- Da Lat: Get off the tourist trail; meet friendly locals, mountain bike in stunning scenery and sample delicious locally grown coffee and wine
- The Haven, Bai Xep: Discover a secluded fishing village and learn to paddle a traditional round boat
- Hoi An: Explore life in the old town of this picture perfect Vietnamese riverside town; listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Get some tailoring done; join a motorbike tour, scuba dive, or cycle to the beach
- Phong Nha: Swim in pristine rivers and explore impressive caves, including the recently discovered Thien Dong Cave, one of the largest caves in the world
- Ninh Bihn: Come face to face with monkeys, gibbons and other endangered species at the Primate Centre
- Hanoi: Discover an eclectic blend of East and West, old Asia and new, in a tangled web of streets buzzing with masses of motorbikes
- Flexible transport pass including bus, boat, train, and local transport depending on your destination
- Hop on, hop off option - spend as long as you need in each destination!
- All passes are valid for 12 months from your first day of travel (subject to normal visa restrictions)
Day 1: 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 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. Accommodation: Centrally located hotel or guesthouse Free Inclusions: Welcome Night meeting with Stray Tour Leader and group
Day 2: 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: Centrally located hotel or guesthouse, breakfast included Optional Paid Activities: Cyclo tour of the city, War Remnants Museum, Old Presidential Palace, Ben Thanh Market, guided tour of Ho Chi Minh City and Cu Chi Tunnels, Water Puppet Theatre.
Day 3: 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: Local guesthouse in the centre of town Free Inclusions: Datanla Waterfall entrance
Day 4: Da Lat
Use this free day to explore. 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, 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 example of surrealist architecture. Accommodation: Local guesthouse in the centre of town Optional Paid Activities: 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.
Day 5: 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: Dorm accommodation on the beach, light breakfast included
Day 6: 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: Dorm accommodation on the beach, light breakfast included Optional Paid Activities: Hike to a waterfall, go swimming or snorkelling, relax on the beach or feast on all-you-can-eat BBQ and beer!
Day 7: 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: Centrally located, family-run hotel, breakfast included Free Inclusions: My Lai Memorial entrance
Day 8: Hoi An
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 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 supplies all the restaurants around town. Accommodation: Centrally located, family-run hotel, breakfast included Optional Paid Activities: Tailoring, bicycle tours, scuba diving, cooking classes, sunrise or sunset cruise, countryside tours, motorbike tours, fishing trips.
Day 9: 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. Travel on the back of a motorbike through rice paddies, quaint rural villages and down tiny roads to discover a little bit of the ‘real’ Vietnam. Accommodation: Local guesthouse, breakfast included Optional Paid Activities: Dragon Boat Cruise, historic Citadel tour – former seat of the Vietnamese government, Forbidden Purple City – where the emperor used to bed his concubines, motorbike tour, Thien Mu Pagoda.
Day 10: 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: Comfortable hotel dorm or private room with breakfast included Free Inclusions: Vinh Moc Tunnels
Day 11: Phong Nha
On this free day 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: Comfortable hotel dorm or private room with breakfast included Free Inclusions: Thien Duong Cave entrance Optional Paid Activities: Cycling, caving, kayaking, Dark Cave Adventure.
Day 12: 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: Locally run hotel with excellent restaurants nearby, breakfast included Optional Paid Activities: Hire a bicycle, hop off and explore the surrounding limestone mountains, multi-day trekking options.
Day 13: 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: Local guesthouse or hotel or backpacker-style dorm, breakfast included Free Inclusion: Trang An Grottoes boat trip
Day 14: Hanoi
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! Optional Paid Activities: Halong Bay cruise, trip to Sa Pa
Start: Ho Chi Minh City
Start Days: Saturday and Wednesday
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.