Don Det , is an island in the middle of the Mekong River in Si Phan Don in Laos.
Don Det used to be a really off the beaten track place only five to ten years ago. However, since the changes to the tubing scene in Vang Vieng in 2012 which saw the majority of bars closed down, the young party crowd has moved here. Don Det has many cheap guesthouses and bars catering to the lower budget tourist and is now very much on the backpacker trail. Don Det recently acquired 24 hour electrical supply which will most likely lead to increasingly more services and development.
The main street in Don Det
Don Det is somewhat of a mecca for backpackers and is comparable with the Vang Vieng prior to the changes made to improve its safety record. Tourists, mostly in their 20s and 30s, come to this island to party, drink, and relax. Some stay a day or two, some for weeks and a few have decided to stay for good.
- 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 (LAK 8). Price is 60,000 to 70,000 kip oneway to Nakasang.
In Ban Nakasang you can buy tickets for small wooden boats to take you to Don Det directly at the ticket office at the Mekong. Tickets are preprinted and prices fixed. Prices for one person one way 15,000 Kip, per bicycle 5,000 Kip.
- 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. Minibus from Stung Treng is about 12 dollars including the ferry to Don Det.
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 "sit up and beg" bicycles for 24 hours for 10,000 kip from guesthouses and restaurants. Mountain bikes with 24 gears go for about 30,000 (only one supplier - Long Island resort - near bridge). Most tourists who do this cycle over the old railway bridge to Don Khon. Crossing the bridge carries a "fee" of 35,000 kip for a day pass to the island and doubles as a ticket to see the big waterfall.
No money to cross and all waterfalls and beaches on both islands are free
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 (35,000kip paid at the bridge connecting the two islands). Always, on Don Kon, reach the Dolphin View Point and have a swim in the most calm water of the Mekong and a beautiful view of Cambodia mountains and many little islands dressed with palms in the distance.
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. edit
- 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. Not really a thing in wet season. 10,000 kip. edit
- Waterfalls. Go see waterfalls on Don Khon island. In order to go to the other island normally 35.000 kip (April 2015) is asked at the bridge (but you can say that you are looking for accommodation). The ticket is anyway asked for at the entry of the waterfalls anyhow. No ticket needed until waterfall (2019). edit
- 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. ~45,000 pp from South point of Don Khon. edit
- 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. Green Paradise is reliable and well run. Guides were quick and helpful when accidents occurred in the rapids. Mr. Mo tours has some pretty shady reviews on other sites. Average price 170,000 pp.
- Open Air Cinema @ The Last Resort, Sunset Side, . 6-10pm. (Please note that this is only during the high season Nov-April)Attend a screening at The Last Resort's regular open air cinema night (every other night). Projecting onto a large screen amongst the atmospheric backdrop of the teepees, a large bonfire and the natural sounds of the nearby jungle, this is a perfect way to relax and enjoy a newly released or classic film from the past. BBQ, Ice cold beer, cider, soft drinks, cookies/cakes, freshly roasted coffee and peanuts also available. Capacity of 25 people so book tickets at The Last Resort to avoid disappointment. 30,000 Kip. edit
- Swim at the public pool. The first swimming pool open to the public has been built in the south of Don Det. Admission is 20,000 Kip for children and 35,000 Kip per adult including a towel. The pool is suitable for laps and recreational bathing. There has been a children's pool added recently and the pool will provide babysitting services with staff that are trained in CPR. It has Balinese furniture and is the largest and arguably the most luxurious pool in southern Laos edit
You can exchange US Dollars, Pounds sterling, Euro, and Thai Baht for kip from Adam's Bar and Rogue ipod shop in town or Little Eden, which is located near town. They accept MasterCard or VISA cards, for which the fee is 6%.
There are 3 banks and an ATM on the mainland (Ban Nakasang), where they do cash advances through either the MasterCard or VISA systems. They also provide Western Union and Money Gram services.
There is not a single automatic teller machine (ATM) on the island, however on both Don Det and Don Khon a number of money changers allow you to use your card to withdraw Kip from your account at the 6% fee (a few also have lower fees). They accept Visa, MasterCard, and UnionPay.
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, (about 10 minutes south of town). Paradise serves island cuisine and is noted for its lentil curry/pumpkin, pumpkin burgers 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 at low prices. The Menu includes the 'Don Det Manual' with information about the island and an excellent free map. Wifi. edit
- Mr Mans restaurant (opposite Mr Mans accommodation) has an excellent and inexpensive menu.
- 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 barbecues at 24 hours notice. It has its 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 Xbox 360.
- 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.
- 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. edit
- Street View Cafe, (about 10 minutes south of town). Small and compact cafe and bar, Has a good selection of Burgers and other western treats 30,000 - 60,000. This place also has a nightly BBQ 50,000 - 60,000, portions are generous and the food is great, definitely worth a go while your on the island. Beer Lao 15,000 edit
- Dondet Bungalows & Restaurant, About 10 mins walk from arrival beach (sunrise side), ☎ +856 (0)30 951 3045. Dondet Bungaalows & Restaurant is the only Thai Restaurant in Dondet and Donkhone. There has been reports of money being stolen from bungalows here. edit
- 4000 Island Bar & Restaurant. Just a few paces from the beach. 4000 Island bar has large menu of Indian, Lao and Western Food. The Chicken Tikka Masala here was so popular they incorporated in into two other dishes including a pizza and a kebab wrap. Cold Beerlao is served at 12,000 and can be enjoyed alongside a free game of Pool or Darts. They do good breakfast fare with a dedicated menu and opening at 7am even after a late night. If you're keen you can even play your own music here but they do a solid job with their playlist already so you may not bother. Performers are welcomed (Phone: 020 9647 6088)) edit
one of the many guest houses
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
- 'Zebra Cocktail Bar' (Dez2019 - April2020), hosted by RudiMentalHouse on Sunset Side of Don Det (15 mins from the main town, just after Jungle Bar), ([email protected]), . 2pm-10pm. ‘Zebra Cocktail Bar’ is a bar for clasy cocktails all made from homemade liqours based on local ingredients. Various kinds of liquor infusions ranging from sandalwood gin to chocolate cashew liquor. One of a kind on this island. edit
- One More Bar (One and only Ginger beer), Sun Set Side. A young local guy created his own ginger beer, perfect sun set drink. edit
Most common are rooms at dozens of guest houses, cost from 40,000 kip low season/100,000 kip high season - 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.
Besides that there are a few more hotel like rooms, mainly in the north of the island, mostly simple concret rooms with air conditioning.
Pretty new is the avaibility of renting an entire house, for people who like a bit more space and comfort.
If you haven´t prebooked your accommodation you will have to decide when you arrive whether you want to stay on the sunrise (from the beach/pier on the left) or sunset side (right) of Don Det. As the names are saying its up to your own preference of watching either sun rise or sun set from your hammock. There are bungalows scattered all along the sunrise side until the bridge to Don Khon. On the sunset side, most of the guesthouses are on the northern half of the island (head south to find cheaper accommodation and help small new local business). Accommodation directly on the water (without the road between you) is mostly found on the North side.
In general the bungalows in the north tend to cater more to the party crowd and the places in the south tend to get more of the nature lovers.
Don't expect late nights out partying as there is a curfew, after 11pm (23:00) all business have to shut down. You are still allowed though to gather at your guesthouse or where ever as long you respect the locals around you sleeping.
Following are only a few of many accomondations.
- Long Island Guesthouse, Near the French Bridge (From Nakasang, take the ferry boat to DON KHON. From there walk south to the French Bridge, cross it and turn left at the first path. Small family store with a big tree in front of it, is the landmark. Turn left down the path. First guesthouse on the left. Long Island Guesthouse. Big gate. From Don Det, walk towards the French bridge, at the end of the path cross over the road keeping the small family store with big tree in front of it to your left. First guesthouse on the left. Long Island Guesthouse. Big gate.), ☎ +856(0)5679470, . Located just below the French bridge on Don Det is the Long Island Guesthouse. Beautiful traditional grass roofed en suite bungalows, spaced well apart in the most quiet and tranquil location on the entire island with the largest and lushest tropical garden on the island. From over-sized balconies, you can enjoy a great view of the Mekong from your hammock. Lovely private atmosphere for couples, nature lovers and those wishing to spend time away from the tourist ghetto on the north of the island. Gay Friendly. Mountain Bikes for daily rental. They have also just added the only swimming pool on Don Det island. edit
- The Last Resort Don Det - Teepee Accomodation, 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), . The Last Resort is made up of a handful of beautiful teepees, constructed using only locally sourced materials. More than just a guest house, The Last Resort attracts like minded individuals who are seeking a more natural and communal alternative to the other accommodation available on the island. In addition to regular cinema nights on our big screen and the teepee accomodation, The Last Resort offers a range of entertainment including a table tennis table, selection of board games (Don Det Monopoly, Scrabble, Articulate, Pictionary), organized sunset/fishing trips and cooking courses with local Laos families. Breakfast is served daily between 8-10 and a communal meal using herbs and vegetables grown in the garden is served daily around 7 or 8pm. For bookings, send an email to [email protected] edit
