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The food situation is always changing now and has gone from simple dishes like fried rice to Belgium stew soaked in Guinness. How you choose to eat in the area will depend upon your budget and personal preferences. The following is a small preview of what you might expect.
 
The food situation is always changing now and has gone from simple dishes like fried rice to Belgium stew soaked in Guinness. How you choose to eat in the area will depend upon your budget and personal preferences. The following is a small preview of what you might expect.
  
*Paradise Restaurant, MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) free since 2008.  Located about 10 minutes from the town center, it serves an organic island menu and is noted for its lentil curry pumpkin and chicken burgers.  The French rave about the pancakes and the Israelis about the Shakshuka.  The menu has a wide variety of foods with large portions.  
+
*'''Paradise Restaurant''', MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) free since 2008.  Located about 10 minutes from the town center, it serves an organic island menu and is noted for its lentil curry pumpkin and chicken burgers.  The French rave about the pancakes and the Israelis about the Shakshuka.  The menu has a wide variety of foods with large portions.  
  
 
*Mr Mans restaurant (opposite Mr Mans accommodation) has an excellent and inexpensive menu. Try their lentil curry and rice soup.
 
*Mr Mans restaurant (opposite Mr Mans accommodation) has an excellent and inexpensive menu. Try their lentil curry and rice soup.

Revision as of 03:15, 1 February 2013

The main street in Don Det

Don Det , is an island in the middle of the Mekong River in Si Phan Don in Laos.

Contents

Understand

Don Det used to be a really off the beaten track place only five to ten years ago. While even still today you won't find the same crowds here as in Vang Vieng for example, tens of guesthouses have mushroomed around this once well kept secret. The installation of electricity poles and wires is now completed and Don Det does now have 24 hour electrical service. This will most likely lead to increasingly more services and development.

Don Det is somewhat of a Mecca for backpackers and is often compared with the the much less relaxing Vang Vieng. backpackers, mostly in their 20's and 30's come to this island to relax. Some stay a day or two, some for weeks and a few have decided to stay for good.

Get in

By boat

  • Ban Nakasang is 2 1/2 hours by mini bus or around 3 1/2 hours by local transport from Pakse. Local public transport leaves from the southern bus the station in Pakse.
  • Cambodia The prices recently are actually more expensive for the local transport than they are for the chicken bus. Many visitors like the local style transport but if price is an issue for you then by all means shop around.

Get around

Don Det is a small island. The walking path is 7.2k. Walking around it takes about two hours.

It is possible to rent bicycles for 10,000 kip from guesthouses and restaurants. Mountain bikes with 21 gears go for about twice that. Most tourists who do this cycle over the old railway bridge to Don Khon. The cost of crossing the bridge is 20,000 for a day pass.

See

There are not so many temples or culturally important sites to see in Don Det. That being said, the island and tranquil surroundings are the real gem people come to see. Anywhere you walk you will be greeted by smiling locals, stunning islands and scenery and a new experience. The temple on Don Kon is interesting enough and has a very old stupa that is not typical for the region. It is also on the way to the waterfall.

Do

Watching the sunset with a beerlao

If laying in a hammock in front of your bungalow isn't enough for you, there are some other very relaxing things to do in Don Det:

  • Swim in the Mekong River. There is a little beach where boats drop people off. It's possible to swin in the waters infront of most of the guesthouses. There are even little fish in the water, which nibble off dead foot skin, if you keep still enough.
  • Tubing. Rent a tube and float in the Mekong river for a few hours. 10k for a tube, and another 15k if you want to be driven out a bit by boat.. Bring some beers and or snack 10,000 kip.
  • Waterfalls. Go see waterfalls on Don Khon island.
  • Dolphin Watching. Take a boat tour or full day kayak tour to see the rare Irawaddy dolphins of which there are less than 20 left (in this part of the Mekhong) on the Laos/Cambodian border.
  • Take any one of the numerous scenic tours to outlying islands. The sunset barbeque tours offered going north of the island to pristine sand beaches are also quite good. The people in this region are the main asset and do not hesitate to mingle with them. Even if the language is a barrier they will be more than nice.
  • Go on one of the numerous kayaking trips available in the area.

Buy

You can get US Dollars or Kip from 4000 Island Bar, Adam's Rogue in town or Little Eden, which is located near town. They charge your Visa or M/C and charge 6%.

There are an ATM and 3 banks on the mainland (Ban Nakasang), where they do cash advances through either Visa or Mastercard. They also provide Western Union and Money Gram services for emergencies.

There are no ATMs on the island.

