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Lao Itinerary and advice on 4000 Islands and seeing the dolphins

  • Bridgequeen

    Joined Travelfish
    29th July, 2013
    Location Earth
    Posts: 29

    Many thanks to those who replied and gave advice on my previous thread. I am now much closer to nailing my final itinerary but am struggling over the last bit of my trip - 4000 islands or stay in La Folie or River resort in Champasak??
    I had planned to go to Don Khone but read on the Sala Don website that "electricity is available between 18.00 and 22.00" I have never heard of this on any of the fora I have visited (though I have read about power cuts) - is this true??? If so I was thinking of having a few days R&R in one of the aformentioned resorts but I am keen to try and see the Iriwaddy dolphins and the few mentions of boat trips seem exorbitantly priced ($200 plus). Does anyone have any up to date info on this please?? Whilst I can swallow the accommodation costs, I am aware that either of these options are going to be more expensive anyway because of increased costs of transportation for food etc.Am I missing some more affordable way to see the dolphins and have a reasonable comfort level? I am travelling alone so I am not keen to stay somewhere with an enforced and predictable blackout.
    Thanks in advance

    #1 Posted: 27/8/2013 - 08:18

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  • Foolslena

    Joined Travelfish
    19th June, 2013
    Posts: 17

    Dear Bridgequeen,

    I am still in the planning process myself, so this is not first hand information unfortunately but from what I have read:

    It is not really a question of "power cuts". As far as I know Don Det and Don Khon are simply not fully attached to the power net which is why power is mainly produced by generators (batteries) only. As before 18.00 there is enough light and after 22.00 people may already be asleep it is just not worth for them to keep the expensive generator running all night. Sometimes you can pay them to keep the generator running longer. I don't know if there may be a place on Don Det or Don Khon with 24 h solar power.

    It is probably easiest to stay on Don Khon nevertheless to see the dolphins. From there you should be able to hire a boat or join a tour for 10 - 30 $. Of course given the limited electricity there is no air con. But for a day or two, this may be something you could put up with. As your budget seems to be higher than of most travellers in the region, Sala Don Kone or Sala Phae (nice floating lounges) sound like good choices.

    La Folie Lodge and the River Resort near Champasak are probably really nice but first they are far from 4000 islands and second they cater for more luxurious travellers, which explains the outrageous prices you were quoted for a tour. Maybe you choose to stay at these places when you visit Champasak and Wat Phu and then continue to Don Khon to stay there and enjoy 4000 islands and - if you are lucky - see some dolphins?

    Another option is to stay on Don Khong (Big Island) with better infrastructure and air con in many hotels (see Don Khong | Sleep on Travelfish). From there most hotels offer day tours to Don Khon and the dolphins which should be much less than $ 200 (depends on how many join the tour I suppose) or one way boat transport for about 40.000-100.000 kip to Don Khon.
    Wish you a great trip! Let me know where you ended up going and staying and how your liked it.

    #2 Posted: 28/8/2013 - 03:55

  • Bridgequeen

    Joined Travelfish
    29th July, 2013
    Location Earth
    Posts: 29

    Thank you Foolslena for your response. I will have a look at Don Khong, I had dismissed it as being too back packer. I know at my advanced age I shouldn't be afraid of the dark but.....
    Anyway wishing you a good trip too, I am off end of November for 3 weeks. When are you going?

    #3 Posted: 28/8/2013 - 06:10

  • Foolslena

    Joined Travelfish
    19th June, 2013
    Posts: 17

    I think Don Khong, which is the big island further north, is a little less backpacker oriented than Don Det and Don Khone and although it may not exactly be luxurious, you should be able to find some comfortable and clean enough places with 24 h electricity, light, air con etc. there.

    Still a long time to wait for me, going in January. Looking forward to your report once you are back.

    #4 Posted: 28/8/2013 - 06:26

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6224
    Total reviews: 10

    Blackouts really aren't a big deal. You get used to it quickly. You need sleep somewhere with mosquito nets or spring for one, because without a fan they will attack! I lived in a place in Ethiopia that only had power from 1800-2400, and it's inconvenient, but you can live with it.

    #5 Posted: 28/8/2013 - 06:31

  • Bridgequeen

    Joined Travelfish
    29th July, 2013
    Location Earth
    Posts: 29

    Call me a wimp, but I lived in Tanzania for years with power rationing and never want to do it again ; 12hours on in the day or 12 hours at night. Trust me 12 hours at night was better with 30plus degree heat. I never want to go through that again as not only is it hot but other essentials like water don't happen either and during the day you can be out avoiding the inevitable smell. Thanks for the advice about the nets (my husband did get malaria ).

    #6 Posted: 28/8/2013 - 13:12

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6224
    Total reviews: 10

    Well I am sympathetic with you, having also lived in Africa for two years. Strange how I miss it.

    #7 Posted: 28/8/2013 - 13:29

  • Bridgequeen

    Joined Travelfish
    29th July, 2013
    Location Earth
    Posts: 29

    What I miss - amazing skies, views over the Indian Ocean, having a game park to myself. What I don't miss - no water, no power, no phone and it is raining and you meet a snake in front of your car. Snakes, rats and cockroaches (especially in the house in the dark). Getting stuck in a lift during a power cut (the alternative to taking this chance is walking up 8 flights of stairs to the office).

    #8 Posted: 28/8/2013 - 21:57

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6224
    Total reviews: 10

    What I miss: The food, the desert, the women (beautiful women in East Africa), the hint of violence in the air (the Somali are famous for it), my friends.

    #9 Posted: 28/8/2013 - 22:31

  • Geer1

    Joined Travelfish
    14th September, 2012
    Posts: 540
    Places visited:
    At least 42

    Don Det is the main backpacker island. Don Khon is joined to Don Det by a bridge and is the closest island to the main dolphin areas. Don Khon also has 2 sets of rapids/waterfalls on it(one on east and one on west) and there is a larger waterfall/rapid if you want to take a tour over to it(can't walk/bike).

    I stayed on Don Det but Don Khon would have been nicer as it was closer to anything of interest. There might be more options for restaurants etc on Don Det but restaurants weren't anything amazing there anyways.

    Don Khong doesn't have much in the way of major attractions(rapids, dolphins etc) from what I know and usually people just go there if they want to stay away from the backpacker crowd and just relax.

    Both Don Det and Don Khon have electricity now and some places have air con so no need to worry about that. Overall based on my experience and reading other information I would recommend staying on Don Khon. Much more to see and do and doesn't have a backpacker/party feel like Don Det. If you don't mind a good workout then riding a bike around Don Khon is a great way to see island. The road on west side of island is fairly bare but trail along east side of island is nice(a little tricky to find coming from south though).

    #10 Posted: 29/8/2013 - 00:40

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  • Bridgequeen

    Joined Travelfish
    29th July, 2013
    Location Earth
    Posts: 29

    Thanks Geer1, does anyone have any idea which hotels have electricity and AC?

    #11 Posted: 29/8/2013 - 04:50

  • Geer1

    Joined Travelfish
    14th September, 2012
    Posts: 540
    Places visited:
    At least 42

    http://www.travelfish.org/accommodation/laos/southern_laos/champasak/don_khon/all

    http://www.tripadvisor.ca/Hotels-g1510725-Don_Khone_Champasak_Province-Hotels.html

    Those are probably the best lists online, might be a few not listed but most of those will be cheaper ones without air con.

    #12 Posted: 29/8/2013 - 09:52

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6224
    Total reviews: 10

    Good post from Geer1 on this one!.

    #13 Posted: 29/8/2013 - 10:57

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