For New Year, we decided to cross our car and drive to the 4,000 islands. These are in South of Laos, on the Mekong. The most famous are Don Det and Don Khone. It was a nice trip and here are some of the few things we did.
1. Crossing the car.
To cross a car, you need to a get a special passport for the car. You have to do to the transportation department.
Location is here for Ubon Ratchathani:
You will need to make 1 copy of:
Ta bian ban, ID Card, registration of the car. ID and Ta bian ban of car owner, of course.
The owner of the car must sign a form and submit documents above.
It takes about 1 hour.
Cost : 75 baht baht.
They will provide you a passport for the car, purple for us, valid for 6 months. You also get a sticker « T » for Thailand. You must put it in the window of your car.
At the border, you must stamp the car in. Cost is 250 baht for each Laos and Thailand, takes about 1 hour. There are 3 steps:
A) you get out of Thailand. You show CAR PASSPORT and pay 250 baht. Or course, you must also show YOUR passport to get out of Thailand.
B) you arrive in Laos (there is a large duty free section and you do your visa on arrival there. Bring a picture for you that visa). You must again show the passport of car and the Laos authorities will put their stamp. You pay again 250 baht and they will give you a piece of paper for entering in the country. And of course, you must pay for your entrance in Laos (visa). Foreigners have different prices written and Thai pay only 40 baht to get 30 days with a passport.
C) there is a kind of gate before entering in Laos officially. Give the paper and that’s it.
Laos drives on the right side.
It seems fuel is twice more expensive here (difficult to count with all these numbers!) so fill your tank in Thailand before you arrive.
A better explanation can be found here (I also wrote that with the help of Marc M. and his wife):
Crossing a car in Laos
2. We slept in Pakse.
Pakse was not an interesting city for me. A great place to go somewhere else, like Tad Fane waterfalls. Or Google « Tree Top Explorers ». That’s what we wanted to do but it was fully booked for these days. We recommend the « Pakse hotel » with a French management. Rooms are nice, price reasonable, in the city, and there is a nice restaurant on top of the building with an excellent view (7th floor, called Panorama if I remember correctly).
Our room at Pakse Hotel.
3. We visited Wat Phou
It takes less than 1 hour from Pakse to go to Wat Phou. I was told it is the only Khmer temple in the Mekong. The temple itself or the buildings, for me, were not as beautiful as Phanom Rung or Phimai. But the location is stunning on the mountain, in front of the Mekong. They are renovating this place and I imagine that 10 years from now, it will be a must to see in South East Asia.
Parts of one of the temples.
And parts of me at Wat Phou.
4.We arrived at Don Khone
If you read about the 4,000 islands, it will say that Don Det is an island with backpackers. Don Khone has people a little bit older, better restaurants and more to do. And Don Khong is the largest one, very quiet. It’s all true but we didn’t visit Don Khong. We stayed at Don Khone and spend New Year there.
The boat to cross is quite cheap. You take it at Ban Nakasang.
Don Det has tons of cheap guesthouses. There is more or less nothing to do there. Rent a bicycle, read a book. A perfect place to relax on the Mekong river. The border of Cambodia is very close, on the other side of the river.
We were lucky to find « Happy-Pat » (firstname.lastname@example.org). That guy is a Chinese, speaking Laos, Thai, English, Mandarin, and name it. He organised us a tour on a special boat, it was so cool. He also helped us to visit the Irrawaddy dolphins (you will see them but they won’t come close, maybe 200 meters). « Happy-Pat » also seems great coffee from the Bolaven plateau, as well as cooking Chinese dumplings. A phenomenon!
The 4,000 islands is a lovely place to relax. Accommodations on Don Det and Don Khone can be as cheap as 5$ per day (fan, hammock on Mekong, basic but it does the job). Rent a bicycle for 1$ per day and go around the island. Get lost in South of Laos to find yourself. Visit Khone Phapheng waterfalls (55,000 kips to enter).
There is no ATM on the islands but wifi is now every where. Bring some books. Buy wine in Pakse, at the Supermarket near the bridge. More than half the price of Thailand and nice selection of French wine.
This website has good information: