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All about the Mekong pass

Explore Northern Thailand, Laos and Cambodia in this loop from Bangkok and returning to Bangkok. This trip is comprehensive and perfect for those with 4 weeks to travel or more.

Discover the heady rush of Bangkok before travelling north through the lush farmland, quirky cities and ancient temple ruins of Northern Thailand towards Laos. Laos will blow you away with its mountains and vibrant cultures, amazing wilderness and wildlife. You’ll follow narrow mountain roads to scenic rivers and waterfalls, discover underground rivers and caves, visit UNESCO World Heritage sites and experience rural village life with a unique homestay experience. In Cambodia you’ll visit the awe-inspiring Angkor Wat, uncover Cambodia’s gruesome history at the Killing Fields and S21 Prison, try the local cuisine and chill out on the beautiful beaches in the south. Cycle or trek the Bokor National Parks and get to know the locals in a remote village homestay, before returning to Bangkok or travelling on to your next destination.

LAOS
Ban Pak Nguey: Experience village life, attend a Baci (welcoming) ceremony and stay in a remote village homestay on the banks of the Mekong River.
Luang Prabang: UNESCO World Heritage City and the cultural gem of Southeast Asia. Swim in the spectacular Kuang Si Waterfall; bathe with elephants in the Khan River, visit a bear sanctuary, and get hands and learn how to cultivate and harvest rice from a rice farmer.
Vang Vieng: Stunning karst rock formations and plenty of outdoor activities other than tubing. Enjoy the vibrant nightlife or get away from it all in a river view bungalow.
Vientiane: Visit the COPE Centre where you’ll learn about the on-going effects of the Vietnam War.
Kong Lor Cave: Zip through the 7 km cave in a boat through to the other side of the mountain! Considered a highlight of Laos, it’s not easy to get here on your own.
Xe Champhone: Stay in a remote southern village homestay in the sacred ‘Monkey Forest’.
Bolaven Plateau: Love coffee? You’ll visit a Lao coffee plantation and learn all about coffee.
Don Det: Relax in a hammock on the Mekong in the 4000 Islands. Spot rare Irrawaddy Dolphins.

CAMBODIA
Phnom Penh: Learn about Cambodia’s history at the S21 Prison and Killing Fields and explore the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda.
Koh Tunsay: Relax on the pristine beaches, and enjoy fresh seafood in this island hideaway.
Kampot: Cycle the countryside past the famous pepper and salt farms, eat delicious seafood and trek through the Bokor National Park.
Kompong Chhnang: Explore the bustling market and floating villages.
Battambang: Experience local family and community life in a remote village homestay, with its seasonal farming, fishing, temple gatherings and festivals.
Siem Reap: Explore Angkor, the UNESCO World Heritage Site – an impressive, never ending complex of temples and ruins.
Tonle Sap Lake: UNESCO recognised; the largest fresh water lake in Southeast Asia.
Phnom Kulen National Park: Visit the most sacred mountain in Cambodia, trek through the jungle to see riverbed rock carvings, swim at the base of a 20 metre waterfall.

Mekong pass Itinerary - 23 days

  1. Travel Day Bangkok to Chiang Mai (Via Ayutthaya)
    Sawadee, Sabaidee (hello) and welcome to Stray! Your adventure kicks off in the Asian metropolis of Bangkok, Thailand. From soaring skyscrapers to ancient temples, vibrant markets and high-end malls, Bangkok is a city of many personalities.
    You’ll meet your Stray tour leader at the Stray Bangkok Shop at 8:00am, and depart for the UNESCO World Heritage site of Ayutthaya. We arrive here mid-morning allowing you plenty of time to explore the ‘Venice of the East’ by bike or boat. Ayutthaya is the former capital of the Siamese empire and was once a grandiose city, but many of the ancient monuments were ruined when it was attacked by an invading army. Nevertheless, it is still a fascinating historical park. This afternoon we board our overnight train and head for the city of Chiang Mai.

    Free inclusions: Overnight train or bus (price included), temple entry in Ayutthaya
    Optional Paid Activities: Bike or boat trip around Ayutthaya Temples.
  2. Travel Day Arrival in Chiang Mai
    We arrive into Chiang Mai train station between 8:00 – 11:00am. Chiang Mai is a popular hopping off point for many travellers and an amazing city full of endless activity options – including cooking courses, bike tours or Thai kick boxing. There are over 300 Buddhist temples to explore, you can visit the old walled-city, the Tapae Gate, or pick up a bargain at the famous night market and check out the lively music scene.

