Don Det is a small island in southern Laos located in the middle of the Mekong River in Si Phan Don, Laos and the most popular of the 4000 Islands. The 4000 Islands is a narrow section of the country that is more river than land and the perfect stop on your way to or from Cambodia. Don Det is popular with backpackers and young tourists who visit the island to drink, party or relax. Cyclists and mountain bikers also have a field day here. There are numerous guesthouses and bungalows in Don Det some overlooking the Mekong River.
If you are in Siem Reap and looking to get to Don Det, here are a few things you should know:
The distance from Siem Reap to Don Det is about 400km. Previously drivers used the old route that took 11-14 hours, but with the construction of roads going on in Cambodia, it takes 8–9 hours to arrive to Don Det from Siem Reap on the new route, including time you spend to cross the border.
Before embarking check Lao visa requirements for your passport.
A one-way minivan ticket from Siem Reap to Don Det costs USD25.
From Siem Reap to Don Det by bus
Currently there are no direct big buses serving the route between Siem Reap and Don Det. If you prefer to travel by bus, you can first get to Kampong Cham where to change onto another bus to Stung Treng, the closest Cambodian town to the border crossing. From Stung Treng, however, you will need to hop onto a van to Don Det.
From Siem Reap to Don Det by van
For the Siem Reap to Don Det route, minivans are the way to go. Asia Van Transfer is the primary operator on this route providing 12-passenger air-conditioned minivans that come with relatively comfortable seats. The Asia Van Transfer minivan leaves Siem Reap at 8.00am and arrives in Don Det eight and a half hours later at 4.30pm. Tickets for this trip cost USD25. The van travels via Stung Treng and you can most probably catch it there if you have previously stayed for the night in Stung Treng.
It is important to note that:
Refunds and cancellations are not accepted, therefore, ensure that you arrive at your departure point at least half an hour before you are scheduled to leave. If you would rather have the van pick you up at your hotel, email email@example.com with your name, booking ID, and hotel address 24 hours before departure.
If you are carrying too much luggage or huge bags, consider paying for an extra seat because Asia Van Transfer minivans do not have space for huge bags.
During your eight-hour journey, the driver will make a stop along the way for passengers to use toilet facilities.
You need a visa to enter Laos from Cambodia, and this can be done on arrival at the border. Please note that you will often encounter scammers either at the bus station or on the bus, offering to get the visa for you which is more expensive and unnecessary. It is possible for you to handle the visa transaction by yourself as you would at any border crossing. The visa transaction should cost no more than USD35.
There are no ATM’s on the 4000 islands, Don Det included. Guesthouses can exchange the money for you, but they use poor rates. To avoid any inconvenience, carry with you enough Laos Kip that can last for the duration of your stay on the Island.
While it’s easy to buy a ticket in Siem Reap to Don Det, you cannot purchase a ticket to Siem Reap from Don Det at the Nakasang bus station. AVT vans depart from the road leading to the ferry pier, close to the Ning restaurant.