Photo: Land Ho!


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Fringed by palms, cheap bungalows and bathed in golden sunshine, the Mekong island of Don Dhet is the most “beach” like destination of landlocked Laos.

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Sleepy doesn’t even begin to describe the daytime vibe of this classic backpacker hub. Try languid, lethargic, somnambulant—comatose. Part of Si Phan Don, literally meaning 4,000 Islands, for many travellers Don Dhet and neighbouring Don Khon are the only two islands of this region that they will visit.

Pink roadster: What more do you need? Photo taken in or around Don Dhet, Laos by Cindy Fan.

Pink roadster: What more do you need? Photo: Cindy Fan

In the ancient Greek epic the Odyssey, the hero Odysseus is trying to make his way home after the war, a long journey that is impeded by monsters, witches and other obstacles that test his resolve. Along the way he arrives at the land of the lotus-eaters, an island where people live in a blissful worry-free state of sleep and apathy. His crew succumb to this world; Odysseus has to forcefully drag his crew back to the ship and tie them up in order to sail away.

If that island really exists, it’s not in Greece, it’s in southern Laos and its name is Don Dhet. Step foot on the island and leave behind all your cares, lose all sense of time. Here, marathon hammock sessions are an Olympic sport. The most people exert themselves is when trying to reach for a cold beverage. Beware of gazing at the river for too long, it is a cunning witch seductively lulling you into a dream-state. Snap out of it and you’ll realise you were supposed to leave three days ago and your Lao visa has expired.

Serene. Photo taken in or around Don Dhet, Laos by Cindy Fan.

Serene. Photo: Cindy Fan

For better or worse, Don Dhet is either a traveller’s first or final impression of Laos, the irony being it isn’t Lao-like at all, abnormal compared to rest of the country in many ways. This isn’t the place to experience Lao culture, tradition or food. If, on the other hand, all you want to do is unwind and meet other travellers, then you’re in the ... Travelfish members only (Around 1,000 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

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What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Don Dhet.
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 Read up on where to eat on Don Dhet.
 Check out our listings of things to do in and around Don Dhet.
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