    Accommodation: Guesthouse located near the historic, old quarter USD $12-20
    Optional paid activities: Muay Thai Boxing Stray Adventure, Northern Thai Stray Adventure, Thai cooking course, bike tour, Flight of the Gibbon, Night Safari, trekking, kayaking, mountain biking.
  3. Free Day Chiang Mai
    Today is free for you to explore this historically rich city or partake in one of the many adventure activities on offer. If you’re looking for a bit of adrenaline we recommend Thailand’s most popular activity, the Flight of the Gibbon. This is an amazing tree-top adventure where you’ll swing like a monkey (or gibbon) and zip, fly, climb and crawl your way through an amazing jungle play-ground on the longest zip-line in Southeast Asia. This evening you can enjoy dinner at one of the many great restaurants or visit Asia’s largest Night Safari, where you’ll see over 400 animals including white tigers, white rhinos, leopards, monkeys and even camels.

    Accommodation: Guesthouse located near the historic, old quarter USD $12-20
  4. Travel Day Chiang Mai to Houay Xai
    This morning we depart Chiang Mai at 9:00am to cross the border into Laos. We’ll make a stop near Chiang Rai, for those who want to hop off and experience mountain trekking or explore remote ethnic villages, and we’ll check out the famous and intriguing White Temple (Wat Rong Khun). Wat Rong is a unique Buddhist Temple that features some curious statues and murals. The murals include images from Star Wars and The Matrix, you’ll find Freddie Kruger’s head hanging in the trees and a giant Predator emerging from the garden. We stop here to allow time to grab a snack, stretch our legs and take a few photos before we continue on to cross the border into Laos. Once in Laos we take a short tuk-tuk ride to the chilled out town of Houay Xai, our stop for the night.

    Accommodation: Guesthouse with views across the Mekong River USD $20
    Free Inclusions: White Temple (Wat Rong Khun) visit
    Optional paid activities: Visit an ethnic lantern village near Chiang Rai, access the Gibbon Experience from Houay Xai (must hop off for these activities).
  5. Travel Day Houay Xai to Ban Pak Nguey (Homestay)

    Leaving Houay Xai you’ll board our private slow boat up the Mekong River to the secluded village of Ban Pak Nguey. Sit back and soak up this incredible journey as you wind your way through lush farmland, thriving jungle and rugged mountain scenery; drifting past water buffalo, locals fishing, and kids splashing in the shallows. We arrive in Ban Pak Nguey in the late afternoon. Here you will get a taste of traditional Lao village life by staying with a family in their home. Experience a Baci (welcoming) ceremony, swim in the river, visit the school and help the kids with an English lesson. Play a game of football with the kids, explore the local temple, go fishing and try the local whiskey. This is a true highlight of any trip to Southeast Asia and exclusive to Stray!

    Accommodation: : Village stay includes accommodation in an indigenous family home, traditional Baci Ceremony, dinner, breakfast, local activities and contribution to the village fund/project USD$17
  6. Travel Day Ban Pak Nguey to Luang Prabang
    We wave goodbye to the village and jump back aboard our private boat to head downriver to the famous limestone Pak Ou Caves. Pak Ou is an important pilgrimage site for Lao people, and here you will see thousands of Buddhist images that have been placed throughout the caves over hundreds of years. Jumping back on board our boat a short trip takes us to the UNESCO World Heritage town, Luang Prabang. Luang Prabang has an old world feel that gives you the sense you’ve stepped back in time into a picturesque postcard setting. The fusion of French colonial architecture with traditional Lao design set against a backdrop of misty mountains and lush green jungle makes this a truly majestic place.

    Accommodation: Guesthouse with fan or AC private rooms close to night market USD $12-40
    Free Inclusions: Pak Ou Caves entrance
    Optional paid activities: Kuang Si Waterfall + bear sanctuary, Rice Experience, cycling, trekking, traditional cooking class, kayak the river.
  7. Free Day Luang Prabang
    Today is free for you to enjoy all this UNESCO World Heritage town has to offer. Luang Prabang is home to the National Palace Museum, Wat Xieng Thong (the oldest monastery in town), and has many ancient Buddhist temples and sacred sites to explore. Many people take a trip to the famous Kuang Si waterfalls, where the bright turquiose spring waters looks like it’s been photo-shopped, or you can get hands on and become an organic rice farmer for the day on the Rice Experience. You can spend the day cycling or trekking to rural villages, take a cooking class, and tonight head to the night market for a hassle-free bargaining experience.

