Guide to the 4000 Islands of Laos: Don Det and Don Khon (Part 2)

By Mark Wiens 41 Comments

This is Part 2 of the Guide to the 4000 Islands of Laos covering Don Det and Don Khon. Check out Part 1 for information on How to Get to the 4000 Islands and Don Khong Island.

4000 Islands in Laos
4000 Islands Laos Map (Si Phan Don)

The 4000 islands are a part of Laos where life seems to go by without even knowing it. The peacefulness of the atmosphere and the calmness of the people, injects a virus that lures one into relaxation and a lack of desire to do anything productive. The sleepy islands make a perfect getaway from the sleepless noisy and chaotic cities of SE Asia.

Important Information

  • Money: There are no ATM’s on the 4000 islands and guest houses exchange money for horrendous rates. To avoid losing money, bring enough Laos Kip with you to last for the duration of your stay on the 4000 Islands (Si Phan Don). 1 USD is about 8010 LAK (Kip)
  • Internet: Internet is available at a few locations on the island, but is very pricey: 400 Kip ($0.05) per minute – Wow!

About Don Det Island

Don Det is the most popular and most lively island in the river archipelago. If typical backpackers come to the 4000 islands, this is their preferred island. If you are searching for bungalows overlooking the Mekong and a place to soak up the sun with a frenzy of other gap-year backpackers, you might love Don Det.

4000 Islands
View from Don Det Island

Places to Stay on Don Det

There are loads of guest houses and bungalows all over the entire island.

Mama Tanon Cafe and Guest House: 40,000 Kip ($5) for room with bathroom inside, great view of the river

Paradise Bungalows: 30,000 Kip ($3.75) for a bungalow overlooking the river

Where to Stay on Don Det
Paradise Bungalows, Don Det, Laos

Restaurants around the island are priced and cooked according to tourists. In my opinion, the food wasn’t great, but maybe if you like Western food there are some good options. Expect to pay 20,000 Kip ($2.50) or more for a decent meal.

Som Tam Laos
Papaya Salad on Don Det

Things to Do on Don Det Island

Actually there’s not much to do on Don Det island apart from chilling out:

  • Lay in a hammock all day
  • Walk around slowly
  • Ride a bicycle around slowly
  • Enjoy living
  • Go to Don Khon
  • Kayaking Experience: Go out for the day on a Kayak tour, cost is from 150,000 to 200,000 Kip ($18.73 – $25.00) per person.

I’ll just say this straight, you don’t really need to have anything to do (nor do you want to have anything to do) while staying on the island of Don Det!

Si Phan Don, Laos
Island Path, Don Det

Bridge From Don Det to Don Khon Island

Don Det and Don Khon
Bridge between Don Det and Don Khon

About Don Khon Island

If you want to get away from the main drag of stereotypical backpackers, don’t even bother with Don Det, but take the walk straight over to the less tourism-in-your-face Don Khon island. The bridge to Don Khon is about a 4 km walk from the main drop-off of Don Det.

In my opinion, Don Khon is much more appealing than Don Det, as there is less action taking place and a crowd that is there more to enjoy the serenity, than party it away.

Don Khon Laos
Relaxing on Don Khone Island

Note: If your boat drops you off at the main part of Don Det island, it’s about a 4 km walk (beautiful walk) to the strip of accommodation on Don Khon island.

Many travelers opt to bicycle over from Don Det for the day and are charged 20,000 Kip ($2.50) upon crossing the bridge (Note: If you want to stay on Don Khon, you can avoid the 20,000 Kip entrance fee).

