We first heard about Stray Travel's unique Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour through Thailand and Laos while we were based in Chiang Mai. We had been researching all our options on how to get from Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang and picked up a Stray Travel - Laos and Thailand "Further Off The Beaten Track" Brochure. At the time, Stray Travel's Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Option wasn't for us, however we kept the brochure just in case. It was a really cool brochure after all!
As we researched Laos some more. We realised how hard it can be to get around the country. There is a lot to see and everything seemed so spread out. There are no trains. Local buses are frequent but they take a long time. It would be a long time sitting on local buses to get to places where they were unlikely to speak much English and where we would need to figure out our own accommodation and onward transport. We wanted more. We wanted to experience Laos with other people and to be comfortable. Most importantly, we wanted to see everything we wanted to see.
This is where that Stray Travel brochure that we took in Chiang Mai came in handy. They offered a "Long Thaang Pass" Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour that would take us out to the nether lands of Laos visiting Nong Khiaw, the Hintang Archeological Park, Sam Neua, the Pathet Lao caves of Vieng Xai, the Plain of Jars in Phonsavan, and more.
To the website to get the details! From the home page, we clicked through Passes, and then to the "Long Thaang". Minimum days: 5. Cost: USD $260. This bus tour takes a minimum of 5 days. It is hop-on hop-off bus so you can stop and stay at a place if you want to.
The cost of USD $260 each seemed a little steep for us at first. But after reading what the "Long Thaang" Pass was going to offer us in experiences, we thought otherwise. Looking at the map on the website, the brochure and google maps, we figured that the route would be around 1000 kilometres. That is a lot of travelling. Especially on Laos roads. Laos is famous for it's mountainous, windy, narrow roads. Most likely we wouldn't be travelling any more than 60kms per hour!
More research on their website later, we found a handy section called "Preparing For Your Trip". It describes items of clothing, bug repellent, shoes and how much money you should bring with you. Handy! They also reminded the reader that we would be heading out into rural Laos therefore dietary requirements may not be met. For example, a vegetable fried rice may still include eggs. Not quite the vegan meal.
It should be noted here that although Stray Travel provides transport for you, as well as books accommodation, they do not pay for the accommodation. You still have to pay for accommodation as you go. I guess that goes with being a hop-on hop-off service. Having someone else do the organizing and haggling was fine with us. On the itinerary section of the "Long Thaang Pass" they provide an approximate cost for each night as well as a general summary of what to expect. The costs were all very reasonable.
The "Long Thaang" Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour operates from Luang Prabang, takes a minimum of 5 days, and departs Luang Prabang on Wednesdays only. They also stop the running of the tour between the rainy season of June 1st and October 31st. This pass needs a minimum of four people to operate, so it is best to check that it is running before you book it.
There are two ways you can contact Stray Travel in regards to booking the "Long Thaang Pass" or any other of course, you can simply select the "Book Now" Button, click the little box next to the pass name that you want to go on, choose how many people you are booking for, and then complete the booking process.
The other way to contact Stray Travel, is to go through the Contact Us page and email enquiries. We would recommend this option if you are unsure if the route you want to take will be running. This is how we contacted Stray Travel.
Once we contacted Stray Travel, and were told that the Long Thang Tour was on, we went through the process and received our "Travellers Login" username and password to be able to access everything Stray Travel has to offer. This is the place to book your seat or change your plans.
Now all we had to do was wait for the tour to start. We were in Luang Prabang, Laos already. We were soon to be seeing the Hintang Archeological Park, the Pathet Lao caves in Vieng Xai, and the Plain of Jars in Phonsavan amongst other things. How exciting!
- Stray Travel's Bus Tour - Long Thaang Pass - Pre Day 1
- Stray Travel's Bus Tour - Long Thaang Pass - Day 1
- Stray Travel's Bus Tour - Long Thaang Pass - Day 2
- Stray Travel's Bus Tour - Long Thaang Pass - Day 3
- Stray Travel's Bus Tour - Long Thaang Pass - Day 4
- Stray Travel's Bus Tour - Long Thaang Pass - Day 5
- Stray Travel's Bus Tour - Long Thaang Pass - Review