The Big Wat by Stray Limited
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A comprehensive trip up through northern Thailand, south through Laos to Cambodia. For those travellers who have three weeks or more and want to see as much as possible.
- Departs from: Departs Tuesdays, Thursdays and Suturdays from Bangkok - check www.straytravel.asia for up to date timetable
- Departure times: Varied
- Duration: 18 Days
- Starts & ends in: Bangkok
What to bring:
- Insect Repellant
- Comfortable Footwear
- Change of Clothes
- Waterproof Clothing
Included in price:
The Big Wat Pass Itinerary
1. Travel Day: Bangkok to Chiang Mai (Via Ayutthaya).
Be at the Stray Bangkok office at 8:00am to meet your Stray guide and group. There is a brief introductory session to go over how everything works, before we go to the train station for 10:05am departure to Ayutthaya, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We arrive mid-morning, with plenty of time to explore the fascinating Ayutthaya Historical Park by bicycle and enjoy a boat journey through the "Venice of the East". We continue our journey north to Chiang Mai on the overnight train at 7:45pm, giving you a great opportunity to grill your guide with any questions you may have about your trip, or South East Asia in general. Arrive fresh-faced into Chiang Mai the following morning at 8:00am.
Accommodation: Overnight sleeper train (included)
2. Non Travel Day: Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is an amazing city with endless activity options. Some of our favorites include a tree top adventure with Flight of the Gibbon, trekking, rafting, elephant riding, cooking classes and for those looking for adrenalin; down hill mountain biking and Muay Thai Boxing training! There's also the famous night market, the Night Safari (Asia's largest) and easy access to Pai village.
Accommodation: Guesthouse located within the historic, old quarter $12-20
SA: Muay Thai Boxing or Hill Tribe/Pai Adventure
3. Travel Day: Chiang Mai to Chiang Khong
Enjoy a free morning in Chiang Mai to do another activity, sleep in or get a local massage. We then drive to the border town of Chiang Khong stopping along the way to visit the most magnificent and unique White Temple (Wat Rong Khun). You can hop off in Chiang Rai (for access to trekking), otherwise we continue on to Chiang Khong to enjoy our last night in Thailand whilst overlooking the Mekong River to Laos.
Accommodation: Guesthouse with views across the Mekong to Laos and a great host to add a special touch $20
4. Travel Day: Chiang Khong to Luang Namtha
In the morning we take a short boat trip across the Mekong to Laos and after clearing customs you get the first sight of your mighty orange Stray bus. We take the very scenic journey through Bokeo province and into the Nam Ha National Protected Area (NPA) in Luang Namtha Province. The night markets in Luang Namtha provide the first great place to sample the local BBQ cuisine and Beerlao!
Accommodation: Hotel in the centre of town $8-15
Highly recommended: Hop off in Luang Namtha for trekking and hill tribes
5. Travel Day: Luang Namtha to Nong Khiaw
We depart Luang Namtha in the morning and head through Oudomxai. Once in picturesque Nong Khiaw, you have the option to learn fishing with the locals, or time permitting to visit the amazing Phathok Cave, where some communist loyalists lived during the 'secret' bombing of Laos in the 1960's. Watch the sunset over the beautiful Karst Mountains and Nam Ou River before dinner and enjoy a competitive game of Laos' national sport - petanque, with the locals.
Accommodation: Rustic bungalows with basic amenities but A-MAZE-ING views! $8-13
Highly recommended: Hop off in Oudomxai to explore the far northern reaches of Laos for remote trekking and home stays
6. Travel Day: Nong Khiaw to Luang Prabang
Sit back and relax today as we settle into a slow boat and take a picturesque ride down the Ou and Mekong Rivers. We cruise into the centre of the stunningly beautiful Unesco World Heritage City of Luang Prabang in the early afternoon. On arrival, take the Stray Kuang Si Tour to the famous and impressively high Kuang Si Waterfall, complete with a bear sanctuary.
Accommodation: Large dorm beds in a modern central guesthouse $5 or guesthouse with fan or air conditioned private rooms close to the night market $20-40
Highly recommended: Hop off in Luang Prabang to make the most of this beautiful city. Learn to weave silk or take a course to be an elephant mahout! Go trekking, kayaking and rock climbing or just relax, have a fruit shake and take in the night market.
SA: Lao Trekking Adventure, Volunteer Experience
7. Travel Day: Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng
This morning we depart early and travel through mountainous and steep terrain on the way to Vang Vieng. We make a number of stops today to take in the incredible views and still arrive in time for those inclined to spend the afternoon and evening tubing and partying. Other activity options: cycling, kayaking, rock climbing, hot air ballooning, resting and even watching re-runs of Family Guy, Friends and The Simpsons.
Accommodation: Guesthouse amongst all the hype, with large rooms $8-15, or a hotel on the main street with quiet rooms $23-30
8. Travel Day: Vang Vieng to Vientiane
Today we cruise through to Vientiane - Laos' capital for the last 450 years. Once here we take you on a tour of the city's main attractions, Patuxai, Pha That Luang, That Dam and the Presidential Palace. Spend the afternoon shopping, having a massage or hop-off and make the journey out to Xieng Khuan (Buddha Park).
Accommodation: Hotel with modern facilities including WIFI and breakfast $20
9. Travel Day: Vientiane to Tad Leuk
We give you the morning to explore the capital city and the stalls along the banks of the Mekong, get some cash out and buy some comfort food before we head off the beaten track again and into the Phou Khao Khouay NPA. Before heading out of town, we stop to visit the COPE centre, which educates and raises awareness of the victims of UXO (Unexploded Ordinance). After stopping at local markets for supplies, we drive to Tad Leuk, where we camp between the waterfall and jungle and have the opportunity to swim, trek and maybe spot the rare Phu Wah Rock Lizzard found in only 3 places in the world (Tad Leuk is 1 of them and the other 2 are within 100 metres), as well as other wildlife like monkeys, snakes and rare butterflies that roam this rich national protected area.
