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Stray Asia Review and Itinerary: Mekong Pass Experience

Find out everything you need to know about traveling South East Asia with Stray Asia. From the types of tours, transportation, guides, accommodation, itinerary, and my top tips in this Stray Asia Review!


South East Asia is one of my favorite parts of the world. With the picturesque beaches, tropical jungles and beautiful culture it truly has a lot to offer. I have recently come back from traveling through Thailand, Laos and Cambodia with Stray Asia on their Mekong Pass. I truly had a wonderful time and saw a whole new part to these destinations which I wouldn’t have otherwise experienced. That’s why I have decided to write this Stray Asia review so you can know absolutely everything about the journey and make a decision whether traveling with Stray Asia would be right for you.

For this trip, I wanted to get off the beaten track and see some of the best sights. That is why I choose Stray Asia, and more specifically their Mekong Pass, where I would travel to some impressive hidden gems in Laos. So let’s get into finding out more in this Stray Asia review.


Stray Asia Review: Mekong Pass

stray group walking to slow boat from homestay in laos


Who Is Stray Asia?

Stray Asia offers hop-on-hop-off tours to travelers wanting to truly experience a country, get off the beaten track and make life-long friends. They offer stops which are popular highlights in Asia, as well as opportunities to explore some hidden secrets.

Stray launched Stray Asia in Laos during 2010 and overcame many obstacles to succeed. In an area with little WiFi, limited infrastructure and a variety of transportation options required to complete the journey, they were able to make it work. Stray Asia is actually the only tour company which journeys into central Laos, allowing you to truly experience the country. Their passes are also valid for 1 year, perfect for those who like to travel at a slower pace.

With well trained and knowledgeable guides, excellent support office staff and a variety of comfortable transportation options they provide a way for travelers to explore parts of Asia with minimal stress. Complicated travel days are nonexistent, the uncertainty of what to do in destinations is eliminated while at the same time you are learning in depth about a country and interacting with locals.

 

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Where Can You Go With Stray Asia?

Stray Asia has a wide variety of passes covering 6 separate countries in Asia. A popular option for many travelers is the countries which cover the Banana Pancake Backpacker Trail. This consists of Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. If this is your first time in South East Asia I highly recommend doing one of the passes which involve these countries. That way you will get a good variety of countryside, city life, paradise beaches and culture. You can also choose whether you would like to do a Freestyle Tour or a Freestyle Pass depending on your travel style (more on this below).

For those travelers who are looking for something unique, Stray Asia launched tours in Bhutan and Borneo in 2018.

Apart from Asia, Stray also operates passes in Australia and New Zealand. These are hop-on-hop-off style, allowing for flexibility. That way you can discover the beautiful snowy peaked mountains, the beautiful beaches and sprawling cities all at your own pace.

the group having at team chat stray asia review


Freestyle Passes VS Freestyle Tours

When traveling with Stray Asia you have the option of booking a Freestyle Pass or a Freestyle Tour. No matter which one you decide you will be traveling together, though what is the main difference are the inclusions.

The Freestyle Tours include transportation, accommodation and enough activities to keep you busy. Nearly the only things you will need to pay for are food and drinks. This is perfect if you are just wanting to purchase for the majority of your trip up front so you don’t have to overly stress about budgeting.

The other option is the Freestyle Pass and this is what I had when traveling with Stray Asia. It includes all transportation and some activities. Therefore you are going to need to book your own accommodation. Though don’t worry you can still stay with your Stray friends, just let the tour guide know and they will book you a room. This option is great for people who like a little bit of freedom and perhaps have a particular travel style.  For example, if you would rather stay in nice hotels or cheap backpacker dorms instead of locally run guesthouses this would be the best option for you. Just make sure you budget enough for accommodation, food and additional activities.

feeding monkeys in xe champhone


Transportation With Stray Asia

Throughout our journey with Stray Asia, we took a wide variety of transportation options. On the Mekong Pass, traveling around Thailand, Laos and Cambodia we took a mixture of minivans, buses, trains and boats to get between destinations.

The buses and minivans were always safe, with seatbelts and somehow Stray manages to find calm drivers in South East Asia (if you have ever traveled over here you will understand how much of a rarity this is). Obviously, the road conditions are not the same as home nor is the driving style. It is normal here for vehicles to overtake each other at questionable times. Though don’t worry, the drivers on the roads respect each other and the drivers are always courteous of oncoming traffic.

