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Dong - Freestyle Tour

Travel Vietnam from the South to the North. With beautiful beaches, UNESCO World Heritage sites, the world's largest cave, and delicious cuisine, Vietnam is highlight after highlight! 


What's included:

Transport

Travel on our private air-conditioned buses. 


Local Tour Leader

Knowledgeable local guides to provide invaluable support and insider insights and to assist with booking accommodation and activities at every destination.


Accommodation

13 nights’ shared accommodation in a variety of comfortable hotels, hostels and guesthouses. Click 'Select Upgrade' to upgrade to a twin or single room.

 


restaurantMeals

11 breakfasts included.


trekkingTop rated activities

From temples, to caves, to nature encounters there are heaps of awesome activity inclusions in this tour:

  • My Lai Memorial entrance fees, near Hoi An
  • Motorbike tour of Hue
  • Vinh Moc Tunnels entrance fees, near Dong Hoi
  • Thien Duong (Paradise) Cave entrance fees, Phong Nha
  • Trang An Grottoes canoe tour, near Ninh Binh

   Flexibility and 12 months to travel 

You don't have to complete the Dong Tour in 14 days, take your time and go with the flow! Freestyle Tours are flexible. You can hop-off at any destination along the route and spend more time there, then hop back on the tour with the next group that is coming through. It's really easy to manage your trip online using the Stray Mate Trip Manager.  Your tour is valid for up to 12 months from first day of travel so you can hop, hop hop, as much as you like! 
 


Not included: If you choose to hop off the bus you'll need to pay for additional nights accommodation. Optional activities and meals (other than the meals specified in the itinerary) are not included in the price.


Is this trip right for you?

 Do you want to explore with a group of like-minded travellers?


✓ Do you want to explore Vietnam at your own pace?


 Do you want to immerse yourself in local culture?


 Do you want to visit some of those harder to reach, off the beaten track destinations?

 

The Dong Freestyle Tour is a great choice for you!

 


Highlights:


STRADEMARK PLACES 

Dong Strademark asia route 2018 199

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.

Want more? 

Asia Destination Guides 

Get inspired and start planning your trip!


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Dong - Freestyle Tour

$1,045
$0

Total

$1,045

Itinerary

Starts: Ho Chi Minh City

Days: Tuesday & Friday (View the full timetable)

Time: 6pm Welcome Night at Madam Cuc 127 Hotel


 

Please note: Given the spontaneous nature of our trips, what we do each day might occasionally vary.

Tour: Arrival in Ho Chi Minh City

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 Madam Cuc 127 Hotel 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.

Included: Centrally located hotel or guesthouse 

Included: Welcome Meeting with Stray Guide and group

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.

Included: Centrally located hotel or guesthouse

Optional: War Remnants Museum, Old Presidential Palace, Ben Thanh Market, guided city tour, tour of Cu Chi Tunnels, Water Puppet Theatre

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. 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. Spend the afternoon checking out the large market near the guesthouse or sample a glass of locally made Da Lat wine at one of the local restaurants.

Included: Local guesthouse in the centre of town

Today is a free day so fuel up on an excellent locally sourced coffee at one of the friendly cafes that seem to occupy every corner, and then head out to discover the notable city sights on foot, by bicycle or the popular option of a guided motorbike tour. Must see sights include the Emperor’s Art Deco-style Summer Palace, the surrealist Hang Nga ‘Crazy House,’ the French Quarter and railway station, as well as the never ending local coffee or strawberry plantations and the aptly named Paradise Lake that lie outside the city. Meals included: Breakfast

Included: Local guesthouse in the centre of town

Optional: Grab a bargain at the local market, rock climbing, see Crazy House, tandem bike cycling, cycling tours, motorbike tours, coffee & tea plantation tours, abseiling and rappelling

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 beach destination 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. Meals included: Breakfast

Included: Accommodation right on the beach

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. Meals included: Breakfast

See More moment: Learn to paddle a traditional round boat or go fishing with a local and learn how life is lived in this fishing village.

Included: Accommodation right on the beach

Optional: Hike to a waterfall, go swimming or snorkelling, relax on the beach or feast on all-you-can-eat BBQ and beer!

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. Meals included: Breakfast

Do More moment: To learn more about Vietnam’s history we visit My Lai memorial, an important monument commemorating a turning point in the war.

Included: Centrally located, family run hotel 

Included: My Lai Memorial entrance

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 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. Meals included: Breakfast

Included: Centrally located, family run hotel 

Optional: Tailoring, bicycle tours, scuba diving, cooking classes, sunrise or sunset cruise, countryside tours, motorbike tours, fishing trips

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. Jump on the back of a motorbike and discover a little bit of the ‘real’ Vietnam with a local guide. Motoring through quaint villages and lush rice paddies, you’ll see the historic and picturesque Japanese covered bridge, find out your future from a local fortune teller, have a go at making incense sticks and learn about the rice growing process at the Rice Museum. Visit the home of a conical hat maker and explore an Emperor's Tomb and the Citadel's Forbidden City. Meals included: Breakfast

Included: Local guesthouse 

Optional: Dragon Boat Cruise, historic Citadel & Forbidden Purple City tour (former seat of the Vietnamese government), Thien Mu Pagoda

Included: Motorbike tour

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. Meals included: Breakfast

Included:  Comfortable private hotel room 

Included: Vinh Moc Tunnels entry fee

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. Meals included: Breakfast

See More moment: Explore the recently discovered Thien Dong Cave, one of the largest caves in the world!

