Day 1 : Bangkok
Welcome to Stray! Your adventure kicks off in the buzzing Asian metropolis of Bangkok, Thailand. If you arrive early in the day, feel free to check out the vibrant markets and ancient temples that make up only a small side of this multifaceted city. Be at our Stray Shop at 3pm to meet your Tour Leader and your new travel mates for a Welcome Meeting introduction. We’ll cover how Stray works and answer any questions you have before heading to the train station to board the overnight train to Chiang Mai. The overnight sleeper train is an experience within itself for those who have never been on one before, complete with lie flat beds and a restaurant carriage. It’s the most fun way to travel to Chiang Mai and get to know your new travel mates! Accommodation included: Overnight sleeper train to Chiang Mai Activity included: Welcome Meeting with Stray Tour Leader and group
Day 2 : Arrival in Chiang Mai
We arrive into Chiang Mai train station around midmorning. As the largest city in Northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is a popular place to hop off for many travellers and an amazing city full of endless activity options, such as Thai cooking classes, bike tours or Muay Thai kickboxing to name a few. Once a kingdom unto itself, there are over 300 Buddhist temples to discover and it is worth visiting the old walled city to see the Tapae Gate. In the evening, don’t miss browsing the famous night market to score a bargain or you can check out the lively music scene. Accommodation included: Guesthouse close to the city centre
Day 3 : Chiang Mai
Seize the day by exploring this historically rich city or venturing outside the city to discover the natural beauty of northern Thailand. Chiang Mai is the perfect base for some of Thailand’s best guided hikes and treks, as well as the top spot for adventure activities like mountain biking, abseiling and whitewater rafting. Tonight, enjoy dinner at one of the many great restaurants, then take in a ladyboy show, Muay Thai boxing or head out for a few drinks with friends. Accommodation included: Guesthouse close to the city centre Meals included: Breakfast Optional paid activities: Elephant Nature Park, Thai cooking course, Muay Thai boxing, bike tour, trekking, kayaking, mountain biking, whitewater rafting, abseiling.
Day 4 : Chiang Mai to Houay Xai
This morning we depart Chiang Mai to head for the Thailand-Laos border. We’ll make a stop near Chiang Rai to check out the famous and intriguing White Temple (Wat Rong Khun). Wat Rong is a unique modern Buddhist temple that features some curious statues and murals that include images from Star Wars and The Matrix, Freddie Kruger’s head hanging in the trees and a giant Predator emerging from the garden. We stop here long enough to grab a snack, stretch our legs and take a few photos before we continue on to cross the border into Laos. Once in Laos we take a short tuk-tuk ride to the small town of Houay Xai, our stop for the night. Accommodation included: Guesthouse with views across the Mekong River Meals included: Breakfast Activity included: White Temple (Wat Rong Khun) Optional Paid Activities: Visit an ethnic lantern village near Chiang Rai, (must hop off).
Day 5 : Houay Xai to Mekong River Homestay
Leaving Houay Xai you’ll board our private slow boat to cruise down the Mekong River to the secluded village that will host you for an overnight homestay experience. Sit back and soak up this incredible journey as you wind your way through lush farmland, thriving jungle and rugged mountain scenery, drifting past water buffalo, locals fishing, and kids splashing in the shallows. We arrive in the village in the late afternoon. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to become immersed in Lao culture, where you will get a taste of traditional Lao village life by staying with a family in their home and experience a special Baci (welcoming) Ceremony, a true highlight of the trip. Accommodation included: Remote village homestay along the Mekong River Meals included: Dinner Activities included: Private slow boat cruise, village orientation walk, play a game of football with the kids, go fishing, traditional Baci Ceremony, try the local whiskey
Day 6 : Mekong River Homestay to Luang Prabang
We wave goodbye to the village and jump back aboard our private boat to head downriver to the famous limestone Pak Ou Caves. Pak Ou is an important pilgrimage site for Lao people, and here you will see thousands of Buddhist images that have been placed throughout the caves over hundreds of years. Back on board our boat a short trip takes us to the UNESCO World Heritage town, Luang Prabang. Luang Prabang has an old world feel that gives you the sense you’ve stepped back in time into a picturesque postcard setting. The fusion of French Colonial architecture with traditional Lao design set against a backdrop of misty mountains and lush green jungle makes this a truly majestic place. Accommodation included: Guesthouse with fan or AC private rooms close to night market Meals included: Breakfast Activity included: Pak Ou Caves
Day 7 : Luang Prabang
Today you’ll visit the beautiful Kuang Si Waterfalls, where the turquoise water and calm pools offer the perfect chance to cool off. The lower pools are especially perfect for a refreshing swim. If you’re feeling fit, climb up to the very top of the falls to take in the view from the above. At the base of the falls, you’ll also find a rescue centre for the native Asiatic moon bears where you can watch them happily living in a safe environment. If you’re planning to hop off the bus, Luang Prabang is a great place to do so, with options to discover rural villages by cycling or trekking the area, take a traditional Lao cooking class, kayak the Mekong River, shop at the night market or, for culture buffs, visit one of the many beautiful temples. Accommodation included: Guesthouse with fan or AC private rooms close to night market Meals included: Breakfast Activities included: Kuang Si waterfall tour Optional Paid Activities: Rice Experience, cycling, trekking, traditional cooking class, kayak the river.
