Tag: waterfall

Don Det – Four Thousand Islands

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Don Det is an island in the Si Phan Don (Four Thousand Islands) archipelago in the southern part of Laos. Here’s where it’s situated in Laos:

Getting There

I decided to take a huge gamble and travel from Vang Vieng to Don Det in one journey. Looking back, this may not have been the best idea. Nevertheless, I did arrive there in one piece. I started on a mini bus from Vang Vieng-Vientiane which was probably the most comfortable aspect of the journey despite the windy roads and need-for-speed driver. Vientiane-Pakse was to be a night bus. This was basically a bus with no seats and mattresses on the floor. I had very little space even though I’m 5’5″. I feel sorry for anyone over 6ft!

The final part of the journey felt like the longest. I arrived in Pakse around 6.30am. The bus to Si Phan Don arrived within 30 minutes and we loaded our luggage on. Unfortuantely, for us, someone had left a bag of garbage on the bus and it smelled terrible. Once the bus finally got moving, it was apparent that the air con was not working. The bus wasn’t even half full, so our driver kept calling his friends and waiting at the side of the road for them for up to half an hour to catch the bus. By this point, I’d been travelling for over 20 hours, I was hungry and tired and was less than impressed with the driver waiting for so long in the heat for his friends. Eventually, the bus arrived in Nakasong – 23 hours after I’d left Vang Vieng!

The last leg of the journey was to catch a boat from Nakasong to Don Det.

don det pier four thousand islands laos Alex Explores the World

Don Det Pier

Activities in Don Det

There’s a tour which every tour company in Don Det sells and it’s the one every tourist ends up doing. The tour is similarly priced regardless of where it’s booked (I paid 170,000kip). The tour is a day of kayaking around different parts of Four Thousand Islands, including visiting two waterfalls and seeing Irrawaddy dolphins in the Mekong. The tour includes breakfast and lunch.

I booked the tour with a friend and we arrived at the meeting point for breakfast at 8.30am. I had scrambled eggs for breakfast but there were other options to choose from, such as pancakes and fruit. The group left at 9.30am in kayaks. The first section of river was relatively straightforward, although towards the end there was a lot of ‘island’ dodging (by islands, I mean tangles of reeds/bushes – this is why this area is called Four Thousand Islands). Some people in the group were unable to dodge these ‘islands’ and ended up capsizing. Funny for us, probably less funny for them. The guides should probably have checked that everyone was competent enough to kayak.

We walked to the first waterfall of the day – a torrent of rushing water. The guides spent a while attempting, and succeeding, to catch fish with their hands. We had lunch by the side of the river which was a mix of mashed potatoes, bread, skewers, and vegetables. There was very little shade by the river so we were exposed to the intensity of the midday sun.

Waterfalls & Dolphins

After lunch, it was time to get back into the kayaks, this time in search of Irrawaddy dolphins. We kayaked down the Mekong, close to the border with Cambodia. We were lucky enough to spot a few dolphins from a distance. A rainstorm rolled in so we paddled as fast as we could to get out of the torrential rain, to no avail.

The next stop was to see the largest waterfall in South East Asia (by volume), Khonephapheng Falls.

don det waterfall khonephapheng falls laos four thousand islands Alex Explores the World

It certainly wasn’t the most spectacular waterfall to look at, but the sheer volume of water makes it impressive.

The last activity of the day was to kayak from Nakasong back to Don Det. By this point I was sunburnt, tired and eager for a shower. We paddled back as quickly as our arms would allow, racing the other kayakers.

don det sunset four thousand islands laos Alex Explores the World

Where to Stay

I stayed in Don Det for 3 nights which was more than enough for me. The first night I stayed in one of the typical riverside bungalows which are all over the island. These wooden bungalows are very basic and very cheap – only 40,000 kip per night. There was a fan in the room and an ensuite. For the next couple of nights I stayed in a guesthouse called Mama Leurth’s which was 60,000 kip per night and was a lot nicer than the riverside bungalow. This room had the option of air con for an additional cost and had wifi in the rooms.

Final Thoughts

Don Det was a lovely final stop in Laos. I enjoyed the laid back atmosphere of this small island. I went in low season so there were plenty of accommodation options. There are many restaurants on the island which all offer reasonably priced food. I felt like Don Det was more relaxed than the other places I’d visited in Laos and is a must visit for anyone in the area!

To read more about Laos, see my posts about Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng.

 

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Puerto Galera – Beaches, Waterfalls & Drag Shows

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Puerto Galera was my first opportunity to visit a Filipino beach. We’d decided to stay on White Beach simply for its beautiful white sand. We stayed at Summer Connection for two nights, which is at the far end of the beach. White Beach isn’t particularly long so it was very easy to go to restaurants and bars at night.

On the first day, we relaxed on the beach. There were a few people trying to sell things to us, such as massages, earrings, bracelets, shrooms(!) but no one was particularly pushy.

We headed to the restaurant next to our accommodation for dinner. Whilst there, a Filipino man, who we think worked at the restaurant, started playing some songs for us on his guitar. One of his songs was about a guy named Billy who he’d had a great night with but the following day Billy completely ignored him. We walked further down the beach and saw that there was entertainment in a few bars. We got an early night because we’d spent the night before on the night bus from Banaue.

 

Talipanan Falls

Talipanan Falls

 

On the second day, we went to Talipanan Beach, which is much quieter than White Beach. We also went on a walk to see Talipanan Falls. We took a Mangyan guide which cost us 300PHP. On the way back from the falls, the guide took us to see a Mangyan village school. The teachers and the pupils were lovely.
In the evening, we went to a bar in the middle of White Beach (I honestly can’t remember the name) as we’d seen some performers there the previous night. There was a drag performance, some young guys doing a dance routine to Beyonce and some fire performers. All in all, it was a lot of fun. The entertainment was totally free (although you’re expected to tip the performers) and it was the busiest bar on White Beach.

How to get to Puerto Galera

From Manila, it’s simply a case of getting a bus to Batangas, then getting a ferry over to Puerto Galera. Buses to Batangas can be found at the Cubao bus terminal. We got a package deal from a hotel which included the bus and ferry. It cost 800PHP which is pretty expensive for such a short journey.

 

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