New Zealand travel company, stray, launches in Laos South East Asia

Stray, New Zealand’s top rating* backpacker bus company has announced that from October it will operate the first ‘hop-on hop-off’ travel network in South East Asia.

Stray has spent a year working with the Laos government to become a fully licensed tour operator in Laos – a first for a Western Company they believe. The license now means that they can operate their own buses and employ their own drivers and guides in Laos.

“We are hugely excited about our new Asian offer,” commented Stray Director Neil Geddes. ‘We’ve had a Stray crew based in Laos and working with locals for the past 18 months to better understand the country and to create unique itineraries.

“The communist government in Laos only really welcomed travellers since the early nineties. There is now a bit of a tourist track between the two best known cities of Luang Prabang and the capital Vientiane, but because public transport is so poor, outsiders still rarely visit much of the rest of the country. It is also very difficult to access without your own vehicle and even harder to find places to stay without local contacts. We’ve done all the hard work and now Stray customers can see the amazing untouched scenery, wildlife, history and experience the Buddhist culture that Laos has to offer off the beaten track.’

The Stray route starts in Asia’s hub, Bangkok, heads up through northern Thailand on trains then across to the top of Laos, before travelling down through to the south of Laos on Stray’s own buses and a long boat and then back across to Bangkok.

Geddes said: “The trains in Thailand can get very busy so we reserve seats for our clients in advance. Our guides also travel on the trains so we provide guidance on the attractions and book accommodation at the stops as well.  We have our own buses in Laos, which allows us to provide unique access to the amazing culture and attractions of the country.

Stray launches in Laos

“The itineraries include exploring caves which loyalists lived during the Vietnam war; a stay in a remote village where they have rarely seen Westerners and can only be accessed by traditional boat, as well as the better known activities such as a pub crawl down a river in an inner tube,” added Geddes.

Customers can buy passes covering the whole route (the full circuit takes 17 days) for US$835, or passes for smaller sections of the route for as little as US$150. They then have the freedom to get off and on anywhere over the route for up to twelve months. Stray reserves beds at the night stops (with prices from US$5 per night) and customers just pay for their accommodation as they go.

The reputation of Stray and its sister company Spaceships rentals’ existing products, the attractions of Thailand and Laos and Stray’s unique access to them, particularly in Laos; combined with being the first ‘hop-on hop-off’ travel network in South East Asia has meant that there is great interest in what the Company have been doing from the industry. Geddes says ‘Stray has managed to sign up a number of the key distributers in the world for the market before we’ve even had our first Asian departure so we are really excited about the potential of this new product.'”
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Source = Stray Travel
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