All about the Long Laos Freestyle Pass
Join Stray in exciting Chiang Mai (Thailand), travel north to Houay Xai (northern Thai-Laos border) and take a journey by boat through lush farmland, rugged mountains and jungles to a remote village on the banks of the mighty Mekong River.
Experience traditional village life with your Mekong River homestay; marvel at the beautiful architecture, temples and sacred sites in the UNESCO World Heritage town Luang Prabang and access the spectacular Kuang Si waterfalls nearby.
Travel through mountainous terrain and past breathtaking views to Vang Vieng and go tubing, cycling or kayaking on the river; before heading to the country’s capital Vientiane to visit the city’s main sites, relax at a local riverside restaurant or shop at a night market.
Visit Kong Lor to travel by motorised canoe on the 7km river that winds its way through a spectacular cave system; and enjoy the cooler climate of Pakse in the south. Finish in the backpacker hub of Don Det in the beautiful 4000 Islands.
Long Laos Freestyle Pass
Tour itinerary - 14 Days
Arrival in Chiang Mai
Welcome to Stray! Your adventure kicks off in popular Chiang Mai, the largest city in Northern Thailand and an amazing place full of endless activity options, such as Thai cooking classes, bike tours or Muay Thai kickboxing to name a few. Once a kingdom unto itself, there are over 300 Buddhist temples to discover and it is worth visiting the old walled city to see the Tapae Gate. At 6pm you’ll meet your Tour Leader and new travel mates for a Welcome Meeting 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 included: Guesthouse close to the city centre Activity included: Welcome Meeting with Stray Tour Leader and group
Seize the day by exploring this historically rich city or venturing outside the city to discover the natural beauty of northern Thailand. Chiang Mai is the perfect base for some of Thailand’s best guided hikes and treks, as well as the top spot for adventure activities like mountain biking, abseiling and whitewater rafting. Tonight, enjoy dinner at one of the many great restaurants, then take in a ladyboy show, Muay Thai boxing or head out for a few drinks with friends. Accommodation included: Guesthouse close to the city centre Meals included: Breakfast Optional paid activities: Elephant Nature Park, Thai cooking course, Muay Thai boxing, bike tour, trekking, kayaking, mountain biking, whitewater rafting, abseiling.
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 to the small town of Houay Xai, our stop for the night. Accommodation included: Guesthouse
with views across the Mekong River Meals included: Breakfast Activity included: White Temple (Wat
Rong Khun) Optional paid activities: Visit an ethnic lantern village near Chiang Rai (must hop off)
Houay Xai to Mekong River Homestay
Leaving Houay Xai you’ll board our private slow boat to cruise down the Mekong River to the secluded village that will host you for an overnight homestay experience. 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 the village in the late afternoon. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to become immersed in Lao culture, where you will get a taste of traditional Lao village life by staying with a family in their home and experience a special Baci (welcoming) Ceremony, a true highlight of the trip. Accommodation included: Remote village homestay along the Mekong River Meals included: Dinner Activities included: Private slow boat cruise, village orientation walk, play a game of football with the kids, go fishing, traditional Baci Ceremony, try the local whiskey
Mekong River Homestay 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 included: Guesthouse with fan or AC private rooms close to night market Meals included: Breakfast Activity included: Pak Ou Caves
Today you’ll visit the beautiful Kuang Si Waterfalls, where the turquoise water and calm pools offer the perfect chance to cool off. The lower pools are especially perfect for a refreshing swim. If you’re feeling fit, climb up to the very top of the falls to take in the view from the above. At the base of the falls, you’ll also find a rescue centre for the native Asiatic moon bears where you can watch them happily living in a safe environment. If you’re planning to hop off the bus, Luang Prabang is a great place to do so, with options to discover rural villages by cycling or trekking the area, take a traditional Lao cooking class, kayak the Mekong River, shop at the night market or, for culture buffs, visit one of the many beautiful temples. Accommodation included: Guesthouse with fan or AC private rooms close to night market Meals included: Breakfast Activities included: Kuang Si waterfall tour Optional paid activities: Rice Experience, cycling, trekking, traditional cooking class, kayak the river.
