cycling and kayaking

don det  bicycle


Riding a bicycle in Don Det

Most of the bicycle rentals are located in the center of Don Det, only 50 meters from BABA guesthouse. The bicycles are all the same, but some of them are newer than others. So try on yours first, and choose a recent one with a silent chain. The price is 10.000 kips/day without deposit and without padlock (it looks like no bicycle has never been stolen in Don Det) ! Ask to adjust the seat if necessary. The name of the rental shop is written on each, but as all the bicycles look similar, it's important to park yours in a special isolated place, so that no one is going to confuse taking it away by mistake.
Don Det and Don Khone islands are not that big, and you won't get lost, even without map. There are 3 km from BABA guesthouse to the bridge (25-30 min cycling), 1.5 km from the bridge to the Liphi Falls, 2 km from the Liphi Falls to the beach (restaurant and boats to the dolphins), and 5.5 km from the bridge to the old French landing pier (restaurant and boats to the dolphins also, see the map).
There are mainly 3 roads on Don Det, and if you follow straight one of these three roads, you'll either reach the bridge (South) or the pier/beach (North).
A long path follows the Mekong river all around the island, and a larger road cuts Don Det in the middle, through the rice fields. The minibuses and tuk-tuks take that road, whereas the path near the river is car-free, perfect for a nice ride by bicycle.
From the bridge, it's easy to come back to Don Det center via the sunset side, except the path is not much visible at the beginning. Most of the travellers confuse and take the dusty bus road. But the other one is more attractive, so, not to miss it from the bridge, keep in mind to turn left just after the few restaurants, on the narrow path that slopes down (and which leads first to the Long Island guesthouse & swimming pool). Keep going to admire the sunset side of Don Det, and after a short ride, you'll easily reach BABA guesthouse.

Warning : The bicycles are supposed to be returned in the evening, not late after the night, however in case you rent yours for several days, be careful not to ride far in the evening without flashlight, because the South part of the island is not well lit, and you risk to crash in the ditch.

Kayaking

don det  kayak

As Si Phan Don emerges from the water, a kayaking tour is a perfect mean to admire the beauty of its breathtaking landscapes.

There are two travel offices that arrange kayaking tours on Don Det : Green Paradise Travel with mister Bun in the center of Don Det, and Mister Mo, next to BABA guesthouse.
From what we know, both programs are similar and the two groups will be mixed during the cruise.
The package usually costs 150.000 - 200.000 kips (19 - 25 $) and includes :
A breakfast in Don Det (coffee, tea, bread, juice, pancake), and a lunch in another island (barbecue fish or meat, grilled potatoes, salad, fruits, drinking water).
The material (kayak and paddles)
Two guides, who don't speak very good English, but helpful, they know very well the waters and the difficulties.
The entrance fee to the waterfalls.

The departures usually set at 8:30 am from Don Det. You will be quickly briefed to learn how to navigate. It's not very difficult, even for non-adventurous sportive persons, but it needs a bit of skills.

What does the outing consist on ?
It's a full day tour, which means you're off from the morning til the sunset, back to Don Det.
The tour usually starts with a visit of the small islands nearby Don Det, for about 40 minutes, after what you will enjoy exciting rapids (grade 2-3). You'll meet beautiful and clean swimming spots, and stop on one of them for a Lao picnic lunch. This place is quite deserted, except by local fishermen who prepare the meals. After lunch, you'll continue paddling downstream for about one hour to the area where the last Irrawaddy Dolphins live, at the Lao–Cambodian border. After spending a while relaxing and taking photos, the kayaks go on for 40 more minutes to Veun Kham, a place where a car is waiting to take you to the amazing and impressive Khone Phapheng Waterfall (big falls). Then you'll be driven by car to Nakasang, where you'll enjoy the sunset, paddling back to Don Det.

Bring a hat, sun cream, sunglasses, clothes and shoes that can get wet, optionnally dry clothes for the lunch pause, and a camera in a sealed bag.

Until now, there are no half-day tours, neither kayak rentals for free paddling without guide. The reason is some areas are dangerous, with strong currents.

These tours are usually highly appreciated by most of the travellers. It's an immersion inside the wild nature of the 4000 islands, a great moment of scenery, when you'll catch a lot to feel rich emotions, so if you're healthy enough to attempt, do not hesitate. All tours must be booked in advance, generally the previous day. Enjoy the challenge !

This short Youtube video gives a preview of a full day kayaking tour.

Motorbike rentals on Don Det

Even if there is no official motorbike rentals on the island in 2017, it is possible to rent one in the center in the minimarket near the reggae bar at 100 meters from the pier (river side).
Less officially, it might also be possible to rent one at Ning restaurant in the center (50 meters North from BABA guesthouse).
The price will probably raise 80.000 kips /day without petrol. Small bottles of red petrol are available in several shops spread over the island and on Don Khone.
A motorbike will be more comfortable to ride than a bicycle to visit the main sites, but careful of the sliding paths during the monsoon.

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