4000 Islands Asia Laos Travelogues

Dreamy Don Det – Lazy Days on Laos’ 4,000 Islands

Sunset Haze Don Det - 4000 Islands Cambodia Laos

Deep in Southern Laos lies a cluster of islands known as Si Phan Don, or 4,000 Islands. Ranging from tiny sandbanks to the 18 km wide island of Don Khong, Laos’ 4,000 Islands are scattered across the Mekong River, and offer a little slices of tranquility, with lush green and calm blue waters all around.

DD boys

We travelled to the most popular of the 4,000 Islands in 2011. Don Det had only received electricity a few years before, but electricity wasn’t available 24 hours a day. We had just come from the insanity that was Vang Vieng, and Don Det offered the ideal remedy to our longer than planned stay in the party town.

Don Det Girls

Now that Vang Vieng is no longer the crazy party spot it once was, more backpackers are turning to Don Det for partying. This is such a shame, as the Don Det of my memory is a chilled out land where time stands still. You can still have a completely chilled time in Don Det, there are just more people around these days.

Don Det 4000 Islands - The Traveloguer Travel Blog

The laidback nature that makes Don Det so special also means you may wait two hours for your dinner to arrive, but with the buzz of nature and the darkness surrounding you, it makes sitting back on a brightly coloured cushion sipping on a beer or fruit shake a peaceful wait.

Don Det - 4000 Islands Laos The Traveloguer

Don Det is rustic, bursting with nature and wildlife, and is a haven of delicious food, beautiful sunsets and a peaceful vibe.

Don Det Swimming

Although there is variety to be found in the levels of comfort when it comes to accommodation, our budget brought us to perhaps the most basic of huts on the island of Don Det. Mounted on steep, and frankly spindly looking stilts, our rough wood home lent us the perfect view, and was close enough to the pier to avoid keeling over beneath the weight of our backpacks.

Don Det Balcony View The Traveloguer Travel Blog

Don Det View

Okay, so on the first night there may have been an incident involving embarassingly girlie shrieks at the swarms of winged creatures visiting our balcony, and the farm animals who ran beneath our hut may have ignited our imagination a little too much, but the sheer joy found in swinging from a hammock with the day stretching out as long as the Mekong, and nothing to do but watch people tubing and locals playing and bathing in the water, was entirely worth it.

Bungalows and Huts on Don Det 4000 Islands - The Traveloguer

There are a range of activities to enjoy in Don Det, from cycling to languid tubing through the water. When we weren’t encased in hammocks or waiting for delicious food, we went for strolls around the island, and rented bicycles. You can ride to the sister island of Don Khon by crossing a bridge. There, you will find an even quieter version of Don Det, as well asΒ Tat Somphamit, or Li Phi Falls. These impressive falls are located less than 2 km from the bridge, and signs will point you in the right direction.

Dreamy Don Det - 4000 Islands Waterfall - The Traveloguer

The 4,000 Islands offer the chance to see Irrawaddy dolphins. These freshwater dolphins are are rare breed and can only be found in small areas like the 4,000 Islands, as well as areas in India, the Philippines, Burma and Thailand.

Cycling in Don Det 4000 Islands off Laos

Sunsets spent submerged in the calm, pink-tinged water, and afternoons spent lying on the warm sand, the sounds of travellers’ conversations providing a peaceful background hum pepper my Don Det memories, but perhaps the best thing about our time in Don Det was the peace, the quiet and the syrupy slow pace of time. It served as a very welcome convalescence after the hard work that was our previous stop in Vang Vieng.

Dont Det Hammock

As the day-glo paint faded from our skin and hoarse throats and skinned knees healed, we swung gently in our hammocks, enveloped in the peace and the beauty of Don Det, one of 4,000 beautiful Islands.

Don Det Step

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  • Reply
    Susan cooper
    August 6, 2015 at 2:47 am

    Ahhh there are days I just long to swing on a hammock somewhere on a quiet beach. That sounds about the most peaceful relaxing thing ever. This place seems like a little bit of paradise.
    Susan cooper recently posted…Roasted Onion Flowers: #RecipeMy Profile

  • Reply
    August 7, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    When I arrived at the 4000 Islands last year, I was exhausted and somehow, it just wasn’t what I expected. By the end, I adored it. We joined a local for a boat trip to the falls and to see the dolphins — one of the highlights of my entire year in Southeast Asia. We stayed on the quieter Don Khon and only visited Don Det for lunch one day, but I’m keen to explore the more popular island more. Love this post – I’ve been itching to return to Laos since the day I left, and I’m feeling all the more inspired now πŸ™‚
    Katie recently posted…Into the Woods: Day Tripping from Melbourne to the DandenongsMy Profile

    • Reply
      Christine Maguire
      September 1, 2015 at 8:44 am

      Hi Katie, I’d say it was such a good experience seeing the dolphins. I would like to experience staying in Don Khon, maybe next time.
      I loved Laos so much, it would be great to go back and see more of it. 😊

      • Reply
        December 26, 2017 at 4:25 am

        Im going to don dhet today , such beautiful fotos and words , thanks so much

  • Reply
    Francesca @onegrloneworld
    August 10, 2015 at 12:41 am

    Wow, what a unique experience! I am a total city girl so I would be squealing about bugs and animals as well haha! Sounds like it was worth the trade off though ^_^
    Francesca @onegrloneworld recently posted…Hiking in El Yunque, Puerto RicoMy Profile

    • Reply
      Christine Maguire
      September 1, 2015 at 8:42 am

      Haha, it’s tough for us city girls! It was so worth it though, and now I’m not as squeamish about creepy crawlies! πŸ˜‚

  • Reply
    August 10, 2015 at 7:43 pm

    Any pictures of the dolphins?

  • Reply
    August 10, 2015 at 7:44 pm

    Any photos of the dophins?
    Tiana recently posted…Craft Beer Guide : San DiegoMy Profile

    • Reply
      Christine Maguire
      September 1, 2015 at 8:41 am

      Hi Tiana, no I didn’t get to see the dolphins unfortunately. I wish I had though!

  • Reply
    melody pittman
    August 11, 2015 at 7:16 am

    Beautiful photos. I swear this reminds me so much of the awesome places tucked away in Panama where the indigenous people live!

    • Reply
      Christine Maguire
      September 1, 2015 at 8:40 am

      Thanks Melody! I would love to visit Panama to see that! 😊

  • Reply
    The Journey to Phnom Penh - a Cambodian love affair - The Traveloguer Travel Blog
    June 10, 2016 at 4:00 pm

    […] in South East Asia can be. A boat, a tuk-tuk, a minibus and a coach brought us from Laos’ 4000 Islands to the Cambodian border where we were herded into the harsh sunlight and sticky, heavy […]

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