Help Wikitravel grow by contributing to an article! Learn how.
New users, please see Help or go to the Pub to ask questions.

Difference between revisions of "Don Det"

From Wikitravel
Jump to: navigation, search
(correct puncuation errors & improve English ... and I can find no evidence of "US English" except for the preceding editors' use of "barbecue")
(correct spelling & punctuation mistakes AGAIN, restore material excised without an explanation in edit summary or discussion page, Abbrev, Times, Daters, Units & other MoS fixes)
Line 10: Line 10:
  
 
===By boat===
 
===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.
+
* [[Ban Nakasang]] is 2.5 hr by mini bus or around 3.5 hr by local transport from [[Pakse]]. Local public transport leaves from the southern bus station in Pakse.
* [[Cambodia]] The prices recently are 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 then you should shop around.
+
* [[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 of transport but, if price is an issue for you, then you should shop around.
  
 
==Get around==
 
==Get around==
Line 24: Line 24:
 
[[Image:Sunset DonDet.JPG|thumb|Watching the sunset with a beerlao]]
 
[[Image:Sunset DonDet.JPG|thumb|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:
 
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:
* <do name="Swim in the Mekong River" alt="" address="" directions="" phone="" email="" fax="" url="" hours="" price="">There is a little beach where boats drop people off. It's possible to swin in the waters in front of most of the guest houses. There are even little fish in the water, which nibble off dead foot skin, if you keep still enough.</do>
+
* <do name="Swim in the Mekong River" alt="" address="" directions="" phone="" email="" fax="" url="" hours="" price="">There is a little beach where boats drop people off. It's possible to swim in the waters in front of most of the guest houses. There are even little fish in the water, which nibble off dead foot skin, if you keep still enough.</do>
 
* <do name="Tubing" alt="" address="" directions="" phone="" url="" hours="" price="10,000 kip" lat="" long="" email="" fax="">Rent a tube and float in the Mekong river for a few hours. 10 kip for a tube, and another 15k if you want to be driven out a bit by boat. Bring some beers and or snack</do>
 
* <do name="Tubing" alt="" address="" directions="" phone="" url="" hours="" price="10,000 kip" lat="" long="" email="" fax="">Rent a tube and float in the Mekong river for a few hours. 10 kip for a tube, and another 15k if you want to be driven out a bit by boat. Bring some beers and or snack</do>
 
* <do name="Waterfalls" alt="" address="" directions="" phone="" email="" fax="" url="" hours="" price="">Go see waterfalls on [[Don_Khon|Don Khon]] island.</do>
 
* <do name="Waterfalls" alt="" address="" directions="" phone="" email="" fax="" url="" hours="" price="">Go see waterfalls on [[Don_Khon|Don Khon]] island.</do>
 
* <do name="Dolphin Watching" alt="" address="" directions="" phone="" url="" hours="" price="" lat="" long="" email="" fax="">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. </do>
 
* <do name="Dolphin Watching" alt="" address="" directions="" phone="" url="" hours="" price="" lat="" long="" email="" fax="">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. </do>
* 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 you should not hesitate to mingle with them. Even if the language is a barrier they will be more than nice.
+
* Take any one of the numerous scenic tours to outlying islands. The sunset barbecue 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 you should not hesitate to mingle with them. Even if the language is a barrier they will be more than nice.
 
* One of the numerous kayaking trips available in the area.
 
* One of the numerous kayaking trips available in the area.
  
 
==Buy==
 
==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 accept Visa and MasterCard, for which the fee is 6%.
+
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 accept Visa and MasterCards, for which the fee is 6%.
  
There are an ATM and 3 banks on the mainland (Ban Nakasang), where they provide cash advances through either Visa or MasterCard. They also provide Western Union and Money Gram services.
+
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.
  
There are no ATMs on the island.
+
There is not a single automatic teller machine (ATM) on the island.
  
 
==Eat==
 
==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.
 
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&nbsp;min from the town centre, it serves an organic such as lentil curry pumpkin and chicken burgers.
+
*'''Paradise Restaurant''', MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) free since 2008. Located about 10&nbsp;min from the town centre, it serves an "island" organic menu and is noted for such items as lentil curry or 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.
 
*Mr Mans restaurant (opposite Mr Mans accommodation) has an excellent and inexpensive menu.
  
