A guide to Don Det & the 4000 Islands in Laos

Don Det is an island in the South of Laos and the most popular island from the Si Phan Don Island group, also called the 4000 islands. These islands are located in the Mekong river. Don Det is a place with riverfront bungalows, hammocks and a very laidback vibe. Backpackers mainly come here to relax as there are not that many things to do. I personally doubted if it was worth the effort of going there, but I’m glad I made the stop on my way from Pakse down to Siem Reap. Tourists have found their way to the island, but it’s not very developed so you’ll get the authentic backpacker experience here. The most popular thing to do is just relaxing, but you can go kayaking, visit some waterfalls and explore the island by bike. Here is my guide for Don Det and the 4000 islands in Laos!

What to do on Don Det Island?


I’m not the person to spend my day lazing around in a hammock so I decided to book one of the kayaking tours. the kayaking tour takes you past several different waterfalls and you make a little stop to swim and have lunch. The tour company provides kayaks, a dry bag and lunch.

The first stop was the E-Toud waterfall. The guide showed us a spot where we could slide into the water and drift down a bit. You have to catch one of the rocks not to drift too far, so it’s debatable how safe this was. It was good fun though! We stopped somewhere for lunch and a swim afterwards and continued to Khone Phapheng Waterfall. On the way back we had to cross a section in the river with a strong current. Be mindful of what you are taking with you. We toppled over in this section and our dry bag didn’t keep everything perfectly dry.

kayaking Don Det 4000 Islands

E-Toud waterfall Don Det 4000 Islands E-Toud waterfall Don Det 4000 Islands


The perfect way to explore Don Det is by Bicycle. You can rent one in several spots on the island for around 15000 kip/€1 per day. Cycle around the island, to the beach or cross the bridge to neighboring island Don Khon.

cycling in Don Det Laos


On the neighboring island Don Khon you can find the Li Phi Somphamit Waterfall. It’s easy to reach by crossing the bridge from Don Det to Don Khon and either taking a long walk or a quick bike ride. I’d recommend taking a bicycle.

Li Phi Somphamit Waterfall 4000 islands laos


We sat down at happy bar backpackers for a drink, but any bar on this side of the island will give you a great sunset view. It does get busy, because everyone flocks to this side of the island for the sunset, so if you have a specific spot in mind, come a little early.

sunset Don Det 4000 islands Laos sunset Don Det 4000 islands Laos

How to get to Don Det/4000 islands?

From Pakse you can book a minivan at your hotel or tour company that will take you to Don Det in 3,5 hours. The Boat ticket from Nakasong to Don Det should be included. This should cost around $11.

Find my guide to Pakse here

Best Restaurants on Don Det

Hathim Indian Food- Indian restaurant on the sunset side of the island. I loved the curry I had here.

Mojo- Good Italian Restaurant with a sunset view.

Namfon Sunset restaurant: Very popular spot. Simple, cheap meals. The veggie burger was great.

Where to stay on Don Det?

If you’re going for the true backpacker experience, you can walk around the island and ask the different hotels if they have space. This is how we found a waterfront bungalow for €4 per night! It was a  simple, but great private room with ensuite bathroom. This was on the east side of the island where you can see the sunrise. This is also the more quiet side, as most of the restaurants are on the west side. Personally, I liked being able to see the sunrise from our bungalow. We would usually have drinks and dinner on the west side anyway, so we’d see the sunset there. Another place often recommended that is not bookable online is Mama Leuah Guesthouse.

By not booking in advance you do however run the risk of places already being booked.  If you feel more comfortable having something booked I recommend the following:

Crazy Gecko Don Det

Moon by night 

BABA guesthouse