Day 1: The coast road ( Hoi An to Hue )
We drive the coast road along China Beach, stopping for drinks by the beach before heading up and over the Hai Van Pass, the highest point on Highway 1. We ride on big open windy roads where traffic is rare, enjoying some of the most scenic landscapes in Vietnam. We stop at Lang Co beach for a seafood lunch and continue along the coast through small fishing communities before arriving in the historic capital of Hue. Dinner is a unique experience dining on the famous specialties of Hue cuisine.
( Accommodation: Hotel*** )
Day 2: Historic Hue
With a full day in Hue, the former imperial capital of Vietnam, we take time to find the best this historic city has to offer. Our motorbike tour takes in the citadel and royal tombs while snaking through the back streets of Hue.
A delicious vegetarian lunch prepared by Buddhist nuns is served at a local pagoda. After lunch we experience the rural surrounds of Hue, stopping to see traditional handicrafts being made as well as visiting some US war sites.
(Accommodation: Hotel ***)
Day 3: Tunnels and trails ( Hue to Phong Nha )
After an early start, we take small country roads up the coast. Crossing the former border between North and South Vietnam at the 17th parallel, we arrive at the Vinh Moc tunnels, where an entire village went underground in the 1960s to survive the bombing. After exploring the tunnels, we head to a local beach where you can cool off with a swim followed by lunch. We then head away from the coast on the eastern branch of the Ho Chi Minh Highway to Phong Nha-Khe Bang national park.
Tonight’s accommodation is in a newly built family-run farm-stay retreat where you can talk freely to the locals about their wartime experiences.
( Accommodation: Farm stay retreat*** )
Day 4: Phong Nha adventure
Awake to the sounds of rural Vietnam. With a day free to explore Phong Nha national park, we take a morning boat ride into the magnificent Phong Nha limestone cave, the second-longest wet limestone caves in the world, followed by a local lunch and an afternoon of tubing, kayaking or trekking through this amazing old-growth rainforest.
( Accommodation: Farm stay retreat *** )
Day 5: Ho Chi Minh Trail ( Phong Nha to Khe Sanh )
Today’s ride is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Obtaining special military permission, we are able to drive the remote western branch of the Ho Chi Minh Highway through majestic limestone karst and spectacular old-growth jungle. Be amazed at the tenacity of the Vietnamese people during the US war, as this road follows the original HCM Trail through some of the most rugged terrain on Earth.
Arriving in Khe Sanh, we visit the site of the former marine combat base, capping off an amazing day of riding and history.
( Accommodation: Hotel*** )
Day 6: Hill tribe country ( Khe Sanh to Prao via A Luoi )
Leaving Khe Sanh early, we cross the Cuban-built Da Krong bridge, where the stilt houses of hill tribes still line the road. After climbing up to the A Shau valley, where Colin Powell was injured by a punji stick during the war. After a picnic lunch at the foothills of Hamburger Hill, we continue along one of the more remote stretches of the HCM Highway to the ethnic minority town of Prao. A local dinner is an experience in itself.
( Accommodation: Small hotel/guesthouse )
Day 7: Prao to Hoi An ( Or Hue city )
We take a small road out of Prao, passing ethnic tribes and stopping to swim and explore the villages as we descend from the mountains. Once in the delta, we follow our famous country laneway route into Hoi An, completing a seven-day grand loop of central Vietnam.
The Grand World Heritage Loop