- 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. edit
- 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. edit
- Mr. Vai guesthouse, Sunrise side (About 1.3km from the northern beach on the Sunrise side). checkout: 11:00. Owned by kind local family. Small place with really nice and clean rooms with private bathroom, cold shower, new mosquito nets, fans, electric 24/7 and free Wi-Fi (2Mbit\0.5Mbit). Next to bungalows they have great restaurant, with good prices and all kind of food. Food is well preapared and the portions are big, specially considering the price. 60,000 kip. (13.98084,105.925508) edit
- River Garden Guesthouse, (5 min walk north of the French Bridge)), ☎ +856 20 527 4785, . Bungalows have a nice view, but are on the other side of the road so expect locals eyeing you up as you gaze from your hammock, private bathrooms (cold water) and a lovely little river front restaurant that is cantilevered out over the river. Bad wifi. Amazing owner. 50,000- 80,000. edit
- Tawan Daeng Guesthouse, Don Det, Laos (From the old French bridge in the south near Don Khon, walk north with the Mekong on your right. Second guesthouse.). checkout: 11:00. Owned and operated by a lovely local family, these comfortably modern, en-suite, bungalow rooms are nestled on the bank of the Mekong river with hammocks featuring beautiful river views and magnificent sunrises. The restaurant serves delicious Lao traditional meals as well as western food at reasonable prices. Only 2 minutes stroll from the old French bridge. The quiet relaxing atmosphere of this guesthouse makes for a very pleasant stay. 40,000 to 80,000 Kip. (13°57'52.74N,105°55'15.26E) edit
- Happy Bar Sunset View Bungalows, Happy Bar Sunset Street (5min walk on the west side of the island), . checkin: 11am; checkout: 10:30am. Happy Bar & Sunset View Bungalows is one of the oldest guesthouse on the sunset side of the islands with a variety of newly furnished rooms ranging from riverside bungalows with hammocks and beautiful river views and sunsets. There's also en suite rooms in the courtyard concrete build with double fans and optional Air-Con. There are 2 penthouse rooms located on the upper level en suite, kingsize beds, double fan and a balcony. The restaurant serves both Asian and western food at reasonable prices and there is a small shop opposite for all your essentials.Also runs boat tours, 3-6 hours, trips up the river to remote sandy beaches with islands tours of river life. The trips vary from an afternoon out for a sunset or a full day with BBQs prepared on the beach or tubeing down the Mekong River between Laos and Cambodia 30k-100k kip. edit
- Kulapkao and Pavean Guesthouse, Sunset Side, Don Det (Approximately a 10 min walk along the Sunset Side of Don Det from the ferry landing.). 4 beautiful bungalows and a brand new dormitory room make up the Kulapkao and Pavean Guesthouses located on the sunset side of Don Det. With stunning views of the Mekong river, Kulapkao offers great value accommodation for solo travelers, couples and larger groups wishing to stay together in the dorm. Run by an incredibly sweet Laos family who make a real effort to look after you, this is the perfect place to relax in Don Det. Being located away from the town in Don Det makes the Guesthouses more peaceful and the mixture of Laos and Western food from their restaurant across the path means you may not want to venture too far from your hammock!!! The restaurant also features a large wooden decking area perfect for catching the sunset with a Beerlao :) The dormitory is capable of accommodating up to 5 people and the bungalows are designed for two. edit
- Rudi Mental Holiday Lodge - #rudimentalhouse (avaible again after April 2020) (Entire Cottage incl. kitchen - for families, group of friends, couples or people who just want their own space), Sun Set Side of Don Det (15-20min walk along the riverbank from the main pier in the north of Don Det (Hua Det)), ([email protected]), . The Rudi Mental Holiday Lodge or Rudi Mental House is a private house which can be rent as a holiday home including entire property for a max. of 7 people. The idea behind this place is connecting comfortable living with a natural enviroment. There is a beautiful garden with fruits and vegetables growing. It has its own well equipped kitchen and bar as well as over 10 different hammocks in different relaxing areas all over the property. A big bonfire place as well as a stone oven and grill inviting for a BARBEQUE. Besides 2 balconies, there is a tree house and a river view terrace. In the rainy season the river is right up touching the terrace. Amazing view as well while cooking in the kitchen. In dry season the river level drops down and there is a natural beach just 50m away instead. There is a big variety of board and card games, as well as Dart and a petanque place. edit
Some agencies will cheat you and tell you they sell a ticket to the international bus to Cambodia (Phnom Penh Sorya bus company, which provides a comfortable VIP bus through all the way), but when you get to the bus station in Ban Nakasang, the ticket will be switched in the last minute to a "Angkor Paramount Express" ticket, which is the worst way of going to Cambodia (Awfully packed vans and old busses with lots of dust and unnecessary long waits). If you want to be sure, it's better to book at Pakse, or find a way to get an official Sorya ticket at Ban Nakasang.