    Accommodation: Guesthouse with fan or AC private rooms close to night market USD $12-40
  8. Travel Day Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng
    It’s an early start as we head south through mountainous terrain, on one of the most scenic journeys you’ll experience on the Laos travel route. Travel past mountain hill-tribe villages, vast green valleys and rolling hills; and we’ll make a special stop at the ‘loo with a view’. Our journey today takes us to the little riverside town Vang Vieng, best known for being the spot where you could take tubing trips down the Nam Song River stopping along the way at riverside bars to indulge in cheap booze. These days you can still go tubing, but now you get to enjoy the beauty of Vang Vieng's landscape without the sound of pounding bass in the background. Upon arrival into Vang Vieng there is plenty of time to go tubing, start partying or kick back and watch re-runs of old TV shows playing at the bars around town!

    Accommodation: Family run guesthouse in the centre of the action USD $8-30
    Optional Paid Activities: River tubing, cycling, kayaking, rock climbing, caving, hot air ballooning.
  9. Travel Day Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng
    It’s an early start as we head south through mountainous terrain, on one of the most scenic journeys you’ll experience on the Laos travel route. Travel past mountain hill-tribe villages, vast green valleys and rolling hills; and we’ll make a special stop at the ‘loo with a view’. Our journey today takes us to the little riverside town Vang Vieng, best known for being the spot where you could take tubing trips down the Nam Song River stopping along the way at riverside bars to indulge in cheap booze. These days you can still go tubing, but now you get to enjoy the beauty of Vang Vieng's landscape without the sound of pounding bass in the background. Upon arrival into Vang Vieng there is plenty of time to go tubing, start partying or kick back and watch re-runs of old TV shows playing at the bars around town!

    Accommodation: Family run guesthouse in the centre of the action USD $8-30
    Optional Paid Activities: River tubing, cycling, kayaking, rock climbing, caving, hot air ballooning.
  10. Travel Day Vang Vieng to Vientiane
    Today we cruise through to the capital of Laos, stopping at the impressive Tham Jang Cave that was once used as a bunker in the 19th century during a Chinese invasion. On arrival in Vientiane your tour leader will point out the city’s main attractions including Putaxai, Pha That Luang, That Dam, the Presidential Palace, and the COPE centre – a non-profit organisation that educates visitors and raises awareness for victims of UXO (Unexploded Ordinance) and the Secret War. After check-in at our centrally located accommodation, you are free to explore the city, get a massage, go shopping, or people watch at one of the local restaurants by the river.

    Accommodation: Hotel with modern facilities including WIFI and breakfast USD $20
    Free Inclusions: Tham Jang Cave entrance, highlights of Vientiane
  11. Travel Day Vientiane to Kong Lor (7 Km Cave)
    An early escape this morning takes us away from the crowds and south to Kong Lor in the Phu Hin Bun National Park. About an hour into the journey we visit Wat Prabat Phonsone, the ‘Buddha’s Footprint,’ a popular and important pilgrimage site for local communities. Tonight you stay in the very rural and very remote Kong Lor village, surrounded by rice paddies, stunning limestone Karst Mountains and tobacco fields. This is a photographer’s paradise, the gateway to the famous Kong Lor Cave and a great place to get out and go trekking or relax with cold Beer Lao.

    Accommodation: Comfortable guesthouse with spectacular views and a 10 minute walk from the cave USD $10
    Free inclusions: Wat Prabat Phonsone, entrance to Kong Lor National Park
  12. Free Day Kong Lor (7km Cave)
    This morning you’re free to head down to the Cave (Tham Kong Lor to the locals) and venture deep into the 7km abyss! Legend has it the cave was discovered thanks to some lost ducks. The story goes, one day a villager on one side of the island discovered his flock of ducks were missing, only to find them at the village on the other side of the mountain. The villagers put two and two together and decided to send a boat through and, voila, Tham Kong Lor was discovered! Ride in a traditional motorised canoe on an underground river that travels through the centre of the mountain. Take in the amazing rock formations, stalagmites and stalactites, and have a swim in the cool waters at the cave entrance.

