Day 1: Bangkok to Chiang Mai (Via Ayutthaya)
Be at the Stray Bangkok office at 8:00am to meet your Stray guide. After a brief introductory about how Stray works you depart for Ayutthaya, UNESCO world heritage site. You will arrive mid-morning, with plenty of time to explore the fascinating historical park by bike and enjoy a boat journey through the “Venice of the east”. The group departs from Ayutthaya late evening on the overnight bus.
Accommodation: Overnight bus (price included)
Day 2: Non Travel Day: Arrival in Chiang Mai
Arrive at the Train Station between 8:00 - 11:00am, then make your way by local transport into the city. Chiang Mai is an amazing city with endless activity options. Some of our favourites include a tree top adventure with Flight of the Gibbon, trekking, rafting, cooking classes and for those looking for adrenalin: downhill mountain biking and Muay Thai Boxing training! There's also the famous night market, the Night Safari (Asia's largest) and easy access to Pai village.
Accommodation: Guesthouse located within the historic, old quarter $12-20
Day 3: Non Travel Day: Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is an amazing city with endless activity options. Some of our favourites include a tree top adventure with Flight of the Gibbon, trekking, rafting, elephant riding, cooking classes and for those looking for adrenalin; downhill mountain biking and Muay Thai boxing training! There's also the famous night market, the Night Safari (Asia's largest) and easy access to Pai village.
Day 4: Chiang Mai to Chiang Khong
Enjoy a free morning in Chiang Mai to do another activity, sleep in or get a local massage. You then drive to the border town of Chiang Khong stopping along the way to visit the most magnificent and unique White Temple at Chiang Rai, you can hop off here otherwise we continue on to Chiang Khong where you enjoy your last night in Thailand whilst looking over the Mekong River to Laos.
Accommodation: Guesthouse with views across the Mekong to Laos and a great host to add a special touch $20
Day 5: Chiang Khong to Luang Namtha
In the morning take a short boat trip across the Mekong to Laos and after clearing customs you get the first sight of your mighty orange Stray bus. You will take the very scenic journey through Bokeo province and into the Nam Ha National Protected Area (NPA) in Luang Namtha Province. After a late lunch in Luang Namtha head to the village homestay in the countryside, where you will experience local village lifestyle and eat with your host family.
Accommodation: Village Home Stay, includes sleeping mats, mosquito nets, local meals, village fees and donation $17
Day 6: Luang Namtha to Nong Khiaw
Depart Luang Namtha in the morning and head through Oudomxai Province. Once in picturesque Nong Khiaw, you have the option to learn fishing with the locals, or visit Pha Tok Cave, where some members of the Phathet Lao lived during the ‘secret war’ in the 1960’s. Watch the sunset over the beautiful Karst Mountains and Nam Ou River before dinner and enjoy a competitive game of Laos’ national sport, petanque, with the locals.
Accommodation: Rustic bungalows with basic amenities but A-MAZ-ING views! $8-13
Day 7: Nong Khiaw to Luang Prabang
This morning take a short drive to Ban Pak Ou where you board the boat to cross the Mekong River to visit the Pak Ou Caves. These caves are an ancient pilgrimage site and contain thousands of Buddhist images placed there over many centuries. You will then carry on down river to the UNESCO listed town of Luang Prabang with French colonial architecture, temples, sacred sites and laidback lifestyle. Arriving around midday you have a free afternoon to explore or join an optional tour to the stunningly beautiful Kuang Si Falls.
Accommodation: Guesthouse with fan or air conditioned private rooms close to the night market $12-40
Day 8: Chiang Khong to Pak Beng
At 9:30am depart and take a short boat trip across the Mekong into Laos. After clearing customs hop on a slow boat to Pak Beng (get cash out before leaving Chiang Khong for the next two nights USD $50 or 400,000 Lao KIP will be plenty). Sit back and enjoy the scenery for the rest of the day.
Accommodation: Central hostel $10
Day 9: Pak Beng to Ban Lad Khammune
Depart Pak Beng on the slow boat between 8-9am (need to be ready by 8am at the boat ramp). Cruise along the river to the incredible, off the beaten track stop of Ban Lad Khammune (Ban means village). Climb up the rocks (no boat ramp here!) and get greeted by the local villagers. You are shown to your home for the evening and then have the afternoon free for activities. There is a school built by a Kiwi charitable trust that you can donate textbooks to and/or spend an hour at with the local kids; you can go fishing; or check out bamboo weaving, cotton spinning, whiskey making... Stray have a traditional Lao style group dinner together and at 8pm you’ll take part in a very special ‘Baci’ ceremony.
