Day 1 : Arrival in Bangkok
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. By 4pm, head to our Khao San Road Stray Shop to meet with a Stray staff member, who will give you your bus ticket and a briefing on what to expect on tomorrow’s express trip to Siem Reap. You will also have the chance to sign up for Siem Reap’s highlight activities so you’re ready to dive right into the Cambodian scene. Make the most of your first night in Asia by exploring the exhilarating and intense Bangkok nightlife, snagging a bargain at a night market or dining out on some delicious Thai cuisine! Accommodation included: Comfortable guesthouse near Khao San Road
Day 2 : Bangkok to Siem Reap (Express Day)
You’ll leave Bangkok at 9am on an unguided public connection heading across the border to Cambodia. Today your destination is the small, but vibrant city of Siem Reap, best known as home to the UNESCO World Heritage listed Angkor temple complex. After your early evening arrival, your Cambodia Tour Leader will meet you at the Living Quarters Hostel 543 at 7.30pm to welcome you and explain more about how Stray works. Afterwards you are invited to join your Stray group for a walk along the iconic Pub Street where you will get to know your new travel mates over a tasty dinner and cold drinks. Accommodation included: Guesthouse in the centre of town, breakfast included Activity included: Welcome Night meeting with Stray Tour Leader and group
Day 3 : Siem Reap
Today you get to experience two of Siem Reap’s highlight activities. First you’ll explore the UNESCO World Heritage Angkor temples, a crucial part of the Cambodian national identity. Then finish the day with the unforgettably unique Phare Circus, a locally run non-profit troupe that provides disadvantaged young people from the community with a place to learn the skills needed to earn their livings as professional performing artists. Accommodation included: Guesthouse in the centre of town, breakfast included Activities included: Full day Angkor temple tour: Spend the day exploring the magnificent ancient city of Angkor. Ranked at the top of many ultimate travel bucket lists (including Lonely Planet’s), this awe-inspiring architectural wonder is the largest temple complex in the world. Highlights of the tour include the famous Angkor Wat and Ta Prohm, which most people recognise from Angelina Jolie’s Tomb Raider movie. Phare Circus performance & dinner: Prepare to be amazed! Indulge in a delicious three-course meal, then sit back and enjoy the show as this troupe of talented young artists share authentic modern and folk Cambodian stories through an energetic display of acrobatic feats, music and dance. The circus is run by a non-profit organisation that only employs and trains local children and young adults.
Day 4 : Siem Reap to Battambang (Homestay)
Today you depart Siem Reap early enough to arrive in Battambang for a late lunch. After lunch we’ll take a ride on the Bamboo Train, a rail system that was built by the French and destroyed by the Khmer Rouge, but the locals still use it as simple form of transport. Then we make our way to tonight’s village stay, where you’ll stay in a Cambodian family’s home to experience rural community life first-hand. Many people consider this to be one of the highlights of their Cambodia trip and you’ll soon see why after meeting your hosts, sharing a meal with them and wandering through the village and nearby rice paddies. Accommodation and activity included: Overnight in a traditional Cambodian village*: Spend the night in a Cambodian family’s home in the picturesque countryside for a truly memorable experience. Immerse yourself in this rural community nestled amongst rice paddies by sitting in on a lesson at the local school, helping the kids with their English and enjoying a delicious traditional dinner and breakfast with your host family. *Stray village stay includes accommodation in a Cambodian family’s home, local activities, dinner, breakfast, and contribution to the village fund/project.
Meals :Breakfast, Dinner
Day 5 : Battambang to Sihanoukville
A full day of travel takes us from the countryside to the popular seaside town of Sihanoukville on the Cambodian coast. En-route we pass through the bustling riverside Khmer town Kompong Chhnang (pronounced ‘kom–pong–ch–nang’), with its busy market and floating village. Arriving in Sihanoukville by late afternoon, settle in at your guesthouse and then you are free to wander down to the beach for a refreshing dip or kick back at one of the many beachfront restaurants and bars. Tonight join one of the beach parties or have seafood BBQ on beach. Accommodation included: Guesthouse with private rooms
Day 6 : Sihanoukville
Today is yours to relax in Cambodia’s premier beach location. Catch some rays on the beach and go for a swim, or do one of the many water sports including diving, fishing, snorkelling, kayaking or hire a jet ski. Learn to cook Khmer classics like Fish Amok or deep fried bananas at the traditional Khmer cooking school, or hire a bicycle and explore the nearby beaches. Tonight you can head to Ochheuteal Beach for some partying with the rest of the backpacker crowd, or watch the sun go down at one of the beachfront restaurants. Accommodation included: Guesthouse with private rooms
Day 7 : Sihanoukville
With two full free days in Sihanoukville, you have plenty of time to hop on an island boat tour to check out beautiful Koh Rong and the other nearby islands just off shore. With crystal clear turquoise water and empty stretches of white sand beaches, the Cambodian islands feel like castaway paradise, the perfect spot to snorkel in the waves and watch the rainbow of colours cast by another stunning sunset. Accommodation included: Guesthouse with private rooms
Day 8 : Sihanoukville to Kampot
A three hour drive brings us to the little riverside town of Kampot where you will have a free afternoon to visit the fascinating salt and pepper farms, go cycling or trek in the Bokor National Park. Your itinerary includes a relaxing sunset boat cruise on the Kampot River. Tonight we recommend sampling the exceptional regional seafood dishes at one of the many restaurants on the riverfront –the fried shrimp with green pepper corns is an absolute must try! Accommodation included: Guesthouse with private rooms Activity included: Sunset river cruise: Take a leisurely boat cruise up the Kampot River. You’ll be encouraged to sit back with a refreshing cool beverage and absorb the spectacular views of Bokor National Park and the Elephant Mountain as the sun sets over the calm river waters.