Things to Do on Don Khon Island:

  • Tat Somphamit Waterfall: A pleasant waterfall where you can do some hiking around
  • Swimming beach: Just a small beach where you can take a dip, just past the Tat Somphamit waterfall
  • Visit the Temple: Located just before the Tat Somphamit Waterfall
  • Freshwater Irrawaddy Dolphins: The Southern tip of the island of Don Khon is famous for it’s freshwater Irrawaddy Dolphins. There’s a better chance to see the dolphins from a boat in the water (20,000 Kip per person ($2.50)), but there’s still a possibility to see them from the edge of the island. There are all kinds of tours available as well.
Don Khon Island
Tat Somphamit waterfall

Where to Stay on Don Khon Island

Pan’s Guest House: Nice double rooms for 30,000 Kip ($3.75) per night

Phon Vilay Guest House: Close to the temple on Don Khon, there are bungalows overlooking the river for 30,000 Kip ($3.75), bathroom en-suite

Kham Pheng Guest House: Another decent guest house with similar rates

Sala Done Khon Hotel: Offers maybe the fanciest accommodation on the surrounding islands. There very nice floating rooms that go for $50 per night.

Don Khon Hotel Options
On the Road, Don Khon Hotels

How to Get Off Of the 4000 Islands and to a Destination of Your Choice

There are many tour agencies that offer relatively the same prices to all sorts of destinations from Don Det and Don Khon. The closest city that most people head to is Pakse, Laos, costs 60,000 – 70,000 Kip ($7.50 – $8.74), including boat to Ban Nakasong and tourist oriented bus to Pakse.

Tour agencies can get transportation to all kinds of destinations in the area, better ask for details if you are looking at one of the longer routes.

1 USD = 8010 LAK (Kip)

Travel 4000 Island Prices
Getting off of the 4000 Islands (Si Phan Don)

Go to Part 1 for Information on How to Get to the 4000 Islands and Don Khong Island!



41 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

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  • Luana

    3 months ago

    I am planning my trip for early 2017 and was very confused about the 4000 islands. Thanks for taking the time to clarify this.

  • Carol

    8 months ago

    Thanks for the great post! My partner and I are in Don Khine right now and it’s beautiful, VERY laid back and we got a glimpse of endangered Dolphins!! Speaking of endangered, DON’T stay at the Sala Don Khone floating hotel rooms. They have an orphaned, endangered gibbon in a relatively small cage in the front of the property. Don’t be fooled by the sign next to her cage about animal welfare, though they may care about the gibbon, it is NEVER OK to keep a gibbon (or any endangered or “exotic” animal) as a pet. This gibbon has no reference for gibbon behavior and should definitely be in a rescue/rehab center where she can learn and either live her life in a sanctuary with other gibbons, or be released Into the wild after rehab!

  • Ole

    1 year ago

    Great posts about 4000 islands! I will be travelling South East Asia this winter, starting with Laos. After doing an 8 day trip with Stray Travels from Luang Prabang to 4000 islands, I’m thinking about spending a week at Don Det / Don Khone just relaxing and enjoying life before i go to Cambodia. Is Don Det pretty much just a party place with younger backpackers? I’m 35 and enjoy a good party or two, but I plan to to more than waking up hungover every day over there:) I’m also going to Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and maybe Malaysia, but Laos is the country that I’m the most excited about, and that sound the most adventurous!

    • Mark Wiens

      1 year ago

      Hey Ole, good to hear from you, glad you’ll be going to the 400 Islands. Yah, there are plenty of parties at Don Det, but I think you should still be able to find some quieter places. But you might also consider staying on Don Khon, still close, but more relaxing. Hope you have a great trip!

  • Kay

    2 years ago

    Really great post – feel lke 4000 islands could be the highlight of my trip!

  • Thomas Alston

    2 years ago

    Excellent information that I’ve been looking for. For Khone Phapheng falls I am confused on which is best for getting to==from Don Khon or from Thatko? I have another question about the weather in off seasons: Good idea or is transport harder to find?

