May 09, 2003

Laos to Cambodia (from 4,000 Islands area, Don Det specifically)

"rapids" on the Mekong
Travel from the islands into Cambodia is pretty straight forward. You can get a moto from the town opposite Don Det for 30,000 kip ($3) or share a tuk-tuk for a bit more. The tuk-tuk is probably worth it if you have 2 or more people, we got one for 50,000 kip ($5) including a stop and waiting at the large Mekong waterfall which is on the way to the border. Entrance to the waterfall was an extra 9000 kip. After getting a Laos stamp (they won't stamp until you pay $1, I even asked for a got a receipt, names of the two officials and a photo of them before finally paying the $1) you can catch a boat to Stung Treng for $10 per person with a stop across the river in Cambodia to get your entry stamp. You will need to have your Cambodia visa in advance; some people were turned back the same day I crossed because they didn't have one. On the border I got delayed because of my resident Cambodia visa.
mekong sunset in stung treng
They hadnít seen my type of visa before and had to contact a supervisor by radio and then locate a different rubber stamp to use in my passport. After nearly 2 hours they got the stamp from somewhere across the river and sent me on my way. Iíve heard reports of demands for extra Ďfeesí here, but I think they were a bit embarrassed about making our group wait so long and didnít even ask for money from me or anyone else in my boat. I tried with no luck to get the boat price down, they wouldn't even come down on the per person price when the number of passengers increased from 3 to 6. Using my limited Khmer and speaking directly to the boat driver also didn't help, he wouldn't even budge $5 on the total price.
channel markers on the way to kratie
They seem to have a "rotation" which roughly means that they depart in a certain order and we actually had to pay the fare to someone other than the driver. I also talked to the captain of a slow boat that had just arrived with foreigner passengers who paid $6 each to come from Stung Treng, but he wouldn't take passengers because of the rotation.

In Stung Treng it shouldnít be a problem to get a basic fan room for $2 even with 2 people. From Stung Treng you can either head to Banlung in Ratanakiri Province by taxi, or head to Kratie, Kompong Cham or eventually Phnom Penh by boat or taxi. The road is horrible between Stung Treng and Kratie so it's worth taking the boat at least for this stretch. The river is low right now, but they are still making the run complete with a few sections where the "channel" actually heads back upstream for a bit before continuing downriver along the opposite bank. Stung Treng to Kompong Cham is $15 from the ticket window, $13 from most guesthouses or touts on the street. One guy told me that they can sometimes get this price down to $10 or so if you arrive in the late morning or early afternoon and threaten to take a taxi rather than waiting to take the next day's boat. He was a ticket seller and said he could call the ticket company to bargain, but I found out about this option too late in the day to claim I was considering a taxi. From Kompong Cham you can catch an aircon bus to Phnom Penh for $1.75 every hour or so. I think there are also buses from there to Siem Reap. Some touts claim the boat goes all the way to Phnom Penh but I think they may just transfer you to a minivan in Kompong Cham if you buy the direct ticket.

For a more scenic route you could catch an all day motorbike taxi to the capital of Preah Vihear Province (asking price $40) to check out some more remote temples and sites there...

See my Southern Laos (last part) and Mekong in Cambodia photo albums for more pictures of this route.

Posted by Andrew on May 9, 2003

this is where I hope to pass into cambodia from southern lao

Posted by: Kathleen Knight on August 26, 2003

always good to have some informations from other travellers. in april 04 i will pass into laos from ubon ratchathani to chong mek and visit the 4000 island area.

Posted by: oliver abplanalp on November 17, 2003

Hello Andrew,

I just want to say HI, I am 27 yrs old Malaysian and has been four months travellin around Thailand, ... certainly a privillege of visiting your page actually by chance, as I was looking how to go about Vientienne, as I opened, I was extremely thankful, then I went a bit further looking most of your picture during the journey.. The sunsets were awesome and really struck me..

I will definately drop by to visit again, Keep it up, and enjoy Guam..

Posted by: Diana on March 16, 2004

Can you advise how to go from Pakse to Vientiane ? Thanks...

Posted by: Jean on September 21, 2004


As with most routes in Laos you can catch a bus. Have a look at the forums if you want more detailed info as it's been well over a year since I was in Laos.


Posted by: Andrew on September 28, 2004

Due to the large amount of work it takes to keep this comments section free of spam and also due to the fact that I wrote the original article nearly 3 years ago (and therefore can't really provide current information about the route), additional comments on this page are now closed.

Posted by: Andrew on February 6, 2006