A comprehensive trip from the South of Vietnam to the North. Treat the Dong Pass as a tour and complete it 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.
- Visit the 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.
- 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 – whether it be bus (comfortable and air conditioned private charter bus) boat, train, or even tuk-tuk!
- Tour Leader - An English-speaking, local Vietnamese Guide will introduce your to Vietnamese culture, food, provide commentary, support 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.
- Datanla Waterfall entrance fees in Da Lat
- My Lai Memorial entrance fees near Hoi An
- Vinh Moc Tunnels entrance fees near Dong Hoi
- Entrance to the Thien Duong (Paradise) Cave, Phong Nha
- Boat trip to the Trang An Grottoes
- Guided city walking tour of Hanoi
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 Dong 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!
Start planning your adventure!
Ho Chi Minh Arrival Pack
Take yourself on a sightseeing walking tour of Ho Chi Minh City!
How it Works
Accommodation is not included with your travel pass, giving you the flexibility to stay where you like. Stray will reserve a bed for you at our preferred accommodation in each destination. If you would like to stay at the Stray preferred accommodation, just let your driver know, and pay on arrival. The option of a shared or private room is usually available. Stray's preferred accommodation is a mix of family-run guesthouses, hostels, homestays and hotels. If you choose to hop-off and stay a few nights, it is your responsibility to book the extra nights.
Along the way we stop to see and do cool things which are included with your trip but you might also want to do some extra activities too! With a Travel Pass you pay-as-you-go for these activities. Your Tour Leader will be able to recommend activities at each destination and you can book these through your Tour Leader and pay directly to the operator.
Want accommodation and activities included instead? Choose a Dong Flexi Tour
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 20 metre 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 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 here, but many people choose to go on 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, explore the never-ending local coffee or strawberry plantations, or hire tandem bikes at the market and cycle to the Hang Nga ‘Crazy House’ an unconventional exploration of surrealist architecture.
Leaving behind the cool climate of Da Lat we’ll head for the Vietnamese coast, stopping for refreshments and for those who want to hop off at the coastal city of Nha Trang. 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, untouched by rampant tourism, where locals wave and greet you with 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 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, before arriving in Hoi An. A UNESCO World Heritage town, Hoi An is a must see town, 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.
Today is free for you to explore this charming town. Get some tailoring done, take a leisurely cycle to the beach, or just enjoy the tasty local coffee at one of the many restaurants around town. When the sun goes down this is when Hoi An really turns on its charm. Paper and fabric lanterns are lit throughout 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 head for Hue, Vietnam’s most liveable city. Here the people are friendly and modern architecture sits side by side with century old buildings. 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. Travel on the back of a motorbike through rice paddies, quaint, rural villages and down tiny roads and discover a little bit of the ‘real’ Vietnam.
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 in 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, phallus shaped stalagmites and stalactites, claw shaped formations, 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 caves 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 morning your Tour Leader will take you out to see the main sights of Hanoi on foot. We start our walking tour by visiting the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, then the old Royal Palace Gardens and Ho Chi Minh's Stilt House. From there, we’ll head over to the One Pillar Pagoda and the Temple of Literature. The main tour will end at Koto Restaurant and Training Centre for refreshments; those that are feeling fit can carry on to the Old Hanoi Hilton Prison and finish at Hoan Kiem Lake.
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!
Start: Ho Chi Minh City
Start Days: Saturday and Wednesday
Time: 6pm Welcome Night at Khoi Hostel
Arrival in Ho Chi Minh City
|Khoi Hostel (Welcome Night)||18:00||18:00|
Ho Chi Minh City
|Ho Chi Minh City (Free Day)||Free||Free|
Ho Chi Minh City to Da Lat
|Ho Chi Minh City - Khoi Hostel (Depart)||07:30||07:30|
|Dalat (Free Day)||Free||Free|
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|
|Bai Xep (Free Day)||Free||Free|
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|
|Hoi An (Free Day)||Free||Free|
Hoi An to Hue
|Hoi An - Thanh Binh 2 Hotel (Depart)||08:30||08:30|
Hue to Phong Nha
|Hue - DMZ Hotel (Depart)||09:00||09:00|
|Phong Nha (Arrive)||16:00||16:00|
|Phong Nha (Free Day)||Free||Free|
Phong Nha to Ninh Binh
|Phong Nha - Heritage by Night Hotel (Depart)||08:00||08:00|
|Ninh Binh (Arrive)||17:30||17:30|
Ninh Binh to Hanoi
|Ninh Binh - Nam Hoa Hotel (Depart)||13:00||13:00|
|Hanoi (Tour Ends)||13:00||13:00|
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.