  • Marianne Nishio

    2 years ago

    Thank you for the information! I’ve just spent 10 wonderful days at Don Khon and can happily agree with everything you wrote. The island is very beautiful and offer lots to do in a relaxed way. Went to both waterfalls and was actually most impressed by the smaller, Tat Somphamit. It’s less touristic and easier to get to than the big Khone Pha Pheng Waterfalls. Biked around the island and watched the dolphins play outside Ban Hang. Take the boat directly to Don Khon from Nagasang for 20.000 Kip, much easier than going to Don Det first. Prices are increasing on the island. Stayed in a little hut with private toilet/shower, free wifi and a veranda on poles out over the Mekong. The lovely and very friendly little guesthouse is called PorBounPhan and they charged 60.000 Kip for 1 person (around US$ 7) or 70-80.000 Kip for 2 people sharing. Can really recommend it! 1 US$ is now about 8.200 LAK (Kip).

    • Mark Wiens

      2 years ago

      Hey Marianne, thank you for the recent update on Don Khon, glad you had such a great time there. It’s been years since I’ve been, so good to hear it’s still an amazing and relaxing place. Thanks!

  • Jason

    3 years ago

    Great info, man! Thanks so much! Heading there tomorrow!

  • Jessie

    3 years ago

    Thanks for the super helpful posts — I’m headed to Don Khon tomorrow and really appreciate the tips!

  • Tony James Slater

    4 years ago

    Awesome, just the info I’m looking for! I booked my bus to Don Det this morning, as was really hoping I’d be able to visit Don Khon as well, to see the wateralls and dolphins. I guess the place has developed more and more each passing year, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a bunglaow with WIFI… dunno, maybe I’m asking too much?!
    Cheers for the informative article mate!
    Tony

    • Mark Wiens

      4 years ago

      Hey Tony, great thanks for checking out this guide. Have a fun trip!

  • Ben

    4 years ago

    Thank you. I am crossing the border to go there tomorrow and this is extremely helpful.

    Ben

  • Travis

    4 years ago

    Great post, with a lot of useful information. Currently in Pakse and found this. Thanks for the info and the many great photos.

    • Mark Wiens

      4 years ago

      Hey Travis, no problem, hope you have a great time!

  • Ann

    5 years ago

    I went to Don Khone for New Year & this post was very helpful in planning my visit!

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Great to hear that Ann, thanks for reading this article! Hope you had a good time and enjoyed your visit to Don Khon!

  • Ciki

    6 years ago

    wow, what a brilliant guide Mark! This and part one as well.. LOVE IT! I really wanna come visit LAOS now!

  • Christina

    6 years ago

    Wow, I had never heard of these islands. What a place to discover!

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Yah, if you are down for some pure relaxation and quietness – the 4000 islands are great!

  • Don

    6 years ago

    Very nice post Mark. The photos brought back some great memories of my stay on Don Det and visits to Don Khon and the Tat Somphamit waterfall.

  • Grace

    6 years ago

    $3.75 for a bungalow overlooking the river?! What a steal!! Did you get to stay in one?

  • Sophie

    6 years ago

    I would love to stay in a floating room. Gliding slowly up river would be lovely as well.

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Yes, those floating rooms do look very nice! From what I saw, it’s about the fanciest place to stay in the area!

  • Debbie Beardsley @ European Travelista

    6 years ago

    Having never heard of the 4,000 islands, I think I need to visit! They remind me of what Tahiti must have looked like many years ago. Beautiful, serene and calling me.

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Awesome Debbie! Unfortunately (just like any place that becomes popular) is starting to more and more developed, so let’s hope the 4000 Islands can still remain calm and serene!

  • Jeremy Branham

    6 years ago

    Love this review of the islands in Laos. Again, incredibly affordable and a great way to relax and get away from the hustle and bustle. I would enjoy walking around and just seeing the waterfalls!

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Thanks Jeremy – Just walking around (slowly) is one of the beauties of the 4000 Islands!

  • Scott – Quirky Travel Guy

    6 years ago

    I would’ve never guessed there were so many islands… and so affordable to visit!

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Yah, for the beauty, relaxation, and price, the 4000 Islands make an incredible place to visit!

  • Christy @ Technosyncratic

    6 years ago

    Wow, your two posts are a great guide. I’ve never heard of these 4000 islands, but now I want to explore at least a couple hundred of them. 😉