Kapono Cheruene

Travelled to 5 countries / regions

Written 24 briefs
I am Laotian and I live in Vientiane



Asia > Laos > Si Phan Don > Useful Info
Updated on Jul 13, 2019 Useful Info

How to get to Don Det island from Vientiane

  • Don Det island is the most popular island at Si Phan Don (4000 Islands), but getting there from Vientiane is not easy
  • There is no direct transportation from Vientiane to Don Det. Instead, you must go through these three steps:
  1. Vientiane to Pakse by bus or plane
  2. Pakse to Ban Nakasang by bus
  3. Ban Nakasang to Don Det by boat
  • I will describe below each of the steps in detail. But here's a map overview of the entire trip (zoom in to see Ban Nakasang, which is very close to Don Det):

  • Step 1: Vientiane to Pakse
  • Pakse is a major town in southern Laos. You can get there from Vientiane by bus or by plane. I recommend taking the bus because it's significantly cheaper than flying and if you get a VIP seat it's actually quite comfortable
  • Bus option to Pakse (recommended):
  • Buses leave from Vientiane Southern Bus Station (located here, which is ironically north of the city). The best way to get there is to take a tuk tuk from the city for 40,000-60,000 LAK ($4.6-$7USD)
  • Buses arrives at Chitpasong Bus Station in Pakse, located here. It's within walking distance to downtown Pakse
  • There are 16 buses going to Pakse from this station everyday, first one departing at 5:15am and last one departing at 9pm. Here's a picture of the schedule:User submitted photo of Si Phan Don
  • The departure times of the buses are: 5:15AM(VIP), 10AM, 12:30PM, 1PM, 1:30PM, 2PM, 2:30PM, 3PM, 3:30PM, 4PM, 6PM(VIP), 6:30PM(VIP), 7PM (VIP), 8PM(VIP), 8:30PM(VIP), 9PM(VIP)
  • Trip takes approximately 12 hours, but the bus often arrives +/- 2 hours to scheduled arrival time
  • Bus fares vary by class: 110,000 LAK ($13USD) for coach fare, 140,000-170,000 LAK ($16-$19USD) for VIP fare. I highly recommend getting the VIP fare because you get a bed to lie down in. This is what a VIP seat looks like:User submitted photo of Si Phan Don
  • The VIP buses all have air conditioning and toilet onboard. Beds can be a little small for some foreigners but the linens are very comfortable
  • I do not recommend getting coach. Sitting in the stiff seat for 11 hour is extremely uncomfortable and is only $6USD cheaper. Not worth it in my opinion!
  • You can buy the bus ticket at the bus station, which accepts only cash LAK. I recommend going there 2-3 hours beforehand to secure a ticket and a good seat
  • Alternatively you can book online through 12Go (just search for Vientiane to Pakse). The price is higher if you book online at $25USD, but you get a peace of mind knowing that you have guaranteed ticket. If you buy online keep in mind that you still need to exchange your voucher for a ticket when you get to the bus station. When you purchase online you will be given detailed instructions
  • Plane option to Pakse:
  • There are direct flights from Vientiane to Pakse taking just 1h15min
  • One-way fares range from $120-$150USD
  • There are two airlines that fly this route: Lao Airlines and Lao Skyway. You can use a search engine like Skyscanner to compare fares, or just go to Lao Airlines and Lao Skyway's websites to book directly
  • Getting to Vientiane's airport is best done by taxi for about $7USD. There is also a shuttle bus option as well that's much cheaper. See this for more details
  • From Pakse airport, the only way to get into town is to take a tuk tuk for $2-$4USD
  • There is one flight at 8am, everything else is at 3-4pm
  • Before you book your flight, read on below to make sure you're ok with the timing, because your connection to Don Det may leave for the day before your flight arrives

  • Step 2 and 3: Pakse to Ban Nakasang & Ban Nakasang to Don Det
  • From Pakse, the best way to get to Don Det is to buy a combined minivan+boat ticket (minivan to Ban Nakasang, then boat to Don Det). These tickets save you the hassle of having to find your own boat when you get to Ban Nakasang, so I highly recommend it
  • How to get combined minivan+boat ticket from Pakse to Don Det (recommended):
  • Fare is $12-$15
  • Departure from Pakse is at 8am
  • Total trip takes 3-4 hours
  • After you get to Pakse either by bus or plane from Vientiane, make your way to the city center area
  • From here, go to any hotel, guesthouse, travel agency, and simply go to the front desk and tell them you're looking to buy ticket to go to Don Det. They will be able to assist you in making the booking
  • Alternatively, you can book directly with Green Paradise Travel, which is a big local transportation and tour operator. I know for sure that they sell combined ticket from Pakse to Don Det. You can buy from them in person at their office in Pakse, or contact them through their website or Facebook and book online
  • Once you book the ticket, you will be picked up from where you are in Pakse, take a minivan to Ban Nakasang and take a ferry from Ban Nakasang to Don Det, and there will be someone guiding you through the entire process so you don't have to think about anything anymore
  • If you don't want to get a combined minivan+boat ticket (do not recommend):
  • You will just need to book your own private minivan or public bus from Pakse to Ban Nakasang, and then book your own boat from Ban Nakasang to Don Det
  • Private minivan from Pakse to Ban Nakasang:
  • You book this the exact same way you'd book the combined ticket to Don Det. Just walk around Pakse city center area and go into any hotel/guest house/travel agency you find and ask them to book a ticket to Ban Nakasang for you.
  • If you don't want to walk around, you can also book with Pakse Travel, which is an agency that runs these minivans.
  • These minivans will usually cost 60,000 and 80,000 LAK ($6.9-$9.2USD) per person each way, and takes 2.5 hours to get to Ban Nakasang.
  • They will pick you up from where you are in Pakse and drop you off at this spot in Ban Nakasang, from where you need to walk about half a KM to get to the docks for boats to Don Det.
  • Note that all the minivans leave at 8am in the morning, so if you miss it you may be forced to take the public bus
  • Public bus from Pakse to Ban Nakasang (only take if you miss the minivan):
  • You need to first take a tuk tuk from Pakse city center area to the 8KM Bus Terminal, located here. This tuk tuk will cost you around 30,000 LAK ($3.5USD)
  • Once there, you can buy a bus ticket to Ban Nakasang for 40,000 LAK ($4.6USD) with cash LAK
  • This bus departs between 9am and 3:30pm daily, and takes 3.5 hours to get to Ban Nakasang
  • Drop off point in Ban Nakasang is here, where you have to walk 1/2 KM to get to the docks to take the boat to Don Det.
  • The "bus" is actually a Songthaew (looks like this), is extremely uncomfortable, and doesn't have much room for luggage
  • Boat from Ban Nakasang to Don Det:
  • The docks where the boats leave from Ban Nakasang to Don Det is located here. After you get dropped off by your minivan or bus, you will have to walk here on a dirt road for about 1/2 kilometers
  • At the docks, you will find an office where you can buy your boat ticket
  • Boat fare is 15,000 LAK per person ($1.8USD) each way, although after sunset the fare can be increased 2-3 times this amount. Again, payment is cash LAK only
  • Boat arrives in Don Det at this dock, which is located within walking distance to where all the hotels and guest houses are located
  • The boats are not fancy. This is what they look like:User submitted photo of Si Phan Don