How to get there
Most people visit the northern parts of Laos. Luang Prabang is a popular destination. It’s mostly backpackers that visit the south of Laos. Pakse in the south is a nice place which can be reached in many ways and from many sides. Pakse has an airport, or you can get there by bus from either Vientiane, Thailand or Cambodia. Once you are in Pakse there are plenty of trips to make. To the waterfalls of Tad Fane for example, but an even more attractive trip is the one to 4000 Islands even more south of Laos, near the Cambodian border. A bus from Pakse to the 4000 Islands takes around 3 hrs and cost you around 70.000 kip ($9).
You have several choices to pick from as it comes to the 4000 Islands. Places as Champasake, which is near Pakse. Other places are Don Khong, Don Khone and Don Det. The last two are at the far south of Laos. You can buy a ticket from Pakse to Don Khone and Don Det with or without boat. This means that there is a bridge over which you can reach the Islands or you stop earlier and get out of the bus and into a longtail boat for a 10 minute boat tour to Don Det Island. If there are really 4000 islands, or if that’s just a name, I can’t tell. There are hundreds of islands of just a few m2. In that way it could be possible to reach 4000 islands.
Everything depends on your own expectations. When you look for action and thrill, Don Det is not the right place for you, but when you appreciate and enjoy nature, Don Det is the place to be. A quiet island with small alleys with hotels, guesthouses, restaurants and bars. Not a noisy area but a rather peaceful and very relaxing atmosphere. On The island itself the most you can do is hang out and try the ‘Happy’ shakes. The happy shakes are made of either weed or mushrooms. The ones that make you high or hallucinate. With a price of around $8 a mushroom shake, it’s mostly the shops that are happy, because the working of it can be a disappointing experience.
As you probably don’t go to Don Det for happy shakes, you have some very nice other options. You can take a boat tour over the Mekong, passing and getting through some of the 4000 Islands. The boat tours can be booked as group tour or a private tour. The group tours are popular among backpackers, as the boat stops at some point at what looks like a beach, but is one of the islands. Loud music can be heard from the parties going on. Groups of people drinking beer and smoking weed.
Hotels and Sunset
On a private tour you have a more peaceful experience for around $25, which takes you three or four hours. You can ask the boatsman to stop so you can take a look at traditional houses and farming. A sunset on the Mekong from a boat is a wonderful and special event. Hotels are located at both edges/coast lines of the island as well as at the middle of Don Det. The coast hotels have a view over the river and some more islands. Prices are reasonable. Wifi and electricity are available on Don Det Island. The 4000 islands trip is of absolute beauty and is nothing less than northern Laos in terms of wonderful scenery’s. An impression video can be seen here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QsW52bFvObk&feature=youtu.be