*Jasmin Indian Restaurant. Lonely Planet describes the service here as ‘sluggish’ that borders 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 surly, and at best gruff.  
+
*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 partys and BBQs. Facilities include Wi-Fi, DVD lounge, plunge pool, darts & a Nintendo Wii. Also you can also get the latest movies, music and TV series uploaded onto your ipod, mp3 & hard drive.
+
*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 parties, 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 within minutes. Adam's entertainment includes a free DVD lounge, plunge pool, darts, and a Nintendo Wii.
  
*'''Rib Shack'''. The eccentric owner, Lance from the US, is a good 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. 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 quote 'I don't get the money 'til you get the pork!'  
+
*'''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[[[http://www.4000islandbar.com]] 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 a pool table and all the latest DVDs to relax too, home away from home. English speaking staff. Has Wi-Fi.
+
*4000 Island Bar[[[http://www.4000islandbar.com]] located on the main sunrise strip by the beach is an excellent restaurant serving Asian and Western food. Stunning views of the Mekong, a pool table, the latest DVDs to relax with, home away from home. English speaking staff. A new addition to the bar is proper broadband Wi-Fi.
  
 
*King Kong restaurant located in the south of Don Det with a selection of Western foods, including pizza and fish & chips. The owner, Mini is quite friendly and is always ready for a poker game.
 
*King Kong restaurant located in the south of Don Det with a selection of Western foods, including pizza and fish & chips. The owner, Mini is quite friendly and is always ready for a poker game.
  
*For authentic homestyle Laotian cooking Mr. Vong's restaurant approximately 500 metres north of the bridge offers good local food. The proprietor speaks good English and is a wealth of local information.
+
*For authentic home-style Laotian cooking Mr. Vong's restaurant approximately 500 metres north of the bridge offers good local food. The proprietor speaks good English and is a wealth of local information.
*<eat name="The Herb Garden" alt="" address="" directions="" phone="" url="" hours="" price="" lat="" long="">The Herb Garden located half way down the sunset side, is a small restaurant & farm, run by a very nice English couple. Has a brick oven heated by fire wood cooking baguettes, lasagna and pizzas. They also make homemade ice cream and cakes. Facilities include volley ball court & table tennis, and hold regular table tennis tournaments where the winner gets a free meal in the restaurant</eat>
+
 
*<eat name="Hanoumans" alt="" address="50m of arrival beach" directions="In front of 4000 islands" phone="" url="" hours="" price="" lat="" long="">
+
*<eat name="The Herb Garden" alt="" address="" directions="" phone="" url="" hours="" price="" lat="" long="">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 firewood, 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 Volleyball 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</eat>
Open Open daily 08:00-23:00 from August until May.  
+
 
Big variety of food, especially thai. Many spirits and cocktails. Inexpensive, friendly and quite efficient. Working Wi-Fi.
+
*<eat name="Hanoumans" alt="" address="50m of arrival beach" directions="In front of 4000 islands" phone="" url="" hours="" price="" lat="" long="">Open daily 08:00-23:00 Aug-May. Big variety of food, especially Thai. Many spirits and cocktails. Inexpensive, friendly and quite efficient. Working Wi-Fi.
 
</eat>
 
</eat>
  
 
==Drink==
 
==Drink==
 
[[Image:SunsetBungalow Don Det.JPG|thumb|one of the many guesthouses]]
 
[[Image:SunsetBungalow Don Det.JPG|thumb|one of the many guesthouses]]
Beer Lao and Namkhong Beer are widely available for between 10,000 & 15,000 kip. A plastic water bottle of rice whisky, lao lao, is also widely available for 10,000 kip. Fruit shakes generally cost 8,000 - 12,000 kip
+
Beer Lao and Namkhong Beer are widely available for 10,000-15,000 kip.  
 +
A plastic water bottle of rice whisky, ''lao lao'', is also widely available for 10,000 kip. Fruit shakes generally cost 8,000-12,000 kip
  
Marijuana is widely available anywhere on the island but should be used discreetly. Unlike Vang Vieng the police are not known to collude with dealers to arrest people, but this can not be guaranteed. 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.
+
Marijuana is widely available anywhere on the island but should be used discreetly. Unlike Vang Vieng, the police are not known to collude with dealers to arrest people, but this can not be guaranteed. 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.
  
 
==Sleep==
 
==Sleep==
Line 75: Line 76:
 
The service is generally poor and free of smiles but rooms are cheap, although don't expect them to be cleaned every day.  
 
The service is generally poor and free of smiles but rooms are cheap, although don't expect them to be cleaned every day.  
  