Accommodation: Remote village homestay $11-13
Day 10: Ban Lad Khammune to Luang Prabang
Depart on a private boat at 8.30am. Stop at the famous Pak Ou Cave with its hundreds of Buddha statues before cruising into the centre of the UNESCO World Heritage city of Luang Prabang. On arrival, take a tour to the famous and impressively high Kuang Si Waterfall, complete with a bear sanctuary.
Highly Recommended: Hop off in Luang Prabang to make the most of this beautiful city. Learn to weave silk or take a course to be an elephant mahout! Go trekking, kayaking and rock climbing or just relax, have a fruit shake and take in the night market. Visit the friendly team in the Stray Luang Prabang shop for any local tips or information.
Accommodation: Large dorm beds in a modern central guesthouse $5 or Guesthouse with fan or air conditioned private rooms close to the night market $20-40.
Day 11: Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng
An early departure travelling through mountainous and steep terrain, you make a number of stops today to take in the incredible views, and still arrive in Vang Vieng in time for those inclined to spend the afternoon and evening tubing and partying.
Other activity options: cycling, kayaking, rock climbing, hot air ballooning, resting and even watching re-runs of The Simpsons.
Accommodation: Guesthouse amongst all the hype, with large rooms. $8-15 or a Hotel on the main street with quiet rooms $23-30
Day 12: Vang Vieng to Vientiane
Today you cruise through to the capital of Laos and take a tour of the City’s main attractions, Putaxai, Pha That Luang, That Dam and the Presidential Palace. Spend the afternoon shopping, getting a massage and exploring.
Accommodation: Hotel with modern facilities including WIFI and breakfast $20
Day 13: Vientiane to Tad Leuk
You have the morning to explore the capital city and the stalls along the banks of the Mekong, get some cash out and buy some comfort food before heading off the beaten track again and into the Phou Khao Khouay NPA. Before heading out of town, stop to visit the COPE centre, which educates and raises awareness of the victims of UXO (Unexploded Ordinance). After stopping at local markets for supplies, you will drive to Tad Leuk, where you camp between the waterfall and jungle and have the opportunity to swim, trek and maybe spot the rare Phu Wah Rock Lizzard found in only 3 places in the world (Tad Leuk is 1 of them and the other 2 are within 100 metres), as well as other wildlife like monkeys, snakes and rare butterflies that roam this rich national protected area.
Accommodation: Tents with mats $8 includes camping equipment and national park fee.
Day 14: Tad Leuk to Kong Lor (7km Cave)
An early departure means you arrive in Kong Lor in time to check into the guesthouse before heading down to the Cave (or Tham Kong Lor to the locals). Head into the abyss of the 7km cave cruising in a traditional motorised canoe to see amazing rock formations. This evening chill out at the friendly guesthouse - with great views, great food and great company
Accommodation: Comfortable guesthouse with spectacular views of the Karst Mountains and just a short 10 minute walk from the cave $10
Day 15: Kong Lor to Thak kek
Today is a short travel day complete with a stop along the way at the “Great Wall of Tha Kek” before heading onto Pha Tam Kam, home of some of South-East Asia’s best rock climbing. You have the afternoon to explore, go slack lining, rock climbing and bike riding before heading back into town.
Highly recommended: Hop off in Thakek to explore local caves and the Khammouane Province
Accommodation: Guesthouse $12
Day 16: Tha Kek to Xe Champhone
This morning head off the beaten track into Xe Champhone wetlands. This area is so remote, occasionally during wet season buses can't access it so Stray have to jump on board an off-road truck. Once here you spend the night with friendly locals in the Monkey forest- a sacred forest, home to hundreds of Rhesus Macaque Monkeys.