What was really awesome for me about traveling with Stray Asia is that their transportation would basically take you right into the middle of the city to their recommended accommodation. Often times traveling by yourself there would be occasions where you are dropped at a bus station 5 kilometers out of town and forced to pay for an overpriced tuk-tuk. Well don’t worry about this with Stray, you will receive door to door transport. Even if you are taking a boat, a tuk tuk will be at the pier ready to take you the remainder of the way.

stray asia transportation mini van

mini bus for stray asia review


Accommodation With Stray Asia

Throughout the journey with Stray Asia, we stayed in a variety of different accommodation.  From homestays in local villages to guesthouses and even a sleeper train. Though 95% of the time you will be staying in a family operated guesthouse.

We enjoyed our guesthouse stays and they were always in an awesome location with great restaurants around. They were always clean, comfortable and had air conditioning available. If you are doing the Freestyle Tour, accommodation will be included. Though, if you are doing one of the Stray Freestyle Passes as I did, then you will need to pay for the accommodation on arrival. We always found the rooms great value for money, especially as they had air conditioning. In Laos rooms cost an average of about $20.00 per night and in Cambodia about $30.00 per night.  In Thailand, we decided to book our own accommodation so I cannot speak about prices on that part of the journey.

A highlight of traveling with Stray Asia is definitely the homestays. There were some nerves about the quality of accommodation before we arrived in the homestay, but there was nothing to worry about. In the Laos homestay men and women are separated to stay with a different family. The accommodation consisted of mattresses under mosquito nets in the families living room. There was also a fan to keep us cool. In Cambodia, the homestay was an awesome experience as we got to interact with the family and village a lot. We all slept in one big room with mattresses on the ground and individual fans inside the mosquito net.

enjoying the stray asia accommodation in kong lor


The Stray Asia Guides

The guides on Stray Asia are absolutely awesome. There were some occasions where we hopped off the bus, so did not get to know certain guides overly well, but we spent the majority of our journey with Pow in Laos and Tra Tra in Cambodia. Each one of them had certain things which made them outstanding.

We traveled with Pow from Chiang Mai in Thailand until Siem Reap in Cambodia. We were in a group all through Laos and even had the opportunity to meet his baby at one stage. He really made our Laos experience awesome and gave us a new insight into the country we wouldn’t have otherwise.

Pow was a monk for a period in his life growing up, so was able to tell us a lot of information on the temple visits and relate it to his experiences. He also grew up in Houy Xai, our first destination in Laos, and currently lives in Luang Prabang, our second destination. He also displayed his deep knowledge of always knows where the party is at! Lastly, Pow was super organized 100% of the time and we always knew the expected costs of the day and what exactly we were doing.

Tra Tra was our guide for a period of time in Cambodia and I truly do need to give a shout out to him. I don’t think I have ever met someone so energetic with such a bubbly personality, seriously it was contagious. There was never a quiet moment with Tra Tra around and he always made sure everyone in the group was being included. We appreciated his singing, dance moves, jokes and the many magic tricks.

vientiane patuxai


Activities With Stray Asia

The Freestyle Tours with Stray Asia basically include all main bucket list activities. Though, of course, there can never be enough activities and there will be some things you will want to do which is not included. So just make sure you budget for that.

Even on the Freestyle Passes there are still plenty of included activities. A lot of them include temple visits and caves. We also visited the Killing Fields and S21 Prision in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Though, stand out activities which were included for me are the Bamboo Train in Battambang, Waterfall visit in Pakse and a boat tour inside Kong Lor Cave. These experiences are the highlights of my trip and they were included in the price!

Don’t worry though if you want to do even more activities. Each day the guide will go through optional activities which are an extra cost that they can book you on. This means you are not missing out on experiencing a destination. The guides also know the ‘must do’ things which is especially important to make the most out of your time.

waterfall in pakse


Stray Asia Mekong Pass Itinerary

Bangkok, Thailand

The main starting point for many of the different passes is Bangkok, smack bang in the backpacker’s paradise of Khao San Road. Before beginning our journey with Stray Asia it was time for the welcome night introduction. A bit earlier in the day we had scouted out the area and found the shop opposite my favorite smoothie stall in all of Thailand (major bonus).

