Tours and boat trips

boat tour don det

Finding a boat in Don Det

The quickest way to charter a boat in Don Det is to get to the pier in the center and directly ask the drivers to take you in. Depending on your destination and the number of passengers, the price can be negociated. Going to Nakasang usually costs 15.000 kips / person, and Don Som 10.000 kips. Don Khone is also a frequent requested destination, and the prices range between 15.000 and 35.000 kips depending on the season, the number of travellers and the weight of the luggages.

For a long tour on the Mekong to discover the area by boat, ask mister Phao (see on map), after the bus station and next to Mr Tho's guesthouse, 1.5 km from BABA guesthouse. Mister Phao speaks English and charters his boat to various destinations, from the Khon Phapheng Falls to the Northern islands. He is a reliable person, helpful and adaptive to recommand good spots, and his price is normally cheap.

There are a few travel shops in the center where to book boat tours, by mister Mo for example, near BABA guesthouse. Usually the boat is chartered exclusively for you, and the departure time can be chosen in advance. For a 2-hour sunset trip the price turns around 15$ /course, and to go to Don Khong (biggest island) in the morning, 40$ /course, including the petrol. Any destination might be negociable, depending on your tastes and intentions.


Boat in Don Det

The reggae bar, in the center of Don Det, charters a boat every evening during the high season to admire the sunset. The customers are mostly youngs who enjoy drinking beers while listening reggae music in a deserted island.

For a nice cruise on the Mekong, we highly recommand to see the dolphins by boat, from one of the two landing points of Don Khone (see on map). The landscape is wonderful, particularly at the sunset time (16:00 - 17:30), when the countryside gets magnificiently colored.

To navigate on the river and discover all the marvels of the 4000 islands, a full day kayaking tour is also a very clever option.

Si Phan Don : Discovering the other islands

It's very easy to get to Don Khone and Don Som, the two nearest islands from Don Det.
Don Khong is the biggest of the 4000 islands, but it's a bit difficult to get there by boat, going against the current for about 2 or 3 hours.
There are approximately 20 inhabited islands in Si Phan Don (see the map). A few ones are cultivated, without sheltering any house. In some small and close islands, locals leave their farm animals, like pigs or goats, and make the way everyday by boat to feed them. Some isolated islands are occupied by upside down boats, being repaired or waterproof. So, most of the islands in Si Phan Don are used as extensions of private lands.
Try a cruise by boat to discover the 14 km-large and 40 km-long achipelago.

As the Lonely Planet says on its website, «Don Khong is sleepiest and sees the fewest tourists. There's much more to do on Don Khon and Don Det.» However, if Don Khong is a bit desert, it is also very peaceful, wild, and there are several good restaurants to have a lunch there. If you have time, it's worth to see it for a day and half-a-day (how to get there from Don Det). There are bicycle rentals in Don Khong, and quiet paths to wander around in the center (Muang Khong).

Insight into the local life of Don Det

salads don det

House in Don Det

One of the main activities of the island is rice cultivation. Contrary to other islands where the fields are more humid, there is only one harvest in Don Det per year. The rice is usually planted from June to July, and cut between October and November. This is a very hard labour. The temperatures are high, the sun hits and the villagers wear heavy clothes to protect their skin from the rays. They stay all day long two feet in the water, bent under the rude sun, from the early morning (6 am) til the evening (6:30 pm). This difficult task creates a strong solidarity between the workers, and rice is always an important conversation in the village.
Between mid-November to mid-June, the ricefields lie fallow and the cows freely graze.
There're only a few tractors here, as most of the men pull their buffalos to plow their land. Moreover, no fertilizer has never been used in Don Det, so the soil is very healthy.


Cutting rice in Don Det

The village is very friendly, not everyone is rich but everyone has a job and an activity. When they don't run a guesthouse or a restaurant, the men earn money by building houses or by catching fishes in the Mekong. They start very young learning technical tasks like masonry, carpentry, tiling, and some of them become very skilled. Women often cultivate their garden, raise chickens, ducks, pigs or cows, and sell their produce to the village. Very early, children get autonomous. Older brothers and sisters look after the youngers. Six or seven year-old kids are able to give serious helping hands to their families, for example by selling fresh products, like fish or bananas, in their neighborhood.

woman Don Det

Woman with her baby in Don Det

seller corn don det

Seller of fresh corn in the village

Despite tourism, the village has remained very traditional.
The family is very important for everyone here. The elders are integrated, respected and loved, and the passed away ancesters revered everyday through buddhist offerings. Cremations take place in the ricefields.

Parties and ceremonies are important in Don Det. House warming parties, funerals and weddings are the main opportunities to get invited, but all the grounds can be good to share a meal together in a joyful atmosphere. Some friends help for the cooking, and others come to eat, giving money in return.
Since foreigners are appreciated in general, they are often invited to drink a glass of beer and to dance when the party is launched.

wedding don det

Wedding in Don Det

Every year in March, there is a festival in Don Det, which attrats many people from the village and from the other islands. It takes place in the temple, starting at 7 pm and finishing after 2 am. There's a show with professional dancers, and a musical concert (Don Det annual festival video on Youtube).

More photos of Don Det.

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