When you are coming from Don Det a guy (wearing fancy clothes, nice shoes, a tablet, an expensive looking watch speaks English and appears helpful(scam warning sign)) will be waiting for the travelers at the bus station in Ban Nakasang, from where you will get into a minivan to the border. After checking your ticket he will give you some immigration papers to fill in and ask you to put these papers together with $40 (he claims 35 for visa, 4$ for stamping and 1$ for health check) and a photo in your passport and return everything to him. He will tell you that he is only helping you as he will handle the immigration for everyone together at once, which saves you a lot of time and effort. He claims that the stamps are $2 dollars each and the health check obligated by Cambodian law is $1.(update feb 2015 there is no Cambodian stamping fee and you can easily walk by the health check) After crossing the border very quickly and with no trouble everyone was returned their passport with a Cambodian visa and a stamp and the guy left back into Laos with a lot of money. From the three fully packed minivans only one couple took the risk by doing everything by themselves and they arrived 30 minutes later (which was not a problem at all because the minivans at the Cambodian border left two hours later...) and payed just $37. And guess what? No health check! So my advice if you want to cross this border, don't be scared and arrange everything by yourself just as you would do at any border crossing. This saves you three dollars and prevents the guy from getting very rich by deceiving tourists!(or just pay the $3 and not have to worry about it and realize it's just $3 for you to do no work at all.)
Pakse tour agents will hard sell day-tours to 4000 Islands, Wat Phou and other Pakse surrounds (Paksong, Bolaven etc..). If you are ask for a one way ticket to Don Det many will tell you there is nothing to do there. This is a scam to keep you in Pakse and for ongoing business for them. Bus tickets to Don Det have very little commission and Don Det has been a more popular tourist destination so they will they are trying to divert travellers for their-own pocket.
Be aware that Don Det has no Fresh Water Supplies! The water from your showers, sinks, toilets, etc. is coming from the Mekong straight away (this could be different to new built guesthouse, they may use a filter). People selling "Water refills", ask where it's coming from, taste a little bit and let your taste decide (your knowledge and body will tell you). There are people on this island selling "Water refills" which is NO drinking water. There is a place/"factory" which seems like "cleaning" the big water refill bottles (30-40l plastic bottles). The factory is legit - the water does come from the Mekong, but is treated. Try to use less plastic is really important, but if you're concerned or don't want to risk it, stick to bottled water.
There are three internet cafes on the island. They charge 400 kip per minute. Free Wi-Fi is available at most of the restaurants around Don Det now.
Alternatively if you have have a SIM card and a laptop or a smart phone you can avoid the internet cafes completely. The prices for connecting at them is quite expensive by Lao standards and if you can, do as much as possible of your on-line business while you are in Pakse. There are a variety of companies offering affordable 3G service and the coverage on Don Det is excellent although spotty in some rural areas of Laos. Either way the service is cheap. You can purchase a SIM that provides data to your phone at any shop selling them. If you need a USB dongle for data for your laptop you should buy this in Pakse.
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.
There are 2 official times to leave the island; 08:00 to go South, 11:00 for all points North. Having said this, there are normally boats hanging around at the pier that will take 1 person for 30 000 kip or 2+ for 15 000 kip per person at any time.
- 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.
- Siem Reap - The easiest way to Siem Reap is to organize a trip to the border from Nakasong (the embarkation point to Don Det) which costs in the range of 30 000 kip/$5 USD for a minivan. The bus station is located 500m down the road straight back from the pier behind the town’s ATM. The first bus leaves here at 930am, alternatively you can hire a tuktuk for 50 000 kip. Another local business also arranges a minivan leaving from their shop halfway between the bus station and the pier. A man from this business may try to sell you a ticket for his minivan at the bus station and then guide you back to his shop. There is no major problems with this method other than that that bus typically arrives later than those leaving directly from the bus station. The trip to the border takes ~20 minutes. NB: once you have paid for your trip to the border you will no longer require kips so exchanging these for USD while you’re in Nakasong is wise.
