Ho Chi Minh trail is about 3,167 km long and also the 2nd road built for vehicles running from North to South Vietnam. This route is built based on upgrading and expanding several provincial and national highways, and rebuilding some parts of them as well.
Therefore, The trail will be through 30 provinces and cities nationwide, with a total length of 3,167 km (main route is 2.667 km in length, western branch is 500 km in length). The width of the road consists of from 2 to 8 lanes depending on its terrain.
The main route of the trail will be through following locations: Pac Bo, Cao Bang town, Bac Kan town, Cho Moi, Bac Kan, Cho Chu, Muong mountain pass, Trung Son fork, Thinh Phu fork, Binh Ca bridge (Lo river), Km124 + 500 Highway 2, Phu Ho fork, Phu Tho town, Ngoc Thap bridge (Red river), Co Tiet, Trung Ha bridge, Son Tay town, Hoa Lac , Xuan Mai, Ben market, Kho Hamlet, Ngoc Lac, Lam La, Thai Hoa Town, Tan Ky, Khe Co, Chau Pho, Vu Quang, Tan Hamlet, Khe, Bung, Cam Lo, Tuan bridge, Khe Tre, De Bay mountain pass, Mui Trau moutain pass, Tuy Loan, Hoa Khuong, Thanh My, Lo Xo mountain pass, Ngoc Hoi, Kon Tum, Pleiku city, Buon Ma Thuot city, Gia Nghia, Chon Thanh, Binh Phuoc intersection, Duc Hue, Thanh Hoa, Tan Thanh, My An, Cao Lanh city, Cao Lanh bridge(Tien river), Vam Cong bridge (Hau river), Rach Soi, Minh Luong, Go Quao, Vinh Thuan, Ca Mau city, Dam Cung bridge, Nam Can, Dat Mui.
The western route will be through locations of: Khe Gat, U Bo mountain pass, Tang Ky, Monkey Bridge, Sen But, Khe Sanh, Dak Rong, Pe Ke mountain pass, A Luoi, A Dot, A Tep, Hien, Thanh My.
This route is beautiful, interesting and very impressive. However, before moving on this road, it is necessary to note that most roads’ surface are very good and not crowed; nevertheless; some sections may be landslide when it rains.
1. The not good section is from Khe Gat –Thanh My (Nam Giang District – Quang Nam)
There are a lot of mountain passes and slopes when moving on this road, due to small radius of curvature, large vertical slope (10% and over) so it is dangerous if drivers have less experience and visitors who are easily carsick will be tired.
The Ministry of Transport currently uses this section only for reducing traffic load in special circumstances (it is not recommended to go this way). The road section from Khe Gat – Cam Lo – QL9 – Dong Ha – Quang Tri – 1A National highway- Hue – Hai Van Tunnel, along to Tuy Loan – QL14B – Thanh My (Nam Giang – Quang Nam) ( the section from Tuy Loan to Thanh My on National highway 14 is also belonged to HCM trail)
2. Thanh My – Kontum from the boundary of Quang Nam province to Dakglei town (Kon Tum) is very hard to pass (Lo Xo mountain pass).
3. While traveling, you should pay attention to the warning signs “The road has frequently accidents”, “the steep pass route …”, or the sign painted one car “kissing” to behind of another former car posted in the position where accident frequently happened. Many positions look safe but a lot of accidents happened there, so you should be more careful.
4. Generally, each distance of 60km, there will have a town (district center) along the route, with crowed people and restaurants. However, in somewhere along this road, there are any house in the distance of hundreds of kilometers
When moving in the rainy season, you should pay attention to avoid heavy rains, tropical depressions, storms and floods due to easily landslide land and traffic jam; if not, you contact the Transport Management Department of Road Management Zone II, IV, V (number of Road Management Zone is 5).
It is necessary to prepare car carefully and spare tire because of less people moving on that road, less repairing station, even several are very far from national highway 1. In some sections, you should even prepare preventive gasoline.
Bringing GPS together (cellphone or alone GPS with you, a lot of cellphones now have had GPS already, should use Android). While being on HCM trail, it is necessary to know where you are, what the coming positions to estimate the distance, accommodation. The roads are very secluded, so quite difficult to ask for directions; even if you ask the locals, they also do not know since they rarely go far from their houses.
The road from Khe Gat to Lao Bao is 220km, having two ways: the Eastern way is very beautiful, the Western way is the old Ho Chi Minh highway, through the ancient jungle, to have great scenery, but very few people come to travel – the distance of 220km has only one exit entrance. This road crosses the famous mountain pass of U Bo, also is the boundary of Eastern Truong Son/Western Truong Son – location in the poem of Pham Tien Duat. If you want to go this way, you must ask there is landslide happened in advance.
– The road from Thanh My to A Luoi is winding, has nearly 200km consecutively steep slope; there was hardly flat 100m- distance, this is quite difficult to go – so need experience of moving on mountain pass (this road section is very great!).
– Do not run too fast even the road is deserted: cattle can be on way suddenly or some wandering ethnic people.
Note: “Shooting” Speed limit, crossing bar of lane in Thanh Hoa, Quang Binh, Daklak, Kom Tum. The special feature of Central Highland provinces is that the city, the town….are always located at the foot of slopes. When going out of them, people usually run as fast as they can because they think it is over boundary… so it is not only cost money but also complicated.
If coming along your family, you should bring simple kitchen utensils since self-cooking is more fun. Remember bringing medicines for conventional diseases such as abdominal pain, headache, and bandages …
In the whole of Truong Son road, the hardest, toughest, the most marvelous, most drastic position, most sacrificed and made the greatest achievements is the group of border gate beyond Truong Son in the west of Quang Binh namely 12, 20, 10, 16, 18 which all starts from the former 15A road (Eastern branch of the trail today), Quang Binh province.
The popular landscapes such as Khe Ve, Ngam Rinh, Xuan Son ferry, Long Dai ferry (road No 15), Bai Dinh, La Trong, Cong Troi (road 12A), Tra Ang, A-shape bend, Ngam Ta Le, Phu La Nhich mountain pass (Road 20) …are famous place for fierce struggle in the entire route, in particular, group A.T.P is the most important.
Today, the tourism route of “Ho Chi Minh trail – the myth trail” is increasingly becoming an attractive tour, connecting the past with the present and future.