Don't expect late nights out partying as there is a curfew, the times of which often changes. It is now 23:00, and whilst strictly enforced you can still walk around after midnight in areas away from the main settlements
+
Don't expect late nights out partying as there is a curfew, the times of which often change. It is now 23:00 and, whilst strictly enforced, you can still walk around after midnight in areas away from the main settlements
  
 
*<sleep name="Bungalows Peace &amp; Love" alt="" address="Sunset Side" directions="About a 5-minute walk along the sunset side path" phone="+856 20 9993 8089" e-mail="sisaidondet@hotmail.com" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="" lat="" long="">Owned by a kind and accommodating family, these simple yet clean bungalows, with shared bathroom, overlook the Mekong River. </sleep>
 
*<sleep name="Bungalows Peace &amp; Love" alt="" address="Sunset Side" directions="About a 5-minute walk along the sunset side path" phone="+856 20 9993 8089" e-mail="sisaidondet@hotmail.com" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="" lat="" long="">Owned by a kind and accommodating family, these simple yet clean bungalows, with shared bathroom, overlook the Mekong River. </sleep>
  
*<sleep name="The Last Resort Don Det" alt="" address="Sunset Side of Don Det" directions="From boat landing ask for directions to sunset side of island. Follow path for approx 2&nbsp;km. Teepees will be on right after you have passed all other accommodation " phone="" url="http://www.facebook.com/lastresortdondet" checkin="" checkout="" price="" lat="" long="">On the Sunset Side of Don Det, and twice weekly hosts open-air cinema evenings on large screen. They can arrange sunset fishing trips with local fishermen and cooking classes with locals.</sleep>
+
*<sleep name="The Last Resort Don Det" alt="" address="Sunset Side of Don Det" directions="From boat landing ask for directions to sunset side of island. Follow path for approx 2&nbsp;km. Teepees will be on right after you have passed all other accommodation " phone="" url="http://www.facebook.com/lastresortdondet" checkin="" checkout="" price="" lat="" long="">On the Sunset Side of Don Det, and twice weekly hosts open-air cinema evenings on large screen. They can arrange sunset fishing trips with local fishermen, and cooking classes with locals.</sleep>
  
 
*<sleep name="Mr B's Guesthouse" alt="" directions="5 min walk along the sunset side path" checkout="10:30" price="30,000 kip for your own bungalow" lat="" long="">The bungalows are simple with nothing more than a double bed, fan/air-con, mosquito and shared bathrooms with cold water showers. Good views of the Mekong. Bike rentals available and the food is pretty cheap.</sleep>
 
*<sleep name="Mr B's Guesthouse" alt="" directions="5 min walk along the sunset side path" checkout="10:30" price="30,000 kip for your own bungalow" lat="" long="">The bungalows are simple with nothing more than a double bed, fan/air-con, mosquito and shared bathrooms with cold water showers. Good views of the Mekong. Bike rentals available and the food is pretty cheap.</sleep>
  
*<sleep name="Paradise Guesthouse" alt="" address="" directions="About 1 km from the northern beach on the Sunrise side" phone="+856 20 2834 2215" url="https://www.facebook.com/groups/ParadiseGuesthouseDonDetLaos/" checkin="" checkout="11:00" price="30,000 kip" lat="13.98294" long="105.92257" email="">Owned by a local family. Watch the sunrise and moonrise from the hammock of your Mekong River bungalow with beautifully painted shared bathroom, mosquito net, fans, electric 24/7. MSG-free, organic restaurant that is open 06:00-~21:00 depending on season. Has a book exchange that supports the 'Children's Fund'. Fishing and boating trips can be arranged with the family. Free internet with breakfast purchase from 08:00-12:00.</sleep>
+
*<sleep name="Paradise Guesthouse" alt="" address="" directions="About 1 km from the northern beach on the Sunrise side" phone="+856 20 2834 2215" url="https://www.facebook.com/groups/ParadiseGuesthouseDonDetLaos/" checkin="" checkout="11:00" price="30,000 kip" lat="13.98294" long="105.92257" email="">Owned by a local family. Watch the sunrise and moonrise from the hammock of your Mekong River bungalow with beautifully painted shared bathroom, mosquito net, fans, electric 24/7. MSG-free, organic restaurant that is open 06:00-~21:00 depending on season. Has a book exchange that supports the 'Children's Fund'. Fishing and boating trips can be arranged with the family. Free Internet with breakfast purchase from 08:00-12:00.</sleep>
  
 
*<sleep name="River Garden Guesthouse" alt="" address="" directions="5 min walk north of the French Bridge)" phone="+856 20 527 4785" url="http://www.rivergardenlaos.com/" checkin="" checkout="" price="80,000" lat="" long="">  Bungalows have nice river views across to Don Khon, private bathrooms (cold water shower) and a lovely little river front restaurant that is cantilevered out over the river. Poorly managed.</sleep>
 
