5 days in Vientiane, Pakse and the 4000 islands

posted in: Asia, Laos | 0
Map data ©2021 Google
[ultimate_heading main_heading=”1 day in Vientiane”][/ultimate_heading]

On Thursday, February 7th, Stefan and I took the 1:30PM bus from Vang Vieng to the capital of Laos, Vientiane. The bus ride was quite okay and, fortunately, the bus stopped close to our hostel, so that it was only about 10 minutes walking to get there. After 5h in the bus, we were happy we didn’t have to take a Tuc Tuc to the hostel but could walk a bit. 😊

Our hostel, Barn 1920, was a really cool place. The common area and the coffee shop were decorated in 20s style, the staff was dressed in 20s outfits and the rooms were great : curtains and lockers for every bed, comfortable beds and enough showers and toilets.

We were quite hungry, so after our check-in, we immediately went to the small food market outside our hostel. They didn’t have much there, but it was sufficient for us. First, we had saté with veggies and meat, then I had some more veggies and soy meat and Stefan had a sausage. Turned out that the sausage wasn’t as good as it tasted: Stefan got food poisoning (fortunately only a light version of it, but still annoying)… We had a quiet night, preparing our next destination(s) after Vientiane.

The next day, Stefan was feeling awful and he decided to get a day of rest in the hostel, while I went out to discover the capital. Honestly, he didn’t miss anything: there is nothing to see or to do, it’s a very boring place. I visited the arc de triomphe, some temples and walked around for a couple of hours, but that’s it. It really isn’t worth visiting this place… I had lunch at Joma, which is kind of a Starbucks, and that was pretty good.

After lunch I returned to the hostel and spent some time there with Stefan. We had a light early dinner and then, at 6PM, we were picked up by a van that brought us to the bus station. There we had to exchange our vouchers for “real” tickets and finally left Vientiane at 8:30PM with a big sleeper bus to Pakse. The bus was much more comfortable than anticipated – believe it or not, it even had a toilet! – and we actually got some sleep before arriving to Pakse at 7AM. Fortunately, the day of rest and the sleep in the bus had helped Stefan and he was feeling much better now.

[ultimate_heading main_heading=”1 day in Pakse”][/ultimate_heading]

Our hostel in Pakse, the Sanga hostel, was fantastic! The owner was super welcoming : when we arrived she told us we could already check in at 9:30, that we could already have breakfast and she gave us towels so that we could already have a shower and freshen up. The rooms were pretty nice as well and the food in the hostel was great.

Our hostel in Pakse, the Sanga hostel, was fantastic! The owner was super welcoming : when we arrived she told us we could already check in at 9:30, that we could already have breakfast and she gave us towels so that we could already have a shower and freshen up. The rooms were pretty nice as well and the food in the hostel was great.

Since we had only 1 day there before going to the 4000 islands, we decided to join the day tour they offered : it would show us all the important places in the Bolaven. Honestly, the tour wasn’t great: the stops were badly timed – at some places we could have spent much more time, at others much less -, the lunch place was awful – some people like Stefan never got their order and it was very expensive for what you got – and we didn’t get any explanation to the places where we went, only an indication of how much time we had. Fortunately, the tour was cheap and now we can say we saw the Bolaven. I can’t say I really liked this area but it was probably mostly because it’s dry season and so everything is kind of grey-brown, full of dust and it’s super warm.

When we came back to the hostel we had a quiet evening, just uploading some pictures (they had pretty good wifi) and eating. I don’t think I would go back to Pakse or recommend anyone to go there, but if you have time, why not.

[ultimate_heading main_heading=”Don Det – 4000 islands”][/ultimate_heading]

The next morning, on Sunday, February 10th, we took the 8AM bus from Pakse to Don Det. Well, not directly Don Det, because it’s an island, but Nakasang, from where we could take the ferry to Don Det. On the way, we had a short stop and, surprise, another van had a break there and we saw Euan and Kevin (from Canada) again! 🤗 Euan hadn’t liked Vientiane either and he had come to the 4000 islands 1 day earlier than planned.

