See Northern Thailand and Laos, in a comprehensive trip for travellers who have two and a half weeks or more.
Feel the excitement of Bangkok, wander among ancient ruins in Ayutthaya and zipline through the jungle in Chiang Mai, before crossing the border into Laos. Take a slow boat through lush farmland and rugged mountains to the riverside village Ban Pak Nguey where you'll get to know the locals and experience village life and a remote homestay. Head to the beautiful UNESCO World Heritage town of Luang Prabang and visit the spectacular Kuang Si waterfalls and bear rescue centre. Travel through mountainous terrain to Vang Vieng for tubing, cycling, kayaking or rock climbing; and visit country’s capital Vientiane. In the South of Laos you'll explore giant caves, a sacred monkey forest and chill out in the 4000 Islands before returning to Pakse for an overnight bus to Bangkok, Thailand.
- Ayutthaya: Explore the incredible UNESCO World Heritage temple ruins by bicycle or boat.
- Chiang Mai: An adventure seeker’s paradise. Zip-line with Flight of the Gibbon, take a cooking class, trek in the jungle, get a massage, do Muay Thai training, and shop at the weekend night market.
- Chiang Rai: Home of the elaborate White Temple.
- Ban Pak Nguey (Unique Stray Experience): Experience village life, attend a Baci (welcoming) ceremony and stay in a remote village homestay on the banks of the Mekong River.
- Luang Prabang: UNESCO World Heritage City and the cultural gem of Southeast Asia. Swim in the spectacular Kuang Si Waterfall; bathe with elephants in the Khan River, visit a bear sanctuary, and get hands on and learn how to cultivate and harvest rice from a rice farmer.
- Vang Vieng: The stunning karst rock formations along the river offer the perfect setting for outdoor activities such as tubing, cycling, kayaking or rock climbing. Enjoy the vibrant nightlife or get away from it all in a river view bungalow.
- Vientiane: Visit the COPE Centre where you’ll learn about the on-going effects of the Vietnam War.
- Kong Lor Cave (Unique Stray Experience): Zip through the mighty 7 km cave by boat on and underground river. Considered a highlight of Laos, it’s not easy to get here on your own.
- Xe Champhone (Unique Stray Experience): Visit Turtle Lake, a 200 year old Buddist Library and meet the Rhesus Macaque monkeys of the sacred ‘Monkey Forest’
- Bolaven Plateau: Love coffee? You’ll visit a Lao coffee plantation and learn all about coffee.
- Don Det: Relax in a hammock on the Mekong in the 4000 Islands. Spot rare Irrawaddy Dolphins.
- All transport – whether it be bus (comfortable, and air conditioned private charter bus) boat, train, or even tuk-tuk!
- Accommodation in comfortable hotels, hostels and guesthouses for each night of the tour.
- Top rated activities (detailed in the itinerary).
- Some meals (detailed in the itinerary).
- Ultimate travel flexibility – your flexi tour is valid for up to 12 months from first day of travel.
- Tour Leader to provide invaluable knowledge, support and local insight and to assist with additional activities.
|Laos Travel Guide
Start planning your trip!
|Bangkok City Arrival Pack
Get your trip off to a hassle free start with airport transfers and 1 nights’ accommodation close to the departure location.
Start or finish your trip with 5 nights on the beautiful island of Koh Phangan, famous for its epic Full Moon parties! Departs from Bangkok.
Please note: Given the spontaneous nature of our trips, what we do each day might occasionally vary.
Sawadee, Sabaidee (hello) and 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 on Khao San Road at 6pm to meet your Tour Leader and your new travel mates for a Welcome Night introduction. We’ll cover how Stray works, answer any questions you have and make sure everyone is ready for tomorrow morning’s departure. Afterwards, make the most of your first night by getting to know each other over a delicious Thai dinner and a few cold beverages on Khao San Road.
Meet your Stray Tour Leader back at the Stray Bangkok Shop in the morning to depart for the UNESCO World Heritage site of Ayutthaya. We arrive mid-morning, allowing you plenty of time to explore the ‘Venice of the East’ by bike or boat. Ayutthaya is the former capital of the Siamese empire and was once a grandiose city, but many of the ancient monuments were ruined when it was attacked by an invading army. Nevertheless, it is still a fascinating historical park that offers a glimpse of bygone splendour. This afternoon we board our overnight train and head for the city of Chiang Mai.
We arrive into Chiang Mai train station between 8am – 11am. 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. There are over 300 Buddhist temples to discover, you can visit the old walled-city, see the Tapae Gate or pick up a bargain at the famous night market and check out the lively music scene.