At 6pm we strolled into a fairly packed store full of travelers of all different types. The friendly staff handed out beer and soft drinks before beginning to explain the upcoming journey and how to use the Stray system. Last minute details were shared and many questions answered.

Last but not least we were told everything we would need to know about beginning the tour tomorrow, including what to pack, where to meet and at what time.

khao san road bangkok meals


Ayutthaya, Thailand

Waking up early we were super excited to begin our journey with Stray Asia. After a quick breakfast, we sorted our bags and walked the couple minutes to the Stray Asia Shop, the departing point for today. There was about 21 of us who would be traveling today. Awaiting us were 3 large 12 seater vans to take us from Bangkok to Ayutthaya. With 7 people to a van, it made for a very comfortable journey, even if it might have been a short one.

A quick hour and a half later we had made our way through the Bangkok traffic to the UNESCO World Heritage Site which is Ayutthaya. This impressive city is the former capital of Thailand and is now a popular day trip for tourists in Thailand. We arrived early morning at Good Luck Guesthouse where we had a delicious early lunch and were given the option to bike or boat around the temples in Ayutthaya.

I decided to experience the ‘Venice of the East’ by jumping onboard one of the boats with some of my fellow Stray travelers. This was a highlight of our Ayutthaya day trip and took us around a few of the temples with our guide sharing facts along the way.

We had dinner back at Good Luck Guesthouse and made a stop in at 7/11 for snacks before boarding the overnight train to Chiang Mai.

temple being reconstructed in ayutthaya


Chiang Mai, Thailand

After a surprisingly comfortable journey, we arrived at the train station in Chiang Mai around 7.30am. Jumping into a songthaew it was a quick 5-minute drive until we were in the bustling old town. Many people decide to hop off in Chiang Mai and this is exactly what we did. Pai is a popular backpacker paradise town which many venture to. Though, we decided to spend 5 days here in Chiang Mai which I was happy about as it is one of my favorite cities.

I purposely planned our journey so we were in Chiang Mai for the Sunday night market. If you are a shopper and love street food I highly recommend making sure you are in Chiang Mai for Sunday.

We had an action-packed week exploring this awesome city with a day trip to the elephant nature park, temple visits, a cooking class, soap carving and gold leaf lacquerware class. Oh, and of course, tasting many of the foodie hotspots in Chiang Mai.

When our time was over we headed to Hugnur Hostel which was the pick-up spot to begin our journey to Laos.

chiang mai sunday night market

elephant nature park in chiang mai


Chiang Rai, Thailand

It was another spacious journey today from Chiang Mai to Laos with a stop in Chiang Rai. There were a couple different 12 seater minivans making for a super comfortable ride with lots of space.

Through the city and out of the hills the journey took a few hours with a bathroom break in between. Chiang Rai is another possible hop off stop in Thailand, though Stray Asia do not stop overnight and rather a couple of hours here.

The famous White Temple (Wat Rong Khun) is a must visit and this is obvious by the number of tour buses which regularly stop here. Luckily for us, our Stray guides had timed it perfectly as we would be arriving as the tour groups are having lunch, then once they are finished lunch we would go have ours. This way we would avoid the crowds and have a much more pleasurable experience.

What truly makes the White Temple unique is the mixture of a gorgeous Buddhist temple and seemingly out of place pop culture references. I am talking Star Wars, Freddie Kruger, Predator and more!

We stopped here long enough to grab a snack, stretch our legs and take a few photos before we continued on to cross the border into Laos. Once in Laos we took a short tuk-tuk ride into the chilled out town of Houay Xai, our stop for the night.

white temple is chiang rai


Houy Xai, Laos

With the help of our guide Pow, it was a quick and simple border crossing between Thailand and Laos. A tuk-tuk was waiting out front which we piled into and made our way into the center of Houy Xai to our guesthouse.

After unpacking after a long travel day we got refreshed before heading out to explore this quaint border town. The group met back up downstairs and Pow showed us around his hometown. We walked the 200+ stairs up to the top of a temple and watched the sunset over the hills in the distance. Pow also helped with getting our Laos Kip out of an ATM and sorting sim cards to keep us connected.

