DON DET TRAVEL GUIDE
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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 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.
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