    Accommodation: Comfortable guesthouse with spectacular views and a 10 minute walk from the cave USD $10
    Optional Paid Activities: Kong Lor Cave boat trip
  13. Travel Day Kong Lor (7km Cave) to Thakek
    Today is a short travel day as we head for the small town of Thakek on the banks of the Mekong River. Thakek is a major trading point and border town between Thailand and Laos. It has a strong French colonial influence; and is a great base for hopping off to explore the Lao jungle, limestone cliffs, pristine rivers, lakes and hidden waterfalls in the nearby Phu Hin Bun National Park. This afternoon we’ll head out of town towards the Khammouane Protected Area. We’ll stop at Tha Farang for an afternoon swim (dry season only) before returning to town to relax and enjoy a sunset over the Mekong River.

    Accommodation: Mekong riverside guesthouse USD $12
  14. Travel Day Thakek to Xe Champhone
    This is what Stray is all about: getting totally off the beaten track! We head into the Xe Champhone wetlands - an area so remote that occasionally our Stray buses can't access it, so we have to jump on board an off-road truck. Today we’ll stop at Old Wat Taleow, a beautiful temple that was bombed during the Secret War and somehow the golden Buddha inside remained undamaged. Then it’s on to Turtle Lake where you might spot and possibly get to feed the sacred soft-shell turtles. Next stop is the 200-year-old Hotay Pidok Buddhist library, a fascinating stilt structure that’s home to thousands of Sanskrit scriptures and bamboo tablets.Before heading for our guesthouse in the small village of Ban Keng Kok we stop at Monkey Forest. On arrival, grab some bananas and venture into the forest to get up close with curious and friendly wild rhesus macaque monkeys.

    Accommodation: Rustic guesthouse with twin share bungalow USD $15-20
  15. Travel Day Xe Champhone to Pakse
    Driving south this morning we head for the bright lights of Pakse. From here, you can check out the refreshingly cool climate of the Bolaven Plateau. The Plateau features a lush green landscape, fertile coffee and tea plantations, and many spectacular waterfalls – including the stunning Tad Ngeuang Waterfall where you can go for a swim. For those who want to experience a little adventure, Pakse is a great place to hop off the bus and experience the unforgettable Tree Top Explorer adventure. This amazing experience includes a trek through the jungle, tree house accommodation, wildlife spotting, thundering waterfalls, and a zip-line system that will have you flying through the tree-tops.

    Accommodation: Guesthouse with fan or air-conditioned rooms in the centre of town surrounded by everything you need USD $8-10.
    Free inclusions: Bolaven Plateau, Tad Ngeuang Waterfall entry
    Optional Paid Activities: Tree Top Adventure, waterfall visits including the spectacular Tad Fane.
  16. Travel Day Pakse to Don Det (4000 Islands)
    An early start takes us to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Wat Phou, an ancient Khmer temple and the former capital of the Khmer empire before the Angkor Wat. We allow time to explore the site and climb up to the mountain top temple for some spectacular views over the man-made reservoir. We’ll then head south to the backpacker mecca of Si Phan Don, otherwise known as the 4000 Islands. Here you can experience the laidback lifestyle and natural beauty of Laos’ landlocked islands. Take a leisurely tubing trip down the Mekong River, float past locals fishing and people lounging on their bamboo riverside verandas. Take a boat trip to spot rare Irrawaddy dolphins; or cycle across to the neighbouring Don Khone Island to discover the remaining remnants of the only steam engine railway in Laos and marvel at the thunderous Li Phi waterfall.

    Accommodation: Rustic style guesthouse USD $5-15
    Free inclusions: Wat Phou Temple entrance
    Optional Paid Activities: Bicycle or tube hire, boat trip to spot Irrawaddy dolphins, fishing.
  17. Travel day Don Det to Siem Reap (Express day)
    Say goodbye to Laos – it’s an early start to join a public bus for the journey into Cambodia. A short drive will bring you to the Don Kralor Border where you will complete the immigration process and continue into Cambodia. Today your destination is the provincial town of Siem Reap, home to the UNESCO World Heritage listed Angkor Temple complex. Arriving in Siem Reap in the late evening there will be time to freshen up before you meet your new tour leader for dinner and drinks along the iconic Pub Street.

    Accommodation: Guesthouse with dorm beds or private rooms USD $8-20
  18. Free Day Siem Reap
    Today is a free day for you to explore the UNESCO World Heritage Angkor Temples. Spend the day exploring the ancient city of Angkor - the largest temple complex in the world. See the famous Angkor Wat and the set of Angelina Jolie’s Tomb Raider movie, Ta Prohm.
    Tonight we recommend going to the famous Cambodian circus, where you will be amazed by the incredible acrobatic feats, music and dance, infused with the spirit of Cambodian history and culture. The local circus is a non-profit that teaches young people from the streets, orphans and struggling families in the community how to heal and express themselves through the arts. It’s an unforgettable experience!