We had dinner at a small locally owned restaurant for our first meal in Laos and some of us even tried our first sips of the infamous Lao Lao whiskey.

sunset at huay xai


Mekong River Homestay, Laos

Time for a two day trip along the Mekong River to Luang Prabang. We had breakfast at our guesthouse and got some snacks. The group met back up again and we were loaded into tuk-tuks to take us down to the pier.

Along the riverbanks lay many slow boats. We loaded up, placing bags up the front and grabbing a seat. The low-lying fog and early morning temperatures made the first hour a little chilly. Luckily, there were plenty of blankets to bundle up in.

We were served a delicious lunch with some yummy vegetarian options. The views are one of the best parts. Watching the local life pass by with water buffalos, goats and children playing in the water.

That evening we stopped in a small village where we would be spending the night. It was time for a quick river swim for those brave enough before tucking into another delicious meal. Small children ran up high fiving us. We made our way to the community hall where a traditional Baci ceremony was held. It was a mixture of singing, laughing and drinking as they share their songs and music with us.

The following morning was an early start as we made our way back to the boat. A breakfast spread was laid out on the table as the boat fires up the engines and we made our way down the river.

It became obvious we were getting closer to civilization, with roads and many grand bridges. After a few hours, we arrived at the famous limestone Pak Ou Caves. This is a very important pilgrimage site for the local people. There are hundreds of Buddhas throughout the caves which provide a great view over the Mekong below. A quick hour later we arrived at Luang Prabang.

walking through homestay village in laos


Luang Prabang, Laos

After a quick drive from the pier, we arrived in the gorgeous UNESCO World Heritage Town of Luang Prabang. Set on the banks of the Mekong this is certainly a popular tourist spot in Laos and for good reason.

One of the best things to do here is visiting the famous Kuang Si Falls which are located just under an hour’s drive from the main town. These turquoise blue waters provide the ultimate way to cool off on a hot day and the cascading falls are a photographers dream. We also explored the night markets, partook in a rice farming experience, tried out some traditional weaving and enjoyed plenty of sunsets over the river.

After 5 nights in Luang Prabang, we walked back to the meeting point to head to Vang Vieng with our new Stray Asia group.

kuang si falls in luang prabang

luang prabang rice farming experience


Vang Vieng, Laos

The road to Vang Vieng is extremely scenic, though road works made it a quite bumpy journey. The town of Vang Vieng is very picturesque with huge limestone karsts rising up out of the land. This was once backpacker paradise, a place known for drunken debauchery. Though, these days it is much more relaxed. Known for its gorgeous viewpoints, blue lagoons and timid tubing.

If you love adventure travel this is certainly the place to be. With two nights and one full day here, we decided to spend it tubing down the river. It is a relaxing journey, much different to the party bars that use to be the drawcard. Though, I just enjoyed the scenery and life on the river.

The following morning we headed back to the guesthouse meeting point, where we jumped on board the minibus and took off to Vientiane. Though, not before a stop at the Tham Jang Cave which was once used as a bunker during the 19th century.

vang vieng cave visit

tubing in vang vieng


Vientiane, Laos

After a couple of toilet breaks and a stop for lunch, we arrived at the capital of Laos, Vientiane. To make the most out of our 1 night in the city our guide took us on a bus tour before checking into our accommodation.

First up was a stop at the COPE Centre, a non-profit that educates and raises awareness for victims of unexploded bombs during the Secret War. I highly recommend a visit here as it truly gives you an understanding of what went on and what many people had to go through.

Next up was a stop at Putaxai as well as Pha That Luang, both famous attractions in Vientiane. From there we drove to our accommodation for the night at Mixay Paradise Hotel. Tonight was the last for a couple of the people in our group, so our guide Pow took us to a delicious local restaurant for a farewell. We then headed down to the river to check out a massive night market which is set up.

We finished off the evening with a few beers at a rooftop bar, taking in the city lights and views over the river before heading to bed.

reclining buddha in vientiane laos


Kong Lor, Laos

We met downstairs at the lobby and jumped aboard a minivan to take us to Kong Lor. With a few people finishing their travels, there was now five of us left in this group. Though, I was more than happy, as it was a bunch of chill guys and me, as well as our awesome guide Pow.

About an hour into the road we arrived at Wat Prabat Phonsone. This temple is known for having Buddha’s Footprint and is an important pilgrimage site. About an hour later we stopped at a village for lunch and then at a viewpoint overlooking a valley.

