Traveling the Ho Chi Minh Trail?

Mar 15, 2003
I just finished reading the book listed below. It covers areas that many of us have traveled and probably were not aware that we were actually on part of Ho Chi Minh Trail. The trail was not a single route as many believe but a web of what were ever changing routes and diversions mostly through Laos.

The book is well worth reading and especially interesting to those "tracking" some of the historical areas in southern Laos. The authors made their trip in 2004, about the same time Davidfl and I were doing our "Laos Expedition" so the information is fairly current and I assume accurate.

A History of the Ho Chi Minh Trail:
The Road to Freedom
by Virginia Morris with Clive Hills
2006. 196 pp., 107 colour, 24 b&w illustrations, 11 maps, index, 24.5 x 17.5 cm., hardcover.

ISBN-10 974-524-076-1 $29.95 (I got mine for $19.95 in the U.S.)
ISBN-13 978-974-524-076-6

The Ho Chi Minh Trail was a decisive factor in the defeat of American forces in the Vietnam War. At the peak of its 16 years' operation, the Trail ran through North and South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Despite an estimated 4 million tons of US bombs, efforts to stop the transport of essential goods to the North Vietnamese Army over the Trail failed, and by the end of the war over a million tons of supplies had been transported and 2 million troops had traversed the Trail.
At its peak there were 120,000 people working on the Trail. Throughout the war around 20,000 died, some 30,000 were seriously injured; the numbers of people affected by chemical spraying and unexploded bombs are still unrecorded.
The author and photographer, the first Westerners to traverse the entire length of the Trail, trace the footsteps of the hundreds of thousands who designed, built, used and fought along it. Interviewing villagers along the Trail, as well as key military and political figures on both sides of the conflict, including the mastermind of the trail, Vietnam's General Vo Nguyen Giap, A Road to Freedom presents a balanced and fascinating account of this most remarkable feat of engineering and tactical warfare of the Vietnam War era.

It's available through in Thailand and in the U.S. Also Amazon UK. There are some discounts available on the Amazon sites.


Mar 5, 2006
I would agree with you, it is the single most comprehensive account I know available.
Their account is made all the more interesting by their own trek along the trail.
The only caveat I would have, is that they do take a partisan subjective p.o.v. imbued with a rouge tinte.
But Vietnam, like the GWOT today, had a polarising effect on so many.
If you have any interest in the HCM, then this a must, especially if you are riding it.
You may also want to check out the April edition of US magazine "MOTORCYCLIST",
where Hanoi based Digby takes a trip down the HCM.
He writes about visiting a secret US airbase, "what was once the second busiest airport in the world".
He does not say if this was Long Chieng; but I understood it to be an impossibility.
Mar 15, 2003
I wholeheartedly agree with your comment about "subjective p.o.v.". I also felt it very much anti-American but I didn't comment in my original post because I didn't want to get a whole topic going about that.

It does give some great ideas of where to go exploring in S.Laos. I would also be interested in Digby's trip if I can find a copy.