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.
- 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.
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
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.
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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!
Bridge From Don Det to Don Khon Island
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.
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.
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.
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)