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All about the The Phou pass

Meet your new mates in Chiang Mai and travel to the Thai-Laos border, visiting the famous and intriguing White Temple en-route. Travel by boat from Houay Xai, through lush farmland, rugged mountains and jungles to the riverside village of Ban Pak Nguey.

Experience traditional village life and stay in a remote homestay in Ban Pak Nguey; marvel at the beautiful architecture, temples and many sacred sites in the UNESCO World Heritage town Luang Prabang with access to the spectacular Kuang Si waterfalls nearby.

Travel through mountainous terrain and past breathtaking views to Vang Vieng and go tubing, cycling, kayaking, rock climbing or hot air ballooning; before heading to the country’s capital Vientiane to visit the city’s main sites, dine by the river at a local restaurant or shop at a night market.

Finish in Vientiane for flight and bus connections to many Southeast Asian destinations or an overnight train to Bangkok.

You’ll want to hop off and explore… Luang Prabang for a cool dip in the turquoise pools at the spectacular cascading Kuang Si waterfalls.

Recommended days is 9 for Tuesday departure, 10 for Friday departure

Pass Highlights:

THAILAND

Chiang Mai: An adventure seeker’s paradise. Zip-line with Flight of the Gibbon, take a cooking class, trek in the jungle, get a massage, do Muay Thai training, and shop at the weekend night market.

Chiang Rai: Home of the elaborate White Temple.

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.

The Phou pass Itinerary - 6 days

  1. Travel Day Arrive in Chiang Mai
    Sawadee, Sabaidee (hello) and welcome to Stray! Your adventures kicks off in popular Chiang Mai, an amazing city full of endless activity options, such as Thai cooking classes, bike tours or Muay Thai kickboxing. If you arrive early in the day feel free to visit a few of the 300 Buddhist temples in the city, the old walled city or the Tapae Gate. At 6pm you’ll meet your Tour Leader and new travel mates at the Deejai Backpackers Hostel for a Welcome Night introduction. We’ll cover how Stray works and answer any questions you have about the upcoming trip. Afterwards, make the most of your first night by getting to know each other over a delicious Thai dinner and a few cold beverages.
    Accommodation: Guesthouse located near the historic old quarter
    Free Inclusions: Welcome Night meeting with Tour Leader and Stray group
  2. 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 playground on the longest zip-line in Southeast Asia. This evening you can enjoy dinner at one of the many great restaurants then browse the night market, take in a ladyboy show or the Muay Thai boxing or head out for a few drinks with friends.

    Accommodation: Guesthouse located near the historic old quarter
    Optional Paid Activities: Thai cooking course, bike tour, Flight of the Gibbon, trekking, kayaking, mountain biking.
  3. Travel Day Chiang Mai to Houay Xai
    This morning we depart Chiang Mai to head for the Thailand-Laos border. We’ll make a stop near Chiang Rai to check out the famous and intriguing White Temple (Wat Rong Khun). Wat Rong is a unique modern Buddhist temple that features some curious statues and murals that include images from Star Wars and The Matrix, Freddie Kruger’s head hanging in the trees and a giant Predator emerging from the garden. We stop here long enough 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 into the chilled out town of Houay Xai, our stop for the night.
    Accommodation: Guesthouse with views across the Mekong River
    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).
  4. 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 special 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 don’t forget to 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
  5. 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. 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
    Free Inclusions: Pak Ou Caves entrance
  6. Travel 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 plenty of other ancient Buddhist temples and sacred sites to explore. Many people take a trip to the famous Kuang Si waterfalls, where the bright turquoise spring waters looks like it’s been Photoshopped, or you can get hands on by becoming an organic rice farmer for the day on the unforgettable Rice Experience. Alternatively, you can spend the day cycling or trekking to rural villages, take a cooking class or head to the night market for a hassle-free bargaining experience.
    Accommodation: Guesthouse with fan or AC private rooms close to night market
    Optional Paid Activities: Kuang Si Waterfall + bear sanctuary, Rice Experience, cycling, trekking, traditional cooking class, kayak the river.
  7. 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 hill-tribe villages, vast green valleys and rolling hills; we’ll make a special stop at the ‘loo with a view’. Our journey today takes us to the little riverside town Vang Vieng, formerly known as the best place to take tubing trips down the Nam Song River to visit riverside bars and 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
    Optional Paid Activities: River tubing, cycling, kayaking, rock climbing, caving, visit the Blue Lagoon.
  8. 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 during a Chinese invasion in the 19th century. 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
    Free Inclusions: Tham Jang Cave entrance, highlights of Vientiane
Real Aussie Real People
Real Aussie Says:
The village stay in Ban Pak Nguey is an absolute highlight of this pass. A unique encounter with the wonderful and open locals who take you in like one of the family and show you their way of life. A great way to see Laos starting from the top of Thailand.

The Phou pass Price information
AUD per person

Price

Description

Tour code: PHOU
$615 USD
Twin share flexi tour including accommodation 8 nights
$445 USD
Hop on hop off pass only

Departure information

Starts

Tuesdays and Fridays from Chiang Mai

Minimum days: 6

Ends
Vientiane


More information

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