Life on Don Set

If you’re looking for a place to kick back, relax, and throw down a few beers, then the 4,000 Islands is your spot! Nestled in the midst of the mighty Mekong River on the Laos and Cambodian border sits the 4,000 Islands. Don Det and Don Khong are islands that have guesthouses you can stay in. We chose to stay on Don Det as theres a bit more to do and the islands are small so you can still explore Don Khong with Don Det as your home base.

After two and a half weeks of traveling Laos, there was lots of mud, sitting on the floor, monsoons, and loads of long, wild forms of transportation. Read: Catching the Slow Boat to see how I got to Laos from Thailand. Needless to say we were ready for some budget luxury and we hit the jackpot.


Getting to Don Det:

There are many tour agencies that you can book with that will take you to Nakasong, which is the town were you will catch a ferry to reach the island of your choosing. They will drop you off close to the pier, about a five minute walk until you’ll see the boats that will shuttle you across the river and a kiosk selling ferry tickets. *Most tour companies that you book with include the ferry ticket in your price but just in case you don’t have one you can buy it here. It cost 15,000 KIP and the small 10 person boat will take you through the channel and across the river to Don Det and only takes about 15 minutes.


Where to Stay:

The boat will drop you off at the sunset side of the island. There are many guest houses littered about so finding a place within your budget will not be difficult. We walked with our packs for about 20 minutes towards the sunrise side of the island and stopped in all the guest houses along the way checking out the rooms and the rates. We settled on Champa Mekong Bungalows a quaint, basic room with a double bed, private bath, and hammocks on our deck to seal the deal. The best part, free breakfast and still under $10.

We dropped our bags and set out on foot to explore the tiny island. Cute restaurants, bars, and shops lined the river. It was hot and muggy so when we spotted the pool at the Little Eden Guesthouse and Resort we were being drawn towards it. After a short talk with the owner of the establishment and a quick view of the room we were instantly sold on the beautiful oasis that we found at the Little Eden Resort. Our large suite equipped with a king size bed, comfortable bedding and mini fridge was only $30 USD a night! If the pool doesn’t sell you, then the sunset that can be seen from deck of the restaurant at Little Eden’s will. Killer views! #JessATravelTip you can pay to use the pool and its facilities if you choose not to stay here.

Other Accommodation Recommendations:

Budget

  • The Last Resort – Located on the west side of the island features a garden where organic herbs are grown on site. Beds start at $6 a night.

Mid Range

Luxury

  • Paradise riverview resort – Great location next to the ferry drop off. Cozy bungalows right on the river. Prices start at $35 per night.

Budget Luxury

  • Little Eden Guesthouse and Resort I know I already talked about Little Eden but this place is the definition of ballin on a budget and if you’re going to splurge anywhere I would splurge on this place. But don’t take my word for it, see for yourself.

Check out more hotel options, prices and reviews here.


What to Do:

Laos is very laid back and Don Det is no exception. Although the main goal of visiting Don Det is relaxing there are still a few activities that you can do.

Rent a Bicycle

Exploring the islands of Don Det and Don Khon

For only 10,000 Kip, about $1 dollar, you can rent a bicycle for the day and explore the island. There is one bridge that links Don Det and Don Khong making it accessible by bike. Strolling between islands and taking in the scenery is a great way to spend a morning. If it is monsoon season and muddy don’t let that stop you, it makes for some great stories.

See the Irrawaddy Dolphins

These rare dolphins only exist in two parts of the Mekong, Kratie, Thailand and here in the 4,000 Islands. Plus its estimated that there are less than a hundred left. Unfortunately when I was here the dolphins were down in Kratie so I never had a chance to see them, which left me with more time to sip a pina colada by the pool.

Catch a Sunset &/or Sunrise

They never get old

Whether you are on a sunset tour or on a deck of a restaurant, this is a MUST. Every night you are here you must watch the sun sink into the Mekong. I’m a huge fan of sunsets and sunrises so you should be doing this everywhere but especially here. The same goes for sunrise.

See Khone Phapheng Falls

Khone Phapheng Falls is the largest waterfall (by volume) in South East Asia. There is a viewpoint that provides great views of the falls below.

Fishing

Catch it, grill it, eat it.

Tubing

Rent a tub for 10,000 Kip and float down the Mekong. Don’t recommend doing this during monsoon season though.

Kayaking

Go on a guided tour and explore parts of the island only accessible by watercraft. The river was flowing so hard when I was there that this activity did not seem fun at all. I chose the pina colada…again.


Where to Eat:

The Garden of Nang

Fresh organic, vegan, vegetarian food! I always look for restaurants with a lot of vegan and vegetarian options and this menu had lots. They have their own garden out back so you know that everything is fresh. Try the pumpkin burger and a coffee fruit shake. Check out there website here.

Hathim

Cheap, delicious Indian food. The lady who runs the restaurant is lovely. We loved it here so much that we ate here twice!  Check out reviews here

Cloud 9

If you’re craving comfort or mediterranean food, you’ll be on cloud 9.  They also have amazing desserts.  Reviews. 

Adams Bar

If you’re looking for a place to chill out, watch tv, play fus ball, or just take a nap on the pleatherea of pillows in the back then you’ve found the right place.  And did I mention it has a’happy menu’. Reviews.


Before you Go:

  • VISA – The USA and most European countries need a visa to travel Laos and you can obtain these at the border. The cost of a visa is $30 USD but varies depending on which passport you are holding. Check here to find out how much a visa cost for you.
  • Purchase World Nomad’s Travel Insurance.
  • CURRENCY: Laotian KIP is the currency of Laos. 8,000 KIP is about 1 USD. Average daily budget is $40 USD’s and that’s not denying yourself of pleasures.
  • Read my 2 Week Laos Itinerary for more Laos inspiration.

Other Travel Tips:

  • There are no ATM’s on the island so plan accordingly.
  • There is a currency exchange but the rates aren’t that good and an ATM at Nakasong where they drop you off from the mini-van.
  • If a menu is “happy’ it contains drugs.

Basic Lao Phrases to Help you on your Trip:

Sabaidee (suh-bye-dee) – Hello

Sabaidee Bor? (sui-bye-dee baw) – How are you?

Khop jai (khop Chai) – Thank you

Karlunaa – Please

Doi or Men – Yes

Baw – No

Baw mee – Don’t have

Lakorn (lah-corn) – Goodbye

La karthaodai? – How much is this?

Tham Keo! -Cheers

View from lunch

As always, thanks for reading, sharing, and happy travels.  @imjess_traveling