Today you get to experience one of our favourite adventure activities, the Flight of the Gibbon zipline tour. After the swinging good adrenaline rush of the zip-line, you are free to enjoy dinner at one of the many great restaurants in Chiang Mai, then browse the night market, take in a ladyboy show or the Muay Thai boxing or head out for a few drinks with friends.
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 tuktuk ride into the chilled out town of Houay Xai, our stop for the night.
Leaving Houay Xai you’ll board our private slow boat up the Mekong River to the secluded village of Ban Pak Nguey. 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 Ban Pak Nguey in the late afternoon. Here you will get a taste of traditional Lao village life by staying with a family in their home. Experience a special Baci (welcoming) Ceremony, swim in the river, visit the school and help the kids with an English lesson. Play a game of football with the kids, explore the local temple, go fishing and don’t forget to try the local whiskey.
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.
Enjoy all this UNESCO World Heritage town has to offer. Luang Prabang is home to the National Palace Museum, Wat Xieng Thong (the oldest monastery in town) and plenty of other ancient Buddhist temples and sacred sites to explore. It’s a great place to spend a few days exploring, 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. So you get the most out of your stay in Luang Prabang, your itinerary includes the unforgettable half-day ‘Rice Experience’ and a trip to the beautiful Kuang Si Waterfalls with entrance to the Free the Bears centre.
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; we’ll make a special stop at the ‘loo with a view’. 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. Upon arrival into Vang Vieng there is plenty of time to go tubing, start partying or kick back and watch re-runs of old TV shows playing at the bars around town.
Today we cruise through to the capital of Laos, stopping at the impressive Tham Jang Cave that was once used as a bunker during a Chinese invasion in the 19th century. 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.
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. Tonight you stay in the very rural and very remote Kong Lor village, surrounded by rice paddies, stunning limestone karst mountains and tobacco fields. This is a photographer’s paradise, the gateway to the famous Kong Lor Cave and a great place to get out and go trekking or relax with a cold Beer Lao.
This morning you will head down to the cave (Tham Kong Lor to the locals) and venture deep into the 7km abyss! A ride in a traditional motorised canoe is included so you can take in the amazing rock formations and swim in the cool waters at the cave entrance. There may also be the option to travel to Ban Tabak village, to take a ride in a 'bomb boat’ made from the metal fuel casings of B52 bombers, dumped on Laos during the Secret War (this is subject to availability on the day).
Today is a short travel day as we head for the small town of Thakek on the banks of the Mekong River. Thakek is a major trading point and border town between Thailand and Laos. It has a strong French Colonial influence and is a great base for hopping off to explore the Lao jungle, limestone cliffs, pristine rivers, lakes and hidden waterfalls in the nearby Phu Hin Bun National Park.
This is what Stray is all about: getting totally off the beaten track! We head into the Xe Champhone wetlands - an area so remote that occasionally our Stray buses can't access it, so we have to jump on board an off-road truck. Today we’ll stop at Old Wat Taleow, a beautiful temple that was bombed during the Secret War and somehow the golden Buddha inside remained undamaged. Then it’s on to Turtle Lake where you might spot and possibly get to feed the sacred soft-shell turtles. Next stop is the 200-year-old Hotay Pidok Buddhist library, a fascinating stilt structure that’s home to thousands of Sanskrit scriptures and bamboo tablets. Before heading for our guesthouse in the small village of Ban Keng Kok, we stop at the aptly named Monkey Forest to get up close with curious and friendly wild rhesus macaque monkeys. Don’t forget to grab some bananas!
Driving south this morning we head for the bright lights of Pakse. From here, you can check out 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. For those who want a little adventure, Pakse is a great place to hop off the bus and experience the unforgettable Tree Top Explorer adventure. This amazing experience includes a trek through the jungle, tree house accommodation, wildlife spotting, thundering waterfalls, and a zip-line system that will have you flying through the tree-tops.
An early start takes us to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Wat Phou, an ancient Khmer temple and the former capital of the Khmer empire before the Angkor Wat. We allow time to explore the site and climb up to the mountain top temple for some spectacular views over the man-made reservoir. We’ll then head south to the backpacker mecca of Si Phan Don, otherwise known as the 4000 Islands. Here you can experience the laidback lifestyle and natural beauty of Laos’ landlocked islands with a leisurely tubing trip down the Mekong River, floating past locals fishing and people lounging on their bamboo riverside verandas. It’s also a great place to take a boat trip to spot rare Irrawaddy dolphins, or cycle across to the neighbouring Don Khone Island to discover the remaining remnants of the only steam engine railway in Laos and marvel at the thunderous Li Phi waterfall.
Say goodbye to Laos – it’s an early start when we leave Don Det by local mini-van towards Pakse and then carry on to the Thai border and Ubon Ratchathani, where you board the overnight bus.
Your Stray journey officially finishes when you arrive back in Bangkok in the early morning.