The dirt road to Kong Lor takes a while, but after checking into our accommodation at Thongdam Bungalows, we were ready to cool down at a nearby swimming spot. Joining a few local girls who work at the onsite restaurant, they took us down to the river for a swim and to jump off some boulders.

The location here is gorgeous. The balcony from our room looked out over a tobacco farm full of water buffalos and to the karst limestone mountains which surround Kong Lor. We watched the sky turn red for sunset before heading to dinner and preparing for a busy day tomorrow.

After a delicious breakfast, we jumped back into the minivan for the short drive back down to Kong Lor Cave. This time we wouldn’t just be swimming outside, but also venturing inside for a 7-kilometer boat trip. After getting briefed and chucking on a life jacket it was time to venture into the impressive cave. This journey is honestly one of the best things I have ever done! The stalagmites and stalactites are so amazing, unlike anything I have ever seen before. Seriously, my jaw dropped in amazement the entire boat ride.

lake outside of kong lor cave in laos


Thakhek, Laos

Jumping onto the van after lunch it was a quick few hours drive to the town of Thakhek. This small town has a lot of French architecture and we spent the afternoon relaxing after a busy morning.

For dinner, we went to a quite fancy local restaurant with delicious food. Though, being the beginning of the wet season the rain quickly decided to bucket down. I decided to head back to the hotel for some rest, while the rest of our group hit the town.

thaknek view over river


Xe Champhone, Laos

After a bit of a sleep in, we got breakfast and hit the road. A short way later, we pulled over to the side of the road and picked up some bananas for a particular activity later on. Today we were getting quite off the beaten track into a place that no other tour group on in Laos goes.

First up was a stop at Hotay Pidok Buddhist library. It is 200 year old and sits on stilts above the river below. Here you can find thousands of Sanskrit scriptures and bamboo tablets.

The second stop for the day was at the monkey forest. After hearing horror stories of naughty monkeys at the monkey forest in Bali I was a little hesitant, but it turned out to be such a nice surprise. The monkeys here are obviously not used to tourists/cameras as they were quite skittish, though they were more than happy to take a banana from our hand. There was absolutely no aggression and we had plenty of bananas to go around.

The third stop was at a local market just outside the final destination of today, Xe Champhone. Being quite off the beaten track the locals here were quite fascinated by us. They smiled, waved and giggled as we squeezed through many of the stalls.

We finally arrived at our Guesthouse at Xe Champhone. There is not too much around so we relaxed in the room, enjoying a bit of air con before heading to an early dinner.

temple scripts in xe champhone

monkey forest xe champhone


Pakse, Laos

After a quick breakfast, we hit the road to Pakse. It was a smooth drive and we quickly checked into the Guesthouse and got changed for this afternoon’s activities.

Tucking into a delicious tofu curry and a chilled drink, I enjoyed being back in city life. The buzz of the nearby traffic and life on the streets provided entertainment during lunch.

About a forty minute drive out of Pakse we arrived at Pakse Tad Ngeuang Waterfall. There were a couple of tour buses, but the crowds were minimal. We came across a small walkway that descends to the base. After climbing down we all jumped into the refreshing water.

The second stop was a coffee plantation to test some coffee. I had a Laos iced coffee (coffee and condensed milk), though they had a wide selection for any latte lover.

Back at the guesthouse we cleaned ourselves up after the swim and headed out for a sunset cocktail on top of the Pakse Hotel. The view from above is amazing, and with 2 for 1 cocktails, it led to a lot of laughs. Being back in a city we decided to have something different for dinner by stopping in at an Indian restaurant before going back to sleep.

The following morning, on the way to our final destination in Laos, we stopped in at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Wat Phau. This Khmer Temple is the former capital of the Khmer Kingdom before Angkor Wat. We had about an hour here to explore the complex and climb the hill for a view of the surrounds.

pakse vat phou in the morning


Don Det, Laos

After heading away to Wat Phau we made the short journey to the river. Once there, the van drove onto a bamboo style ferry to transport us to the other side. Driving off we went into a local village which is the main transportation point to get to Don Det. The van was parked up for the night while we made our way through the streets to the boat pier.

We chucked our bags onto our private wooden boat and made the journey across to the other side of the Mekong River. It was midday now and it was quite hot and humid so I was more than happy when we arrived at Lebijou Guesthouse to our air-conditioned room. Unfortunately for me, I woke up that morning with a horrible migraine. So after lunch, I retreated back to the room for the afternoon to try and sleep it off.