In Nakasang we too the ferry and arrived to Don Det at 11AM. From the pier, it was only about 10 minutes walk to our hostel, but for this island that’s actually pretty far. Our hostel, the Crazy Gecko, was actually not as much a hostel as a guesthouse with private bungalows. It’s owned by a super nice and welcoming couple from Switzerland and we loved this place from the first second. Unfortunately, they had only the family bungalow left which was a bit more expensive, but that way we had a huge room with a big balcony, 3 beds and 3 hammocks just for us! 😄 The Swiss couple couldn’t have been more friendly; they made us feel at home from the first second and we spent a lot of time there. We weren’t much in the mood to go out and party anyway: 1) it was waaaay too hot there (+/- 35-40°C day and night) and 2) we were there for a couple of relaxing days before going to Cambodia to visit Angkor Wat.

The first day we just stayed in the guesthouse, relaxing and suffering in this crazy heat. Around 5PM we then walked to the other side of town to watch the sunset with Euan and with Marta and Maria from Portugal. We had a couple of beers together and then we went to another place to have dinner. I had the “disaster”, french fries with baked beans, tomato sauce, onion and cheese, delicious!

Euan wanted to watch a football game and we didn’t, so we went back to our place. That was a good decision because I was already quite tipsy after the 3 beers we’ve had ; stupid heat! 😄

The next morning, we met up with Euan and the girls and we rented bicycles to go to the waterfalls on Don Khon, the neighbour island. It was incredibly hot that day and we were completely drenched in sweat by the time we got there (it took only 30 minutes but the road was pretty bad and the roads were not the best…). Our first stop was the Li Phi Waterfall and it was way bigger than we had anticipated. We weren’t in a hurry, so we took our time there, first taking lots of pictures, then spending time at the beach and swimming in the Mekong River. It was very nice there and we had a good time!

When we got back to the bikes, we all agreed that it’s way too hot to go to the other waterfall or anywhere else, so we decided to just ride back to our hostel.

We played some cards there, had lunch and recovered from our trip in the hot sun. The others then left to go watch the sunset somewhere, but we were too exhausted to go anywhere, so we just brought back our bicycles to town and then returned to the Crazy Gecko. We relaxed in our hammocks, had dinner, played the « Crazy Labyrinth » on my iPad and went to bed very early; after months and months in hot countries, this is definitely the warmest place I’ve been to so far!

On Tuesday, our last day in Don Det, we did a full-day kayaking tour. We were picked up at 8:30AM and first got breakfast at the tour agency, Green Paradise. Then we got our kayaks and on we went. We were 8 people and 2 guides: an older Canadian couple, a young Swiss couple, a German couple, an American girl and a French guy. We were a pretty nice group and we got along especially well with the Swiss couple, they were fun! 😃 (funny thing, a few month later I would move to Switzerland and we would become really good friends 😄)

First, we kayaked to the Khane Paksy Waterfall. We had to leave our kayaks at the river and we continued on food for some time. The waterfall was very nice, but much smaller than the one we had seen the day before. From there, we walked to another part of the river, where we picked up our kayaks again and we kayaked to the ferry station San Hang Khon. There, a boat waited for us and we were brought to a small island about 10 minutes away, where we had lunch and from where we could see the Mekong Dolphins; there were at least 4.

After some refreshing swimming and watching the dolphins from the boat, we went back to the ferry station and kayaked to the main land, where a van picked us up and brought us to the Khone Phapheng Falls, the largest waterfall in the world! It was pretty impressive, though I find it hard to believe that it’s larger than the Iguazu falls…

We stayed there for a while, admiring the beautiful falls, before the van picked us up again and brought us to the ferry station in Nakasang from where we kayaked back to Don Det.

It has been a great tour and we have had a lot of fun! 🤗

Back on Don Det, we went to see the sunset a last time with Euan and the girls and had a nice and quiet evening in our guesthouse.

And that’s it for my trip across Laos. It’s a very beautiful country and most people there are very friendly. Many people don’t speak any English, but it usually works to somehow communicate the important things. It’s a shame that most of the food there is western and there is not much authentic food to find… For many people Laos is still a party place, but it has so much more to offer than that! I really enjoyed the beautiful nature and I would have loved to see more of the countryside, but unfortunately the hiking tours are very expensive and the non-touristic areas are still very dangerous, because of unexploded bombs.

If you want to visit Laos, now is a good moment, because as soon as the high-speed train line from China to Laos is functioning, this beautiful country will be completely destroyed by Chinese tourists…

Follow Bianca Mertens:

Latest posts from

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *