Oh Don Det, how you calmed me down. Despite the fact that Don Det is an island in Laos, that there are stray cats, dogs and water buffaloes, that it has roosters and even a monkey stuck in a cage (so sad), it reminds me of a place in France that I love to visit. What makes it similar is the vibe and the people. Everyone is laid back and there to enjoy life. But apart from the occasional French baguette with eggs for breakfast, Don Det is actually very different from my little French town, as you can imagine.
Don Det is one of the islands of Si Phan Don, also known as the 4000 islands. Seeing as only a couple of these islands are inhabited, the most frequently visited islands are Don Kong, Don Khon and Don Det. All these islands focus most on relaxing, with their waterfront bungalows and the obligatory hammocks (from which I wrote the biggest portion of this post). Don Det is where the real chilling happens, though, as it is by far the most hippie and bohemian island I have come across. Most of the people on the island plan to stay 1 or 2 days and end up staying for 3 or 4 more, myself included. Even though there isn’t that much to do, something just makes you not want to leave. Activities on the island include some slow tempo tubing, biking across the island up to Don Khon and visiting the waterfalls, kayaking to other waterfalls, possibly spotting the Irrawaddy dolphins and my personal favorite, going for a boat trip or a swim at sunset.
You’ll notice that once you get into the rhythm, most of these activities (apart from the sunset ones) will disappear into thin air as you’re taking a break from your heavy travel schedule. You’ll grab a breakfast at Mr. To’s around 11, enjoy some reading in your hammock, have a Tom Yum at lunch, hang around with fellow travelers and have a drink or a (happy) pizza at One More Bar. After a while you’re no longer in need of the things that the island doesn’t have like hot showers, mirrors, ATM’s or WiFi (that last one was hard to let go though, especially because I was working on a new blog design).
If you’re planning a trip to this magical place, look for a cabin next to the Mekong river. I stayed at Mr. To’s Kitchen, run by a lovely family offering the best food in town and decent bungalows with an attached bathroom (a real luxury on this island!). The only downside is that they’re not right by the water. They charge about 75.000 kip (7 euro) per night but if you don’t need a luxurious (read private) bathroom, you can go for a shared bathroom and pay around 40.000 kip (4 euro) at other places. Just keep walking and ask around. My favorite food was at Street View (go for a pizza during the day), Mr. To’s itself, One More Bar (best drinks, people and pumpkin burger on the island) and the kebab place on the sunrise side (right before smiley bar). For drinks I would recommend One More Bar again (just because they’re awesome), Adam’s bar (where you can also withdraw money) and 4000 Islands Bar. At these last two, the WiFi is often also ok-ish. The only reason why I wouldn’t recommend 4000 Islands Bar is because they keep the saddest little monkey locked up in a horrible cage. Let me know if you ever make it to the 4000 islands! It really is worth the extra week in Laos!
I have to admit that this title was inspired by Paulien, it was just too appropriate 😉