Discover bustling Bangkok, travel north via ancient Ayutthaya and adventurous Chiang Mai, before crossing the border into Laos. Journey by boat through lush farmland and rugged mountains to a remote riverside village where you'll experience traditional village life and stay in a homestay. You'll want to hop off and explore the UNESCO World Heritage town Luang Prabang with its beautiful architecture, temples, night markets and the spectacular Kuang Si waterfall. Travel through mountainous terrain and past breathtaking views to Vang Vieng and go tubing, cycling, kayaking or rock climbing; before heading to the country’s capital Vientiane to visit the city’s main sites, dine by the river at a local restaurant or shop at a night market before taking an overnight train back to Bangkok.
There are some exciting new changes taking place from 1 October - Find out more.
Our mission is to get you off the beaten track amongst authentic local culture and our experienced crew has chosen some incredible destinations so you can see more and do more! 'Strademark' Places are the places you're less likely to find in the guide book but the ones you'll be talking about long after the adventure has ended.
- Only Stray visits a tiny, remote Lao village on the banks of the Mekong River. Experience traditional village life. Hang out with locals in their backyard, swim or play football with the kids. A very special part of the visit to this village is your opportunity to participate in a Baci (welcoming) ceremony.
- Visit the Pak Ou Caves, 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.
- See the impressive Tham Jang Cave that was once used as a bunker in the 19th century during a Chinese invasion.
- All transport – whether it be bus (comfortable and air conditioned private charter bus) boat, train, or even tuk-tuk!
- Local Tour Leader - Knowledgeable Local Guide to provide invaluable knowledge, support and insider insights and to assist with booking accommodation and activities at every destination.
- Reserved Accommodation – Have a bed reserved for you at every Stray overnight stop. Book through your Tour Leader and pay-as-you-go directly to the accommodation.
- Ultimate travel flexibility – pass is valid for up to 12 months from first day of travel and you can hop-on and off as much as you like.
- Ayutthaya Temples entrance fees
- White Temple entrance fee
- Pak Ou Caves entrance fee
- Tham Jang Cave entrance fee
Not included: The cost of your accommodation and optional activities is not included in a hop-on, hop-off pass. You have the flexibility to choose what suits your budget and pay-as-you-go. These can be booked via your Tour Leader.
If you would prefer a tour with accommodation and more activities included, check out the Tom Yum Flexi Tour. Get all the same great benefits + accommodation and top rated activities.
HOW DO YOU HOP ON AND OFF THE BUS?
‘Hop off’ the bus anywhere along the route, even places in between the designated stops. Either plan to hop off in advance or do it spur of the moment – it’s up to you!
To hop back on, simply book your next travel date and pickup location through Stray Mate, your online Trip Manager (you'll receive your log in once you've booked).
The buses run twice a week so the minimum amount of time you can hop off for is 3 days, but your pass is valid for up to 12 months from your first day of travel, meaning you can hop on and off as often as you like, for as long as you like, up to a year!
SHORT ON TIME?
You are not required to hop off the bus at all, you can use your pass like a tour and complete the itinerary in its ‘minimum days’. Either way you'll have a great time!
|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.
Visit the beautiful Thai Islands and the home of the famous Full Moon party, Koh Phangan. Departs from Bangkok.
Please note: Given the spontaneous nature of our trips, what we do each day might occasionally vary.
NB. The cost of accommodation is not included in your travel pass, giving you the flexibility to stay where you like, however under each day we have described our recommended (Stray preferred) accommodation, along with some free and paid activity suggestions.
Starting travel after 1 October 2017?
You'll be travelling in the 17-18 season and the itinerary differs slightly from the itinerary below.
- Tom Yum 17-18 Itinerary (PDF)
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.