Accommodation: Bungalows from modern to rustic in the heart of the village $8, or guesthouse by the river with fan rooms for $9+
Day 17: Xe Champhone to Pakse
Check out the Monkey Home Market in the morning before heading to the 200 year old Hotay Pidok Buddhist library then onto Turtle Lake where you can spot soft-shell turtles. Heading south you stop at Old Wat Taleow (a beautiful temple that was bombed in 1969) and onto Pakse. Spend the afternoon checking out the Bolaven Plateau, the coffee plantations and the 120m high twin waterfalls at Tad Fane.
Accommodation: Guesthouse with fan or air-conditioned rooms in the centre of town surrounded by everything you need $8-10
Day 18: Pakse to Don Det (4000 Islands)
Leave Pakse early to explore the second world heritage area, Wat Phou, an ancient Khmer temple. Before heading to the 4000 Islands to experience the idyllic laid back lifestyle. Arrive around lunchtime giving you plenty of time to cycle across to the neighboring Don Khone Island and visit Li Phi Waterfall or take a boat trip for a chance to see the rare Irrawaddy Dolphins.
Accommodation: Bungalows $5-13+
Day 19: Non Travel Day: Don Det
Explore the amazing Don Det, relax in a hammock in the 4000 Islands, cycle across to the neighboring Don Khone Island and visit Li Phi Waterfall take a boat trip and spot the rare Irrawaddy Dolphins.
Accommodation: Guesthouse $12-15.
Day 20: Don Det to Kratie
This morning you will leave Don Det early and join the public bus for your journey from Laos to Cambodia. A drive of 30-45 minutes will bring you to the Don Kralor border where you will complete immigration procedures and then continue the journey into Cambodia, following the course of the mighty Mekong River. Arriving in Kratie mid afternoon you will have a chance to freshen up. You’ll then meet your tour leader for an optional motorbike ride and to watch the sunset over the Mekong River.
Accommodation: Guesthouse $12-15.
Day 21: Kratie - Phnom Penh
Leaving Kratie you will head for the bustling national capital of Phnom Penh. Along the way you will have the opportunity to sample a favourite Cambodian snack fried spider, at the town of Skon, where these spiders are bred for human consumption. Once you have settled into the guesthouse in Phnom Penh you have a free afternoon to explore the capital, visiting the Royal Palace & Silver Pagoda, Wat Phnom and the Russian Market, or just stroll along the waterfront and mix with the locals as the sun sets over the Mekong and Tonle Sap Rivers.
Accommodation: Guesthouse $20
Day 22: Phnom Penh - Koh Tunsay Island
After a morning visit to the infamous Khmer Rouge S21 prison and Killing Fields (included) head for the Cambodian coast passing through the river town of Kampot, famous for it’s pepper and salt farms and delicious seafood. From Kampot head to the old french resort town of Kep where you board traditional Khmer wooden fishing boats for the 30 minute voyage to Stray’s island sanctuary of Koh Tunsay. On arrival you will be free to explore the island or just relax on the beach.
Accommodation: Bungalows $25
Day 23: Koh Tunsay Island - Kampot
A short drive takes you back to the town of Kampot where you will have the day to visit the pepper and salt farms, do some cycling or trekking in Bokor National Park or take a sunset cruise up the river.
Accommodation: Guesthouse $6-15
Day 24: Kampot - Battambang (homestay)
Today you head to Battembang. Along the way you will visit the 18th century Khmer stronghold of Udong, where you can hike to the mountaintop pagoda or just relax in a hammock and enjoy a local Khmer BBQ. Continuing on you pass through Kompong Chhnang to the homestay. There you’ll get a taste of local family and community village life with seasonal farming, fishing activities, temple gatherings and festivals.
Accommodation: Homestay in local village including meals $18
Day 25: Battambang - Siem Reap
After breakfast with your homestay family we drive into Battambang where you take a ride on the Bamboo Train (included) and visit the MAG (Mine Action Group) Centre, an organization involved in the removal of UXO (unexploded ordinance) from Cambodia, before an early lunch and afternoon drive to Siem Reap.
Accommodation: Guesthouse $8-20.
Siem Reap to Bangkok or HCMC
This morning you board your public bus to either Bangkok or HCMC. If you are traveling to Bangkok you will drive to the border town of Poipet where you will process through Thai immigration and change buses for the drive to Bangkok, arriving at approximately 8pm. Alternatively if you are travelling to HCMC you will drive to Phnom Penh first where you can overnight or carry on straight through to HCMC via the Moc Bai border.