As we clambered off our boat onto Don Det and wandered down the main street our first impression was that this was a reincarnation of Vang Vieng. The main street from ‘the beach’ is lined with restaurants and bars advertising space cookies and happy shakes, and alas – you can tube down the Mekong River!
We wandered off the main street a little and found a nice basic bungalow on the river front with our own porch and hammock to watch the sunset. What more do you need? It turned out our bungalow also came with its own alarm clock – a rooster than woke us up at 4am in the morning.
Despite our first impressions, Don Det was actually rather quiet in the evenings and a good place to relax with a beer Lao. On our first evening we noticed that there was a long tail boat race taking place the next day on Don Khong and so we decided we would go and take a look.
The gentleman that we bought our boat tickets from informed me that there would be 70 boats taking part in the race so I was looking forward to witnessing such a great boat race. However, I think there was a slight breakdown in communication as there were only 4 boats in total and they were racing in heats. I guess he meant 70 people taking part.
Despite the lack of boats there was a carnival atmosphere and the river banks were lined with food stalls. We found a lady making delicious fresh spring rolls amongst all the other stalls selling mainly offal pate, egg foetus and intestines on a stick, so we took the opportunity and filled up on spring rolls. I like to be adventurous and try new food, but my palate will only stretch so far.
We spent our second day cycling to the Somphamit waterfall on Don Khon. The ride takes you through Don Det village, past buffalo, chickens, rice paddies and waving children until you reach the bridge over to Don Khon. The toll to cross the bridge is 25,000 kip (£2) and includes the entrance fee to the waterfall and other sights on Don Khon.
Despite the waterfall dropping only several metres, it is the largest by volume in South East Asia, and all that water crashing down is very impressive. Swimming is not allowed at the actual waterfall for obvious reasons (its sheer force would surely kill you) but downstream a little is a ‘beach’ and a small but safe swimming area to cool down.
After taking a dip in the river we jumped back on our bikes and headed back toward Don Det, although before crossing the bridge we grabbed a bite to eat at a restaurant with a romantic view of the bridge.
If you’re looking for a couple of days to unwind and to watch the sunset over the Mekong then head to Si Phan Don, just remember to pick a bungalow without a rooster.