Starts From: Bangkok - or anywhere on the travel loop and finish where you started! Just let us know upon booking.
Departure Days: Monday or Friday
Time: 6pm Welcome Night at the Stray Bangkok Travel Shop
Timetables are subject to change but our team will email you if this happens whilst you are travelling.
Tour: Arrival in Bangkok
|Welcome Night (Arrive)||18:00||18:00|
Tour: Bangkok to Chiang Mai (via Ayutthaya)
|Stray Shop Bangkok - 209 Khao San Road (Arrive)||09:30||09:30|
|Stray Shop Bangkok - 209 Khao San Road (Depart)||10:00||10:00|
|Ayutthaya - Good Luck Guesthouse (Depart)||17:00||17:00|
|Ayutthaya Train Station (Depart - Overnight Train)||19:45||19:45|
Tour: Arrival in Chiang Mai
|Chiang Mai (Arrive)||08:15||08:15|
Tour: Chiang Mai
|Chiang Mai (Free Day)||Free Day||Free Day|
Tour: Chiang Mai to Houay Xai
|Chiang Mai - Deejai Hostel (Depart)||09:00||09:00|
|Chiang Rai - Bus Terminal 2 (Phaholayotin Rd) (Depart)||12:15||12:15|
|Chiang Khong (Thai Border) (Depart)||14:30||14:30|
|Houay Xai (Laos Border) (Arrive)||16:00||16:00|
Tour: Houay Xai to Ban Pak Nguey (Homestay)
|Houay Xai (Laos Border) - Oudomphone Hotel 2 (Depart)||07:30||07:30|
|Ban Pak Nguey (Homestay Village) (Arrive)||15:30||15:30|
Tour: Ban Pak Nguey (Homestay) to Luang Prabang
|Ban Pak Nguey - Boat Landing (Depart)||08:00||08:00|
|Pak Ou Caves (Depart)||14:00||14:00|
|Luang Prabang (Arrive)||16:00||16:00|
Tour: Luang Prabang
|Luang Prabang (Free Day)||Free Day||Free Day|
Tour: Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng
|Luang Prabang - Joma Bakery near the Post Office (Depart)||07:00||07:00|
|Vang Vieng (Arrive)||13:30||13:30|
Tour: Vang Vieng to Vientiane
|Vang Vieng - Seng Aloun Guesthouse (Depart)||10:00||10:00|
Tour: Vientiane to Kong Lor (7km Cave)
|Vientiane - Mixay Paradise Guesthouse (Depart)||08:00||08:00|
|Kong Lor (Arrive)||15:00||15:00|
Tour: Kong Lor (7km Cave)
|Kong Lor (Free Day)||Free Day||Free Day|
Tour: Kong Lor (7km Cave) to Thakek
|Kong Lor - Spring River Resort (Depart)||11:00||11:00|
Tour: Thakek to Xe Champhone
|Thakhek - Mekong Hotel (Depart)||07:30||07:30|
|Ban Lak 35 (Depart)||09:00||09:00|
|Xe Champhone (Arrive)||17:30||17:30|
Tour: Xe Champhone to Pakse
|Xe Champhone - Phonethavy Guesthouse (Depart)||08:00||08:00|
|Ban Khongxedon (Depart)||11:30||11:30|
Tour: Pakse to Don Det (4000 Islands)
|Pakse - Royal Pakse Hotel (Depart)||07:30||07:30|
|Champasak - Wat Phou (Depart)||10:30||10:30|
|Ban Nakasang - Pier (Depart)||14:00||14:00|
|Don Det (Arrive)||14:30||14:30|
Tour: Don Det to Bangkok (Express Day)
|Don Det - Boat Landing (Depart)||08:30||08:30|
|Ban Nakasong (Pier) (Depart)||08:45||08:45|
|Laos - Thai Border (Depart)||17:30||17:30|
|Ubon Ratchathani (Depart)||20:00||20:00|
Tour: Finish in Bangkok
How It Works
A Flexi Tour is a unique combination of a guided hop-on, hop-off Stray pass with accommodation and activities, hand-picked by our Stray experts, included in the price. This allows you to make the most of your time in Southeast Asia. You can still hop off anywhere, spend longer at your favourite places and opt for extra activities along the way.
- Accommodation is twin-share. Please only book this option if you are travelling with a companion. Single/Private room upgrade is available.
- Accommodation is included for all nights of the itinerary.
- If you choose to hop off, you'll need to arrange, and pay for, your own accommodation.
- We've chosen some top rated activities to include with this tour - check the Itinerary for details.
- If you would like to do any additional activities you can book these through your Tour Leader (at your own expense).
Want to pay-as-you-go for accommodation and activities instead? Choose a hop-on hop-off travel pass.