Eat

The food situation is always changing now and has gone from simple dishes like fried rice to Belgium stew soaked in Guinness. How you choose to eat in the area will depend upon your budget and personal preferences. The following is a small preview of what you might expect.

  • Paradise Restaurant, MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) free since 2008. Located about 10 minutes from the town center, it serves an organic island menu and is noted for its lentil curry pumpkin and chicken burgers. The French rave about the pancakes and the Israelis about the Shakshuka. The menu has a wide variety of foods with large portions.
  • Mr Mans restaurant (opposite Mr Mans accommodation) has an excellent and inexpensive menu. Try their lentil curry and rice soup.
  • Jasmin Indian Restaurant. Lonely Planet describes the service here as ‘sluggish’ which is a polite way of saying that they are downright rude. Expect to be left waiting while the staff and owner meander around the restaurant ignoring you and when they finally get around to serving you it will be with an attitude that is borderline surly and gruff at best.
  • Adam's Bar and Restaurant is located at the main Northern tip of Don Det. Adam's has a variety of Asian and Western food and a great variety of Shakes and Cocktails. It is the only bar on the island and is able to host open mic acoustic sets, late night party's, and Bbq's at 24 hours notice. It has it's own free Wi Fi service to customers. At Adam's you can also get the latest movies, music, and TV series uploaded directly onto your ipod, mp3, hard drive, and computer with in minutes. Adam's entertainment includes a free DVD lounge, plunge pool, darts, and a Nintendo Wii.
  • Rib Shack. The eccentric owner, Lance from Tennessee, is a great source of local information and humour. Sit back on the bench and listen to his colourful tales while a CD of his band plays in the background. Open in the evenings until they run out of stock (so get in there quick!) 55,000 kip for 4 ribs with coleslaw, potato salad and garlic bread. Try and pay before your meal is served just to hear Lance's famous quote of 'I don't get the money 'til you get the pork!'
  • 4000 Island Bar[[[1]] located on the main sunrise strip by the beach is an excellent restaurant serving Asian and Western food. Stunning views of the Mekong along with the islands best pool table and all the latest DVD's to relax too, home away from home. English speaking staff. New addition to the bar is proper broadband WiFi.
  • King Kong restaurant located in the south of Don Det has an ever increasing array of Western foods, including excellent pizza, fish and chips. It is known for serving a Proper Sunday Roast, serving at 4:00 PM. It's famous for the King Kong double bacon cheeseburger. The owner, Mini is quite a friendly and cordial guy, always ready for a poker game.
  • For authentic homestyle Laotian cooking Mr. Vong's restaurant approximately 500 meters north of the bridge offers very good local food. The proprietor speaks some of the best English on the island and is a wealth of local information.
  • The Herb Garden. The Herb Garden located half way down the sunset side, is a small restaurant & farm, run by a very nice English couple. The Herb Garden has a big brick oven heated by fire wood, that turns out Delicious food including topped baguettes, lasagna and pizza's that are freshly made and topped with mozzarella cheese (a must try on Don Det) toppings include salami, pepperoni, bacon, olives and more. They also make homemade ice cream and amazing cakes. The Herb Garden also has a Volley ball court, Table Tennis and a hand made Don Det version of Monopoly making it a great place to relax and have some fun during the day and night. Table tennis tournaments are regular and the winner gets a free meal in the restaurant
  • Hanoumans, 50m of arrival beach (In front of 4000 islands). Open 8-23 every day from august till may. Big variety of food, especially thai. Many spirits and cocktails. Inexpensive, friendly and quite efficient. Working wifi.

Drink

one of the many guesthouses

Beer Lao and Namkhong Beer (both Lao brewed) is available almost everywhere for between 10000 & 15000 Kip.

A plastic water bottle of rice whiskey (lao lao) is also widely available for 10,000 Kip.

They also have fruit shakes that vary from 8 - 12000+ kip

Marijuana is widely available anywhere on the island but should be used discreetly. Unlike Vang Vieng the police don't make a business in collusion with dealers to bust people but that is subject to change at any moment. So far there are not many places offering 'happy shakes' but if you find a 'hangover special breakfast' it could have Valium or other drugs in it. If this isn't your thing avoid such places.

Sleep

Dozens of Guesthouses from 30,000 Kip a night and up - all have basic bungalows that usually have a porch with a hammock, a bed and a mosquito net. There might be a little difference between the conditions of bungalows, mattresses and mosquito nets. The most important thing when selecting your accommodation is whether you want to stay on the sunrise or sunset side of Don Det. Bungalows on the sunset side can get really hot in the afternoon since the afternoon sun is much hotter than the morning sun.