You'll arrive early in the morning and the whole day is free for you to explore this historically rich city or partake in one of the many adventure activities on offer. If you’re looking for a bit of adrenaline we recommend Thailand’s most popular activity, the Flight of the Gibbon. This is an amazing tree-top adventure where you’ll swing like a monkey (or gibbon) and zip, fly, climb and crawl your way through an amazing jungle play-ground on the longest zip-line in Southeast Asia. This evening you can enjoy dinner at one of the many great restaurants then browse the famous night market, take in a ladyboy show or the Muay Thai boxing or head out for a few drinks with friends.
Today is free for you to explore this historically rich city or partake in one of the many adventure activities on offer. If you’re looking for a bit of adrenaline we recommend Thailand’s most popular activity, the Flight of the Gibbon. This is an amazing tree-top adventure where you’ll swing like a monkey (or gibbon) and zip, fly, climb and crawl your way through an amazing jungle playground on the longest zip-line in Southeast Asia. This evening you can enjoy dinner at one of the many great restaurants 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 tuk- tuk 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 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 try the local whiskey. This is a true highlight of any trip to Southeast Asia and exclusive to Stray!
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. Jumping 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.
Today is free for you to 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 has many ancient Buddhist temples and sacred sites to explore. Many people take a trip to the famous Kuang Si waterfalls, where the bright turquoise spring waters looks like it’s been photo-shopped, or you can get hands on and become an organic rice farmer for the day on the Rice Experience. You can spend the day cycling or trekking to rural villages, take a cooking class, and tonight head to the night market for a hassle-free bargaining experience and some delicious cheap local food.
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 mountain hill-tribe villages, vast green valleys and rolling hills; and we’ll make a special stop at the ‘loo with a view’. Our journey today takes us to the little riverside town Vang Vieng, best known for being the spot where you can take tubing trips down the Nam Song River stopping along the way at riverside bars and enjoying the beauty of Vang Vieng's landscape as you float downstream. 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 in the 19th century during a Chinese invasion. 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.
Today you will be collected from your guesthouse in Vientiane mid-afternoon and be taken by tuk-tuk to Thanaleng Train Station. Here you clear Lao customs; pay your departure fee then board a connecting train which takes you over the friendship bridge to Nong Khai in Thailand. You complete Thai immigration at the train station and have time for a meal or drink across the road before boarding the overnight train to Bangkok.
This sector is unguided. If you'd like more detailed information click here.
Your Stray journey finishes when you arrive in Bangkok in the early morning.
Starts: Bangkok - or anywhere on the travel loop and finish where you started! Just let us know upon booking.
Days: Monday or Friday
Time: 6pm at the Stray Bangkok Travel Shop
Arrival in Bangkok
|Stray Shop - Khao San Road (Welcome Night)||18:00||18:00|
Bangkok to Chiang Mai (via Ayutthaya)
|Bangkok - 209 JC Jewelry Centre Building, Khao San (Arrive)||09:30||09:30|
|Bangkok - 209 JC Jewelry Centre Building, Khao San (Depart)||10:00||10:00|
|Ayutthaya (Arrive)||12:00 PM||12:00 PM|
|Ayutthaya - Good Luck Guesthouse (Depart)||17:00||17:00|
|Ayutthaya Train or Bus Station (Depart)||19:45||19:45|
Arrive in Chiang Mai
|Chiang Mai (Arrive)||08:15||08:15|
Chiang Mai - Free Day
|Chiang Mai (Free Day)||Free Day||Free Day|
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|
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|
Ban Pak Nguey 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|
Luang Prabang - Free Day
|Luang Prabang (Free Day)||Free Day||Free Day|
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|
Vang Vieng to Vientiane
|Vang Vieng - Seng Aloun Guesthouse (Depart)||10:00||10:00|
Vientiane to Bangkok (Express Day)
|Vientiane - Phuong Champa Hotel (Depart)||15:00||15:00|
|Nong Khai (Arrive)||17:15||17:15|
|Nong Khai - Train Station (Depart)||18:20||18:20|
Tom Yum: Arrival Day Bangkok
|Bangkok (Arrival next morning)||06:25||06:25|
Upgrade to a Flexi Tour
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.