Day 8 : Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng
It’s an early start as we head south through mountainous terrain on one of the most scenic journeys you’ll experience on the Laos travel route. Travel past hill-tribe villages, vast green valleys and rolling hills. Our journey today takes us to the little riverside town Vang Vieng, formerly known as the best place to take tubing trips down the Nam Song River to visit riverside bars and indulge in cheap booze. These days you can still go tubing, but now you get to enjoy the beauty of Vang Vieng's landscape without the sound of pounding bass in the background. Accommodation included: Family run guesthouse in the centre of the action Meals included: Breakfast
Day 9 : Vang Vieng
With its stunning natural scenery, Vang Vieng offers ample outdoor activities to choose from. We recommend hiring a bike to explore the town and visiting the Blue Lagoon, one of the best natural swimming holes in Laos. There are also great rock climbing and kayaking options. The fun doesn’t stop after an adventure filled day either! This evening check out one of several international restaurants for a taste of home or head to one of the bars to really get the party started. Accommodation included: Family run guesthouse in the centre of the action Optional paid activities: River tubing, cycling, kayaking, rock climbing, caving, visit the Blue Lagoon.
Day 10 : Vang Vieng to Vientiane
Today we cruise through to the capital of Laos. On arrival in Vientiane your Tour Leader will point out the city’s main attractions, including Putaxai, Pha That Luang, That Dam, the Presidential Palace, and the COPE centre – a non-profit organisation that educates visitors and raises awareness for victims of UXO (Unexploded Ordinance) and the Secret War. After check-in at our centrally located accommodation, you are free to explore the city, get a massage, go shopping or people watch at one of the local restaurants by the river. Accommodation included: Modern hotel Activity included: City highlights with your Tour Leader, COPE centre
Day 11 : Vientiane to Kong Lor
An early escape this morning takes us away from the crowds and south to Kong Lor in the Phu Hin Bun National Park. About an hour into the journey we visit Wat Prabat Phonsone, the ‘Buddha’s Footprint,’ a popular and important pilgrimage site for local communities. Arriving in remote Kong Lor with the afternoon sun, you’ll feel a sense of peace as you drive through the sleepy rural villages lined with crop fields and rice paddies and surrounded by stunning limestone karst mountains. Relax after the drive by popping down to the river for an afternoon swim, swinging in a hammock at your accommodation or sampling a delicious Lao meal at one of the little restaurants in the village. Accommodation included: Comfortable garden view bungalows with spectacular views and a short drive from the cave Activity included: Wat Prabat Phonsone
Day 12 : Kong Lor to Savannakhet
We’ll break up the drive today by stopping in the small town of Thakhek, where there’s time to grab some lunch before we continue south. Before arriving in Savannakhet, we’ll stop to visit the Buddhist holy site Wat Ing Hang, reportedly built in the 16th century to honour Buddha’s visit to the area and housing one of Buddha’s bones. Set on the Mekong River as a border town with neighbouring Thailand, Savannakhet historically served as a key transit and trading post and is now the largest town in Southern Laos. The best things to do are wander along the waterfront and check out the fossil collection at the odd but intriguing Dinosaur Museum, then settle in a nice riverside restaurant for dinner. Accommodation included: Comfortable hotel Activity included: Wat Ing Hang
Day 13 : Savannakhet to Pakse
Driving south this morning we head first for Pakse, then carry on to explore the refreshingly cool climate of the Bolaven Plateau. The Plateau features a lush green landscape, fertile coffee and tea plantations, and many spectacular waterfalls, including the stunning Tad Ngeuang Waterfall where you can go for a swim. Pakse sits where the mighty Mekong River and Se Don River meet, so take advantage of the many restaurants along the riverfront for a meal served up with unbeatable river views. Accommodation included: Guesthouse in centre of town Activity included: Tad Ngeuang waterfall