Day 9 : Kampot to Phnom Penh
From Kampot we head inland for the bustling Cambodian capital Phnom Penh, stopping for lunch before we take an afternoon tour of the infamous Khmer Rouge S21 Prison and Killing Fields. While it is a very sobering experience to learn more about Cambodia’s harsh recent history, it is one of the most recommended things to do in Phnom Penh. This evening you are free to walk around and discover the many sights of this energetic city or get out mingling with the locals while watching the sun set over the Mekong River. Accommodation included: Guesthouse near the main tourist area
Day 10 : Phnom Penh
A free day today gives you the chance to explore this energizing capital city and visit the many markets selling silk, silver, gems and antiques. Visit the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda, Wat Phnom, and the Russian Market. See a living art performance at the National Museum, or learn a Cambodian craft, dance or kick boxing at the Backstreet Academy. For something different, why not join the locals at dusk for an aerobic workout at the Olympic Stadium. Here you’ll find local ladies garbed in Western-style pyjamas, getting their groove on to Khmer techno music in order to burn a few calories. It may not be your most coordinated moment, but will be good for a giggle (even if you’re just laughing at yourself)! Accommodation included: Guesthouse near the main tourist area
Day 11 : Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City (Express Day)
This morning you’ll board an unguided public bus organised by your Cambodia Tour Leader and head to Moc Bai on the Vietnamese border, where you will be processed through immigration (you must organise your Vietnam visa in advance for this land border crossing) and then drive on to Ho Chi Minh City, arriving mid-afternoon. Spend the afternoon exploring the narrow streets on foot, hop into a cyclo for a comfortable ride amongst the millions of motorbikes or choose a restaurant teeming with locals for a taste of the best cuisine. Accommodation included: Centrally located hotel or guesthouse, breakfast included
Day 12 : Ho Chi Minh City
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. Accommodation included: Centrally located hotel or guesthouse, breakfast included
Day 13 : Ho Chi Minh City to Da Lat
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. Accommodation included: Local guesthouse in the centre of town
Day 14 : Da Lat
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. Accommodation included: Local guesthouse in the centre of town Activity included: Full-day motorcycle tour: Spend the day on the original ‘Easy Rider’ fully guided motorcycle city tour around scenic Da Lat. You’ll see notable city sights such as the Crazy House, the French Quarter and railway station, as well as visit the aptly named Paradise Lake and a coffee plantation to learn about ‘weasel coffee.’
Day 15 : Da Lat to Bai Xep
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. Accommodation included: Accommodation right on the beach, includes light breakfast
Day 16 : Bai Xep
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. Accommodation included: Accommodation right on the beach, includes light breakfast
Day 17 : Bai Xep to Hoi An
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. Accommodation included: Centrally located, family run hotel, breakfast included
Day 18 : Hoi An
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. Accommodation included: Centrally located, family run hotel, breakfast included Activity included: Two-hour river boat cruise: Observe a slice of rural river life as you cruise down the Thu Bon River from Hoi An to where the river meets sea. Relax and enjoy banter with your boat captain as you idle past islands, Chinese fishing nets and commuting boats.
Day 19 : Hoi An to Hue
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. Accommodation included: Local guesthouse, breakfast included Activity included: Motorbike tour: 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.
Day 20 : Hue to Phong Nha
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. Accommodation included: Comfortable private hotel room with breakfast included
Day 21 : Phong Nha
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. Accommodation included: Comfortable private hotel room with breakfast included Activity included: Entrance to Thien Duong Cave (Paradise Cave) and Phong Nha-Ke National Park: Thien Duong Cave only opened to tourism in 2010 and is one of the largest in the world. Located in the Phong Nha Ke-Bang National Park, this UNESCO World Heritage site was discovered by British cave explorers in 2005 and named Paradise Cave (Thien Duong) because of its beauty. Discover spectacular stalactites and stalagmites in the longest cave in Vietnam.
Day 22 : Phong Nha to Ninh Binh
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. Accommodation included: Locally run hotel with excellent restaurants nearby, breakfast included
Day 23 : Ninh Binh to Hanoi
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.” Accommodation included: Local guesthouse or hotel or backpacker-style dorm, breakfast included
Day 24 : Hanoi
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!