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 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 Activity included: Welcome Night meeting with Stray Tour Leader and group
Day 3 : Siem Reap
After your first night on Pub Street, you’ll probably enjoy a free day to sleep in and relax at your accommodation. If you’re up for it, get out and explore more of the downtown area, which tends to be a bit quieter during the day when most visitors are out at the temple complex. You’ll find the heart of the city fairly easy to navigate by foot or bicycle. Finish the day by sampling traditional Khmer food and visiting the Angkor Night Market that’s open every night. Accommodation included: Guesthouse in the centre of town Optional Paid Activities: Angkor Night Market
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 visit a whiskey making village and learn about the local tipple, before checking out a village where they make a staple (but smelly) ingredient in most Khmer and Southeast Asian cuisine - fish sauce! Tonight, we’ll stay in another little village, outside of Battambang, located in the picturesque countryside. You’ll stay in a Cambodian family’s home, experiencing rural community life. You can wander through the village and nearby rice paddies and finish the day by enjoying a delicious traditional meal with your host family. Accommodation included: Homestay in a Cambodian family’s home Meals included: Dinner Activities included: Whiskey making village, Paa Hok (fish sauce) making village
Day 5 : Battambang to Siem Reap
After waving goodbye to your hosts we’ll head into the city of Battambang. Despite being the second largest city in Cambodia, Battambang manages to avoid an overly touristy vibe, allowing you to experience a more local side of urban Cambodian life. Wander through the central market alongside the river and grab a coffee at one of the cafes. On the way back to Siem Reap we’ll stop to take a ride on the Bamboo Train, a rail system that was built by the French and destroyed by the Khmer Rouge, but is still used by the locals as a simple form of transport. Tonight’s activity is up to you, but we recommend finishing 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 Meals included: Breakfast Activity included: Bamboo Train Optional paid activity: Phare Circus
Day 6 : Siem Reap
No trip to Siem Reap is complete without a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Angkor temples, a crucial part of the Cambodian national identity and one of the world’s most iconic landmarks. 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. Embrace your inner Tomb Raider as you spend the whole day on a guided tour that will take you to highlight sites including the famous Angkor Wat and Ta Prohm. Accommodation included: Guesthouse in the centre of town Meals included: Lunch Activity included: Full day Angkor temple tour
Day 7 : Siem Reap to Phnom Penh
Next up, we head for the bustling Cambodian capital Phnom Penh. With an edgy blend of harrowing history and modern development, Phnom Penh is incredibly important place for a number of political, economic and cultural reasons. You’re free this afternoon to get your first taste of this energizing capital city. Set out to explore the Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda and Wat Phnom, take a river cruise, shop for souvenirs at the huge Russian Market or see a living art performance at the National Museum. Accommodation included: Guesthouse near the main tourist area Optional paid activities: Learn a Cambodian art at Backstreet Academy, half day cycling trip, river boat cruise, city tour, Royal Palace & Silver Pagoda tour, Russian Market, National Museum.
Day 8 : Phnom Penh to Kampot
Today, Cambodia’s history is bought to life with a tour of two of the most infamous attractions: the Khmer Rouge’s Killing Fields and the Tuol Sleng S21 Prison. While it is a very sobering experience to learn more about the country’s harsh recent history and the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge, these are among the most recommended things to do in Phnom Penh. Afterwards, an afternoon drive brings us to the little riverside town of Kampot, where we’ll go on a relaxing sunset boat cruise on the Kampot River. Reflect on your day while absorbing the spectacular views of Bokor National Park and the Elephant Mountain as the sun sets over the calm waters. Accommodation included: Guesthouse with private rooms Activity included: Killing Fields, S21 Prison, sunset river cruise
Day 9 : Kampot
You have a full free day to explore quaint Kampot. Visit the fascinating salt and pepper farms, go cycling or trek in the Bokor National Park or take a day trip to nearby Koh Tunsay (Rabbit Island) for some beach time. 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 Optional paid activities: Tour of the pepper & salt farms, bicycle hire, day trip to Koh Tunsay.
Day 10 : Kampot to Phnom Penh
After a relaxing morning in Kampot, we return to Phnom Penh, where you’ll have the evening free. For something different, why not join the locals at dusk for an aerobic workout along the riverfront. 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 Optional paid activities: Learn a Cambodian art at Backstreet Academy, half day cycling trip, river boat cruise, city tour, Royal Palace & Silver Pagoda tour, Russian Market, National Museum.
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 or choose a restaurant teeming with locals for your first taste of the best Vietnamese cuisine. Accommodation included: Centrally located hotel or guesthouse
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 Optional paid activities: War Remnants Museum, Old Presidential Palace, Ben Thanh Market, guided city tour, tour of Cu Chi Tunnels, Water Puppet Theatre.
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. 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. Accommodation included: Local guesthouse in the centre of town
Day 14 : Da Lat
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. Accommodation included: Local guesthouse in the centre of town Meals included: Breakfast 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 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 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. Accommodation included: Accommodation right on the beach Meals included: 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 Meals included: Breakfast 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 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 Meals included: Breakfast Activity included: My Lai Memoria
Day 18 : Hoi An
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. Accommodation included: Centrally located, family run hotel Meals included: Breakfast Optional paid activities: Tailoring, bicycle tours, scuba diving, cooking classes, sunrise or sunset cruise, countryside tours, motorbike tours, fishing trips.
Day 19 : Hoi An to Hue
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. Accommodation included: Local guesthouse Meals included: Breakfast Activity included: Motorbike tour Optional paid activities: Dragon Boat Cruise, historic Citadel & Forbidden Purple City tour (former seat of the Vietnamese government), Thien Mu Pagoda.
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 Meals included: Breakfast Activity included: Vinh Moc tunnels
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 Meals included: Breakfast Activity included: Entrance to Thien Duong Cave (Paradise Cave) and Phong Nha-Ke National Park Optional paid activities: Cycling, caving, kayaking, Dark Cave Adventure.
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 Meals included: Breakfast Optional Paid Activities: Hire a bicycle, hop off and explore the surrounding limestone mountains, multi-day trekking options
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 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 Meals included: Breakfast Activity included: Trang An Grottoes
Day 24 : 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 breath-taking 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 Paid Activities: Halong Bay cruise, trip to Sa Pa