Day 14 : Pakse to Don Det (4000 Islands)
From Pakse, we’ll carry on south to the backpacker mecca of Si Phan Don, otherwise known as the 4000 Islands. Here you can experience the laidback lifestyle and impressive natural beauty of Laos’s landlocked islands. The island of Don Det serves as a great base to hire a kayak or tube for floating down the river, taking a boat trip to spot rare Irrawaddy dolphins, cycling across to the neighbouring Don Khone Island to discover the remnants of the only steam engine railway in Laos, and marvelling at the thunderous Li Phi waterfall. Accommodation included: Rustic style guesthouse Optional paid activities: Bicycle or tube hire, boat trip to spot Irrawaddy dolphins, fishing
Day 15 : Don Det to Siem Reap (Express Day)
Say goodbye to Laos – it’s an early start for the journey into Cambodia. A short drive will bring you to the Don Kralor Border where you will complete the immigration process and continue into Cambodia. Today your destination is the small, but vibrant city of Siem Reap, best known as home to the UNESCO World Heritage listed Angkor Temple complex. Arriving in Siem Reap in the late evening there will be time to freshen up before dinner and drinks with your group along the iconic Pub Street. Accommodation included: Guesthouse in the centre of town
Day 16 : Siem Reap
After your first night on Pub Street, you’ll probably enjoy a free day to sleep in and relax at your accommodation. If you’re up for it, get out and explore more of the downtown area, which tends to be a bit quieter during the day when most visitors are out at the temple complex. You’ll find the heart of the city fairly easy to navigate by foot or bicycle. Finish the day by sampling traditional Khmer food and visiting the Angkor Night Market that’s open every night. Accommodation included: Guesthouse in the centre of town Optional Paid Activities: Angkor Night Market
Day 17 : Siem Reap to Battambang (Homestay)
Today you depart Siem Reap early enough to arrive in Battambang for a late lunch. After lunch, we’ll visit a whiskey making village and learn about the local tipple, before checking out a village where they make a staple (but smelly) ingredient in most Khmer and Southeast Asian cuisine - fish sauce! Tonight, we’ll stay in another little village, outside of Battambang, located in the picturesque countryside. You’ll stay in a Cambodian family’s home, experiencing rural community life. You can wander through the village and nearby rice paddies and finish the day by enjoying a delicious traditional meal with your host family. Accommodation included: Homestay in a Cambodian family’s home Meals included: Dinner Activities included: Whiskey making village, Paa Hok (fish sauce) making village
Day 18 : Battambang to Siem Reap
After waving goodbye to your hosts we’ll head into the city of Battambang. Despite being the second largest city in Cambodia, Battambang manages to avoid an overly touristy vibe, allowing you to experience a more local side of urban Cambodian life. Wander through the central market alongside the river and grab a coffee at one of the cafes. On the way back to Siem Reap we’ll stop to take a ride on the Bamboo Train, a rail system that was built by the French and destroyed by the Khmer Rouge, but is still used by the locals as a simple form of transport. Tonight’s activity is up to you, but we recommend finishing the day with the unforgettably unique Phare Circus, a locally run non-profit troupe that provides disadvantaged young people from the community with a place to learn the skills needed to earn their livings as professional performing artists. Accommodation included: Guesthouse in the centre of town Meals included: Breakfast Activity included: Bamboo Train Optional paid activity: Phare Circus
Day 19 : Siem Reap