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. 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. Accommodation included: Family run guesthouse in the centre of the action Meals included: Breakfast
With its stunning natural scenery, Vang Vieng offers ample outdoor activities to choose from. We
recommend hiring a bike to explore the town and visiting the Blue Lagoon, one of the best natural
swimming holes in Laos. There are also great rock climbing and kayaking options. The fun doesn’t
stop after an adventure filled day either! This evening check out one of several international
restaurants for a taste of home or head to one of the bars to really get the party started.
Accommodation included: Family run guesthouse in the centre of the action Optional paid activities:
River tubing, cycling, kayaking, rock climbing, caving, visit the Blue Lagoon.
Vang Vieng to Vientiane
Today we cruise through to the capital of Laos. 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 included: Modern hotel Activity included: City highlights with your Tour Leader, COPE centre
Vientiane to Kong Lor
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. Arriving in remote Kong Lor with the afternoon sun, you’ll feel a sense of peace as you drive through the sleepy rural villages lined with crop fields and rice paddies and surrounded by stunning limestone karst mountains. Relax after the drive by popping down to the river for an afternoon swim, swinging in a hammock at your accommodation or sampling a delicious Lao meal at one of the little restaurants in the village. Accommodation included: Comfortable garden view bungalows with spectacular views and a short drive from the cave Activity included: Wat Prabat Phonsone
Today, you’ll get the chance to explore the underground river that winds its way through a mountain, venturing deep into the abyss of the stunning 7km long Kong Lor Cave on a motorised canoe! Discover impressive columns, stalagmites and stalactites illuminated and protruding from the limestone rock as you travel by motorboat through this colossal cave system. This area is also a photographer’s paradise and a great place to get out and go trekking or just kick back to soak up the views over a cold Beer Lao. Accommodation included: Comfortable garden view bungalows with spectacular views and a short drive from the cave Activity included: Guided Kong Lor boat trip
Kong Lor to Savannakhet
We’ll break up the drive today by stopping in the small town of Thakhek, where there’s time to grab some lunch before we continue south. Before arriving in Savannakhet, we’ll stop to visit the Buddhist holy site Wat Ing Hang, reportedly built in the 16th century to honour Buddha’s visit to the area and housing one of Buddha’s bones. Set on the Mekong River as a border town with neighbouring Thailand, Savannakhet historically served as a key transit and trading post and is now the largest town in Southern Laos. The best things to do are wander along the waterfront and check out the fossil collection at the odd but intriguing Dinosaur Museum, then settle in a nice riverside restaurant for dinner. Accommodation included: Comfortable hotel Activity included: Wat Ing Hang
Savannakhet to Pakse
Driving south this morning we head first for Pakse, then carry on to explore 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. Pakse sits where the mighty Mekong River and Se Don River meet, so take advantage of the many restaurants along the riverfront for a meal served up with unbeatable river views. Accommodation included: Guesthouse in centre of town Activity included: Tad Ngeuang waterfall
Pakse to Don Det (4000 Islands)
From Pakse, we’ll carry on south to the backpacker mecca of Si Phan Don, otherwise known as the 4000 Islands. Here you can experience the laidback lifestyle and impressive natural beauty of Laos’s landlocked islands. The island of Don Det serves as a great base to hire a kayak or tube for floating down the river, taking a boat trip to spot rare Irrawaddy dolphins, cycling across to the neighbouring Don Khone Island to discover the remnants of the only steam engine railway in Laos, and marveling at the thunderous Li Phi waterfall. Your Stray journey officially ends here – we hope you had a blast! Optional paid activities: Bicycle or tube hire, boat trip to spot Irrawaddy dolphins, fishing.
Departs on Wednesdays and Sundays from Chiang Mai