Accommodation: Tents with mats $8 includes camping equipment and national park fee
10. Travel Day: Tad Leuk to Kong Lor (7km Cave)
An early departure means we can take our time to check out the Sala Viewpoint, Phu Phu Man limestone forest and have a little shop in Paksan before heading down to the Cave (or Tham Kong Lor to the locals). We head into the abyss of the 7km cave cruising in a traditional motorised canoe to see amazing rock formations. The evening can be spent chilling with the locals or watching a DVD at the guesthouse.
Accommodation: Comfortable guesthouse with spectacular views of the Karst Mountains and just a short walk from the cave $10
11. Travel Day: Konglor to Tha Kek
Today is a short travel day towards the south, complete with a stop along the way at the "Great Wall of Tha Kek". Arriving in town mid-morning, we check into our guesthouse before making our way to Pha Tam Kam, home of some of the best rock climbing in South East Asia. We enjoy a freshly prepared local lunch at the brand new Green Climbers Home and have the afternoon there to explore the unique natural attractions, including slacklining, bike riding and world class rock climbing, before heading back to town for the evening.
Accommodation: Next to the mighty Mekong River $12
Highly recommended: Hop off in Thakek to explore local caves and the Khammouane Province
SA: Rock Climbing Adventure
12. Travel Day: Tha Kek to Xe Champhone (remote homestay)
This morning we continue our journey south on Route 13 before going way off the beaten track into the Xe Champhone Wetlands. It is so remote, that when the rain comes we might not be able to drive the Stray bus, so we'll jump onboard an off-road truck for a real off the beaten track experience. Spend the night with friendly locals in Monkey Forest - a sacred forest, home to hundreds of Rhesus Macaque Monkeys!
Accommodation: Bungalows from modern to rustic in the heart of the village $8, or guesthouse by the river with fan rooms for $9+
13. Travel Day: Xe Champhone (remote homestay) to Pakse
We wake up early and check out the 'Monkey Home Market' before heading to a 200 year old Hotay Pidok Buddhist Library (with scriptures written on palm leaves!). We then visit Turtle Lake with soft-shell turtles that are revered by the locals. Leaving the Xe Champhone Wetlands behind, we make a stop at Old Wat Taleow (a stunningly beautiful temple that was bombed in 1969), and onto Pakse, the provincial capital and cross roads to Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam bringing together a mix of ethnic groups and international cuisine. We spend the afternoon checking out the Bolaven Plateau and the coffee plantations, and visiting some of the best waterfalls in Laos including the 120m high twin waterfalls of Tad Fane.
Accommodation: Guesthouse with fan or air-conditioned rooms in the centre of town surrounded by everything you need $8-10
14. Travel Day: Pakse to Don Det (4000 Islands)
We leave Pakse early to enjoy slightly cooler temperatures perfect for exploring Laos' second World Heritage area, Wat Phou, an ancient Khmer temple (Angkor Wat without the crowds!). Then we head to the 4000 Islands to experience the idyllic laid back island lifestyle. We arrive around lunchtime giving you plenty of time to cycle across to neighbouring Don Khone Island to visit Li Phi Waterfall or take a boat trip for a chance to see the rare Irrawaddy Dolphins that frequent the border waters between Laos and Cambodia.
Accommodation: Basic bungalows by the river $5, or comfortable rooms in a Guesthouse with fan or air conditioning and private bathrooms (now that Don Det has electricity!) $13+
15. Travel Day: Don Det to Phnom Penh or Siem Reap
Having said goodbye to your Stray guide, you depart Don Det on a public bus in the morning and make the 30 minute journey to the Lao/Cambodian border. NB: Please check your visa requirements as every nationality is different. After immigration, you will continue the journey into the heart of Cambodia, passing dusty rural villages before arriving at the junction town of "KTT". Here you will board a bus to either the capital of Phnom Penh (arrive 10pm) or Siem Reap (arrive 12am) the gateway to the world renowned Angkor Wat.
SA:Riel Khmer Experience
16. Travel Day: Phnom Penh to Siem Reap.
You will need to visit our mates, Tourex Asia in Phnom Penh to collect your onward tickets. You will travel by public bus from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap - where at least a full day is recommended to explore this culturally abundant city and its temples.
SA: Riel Khmer Experience
17. Travel Day: Siem Reap to Bangkok.
Today you will need to visit our mates, Tourex Asia in Siem Reap again to collect your onward ticket to Bangkok. Please check your visa requirements before you depart as every nationality is different. You travel across Cambodia, before reaching the Thai border and changing buses. Arrive back in Bangkok (Khao San Road) at approximately 8pm.
Travel Day: Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
Ho Chi Minh is a lively city of over 9 million people with a complex and fascinating history. It was known as Saigon until 1975, when it was re-named after the former President and Prime Minister of the same name. It is highly recommended that you spend a few days to learn about the Vietnam War the underground tunnels that were home to many during war time and to take a trip out to experience the natural beauty of the Mekong Delta. You will need to visit Tourex Asia in Phnom Penh to collect your onward tickets. Please check your visa requirements before you depart, as every nationality is different and Vietnam often requires you to apply for a tourist visa in advance. Depart Phnom Penh at 8am, go through immigration at the Vietnamese border, change buses and arrive into central HCMC at approximately 3pm.
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- - Cancellation fees for cancellations made before commencing the tour are as follows: Less than:
- Departure times may vary. Customers will be informed of any changes.
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