Laos – Been there, Don Det

Good morning happy people!!!!

Finally I got it over – at least I think so – the bacteria poisoning I mean :). After 2 weeks of being on “slim diet” I can finally eat normally and I can enjoy traveling once again. The positive side of it is that I lost some kg which is perfect before beaches of Cambodia and Thailand, waiting for us in next few months :).

Laos is behind us! 2,5 weeks of same same but different experience. So different than Vietnam in every aspect, that it is impossible to compare… I won’t even try. In next few lines I will share the last week and a half in Laos and give you in the end short resume of the whole trip through our personal opinion.

The last week and a half of Laos took us another 1250 km of bus drive from Vientiane to Pakse, than to 4000 Islands and finally crossing the border with Cambodia to Phnom Penh. Once again full of new stories to tell…

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PAKSE (Bolaven Plateau)

Most travellers don’t linger long in this city, because there is not much to do. The city’s main appeal lies in sipping Beerlao on the riverfront, soaking up the laid-back provincial vibe and launching motorbike tours to nearby attractions such as the Bolaven Plateau and Tat Lo which we did. Therefore If you are not planing the tour don’t stop in Pakse, just head straight to 4000 islands.

The Bolaven Plateau can be explored by motorbike on a day trip from Pakse, but we recommend taking a few extra days and tackling the ‘Southern Swing’. We decided for a 2 day motorbike tour on which we did more or less 300 km. We rented a motorbike from a Belgium guy who was recommended to us. He gave us a very detailed explanation of the route with a map and off we went. For both of us it was the first time to ride a semi automatic motorbike, so the first few km was a bit scary but once we got comfortable we started to enjoy the nature, coffee plantations and ethnical villages you can find around the area.

We slept in a cute small village, called Tat Lo with beautiful waterfall and great ethnical atmosphere in a really cheap bungalow run buy a local family. The town itself is very small with few guesthouse – bars run buy hedonistic french who are teaching local children english and cook a great community dinner for very reasonable price in which we participated.

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The next day we finished the tour with seeing some amazing waterfalls and for the night we decided to stay in Pakse before heading to most expected destination for us in Laos – 4000 islands.

4000 ISLANDS (Islands Dhon Det and Dhon Khon)

5 h bus drive south from Pakse you will find an area of Mecong delta river with 4000 islands. The vast majority of travelers to 4000 islands end up on the twin islands of Don Det and Don Khon. Don Det in particular has become more popular among younger travellers in recent years, leading some to speculate that it will replace Vang Vieng as the go-to spot in Laos. I don’t think that will be the case. Our best guess is that a hippyesque party scene will continue to thrive in 4000 islands at the north end of Don Det, but it will never become as depraved as the old Vang Vieng.

We stayed there 3 nights in a family run bungalows for very modest price. It was 4 days of relaxing on hamak, eating wonderful and cheap food, driving around with bicycle, watching river dolphins, visiting waterfalls, sipping beer with amazing sunsets and trying to solve the worlds problems.

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If you want to disconnect for a while after few thousands of km of tough bus drives around Vietnam and Laos, 4000 islands is the place for you. We both enjoyed it very much and got a lot of energy for our next Into The Wild adventures in Cambodia.

Officially 6 h drive  crossing the Laos border to Phnom Penh in Cambodia took in the end 13 h, but more about that in next week post.

Since it’s the end of Lao’s adventure here’s a short resume with some interesting facts and personal opinion;

Facts:

– aprox 700 eur costs per person

– 6 different hotels

– aprox 2700 km of bus rides and 300 km of motorbike

– 10 days of heavy bacteria poisoning

– “If I shoot you today you die tomorrow” rule heavily in use

– a very good beer called Laobeer

– hard time finding good Lao meal

– very friendly people

– easier bargaing than in Vietnam

– sharing the adventure with new amazing backpackers

TOP 5 of Laos

1. 4000 Islands (Don Det & Don Khon) & Hamak time

2. Luang Pharaban with its nature around

3. Vang Vieng’s nature

4. Sharing great part of Laos with JB, Johanna, Emilio and Franco – Thx guys!!!

5. Motorbike ride in Bolaven Plateau

WORST 5 of Laos

1. Food (it’s actually very hard to find a good local restaurant, normally what you get is crappy western one)

2. Lao Lao whisky and the consequences 🙂

3. Pakse

4. Three flat tires on motorbike adventures

5. Food poisoning  – I don’t blame Laos for it, just bad luck 😉

Love Maja & Andrej

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