No trip to Siem Reap is complete without a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Angkor temples, a crucial part of the Cambodian national identity and one of the world’s most iconic landmarks. Ranked at the top of many ultimate travel bucket lists (including Lonely Planet’s), this awe-inspiring architectural wonder is the largest temple complex in the world. Embrace your inner Tomb Raider as you spend the whole day on a guided tour that will take you to highlight sites including the famous Angkor Wat and Ta Prohm. Accommodation included: Guesthouse in the centre of town Activity included: Full day Angkor temple tour Meals included: Lunch
Day 20 : Siem Reap to Phnom Penh
Next up, we head for the bustling Cambodian capital Phnom Penh. With an edgy blend of harrowing history and modern development, Phnom Penh is incredibly important place for a number of political, economic and cultural reasons. You’re free this afternoon to get your first taste of this energizing capital city. Set out to explore the Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda and Wat Phnom, take a river cruise, shop for souvenirs at the huge Russian Market or see a living art performance at the National Museum. Accommodation included: Guesthouse near the main tourist area Optional Paid Activities: Learn a Cambodian art at Backstreet Academy, half day cycling trip, river boat cruise, city tour, Royal Palace & Silver Pagoda tour, Russian Market, National Museum.
Day 21 : Phnom Penh to Kampot
Today, Cambodia’s history is bought to life with a tour of two of the most infamous attractions: the Khmer Rouge’s Killing Fields and the Tuol Sleng S21 Prison. While it is a very sobering experience to learn more about the country’s harsh recent history and the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge, these are among the most recommended things to do in Phnom Penh. Afterwards, an afternoon drive brings us to the little riverside town of Kampot, where we’ll go on a relaxing sunset boat cruise on the Kampot River. Reflect on your day while absorbing the spectacular views of Bokor National Park and the Elephant Mountain as the sun sets over the calm waters. Accommodation included: Guesthouse with private rooms Activity included: Killing Fields, S21 Prison, sunset river cruise
Day 22 : Kampot
You have a full free day to explore quaint Kampot. Visit the fascinating salt and pepper farms, go cycling or trek in the Bokor National Park or take a day trip to nearby Koh Tunsay (Rabbit Island) for some beach time. Tonight, we recommend sampling the exceptional regional seafood dishes at one of the many restaurants on the riverfront –the fried shrimp with green pepper corns is an absolute must try! Accommodation included: Guesthouse with private rooms Optional Paid Activities: Tour of the pepper & salt farms, bicycle hire, day trip to Koh Tunsay.
Day 23 : Kampot to Phnom Penh
After a relaxing morning in Kampot, we return to Phnom Penh, where you’ll have the evening free. For something different, why not join the locals at dusk for an aerobic workout along the riverfront. Here you’ll find local ladies garbed in Western-style pyjamas, getting their groove on to Khmer techno music in order to burn a few calories. It may not be your most coordinated moment but will be good for a giggle (even if you’re just laughing at yourself)! Accommodation included: Guesthouse near the main tourist area Optional Paid Activities: Learn a Cambodian art at Backstreet Academy, half day cycling trip, river boat cruise, city tour, Royal Palace & Silver Pagoda tour, Russian Market, National Museum.
Day 24 : Phnom Penh to Siem Reap
This morning we leave lively Phnom Penh and make an express return with your Tour Leader to Siem Reap on a public bus. After you arrive in the afternoon, make the most of your final evening in Siem Reap by shopping for souvenirs at the market or having one last memorable night out on Pub Street. Accommodation included: Guesthouse in the centre of town
Day 25 : Siem Reap to Bangkok (Express Day)
It’s time to say good-bye to Cambodia – the trip from Siem Reap to Bangkok is an unguided public bus connection which your Tour Leader will organise for you. To return to Bangkok you will be driven to the border town of Poipet to process through Thai immigration before the last drive on to Bangkok. Expect to arrive at the bus station in the evening. We hope you had a blast on your Stray adventure!