A comprehensive trip from the South of Vietnam to the North. Complete the Dong Freestyle Tour in 2 weeks or hop on and off and spend up to a year exploring Vietnam at your own pace.
Discover exciting bustling cities, cool mountain towns, and sleepy seaside villages. Relax on white sand beaches, admire elaborately decorated temples, shop at local markets and enjoy sunset cocktails by the water. From caves, to rice paddies, National Parks and tunnels from the Secret War; the Dong pass gets you closer to the action in the ‘real’ Vietnam.
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.
- Discover the secluded fishing village of Bai Xep on a beautiful long stretch of white sandy beach. Relax, swim and wander deserted beaches, discover hidden waterfalls and learn to paddle a traditional round boat.
- Swim in pristine rivers and explore impressive caves, including the recently discovered Thien Dong Cave, one of the largest caves in the world, in Phong Nha. Be amazed by the glittering limestone walls, stalagmites and stalactites and a gleaming limestone waterfall.
All transport: You'll travel in comfortable and air conditioned private charter buses.
Accommodation: 13 nights’ accommodation in a variety of comfortable hotels, hostels and guesthouses.
Tour Leader: An English-speaking, local Vietnamese Guide will introduce your to Vietnamese culture, food, provide commentary, support and local insider tips and advice.
Ultimate travel flexibility: Your Freestyle Tour is valid for up to 12 months from first day of travel and you can hop-on and off as much as you like.
Meals: Some meals as included in the itinerary.
Top-Rated, Included Activities:
- Datanla Waterfall entrance fees, Da Lat
- Full day motorcycle city tour, Da Lat
- My Lai Memorial entrance fees, near Hoi An
- River boat cruise, Hoi An
- Vinh Moc Tunnels entrance fees, near Dong Hoi
- Thien Duong (Paradise) Cave entrance fees, Phong Nha
- Motorbike tour of Hue
- Boat trip to the Trang An Grottoes
Start planning your adventure!
Take yourself on a sightseeing walking tour of Ho Chi Minh City!
Starts: Ho Chi Minh City
Days: Wednesday or Saturday (View the full timetable)
Time: 6pm Welcome Night at Khoi Hostel
Please note: Given the spontaneous nature of our trips, what we do each day might occasionally vary.
Welcome to Stray!
Your adventure kicks off in bustling Ho Chi Minh City. If you arrive early in the day, feel free to spend time exploring the narrow streets on foot, hop into a cyclo for a comfortable cruise among the millions of motorbikes or find a restaurant teeming with locals for a taste of the best cuisine.
At 6pm you’ll meet your Tour Leader and new travel mates at the Khoi Hostel for a Welcome Night introduction. We’ll cover how Stray works and answer any questions you have about travelling in Vietnam. Afterwards, make the most of your first night by getting to know each other over a delicious Vietnamese dinner and a few cold beverages.
Today is a free day to explore the hot and lively Ho Chi Minh City. Learn about the history of the American and Vietnam War at the War Remnant Museum, visit the French Colonial Saigon Opera House, browse the surrounding shopping plazas or see a cultural show. Ho Chi Minh even has its own Notre Dame Cathedral, which is said to be a connection between the physical and spiritual life for the Ho Chi Minh people. We recommend taking a trip out to the famous Cu Chi Tunnels, a complex of over 200kms of tunnels used by the Viet Khong in the war against the US. Discover how the people lived and survived in these tunnels, built schools and hospitals underground and eventually gained victory. This evening enjoy a traditional performance at the Water Puppet Theatre, or dine out on delicious street food at one of the city’s many restaurants or bars.
Leaving behind the chaos and heat of Ho Chi Minh City, we head for the refreshingly cool climate of Da Lat, known as the ‘honeymoon capital of Vietnam’. Our journey today takes us through fertile farmlands that specialise in rubber, coffee and tea, locally produced wine, vegetables and flowers. Just a short distance from Da Lat we make a stop at the beautiful 20m high Datanla Waterfall, where legend has it K’ho fairies often come to play and bathe at the base of the falls. You can either walk down to the waterfall or, for those who like a little bit of adrenalin, you can drive your own mini rollercoaster to the site. Afterwards we’ll head to Da Lat, where you can spend the rest of the day checking out the large market near the guesthouse or at one of many friendly cafes selling excellent coffee on every corner.