Included: Comfortable private hotel room 

Optional: Cycling, caving, kayaking, Dark Cave Adventure

Included:  Entrance to Thien Duong Cave (Paradise Cave) and Phong Nha-Ke National Park

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. Meals included: Breakfast

Included: Locally run hotel with excellent restaurants nearby

Optional: Hire a bicycle, hop off and explore the surrounding limestone mountains, multi-day trekking options

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.” Meals included: Breakfast

Included: Local guesthouse or hotel

Included: Canoe tour to discover the Trang An Grottoes

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! Meals included: Breakfast

Optional: Halong Bay cruise, trip to Sa Pa

Dong - Freestyle Tour

$1,045
$0

Total

$1,045

Timetable

 

 

Tour: Arrival in Ho Chi Minh City

  MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN
Ho Chi Minh City (Welcome Meeting) 18:00 18:00

Tour: Ho Chi Minh City

  MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN
Ho Chi Minh City (Free Day) Free Free

Tour: Ho Chi Minh City to Da Lat

  MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN
Ho Chi Minh City - Madam Cuc 127 Hostel (Depart) 07:30 07:30
Da Lat (Arrive) 15:00 15:00

Tour: Da Lat

  MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN
Da Lat (Free Day) Free Free

Tour: Da Lat to Bai Xep

  MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN
Da Lat - 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

  MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN
Bai Xep (Free Day) Free Free

Tour: Bai Xep to Hoi An

  MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN
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

  MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN
Hoi An (Free Day ) Free Free

Tour: Hoi An to Hue

  MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN
Hoi An - Thanh Binh 2 Hotel (Depart) 08:30 08:30
Hue (Arrive) 12:30 12:30

Tour: Hue to Phong Nha

  MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN
Hue - DMZ Hotel (Depart) 09:00 09:00
Phong Nha (Arrive) 16:00 16:00

Tour: Phong Nha

  MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN
Phong Nha (Free Day) Free Free

Tour: Phong Nha to Ninh Binh

  MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN
Phong Nha - Heritage by Night Hotel (Departs) 08:00 08:00
Ninh Binh (Arrive) 17:30 17:30

Tour: Ninh Binh to Hanoi

  MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN
Ninh Binh - Nam Hoa Hotel (Depart) 08:00 08:00
Hanoi (Arrive) 17:00 17:00

Tour: Hanoi

  MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN
Hanoi (Tour Ends) 09:00

Dong - Freestyle Tour

$1,045
$0

Total

$1,045

Dong FT Stray Asia route 19 20 DIGITAL

Need to Know

Some key details...

  • Transport - All transport is included - you'll travel by bus (mostly private, air-conditioned buses with 24 seats), minivans, trains (Thailand only), boats (Laos only) and tuk-tuks. 

  • Guides - Stray employs local Tour Leaders to ensure you get more out of your trip. Hear the local stories, try their food recommendations, get insider tips and advice. Tour Leaders change from country to country so you'll have several different Tour Leaders throughout your journey if you're traveling multiple countries and if you hop on and off the bus - they're all absolute legends! 

  • Validity - This Freestyle Tour is valid for 12 months from your first day of travel and can be travelled once. 

  • Hopping on/off - Hop on and off as much as you like along the travel route.  The buses run twice a week so the minimum amount of time you can hop off for is 3 days. 

  • Travelling without hopping off - You don't need to hop off if you're short on time - you can travel your tour in the number of days in the itinerary. There are non-travel days throughout the route so you will not be travelling everyday however we recommend allowing extra time to hop off. 

  • Departures - Buses run twice a week. Use the timetable to plan your trip. 

  • Booking Buses - Use Stray Mate (trip manager website) to book buses - you'll receive log in details in your Booking Confirmation email. If you're on a short timeframe, we recommend booking all your buses in advance. 

  • Accommodation - Accommodation is included for all nights of the itinerary. We stay in a mix of simple family operated guesthouses, hostels, basic hotels and village homestays. If you choose to hop off, you'll need to arrange, and pay for, your own accommodation. 

  • Accommodation Options - Standard pricing is for Shared accommodation. 
  1. Shared accommodation:  a mixture of twin-share, triple-share and dorm rooms. 
  2. Twin-share: only share with one other person. If you’re travelling as a couple, you can specify a preference for a double bed.  Solo travellers who choose Twin-share will be paired with someone of the same sex.
  3. Single: your own private room 

              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. 

  • Activities - Top-rated activities are included and if you want to opt for extra activities, your Tour Leader can provide recommendations and assist with booking. 

  • Visas - You are responsible for obtaining any visas you require for the countries you are travelling in. Visa requirements vary depending on where you’re coming from and where you going, so we recommend that you contact the appropriate embassy in your country of origin. 

  • Travel Insurance - You must have a travel insurance policy to cover you for the entire time you are travelling with Stray. You will be asked for your policy details prior to starting travel.

  • Stray Travellers - Our travellers are from all over the world, are energetic, adventurous and mainly aged between 20-35.  You'll have people who have booked Freestyle Passes and Tours in your group, as the route is exactly the same, it's just the inclusions that are different. 

  • Group Size - Max 18, Average 9

  • Unguided sectors - Some trips may include one or two unguided sectors as our Local Tour Leaders stay in their country of origin and bid you farewell to continue your journey with a new Tour Leader in the next country you're travelling to. Crossing the borders can be a bit of an adventure but your Tour Leader will tell you what to expect.  In Stray Mate Trip Manager you can read the itinerary for each of these days to ensure your unguided sectors go smoothly. 

 

Find out more by reading our FAQs