At the border the bus will stop and a man will get on asking for passports. You do not need to give this man anything; get off the bus and head to the immigration desk where you will need to pay $2USD to have your passport stamped out of Laos. If you give your passport to the man that boards the bus he will charge an extra $5 from you. The bus will drive through the checkpoint and park on the Cambodian side where you can remove your luggage as required.
Once you have been stamped out walk through to the Cambodian immigration building and fill in the visa application form for $35USD providing one photo, then move to the next desks to complete the arrival/departure card and have your fingerprints scanned. You do not need to fill in any health-related forms or provide any health-related documents, so if anyone around this building requests these from you can ignore them.
You can now walk through to Cambodia and connect with your transfer company. AVT is regarded as the fastest transfer company, promising arrival in Siem Reap by 7pm, and is based at one of the first restaurants you will see as you enter the Cambodian side. Prebooking online via email is recommended.
On the Cambodian side it will cost $20 for a direct mini van to Siem Reap. It drops you 5 minutes walk from pub street and arrives around 7:30 PM, where tuk tuk drivers will gonna bring you for free to your guesthouse or they gonna help you to find one once given your budget (no kidding). You can book ahead with this company: http://www.asiavantransfer.com
(This uses the new paved road)
- Cambodia - The buses that cross the border to Cambodia are very expensive compared to inland bus prices in Laos and Cambodia. A tuk tuk from Ban Nakasang to the border takes half an hour and costs around $6. The Cambodian border is right next to the Laos border, from where you can share a minivan (1h) to Stung Treng for about $5 each.
It is possible to buy tickets almost in every guesthouse on the island. The more distant ones can also arrange the boat to the pier in the morning. The prices seem standardized and include the ferry ticket. Two different companies operate services from the bus station in Ban Nakaseng. Sorya buses are the only ones to cross the border. Expect to wait around for a while for the bus to come (the Sorya bus starts in Pakse at 7:30am). Tickets to Phnom Penh cost about 30 $. Since the road is in a rather bad state, the bus seldomly gets to Phnom Penh before 10 pm.
- Stung Treng - A bus service operates daily rides to Cambodia. A ticket to Stung Treng including the boat to mainland is about US$ 16. 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 infrastructure 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.
A new VIP minivan service of $18 USD going directly from Stung Treng to Siem Reap is now operating daily from the Laos/Cambodian border the name of the company is AVT Asia Van Transfer. This transport company are the ones who started to use the new route, and the only one who has license to operate in this route. This service takes only 7 hours compared to the 18 or 20 using the current route and water and comfortable seats are all included as part of the package. This ticket can not be booked or bought in the Laos side, only once you cross the border, so if someone sells you the AVT ticket in Laos side is not real, then in Don Det, Don Khone, you can always buy the illegal(They are not established transport companies with transport license to operate) van of Paramount Angkor Express which can be booked at The Last Resort (teepee field) on the sunset side of Don Det, which is only open during the high season. As of June 2014, there were two businesses that offered this VIP minivan service, The legal one is AVT Asia Van Transfer, which is a real transport company established in Siem Reap with licenses to transport passengers and you can easy book them online () and they only carry 12 passengers, and then you have the illegal vans that Paramount Angkor Express runs from border or Stung Treng without Transport license and insurance. Also the AVT(cambodian transport company runned by european) tickets can not be bought at 4000 islands, because they are not allowed by Nakasang bus station to sell their tickets in don det, so if you want to travel with AVT then you must go to the border. Travelers who booked and bough ticket in don det for Paramount were told there would be WIFI and only 10 passengers to a van. However, once crossing over into Cambodia, 16 passengers were crammed into a van, with no shoulder or leg room. Everyone was forced to pay an additional $2 fee per person to cross a river via ferry while the locals paid $1 or less. After the ferry ride, travelers were guided to an old, beat-up van, where they had to wait an additional hour because the driver of the van had no gas. Fortunately, Siem Reap was still the destination at arrival; however, do not expect WIFI or leg room despite being told it is included in the service. By now the bridge in stung treng is open, so no need of ferry anymore. Please be aware when you buy transport tickets in Cambodia and Laos is very often to have illegal transport running, make sure you do not use this kind of transports.
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$19) 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 Thakhek