Da Lat vaguely resembles a French town with sprawling old villas and towering pine trees. It is not on the main tourist trail so locals are curious and very friendly to Western visitors. There are plenty of adventurous activities on offer here, but many people opt for an adrenalin-packed canyoning trip where you abseil over waterfalls and jump off a 5 metre high drop into the pool below. If that’s not for you, you can visit the last Emperor’s Art Deco-style summer palace. Your itinerary includes a full day motorcycle tour for a glimpse of what Da Lat has to offer.
Leaving behind the cool climate of Da Lat we’ll head for the Vietnamese coast, stopping for refreshments at the coastal city of Nha Trang, a popular spot to hop off for those who have the time. Driving on your destination is the tiny fishing village of Bai Xep located along a stretch of sandy white beach. Kick back and relax in this peaceful village setting well off the beaten tourist track and as yet untouched by rampant tourism. Don’t be surprised when the locals wave and greet you with welcoming smiles.
Today you are free to enjoy this remote coastal location and all it has to offer. Swim, snorkel and take long walks on the beach, learn to paddle a traditional round boat, go fishing and cook your catch for tea, wander the village and get to know the friendly locals or just relax at your comfortable seaside guesthouse.
A coastal drive takes us to the popular tourist spot and UNESCO World Heritage town of Hoi An. Before arriving in Hoi An, we’ll stop along the way to visit the My Lai Memorial, a site that commemorates an event that marked a turning point in the American War. Hoi An is a must see destination, with beautifully restored and preserved French Colonial architecture, funky bars, outstanding restaurants, art galleries, souvenir shops and countless tailor shops. With glorious beaches so close nearby, this is paradise! A great spot to hop off and enjoy the local nightlife, try local delicacies (and beers), then meander home through the motorbike free streets.
See Hoi An from a different angle with a two-hour river boat cruise that we’ve included in your itinerary. Take time today to explore this charming town’s many offerings. When the sun goes down is when Hoi An really turns on its charm. Paper and fabric lanterns are lit throughout the streets, bathing the historical French Colonial and Chinese architecture in a warm glow. Take a sunset stroll through the old town, and try a local delicacy called the ‘White Rose’ - a dumpling stuffed with shrimp or pork bunched into the shape of a rose. Apparently the recipe is a family secret, held by only one family who supply all the restaurants around town.
Today you travel to Hue, considered Vietnam’s most liveable city. Surrounded by rolling hills and located on the Perfume River, Hue is regarded as the cultural and spiritual centre of Vietnam and is the former home to the Vietnamese emperors. Here you’ll see many elaborately decorated temples and beautiful pagodas, including the seven-storied Thien Mu Pagoda (where the most famous Vietnamese monk is buried), the intricate Citadel and Forbidden Purple City. This is a great place to take a motorbike tour of the Vietnamese countryside so we’ve included one in your itinerary.
This morning we head for the fascinating Vinh Moc Tunnels, an impressive underground complex that was used by more than 90 families to live and work during some of the heaviest bombings in the American War. From there it’s on to Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, passing through the provincial town of Dong Hoi on our way to the charming hotel in Phong Nha town that will be our base for exploring the park.
Today we visit the spectacular rural area of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, 45km from Dong Hoi. This area has pristine rivers (perfect for a refreshing dip or kayak) and boasts a number of impressive caves, including the recently discovered Thien Duong Cave. Inside you’ll find glittering limestone walls, impressive stalagmites and stalactites and a limestone waterfall. This afternoon you have the option to go on a guided tour of the ‘Dark Cave’, suitably named as such because the rock is black. This is an exciting adventure where you’ll explore the cave’s darkness with the help of a head torch, discover ancient fossils and slide down muddy ridges, all while Asian bats fly overhead. Afterwards, back at the mouth of the cave you can wash off all the mud by spending the afternoon swimming and playing in the river.
Our journey today takes us through beautiful countryside and stunning limestone karst mountains. We’ll stop along the way for a chance to stretch your legs before continuing our express journey to Ninh Binh. We arrive late in the afternoon, but you have time to wander around and acquaint yourself with the tiny town before dinner. Nestled amongst rice paddies, rural plains and massive mountains, Ninh Binh is almost overwhelmed by the spectacular landscape surrounding it. The best way to take it all in is hire a bicycle and explore the countryside at your own pace.