I may not have gotten up to too much in Don Det, but this is backpackers paradise. Popular activities include river tubing, waterfall visits, cycling to the nearby Don Khone Island, spotting the rare Irrawaddy dolphins and relaxing poolside with a beer. This is a popular hop off spot for many travelers and if I was feeling better I would’ve spent longer here!

For the evening make sure to grab a drink at one of the many bars on the riverside and watch an incredible sunset.

ferry to don det in laos


Siem Reap, Cambodia

With an early start in Don Det and a rainy boat journey, it wasn’t too long until we found ourselves at immigration crossing over into Cambodia. Today would be quite a long travel day to get to Siem Reap. Though with plenty of rest stops the hours flew by and we arrived late afternoon.

Siem Reap is another ending spot from some Stray passes and also a starting point. This is one of my favorite cities with many great things to do, delicious places to eat and spectacular attractions. We said goodbye to our guide Pow who had been by our side from Chiang Mai, Thailand until now. For our final night, we hit the town for an affordable but delicious dinner and some beer pong.

One thing you cannot miss in Siem Reap is checking out the temples in the Angkor Archaeological Complex. During our stay, we did the grand loop which was incredible. It allowed us to escape a lot of the crowds and see some of the lesser known temples.

There are also plenty of other things to do and awesome day trips which is why I recommend hopping off in Siem Reap. Also, if you are into the drinking scene you will love Pub Street!

After a relaxing 5 days in Siem Reap, we went to the White Rabbit Hostel to meet our new tour buddies and continue on our journey.

temple in angkor wat complex siem reap


Battambang, Cambodia

It is an easy few hours’ drive from Siem Reap from Battambang. Our first stop that day has got to be the most unusual of the trip, but still an interesting experience. At a small roadside stall, a lady selling some traditional bites handed our tour guide a bag. Inside there was rat cooked in spices as well as fried frogs. The majority of people in our group give it a try. Unfortunately or fortunately, I was able to pull out the vegetarian card to avoid this one.

The second stop was at a local guesthouse for a proper lunch. We had time to relax here, hiding from the temperatures, before hitting the road once more. Swerving through the backstreet of Battambang we soon found ourselves alongside some train tracks for today’s activity, the Bamboo Train.

The recently renovated train tracks are a lot better than they once were, making for a much quieter, less bumpy journey. Flying through the forests and past barren farmland we made our way on this unique form of transportation. It is an awesome way to see the countryside and a different side of Cambodia.

Once we are all windblown it was time to jump back onto the bus for today’s final stop, a local homestay. Outside of the town of Battambang, we pulled into a small, quaint village. The locals here welcomed us, full of smiles and laughter. Walking through the village we passed cows, children playing and gorgeous views over the nearby farmland. We watched the sunset over the river before heading back to the homestay to assist with spring roll making for dinner.

bamboo train in battambang cambodia

local girls waving in battambang cambodia


Sihanoukville, Cambodia

With an early start and a packed breakfast, we jumped onto the bus ready for an extremely long day. It takes about 12 hours to travel between Battambang and Sihanoukville. Lucky for us there are plenty of snack stops and a nice restaurant for lunch with the cleanest public toilet I had seen in a while. Unfortunately, we hit traffic driving into Sihanoukville, but eventually arrived just before nightfall.

Sihanoukville is an area which is going through A LOT of change. If you are to hop off in Sihanoukville,  do not stay on the mainland, but instead head to the islands from the coast, they are some of the best I have seen!

We booked our tickets to the island for the following morning at 7.30am. First, we stayed at Koh Rong for 2 nights and after that, we book a $5.00 boat to take us to the nearby Koh Rong Sanleom. Think white sandy beaches, clear turquoise waters and swaying palm trees. This is the definition of paradise.

Our final 2 nights we spent back in Otres, Sihanoukville. If you do decide to stay here I recommend booking in at Sok Sabay Resort. They are basically the only decent option left in Otres and away from the main disgusting road. With an onsite pool, restaurant and basically everything you need, there is no reason to leave the nice resort grounds. This may sound horrible to say about a place, but once you are there you will understand.

swings on beach at koh rong samloem


Kampot, Cambodia

Hitting the road from Sihanoukville, we arrived after a couple of hours to Kampot. Luckily for us, traffic on the roads was minimal thanks to today being Songkran, the Cambodian New Year.