*<sleep name="River Garden Guesthouse" alt="" address="" directions="5 min walk north of the French Bridge)" phone="+856 20 527 4785" url="http://www.rivergardenlaos.com/" checkin="" checkout="" price="80,000" lat="" long="">  Bungalows have nice river views across to Don Khon, private bathrooms (cold water shower) and a lovely little river front restaurant that is cantilevered out over the river. Poorly managed.</sleep>
  
 
==Contact==
 
==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
 
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. The prices for connecting at them is quite expensive by Lao standards and if you can do as much of your on-line 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, and as of February 2012 Unitel has 3G coverage: both services are cheap. Buy your SIM in Pakse at either office and ask them to connect it.
+
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 on-line 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 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 connection costs are expected to fall.
+
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==
 
==Get out==
There are 2 times to leave the island; 08:00 to go South, 11:00 to go North.
+
There are 2 times to leave the island; 08:00 to go South, 11:00 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.
 
* [[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.
Line 102: Line 102:
 
* [[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 / centre - 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.
 
* [[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 / centre - 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.
  
It is also possible to kayak across the border to Cambodia. Apparently the visas are sorted out beforehand in the morning and you kayak across the Laos/Cambodian border (which also doubles as a dolphin tour) and pick up your bags on the other side before proceeding to Stung Treng. To arrange speak with 'Wonderfull Tours'.  
+
It is also possible to kayak across the border to Cambodia. Apparently the visas are sorted out beforehand in the morning and you kayak across the Laos/Cambodian border (which also doubles as a dolphin tour) and pick up your bags on the other side before proceeding to Stung Treng. Speak to 'Wonderfull Tours' who can arrange it for you.  
  
 
* [[Kratie]] -  The same bus company operates buses to Kratie (about US$9) which will be just fine.
 
* [[Kratie]] -  The same bus company operates buses to Kratie (about US$9) which will be just fine.
  
* [[Pakse and Attapeu]] -  A big bus brings you to Pakse in 4 hours. It leaves at noon. It goes further to Attapeu. It's  theoretically possible to take the local buses at 07:00, 08:00 and 09:00 but according to a long-term island resident these are next to impossible to catch unless your extremely lucky, and happen to get a boat to take you to the mainland in the morning.
+
* [[Pakse and Attapeu]] -  A big bus brings you to Pakse in 4 hours. It leaves at noon. It goes further to Attapeu. It's  theoretically possible to take the local buses at 07:00, 08:00 and 09:00 but, according to a long term farlang island resident, these are next to impossible to catch unless you're extremely lucky and happen to get a boat to take you to the mainland in the morning.
 +
 
 +
* [[Savannakhet]] - it is possible to catch an onwards bus from Pakse if you arrive in good time before the last hourly bus departs at 16:00. Don't expect a quick and pain-free ride though. Buses may stop, for example, for nearly an hour to pick up a consignment of car batteries. Expect a 5 hour journey on a good day. 50,000 kip from Pakse to Savannakhet. This same bus then travels onwards to [[Tha Khek]]
  
* [[Savannakhet]] - it is possible to catch an onwards bus from Pakse if you arrive you in good time before the last hourly bus departs at 16:00. Don't expect a quick and pain free ride though-my bus stopped to pick up a consignment of car batteries which took the better part of an hour to load then to transfer to a minivan just before Savannakhet which incurred further delays. Expect a 5 hour journey on a good day. 50,000 kip from Pakse to Savannakhet. This same bus proceeds onwards to * [[Tha Khek]]
 
  
  

Revision as of 06:02, 14 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, for example Vang Vieng, tens of guest houses can now be around in once well kept secret. The installation of electricity supply is now complete, and so Don Det has 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 20s and 30s, 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 2.5 hr by mini bus or around 3.5 hr by local transport from Pakse. Local public transport leaves from the southern bus 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 of transport but, if price is an issue for you, then you should shop around.

Get around

Don Det is a small island. The walking path is 7.2 km, and 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 20,00 kip 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 swim in the waters in front of most of the guest houses. 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. 10 kip 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 barbecue 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 you should not hesitate to mingle with them. Even if the language is a barrier they will be more than nice.
  • 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 accept Visa and MasterCards, for which the fee is 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.

