and Cambodia, to provide logistical support to the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese Army during the Vietnam War. It was a combination of truck routes and paths for foot and bicycle traffic. The trail was actually a 16,000-kilometer (9,940-mile) web of tracks, roads and waterways.
The Vietnam People’s Army had decided to build a secret road system to carry war supplies to the south. The network, initially coded 559, eventually became known as the Ho Chi Minh Trail. It was on one of Ho’s birthdays, May 9, 1959, that the trail’s construction began with the establishment of Military Transport Division 559, comprising 440 young men and women. Over the next 16 years the trail carried more than one million North Vietnamese soldiers and vast quantities of supplies to battlefields in South Vietnam — despite ferocious American air strikes.
The name, taken from North Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh, is of American origin. Within Vietnam, it is called the Ðuong Truong Son, or Truong Son Road, after the mountain range in Central Vietnam. Another name given the trail is “The Blood Road.” If relentless American bombing didn’t get him, it would take a North Vietnamese soldier as many as six months to make the grueling trek through jungle down the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
At least 10 percent of the casualties along the trail were from such illnesses as malaria. At regular intervals along the route, the National Liberation Front (NLF) built base camps. As well as providing a place for them to rest, the base camps provided medical treatment for those who had been injured or had fallen ill on the journey. Most of the base camps were underground.
Excavated by hand, intricate interconnecting tunnels with concealed entrances hid trail trekkers, often directly under the feet of American troops searching for them. Radio and telecommunications facilities, food and weapons caches, medical aid stations and barracks, all underground, hid thousands of the North Vietnamese at any given time during the war. The trail system was vastly improved. Even as more people used the trail, the trek was reduced to six weeks for a fit soldier.
The North Vietnamese also used the Ho Chi Minh Trail to send soldiers to the south. At times, as many as 20,000 soldiers a month came from Hanoi by this way. In an attempt to stop this traffic, it was suggested that a barrier of barbed wire and minefields, called the McNamara Line, should be built. The plan was abandoned in 1967 after repeated attacks by the NLF on those involved in constructing the barrier.
The United States could not block the Ho Chi Minh Trail with ground forces, because the countries it passed through were officially neutral. Extensive aerial bombing did not prevent the North Vietnamese from moving hundreds of tons of war supplies per day down the Ho Chi Minh Trail to the south. The trail undeniably lay at the heart of the war. For the Vietnamese of the North the Ho Chi Minh Trail symbolized the aspirations of a people — hiking it became the central experience of a generation.
On November 11, 1968, Operation Commando Hunt was initiated by the U.S. and its allies. The goal of the operation was to interdict men and supplies on the Ho Chi Minh trail, through Laos into South Vietnam. By the end of the operation, three million tons of bombs were dropped on Laos, which slowed but did not consistently disrupt trail operations
BIKE TOURS VIA THE TRAIL – A TASTE OF ADVENTURE, A TASTE OF HISTORIC TRAIL
This trip offers a stunning motorcycling route with great exploration of nature , culture and history of Vietnam. Although it’s not the original trail but relatively new highway which was completed in 2002, there are plenty reminders of combat with long forgotten American airports, Communist cemeteries and war monuments. Despite the images of war, a journey along this road, as it winds along the Truong Son Mountains, is one of immense beauty, with a diverse population of ethnic minorities and a varied landscape: farm land and bucolic emerald fields; soft, swelling hills; ruddy, rolling rivers; hardwood rain forests, waterfalls, miles of rice paddy, cornfields, black pepper farms, rubber tree forests, and coffee plantations.
FRG has plenty of itineraries to hit this trail, some available we’ve already listed on out website.
DA LAT- HO CHI MINH TRAIL – HOI AN OR IN REVERSE ORDER
SAI GON- HO CHI MIH TRAIL – HANOI OR IN REVERSE ORDER
DA LAT- HO CHI MINH TRAIL – MUI NE OR IN REVERSE ORDER
NOTE: These are just examples tours throughout the trail you can pick and choose your destination once you arrive in Vietnam, or arrange them with us prior to your trip. Feel free to discuss it with FRG. We will be happy to provide you with further information about places you would like to visit, or we can provide you the our email contact before leaving home, so that you can discuss your route and options. Once you book the tours with FRG, we will free pick you up wherever you are in Vietnam.