Don Khong

Don Khong

Real Lao life

The largest island of Si Phan Don (4,000 islands), Don Khong is nowhere near as popular as backpacker hotspots Don Dhet and Don Khon. There are no cheap-as-chips bungalows, banana pancakes or river bars here. Instead, Don Khong offers real Lao life paired with a languid pace and sensational river views.

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Don Khong is a sizeable chunk of land wholly embraced by the Mekong. A single road rings the 18-kilometres long and eight-kilometres wide isle, while another bisects east-west through the bottom half. Most of the 60,000 that live here depend on subsistence farming and fishing and the interior is almost entirely given over to rice cultivation and hilly forest. All the accommodation is found in the sleepy town of Muang Khong on the east coast. Boats used to be the only way to get to Don Khong. A newly constructed bridge at the southern tip now makes this under appreciated island easier to reach.

Listen to the rice grow. : Cindy Fan.
Listen to the rice grow. Photo: Cindy Fan

Don Khong doesn’t have the waterfalls, restaurants and activities of Don Dhet and Don Khon. The major pastime here is cycling or motorbiking around the countryside—which is the whole island—best done in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the oppressive midday heat.

South of the boat landing, the Tourism Information Centre (open Mon-Fri 08:00-16:00) has a map outlining the sights, all very minor, that dot the edges of the isle such as Ban Hinsiew-Tai village where palm sugar is made from the distilled juice of palm fruit, a few temples and the market at Meuang Saen, the other town that brings you within a stone’s throw of Cambodia. Take a photo of the map and gather some ideas of what to check out along the way, but don’t bother waking up ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 700 words.)

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