There is not a single automatic teller machine (ATM) 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 min from the town centre, it serves an "island" organic menu and is noted for such items as lentil curry or 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.
  • 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 parties, 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 within 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, a pool table, the latest DVDs to relax with, home away from home. English speaking staff. A new addition to the bar is proper broadband Wi-Fi.
  • King Kong restaurant located in the south of Don Det with a selection of Western foods, including pizza and fish & chips. The owner, Mini is quite friendly and is always ready for a poker game.
  • For authentic home-style Laotian cooking Mr. Vong's restaurant approximately 500 metres north of the bridge offers good local food. The proprietor speaks good English 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 firewood, 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 Volleyball 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 daily 08:00-23:00 Aug-May. Big variety of food, especially Thai. Many spirits and cocktails. Inexpensive, friendly and quite efficient. Working Wi-Fi.

Drink

one of the many guesthouses

Beer Lao and Namkhong Beer are widely available for 10,000-15,000 kip. A plastic water bottle of rice whisky, lao lao, is also widely available for 10,000 kip. Fruit shakes generally cost 8,000-12,000 kip

Marijuana is widely available anywhere on the island but should be used discreetly. Unlike Vang Vieng, the police are not known to collude with dealers to arrest people, but this can not be guaranteed. 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.

Sleep

Rooms at dozens of guest houses cost from 30,000 kip - 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 cater more 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 and free of smiles but rooms are cheap, although don't expect them to be cleaned every day.

Don't expect late nights out partying as there is a curfew, the times of which often change. It is now 23:00 and, whilst strictly enforced, you can still walk around after midnight in areas away from the main settlements

  • Bungalows Peace & Love, Sunset Side (About a 5-minute walk along the sunset side path), +856 20 9993 8089. Owned by a kind and accommodating family, these simple yet clean bungalows, with shared bathroom, overlook the Mekong River.
  • The Last Resort Don Det, Sunset Side of Don Det (From boat landing ask for directions to sunset side of island. Follow path for approx 2 km. Teepees will be on right after you have passed all other accommodation), [2]. On the Sunset Side of Don Det, and twice weekly hosts open-air cinema evenings on large screen. They can arrange sunset fishing trips with local fishermen, and cooking classes with locals.
  • Mr B's Guesthouse, (5 min walk along the sunset side path). checkout: 10:30. The bungalows are simple with nothing more than a double bed, fan/air-con, mosquito and shared bathrooms with cold water showers. Good views of the Mekong. Bike rentals available and the food is pretty cheap. 30,000 kip for your own bungalow.
  • Paradise Guesthouse, (About 1 km from the northern beach on the Sunrise side), +856 20 2834 2215, [3]. checkout: 11:00. Owned by a local family. Watch the sunrise and moonrise from the hammock of your Mekong River bungalow with beautifully painted shared bathroom, mosquito net, fans, electric 24/7. MSG-free, organic restaurant that is open 06:00-~21:00 depending on season. Has a book exchange that supports the 'Children's Fund'. Fishing and boating trips can be arranged with the family. Free Internet with breakfast purchase from 08:00-12:00. 30,000 kip. (13.98294,105.92257)
  • River Garden Guesthouse, (5 min walk north of the French Bridge)), +856 20 527 4785, [4]. Bungalows have nice river views across to Don Khon, private bathrooms (cold water shower) and a lovely little river front restaurant that is cantilevered out over the river. Poorly managed. 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 on-line 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 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; 08:00 to go South, 11:00 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 / centre - 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.

It is also possible to kayak across the border to Cambodia. Apparently the visas are sorted out beforehand in the morning and you kayak across the Laos/Cambodian border (which also doubles as a dolphin tour) and pick up your bags on the other side before proceeding to Stung Treng. Speak to 'Wonderfull Tours' who can arrange it for you.

  • Kratie - The same bus company operates buses to Kratie (about US$9) which will be just fine.
  • Pakse and Attapeu - A big bus brings you to Pakse in 4 hours. It leaves at noon. It goes further to Attapeu. It's theoretically possible to take the local buses at 07:00, 08:00 and 09:00 but, according to a long term farlang island resident, these are next to impossible to catch unless you're extremely lucky and happen to get a boat to take you to the mainland in the morning.
  • Savannakhet - it is possible to catch an onwards bus from Pakse if you arrive in good time before the last hourly bus departs at 16:00. Don't expect a quick and pain-free ride though. Buses may stop, for example, for nearly an hour to pick up a consignment of car batteries. Expect a 5 hour journey on a good day. 50,000 kip from Pakse to Savannakhet. This same bus then travels onwards to Tha Khek





This article is an outline and needs more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. Please plunge forward and help it grow!


Variants

Actions

Destination Docents

In other languages