After checking into our accommodation, we met up next door to The Magic Sponge for lunch. I must say the portion sizes here are massive and if you are looking for value for money this is the place to be. Our awesome guide Tra Tra briefed us on what to do in Kampot. Popular options here are the pepper plantation, checking out the nearby Bokor National Park or hitting up a waterpark hostel. Though being the New Year, tuk-tuk prices are higher and some places might be closed. That’s why we decided to do as the locals do and celebrate with them.

Down at one of the main roundabouts we walked out to a massive crowd partying in the midday sun. Two fire trucks were set up on each side and were squirting everyone through big hoses. Baby powder was thrown around, covering our faces and hair whilst a DJ from a nearby stage played Cambodian electronic music.

That evening, after a shower and a good scrub, we headed down to the river and jumped aboard a boat. Dodging the overhanging bridges by inches, we made our way down the river while the sun set over the nearby mountains. Once darkness set in, little fireflies lit up the trees and fireworks started going off in the background to celebrate the New Year. That night was a quiet one as most of us were exhausted from the day partying.

The following morning we headed back over to The Magic Sponge for their famous $1.00 breakfast before piling back into the bus for our final day.

celebrating songkran in kampot

sunset over river in kampot


Phnom Penh, Cambodia

With quiet roads, thanks to the New Year, the usually hectic traffic city of Phnom Penh was seemingly abandoned. This made a quick drive, and we arrived at our lunch spot in just a few hours.

After a quick bite to eat we headed across the road to the infamous Killing Fields. As the name suggests, this was just one of the many Killing Fields in Cambodia from when the country was in control by the Khmer Rouge. An audio tour is the best way to experience this place allowing you to hear stories from the survivors and the horrors which unknowingly went on.

I highly recommend watching the film First They Killed My Father before visiting. It is available on Netflix and Youtube with English subtitles. I watched it on the bus before visiting and it allowed me to understand how the Khmer Rouge were able to take control and do these horrible things.

Our second stop was at the S21 Prison located right in the city. This school building was turned into a prison under the Khmer Rouge’s control where they routinely tortured many locals and a handful of foreigners before they were sent to death. It is not necessary to get an audio guide here, though I do think it is helpful. S21 Prison has heaps of information and photos which can be a lot to take in.

A quick drive further into the city we arrived at the last stop for us. The Mekong Pass actually takes you overland back to Bangkok via Siem Reap. Though, we were heading to Singapore and flights were affordable from Phnom Penh which is why we decide to finish our route here.

killing fields in phnom penh cambodia


My Stray Asia Review: Exploring With The Mekong Pass

I honestly had such a great time in South East Asia with Stray and they surpassed all my expectations. The guides really went out of their way to make sure everyone had a great time and were extremely knowledgeable. There were plenty of included activities and the staff at Stray Asia had great communication before and during our trip. We made awesome friends, meet people from all around the world and created some amazing memories.

I really loved exploring Thailand, Laos and Cambodia with Stray Asia and I highly recommend it if you are thinking about using a tour company to explore these countries.

 


Any Questions about this Stray Asia Review? Let me know in the comments!


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Find out all you need to know about traveling with Stray Asia. In this Stray Asia review you will learn about the guides, accommodation, transport and itinerary. It is a must read before you decide to book.

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HOW TO TRAVEL FROM BANGKOK TO CHIANG MAI

TRAVEL FROM KHAO SAN ROAD TO DON MUEANG AIRPORT

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. So, if you click on it and purchase something, I get a small percentage at no extra cost to you. As always all opinions are my own and your support is much appreciated.

Backpackers Wanderlust was a guest on the Mekong Pass with Stray Asia, however, as always, all opinions are my own.

2019-05-18T14:46:17+12:00

One Comment

  1. George July 2, 2019 at 7:09 pm - Reply

    What are your thoughts on Stray’s approach to sustainable and eco-friendly travel? Where/did they do well and where could they improve?

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about tasha amy sidebar

Your typical New Zealander, now discovering the world one country at a time. With a high-end backpacking style I prefer to glampack across the globe by embracing the best of each destination. All of which I share right here on Backpackers Wanderlust. 

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