This morning we venture out in traditional canoes to discover the Trang An Grottoes. Sometimes called the ‘Halong Bay on land’, we’ll coast through caves in the mountains to view stony outcrops and dramatic karst formations towering above flat tranquil waters and rice paddies. After lunch in Ninh Binh, we jump back on the bus bound for the chaotic streets of Vietnam’s capital. Hanoi is an exotic city full of excitement and energy, and thousands of motorcycles that make the simple task of crossing the road seem like a real achievement! There’s an an excellent culinary scene. We recommend dining at Restaurant 69, which is said to be over 300 years old, or trying some of the delicious street food available on every corner, where the saying goes “the lower the chair, the cheaper the beer.”
This is where your journey with Stray comes to an end, but there is plenty to see and do in and around Hanoi. If you have some extra days to spend here, we highly recommend booking a cruise around breathtaking Halong Bay or making a trip inland to visit the hill tribes of Sa Pa. Both of these excursions can be organised for you by your Tour Leader. We hope you’ve had a blast on your great Stray adventure!
Tour: Arrival in Ho Chi Minh City
|Ho Chi Minh City (Welcome)||18:00||18:00|
Tour: Ho Chi Minh City
|Ho Chi Minh City (Free Day)||Free||Free|
Tour: Ho Chi Minh City to Da Lat
|Ho Chi Minh City - Khoi Hostel (Depart)||07:30||07:30|
Tour: Da Lat
|Da Lat (Free Day)||Free||Free|
Tour: Da Lat to Bai Xep
|Dalat - Thoi Dai Hotel (Depart)||08:00||08:00|
|Nha Trang (Depart)||12:00||12:00|
|Bai Xep (Arrive)||17:30||17:30|
Tour: Bai Xep
|Bai Xep (Free Day)||Free||Free|
Tour: Bai Xep to Hoi An
|Bai Xep - The Haven Guesthouse (Depart)||08:00||08:00|
|My Lai (Depart)||12:30||12:30|
|Hoi An (Arrive)||17:30||17:30|
Tour: Hoi An
|Hoi An (Free Day )||Free||Free|
Tour: Hoi An to Hue
|Hoi An - Thanh Binh 2 Hotel (Depart)||08:30||08:30|
Tour: Hue to Phong Nha
|Hue - DMZ Hotel (Depart)||09:00||09:00|
|Phong Nha (Arrive)||16:00||16:00|
Tour: Phong Nha
|Phong Nha (Free Day)||Free||Free|
Tour: Phong Nha to Ninh Binh
|Phong Nha - Heritage by Night Hotel (Departs)||08:00||08:00|
|Ninh Binh (Arrive)||17:30||17:30|
Tour: Ninh Binh to Hanoi
|Ninh Binh - Nam Hoa Hotel (Depart)||08:00||08:00|
|Hanoi (Tour Ends)||13:00||13:00|
How It Works
A Freestyle Tour is a unique combination of a guided hop-on, hop-off Stray Freestyle Pass + accommodation and activities, hand-picked by our Stray experts, included in the price.
This allows you to pay up-front for the majority of your tour and 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.
Activities & Accommodation
We stay in a mix of family operated guesthouses, hostels, hotels and village homestays. 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. Accommodation is twin-share (unless you upgrade to a single room). We do not match travellers who are not travelling together, so please only book the twin-share option if you are travelling with a companion. Please note: At the homestays in Laos and Cambodia, we stay with a local family in their home. As part of this experience private (twin-share and single) rooms are not available.
We've chosen to include some top rated activities with this tour because we are all about ensuring you have the best possible experience in Southeast Asia! Check the 'What's Included' section on the highlights page for the full list. Your Tour Leader will also be able to recommend additional activities at each destination and you can book these through your Tour Leader (at your own expense) and pay direct to the operator.
Want to pay-as-you-go for accommodation and activities instead? Choose a Freestyle Pass.
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 Flexi Tour 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! Feel free to use your pass like a tour and complete the itinerary in its ‘minimum days’. Either way you'll have a great time!
Our travellers are an energetic outgoing crowd who share a common objective: to have a great time! Most are aged between 18 - 30 although we have no maximum age because we believe age doesn't matter - it's more about having a thirst for adventure! We get a wide range of nationalities from all over the world with the majority from UK, Europe and America. Most of our travellers travel solo, some travel as part of a couple or group of friends.