    Accommodation: Guesthouse with dorm beds or private rooms USD $8-20
    Optional Paid Activities: Cycle or take a guided tour of the Angkor temple complex, Khmer circus.
  19. Travel Day Siem Reap to Battambang (Homestay)
    Today you depart Siem Reap at 9:00am, arriving 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, located in the picturesque countryside. You’ll stay in a Cambodian family’s home, experience local community life, visit the school and join in a friendly local game or help the kids with their English. You can wander through the rice paddies, explore the local market, and enjoy a traditional meal with your host family.

    Accommodation: Village stay includes accommodation in a Cambodian family’s home, local activities, dinner, breakfast, and contribution to the village fund/project US$18
    Free inclusions: Ride on the Bamboo Train
  20. Travel Day Battambang to Sihanoukville
    A full day today takes us to the popular seaside town Sihanoukville on the Cambodian coast. En-route we pass through the bustling riverside Khmer town Kompong Chhnang (pronounced kom–pong–ch–nang), with its local 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: Guesthouse with dorm beds or private rooms USD $10-25
    Free Inclusions: Udong Historical Site entrance
  21. Free Day 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, take a trip out to the surrounding islands, 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 Serendipity Beach.

    Accommodation: Guesthouse with dorm beds or private rooms USD $10-25
    Optional Paid Activities: Island tour, jet skis, massage, sailing, snorkelling, scuba diving, party boat, windsurfing, kayaking.
  22. Travel Day Sihanoukville to Kampot
    A 3 hour drive brings us to the little riverside town of Kampot where you will have a free afternoon to visit the salt and pepper farms, go cycling or trek in the Bokor National Park. There is an option to take a leisurely boat cruise on the Kampot River: a relaxing boat trip where you’ll just sit back, enjoy a cool beverage and absorb the spectacular views of Bokor National Park and Elephant Mountain as the sun sets over the river. Tonight we recommend sampling the exceptional seafood at one of the many restaurants on the riverfront – try the fried shrimp with green pepper corns, it’s delish!

    Accommodation: Guesthouse with dorm beds or private rooms USD $6-15
    Optional Paid Activities: Sunset River Cruise, tour of the pepper & salt farms.
  23. Travel Day Kampot to Koh Tunsay
    A short drive this morning brings us to the old French resort town of Kep where we board a traditional Khmer wooden fishing boat and travel for 30 minutes to our sanctuary, Koh Tunsay Island. Once on shore you are free to explore the mountainous terrain, relax on the beach, swim in the warm sea waters and just watch the sun go down.

    Accommodation: Shared bungalows on the beach USD $8-10 per person
  24. Travel Day Koh Tunsay to Phnom Penh
    Tearing ourselves away from the beach we take the boat back to the mainland. From here we head 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. This evening you are free to explore the city with a visit to 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.

    Accommodation: Guesthouse near the main tourist area USD $20
    Free inclusions: S21 Prison and Killing Fields entrance and tour
    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.
  25. Travel Day Phnom Penh to Siem Reap
    This morning we leave the bustling Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh, and return to Siem Reap. Why not take this opportunity to visit some of the minor sites or visit nearby villages in and around Siem Reap, relax and grab a massage in a local spa, do some shopping or just spend time chilling at your guesthouse.

    Accommodation: Guesthouse with dorm beds or private rooms USD $8-20
  26. Travel Day Siem Reap to Bangkok (Express day)
    To return to Bangkok you will be driven to the border town of Poipet. Here you will process through Thai immigration and change buses for the drive on to Bangkok, arriving in the evening and thus finishing your Stray adventure.
Real Aussie Real People
Real Aussie Says:
Start and end in Bangkok! With the hop on/off tour Mekong Pass (Thailand, Laos, Cambodia), you have a 26 day tour package taking you through Bangkok, Thailand and 16 other destinations in Asia. Mekong Pass (Thailand, Laos, Cambodia) includes an expert guide, transport.

Mekong pass Price information
AUD per person

Price

Description

Tour code: MEKONG
$1655 USD
Twin share flexi tour including accommodation for 25 nights

Departure information

Starts

Departs: Tuesdays and Saturdays from Bangkok, Thailand
Starts: Bangkok
Finishes: Bangkok

Ends
Bangkok


More information

Important Notes

Things you need to know about this tour
  • Non Travel Days vary depending on departure chosen
  • All departures have 2 nights in Chiang Mai

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