In general the bungalows in the north and sunset tend to be more centered to the party crowd and the places in the south tend to get more of the nature lovers. The area around sunset and Hua Det are higher density tourist areas and the feeling of being in Laos is being somewhat lost. Avoid buying tours from such locations as they charge much more than other places. The service is generally poor, free of smile (and of tip), not creative, slow. Rooms are cheap, but do not expect them to be cleaned every day. Try to find the better and be conciliating!

Don't expect late nights out partying though because there is a curfew that often times changes. It is now 11 PM, with closing time strictly enforced. In the areas away from the main settlements you can still basically walk around at will if you fancy a midnight stroll.

Most if not all accomodations have no wifi and even in internet shop/cafe, it is still slow. best to have a mobile connection.

  • Bungalows Peace & Love, Sunset Side (About a 5-minute walk along the sunset side path), 020-999-380-89; e-mail: sisaidondet@hotmail.com. Owned by a very kind and accommodating family, these simple yet clean bungalows, with shared bathroom, overlook the Mekong River for that perfect view.
  • Mr. B's Guesthouse, (About a 5-minute walk along the sunset side path). checkout: 10:30am. The bungalows are simple with nothing more than a double bed, fan/ac and mosquito net, but for the most part, you will be out on your private deck soaking up the sunset on your very own hammock. Shared bathrooms, cold water showers, best sunset view of the Mekong, bike rentals available, food is pretty cheap as well. 30,000 kip for your own bungalow.
  • Paradise Guesthouse, (About 1 km from the northern beach on the Sunrise side), 0202-834-2215, [2]. checkout: 11:00. Owned by a sweet family, helped by Lance and Donna, an American couple installed there (Bungalow #3). Watch the sunrise and moonrise from the hammock of your Mekong River bungalow with beautifully painted shared bathroom (sit-down toilets), mosquito net, fans, electric 24/7. MSG-free, organic restaurant, open 6 am-9/10 pm (depending on season): Multi-lingual Book Exchange supports the 'Children's Fund' - Fishing and boating trips can be arranged with the family. Free Internet with breakfast purchase from 8-12. Musicians... we have a guest guitar! 30,000 kip. (13.98294,105.92257)
  • River Garden Guesthouse, (About a 5 minute walk north of the French Bridge)), 020-5274785, [3]. Bungalows have nice river views across to Don Khon, private bathrooms (cold water shower) and a lovely little riverfront restaurant that is cantilevered out over the river. Poorly managed, promised wifi inexistent 80,000.

Contact

There are three internet cafes on the island. They charge 400 kip per minute. Free Wifi is available at many of the restaurants around Sunrise beach

Alternatively if you have have a SIM card and a laptop or a smart phone you can avoid the net cafes altogether. The prices for connecting at them is quite expensive by Lao standards and if you can do as much of your online business while you are in Pakse. Tigo offers EDGE service and the coverage on Don Det is excellent although spotty in some rural areas of Laos. ETL offers slower GPRS data connections but is more reliable. Unitel has 3G coverage as of February 2012. Either way the service is dirt cheap. Buy your SIM in Pakse at either office and have them connect it for you before going onwards.

With the recent installation of microwave towers and power poles the prices of connectivity should drop dramatically as has been the case in other places in Laos.

Get out

There are 2 times to leave the island. 8:00 AM to go South, 11:00 AM for all points North.

  • Don Khon - An aged colonial era bridge built by the French connects the islands of Don Det and Don Kon. It is possible to visit the Dolphin viewing area and the waterfall before exiting to Cambodia. The prices for this service exceed those of what you can expect to depart from Nakasang but you need a combination of boats and ground transport to do it this way. Depending on your budget it is well worth it.
  • Stung Treng - A bus service operates daily rides to Cambodia. A ticket to Stung Treng including the boat to mainland is about US$ 6. Even though ticket seller and bus operator tell you that the bus/van is going to Stung Treng bus station / center - they may not be telling the truth. If there are not enough passengers to fill an entire van to Stung Treng, you will be dropped at a small shack 3km outside Stung Treng. There is no infrastracture whatsoever and no motos are available. The driver will promise that he called a moto driver to pick you up and leave. The moto will never show up. Your only option is flagging down any vehicle going to Stung Treng, or walking.
  • Kratie - The same bus company operates buses to Kratie (about USD 9) which will be just fine.
  • pakse and Attapeu - A big bus brings you to Pakse in 4 hours. It left at noon. It goes further to Attapeu.




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