Watch days pass by from your hammock on the Mekong
Don't come to these islands and expect much to do. Don Det is a place to come and do nothing. Many travelers stop here on their way to Cambodia as it's very close to the border.
Don Det is the most popular of the islands, next to Don Khong and Don Khone. The accommodations vary, but most places are fairly standard and contain a row of rooms in a large bungalow building, hammocks and a view of the Mekong River.
There are massive trees, holding uncountable amounts of cicada and for the sweet tooths among you, street-side sucre juicers mix you up an ice-cold sugarcane drink.
WHERE TO STAY
It's best not to pre-book anything here as many accommodations aren't available online. The ones that are will charge more per night than if you were to walk in. It can be a bit daunting not to know where you are staying, but so long as you arrive in the morning you should be able to find the spot you're looking for.
The north of Don Det is the busy, touristic part of the island with loads of bars, restaurants and guesthouses piled on top of each other. We wanted to escape the crowds a bit so we knew we were going to try to walk a bit down one side of the island to find our bed for a few days.
Tip: Stay on the east side of Don Det. One side of Don Det has a sunrise and the other a sunset. We thought the sunset side would be the obvious choice, however after speaking to other travelers the sunrise side as the is the better choice. Riverside decks (and your hammock) will stay cool for most of the day. On the west side the sun is blazing in the afternoon and will leave you high and dry without any shade to stay cool and relax in.
BEAT THE HEAT
One thing's for sure, the heat. Waking up around 9am to 90 degree temps (32C) makes it tough to leave your shaded bungalow with a fan. However it's best to wake early as the sun only gets higher and hotter in the sky. It's also twice as important to stay hydrated as this can get away from you rather easily.
Be a sport and recycle your drinking water by walking down to the Chinese Restaurant on the east side. They offer 1,000-2,000Kip (.25¢) cold refills depending on the size of your bottle. You'll either be walking or biking, or if you have a bigger budget, motorbiking around the island in the brutal heat. It's 4.3mi (7km) around so unless your plan is to sweat until you disappear, then carrying water with you is your only play.
COOL OFF WITH A SWIM
Believe us, you will be swimming in the Mekong River. Along both sides of Don Det you will find little coves, some with small sandy beaches, that you can lay out on and go swimming. Be careful swimming as the current is quick but don't worry too much, you won't be taken all the way down-stream.
You can also rent a tube from some of the restaurants on the east side. For 10,000Kip, you get a standard rubber tube to do what you want with. Tie it up or turn the Mekong into your own lazy river.
If you want to avoid the Mekong for swimming, there are two pools on the island. The first is only steps away from the north end of Don Det. For 50,000Kip you get a towel and wifi. The other is on the south end of the island where the same perks cost only 35,000Kip. We went south and hung out on day beds, played music and swam until we pruned up.
SUNSET BOAT RIDE
On the east side of Don Det there is a guesthouse called Smile Lao. They offer an affordable and fun boat cruise on the Mekong to a secret island. Maybe it's not so secret but with all of these little islands on the river, you would never know if one had set foot on it before. Once on the getaway island you can swim or just chill and watch the sunset. The staff bring big Beer Lao on ice and some Lao Lao (homemade whiskey not regulated by any governing body) to suck down. The cruise will only cost you 10,000Kip (>$1USD) and beers, 12,000Kip per bottle.