Photo: The island's gorgeous interior.

Don Daeng

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Across the Mekong river from Champasak and only accessible by boat, Don Daeng island will delight visitors with its bucolic scenery, languid pace and car-free pathways.

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The island is part of the UNESCO World Heritage recognised “cultural landscape” that encompasses Wat Phu and Um Tomo. Ten villages and almost just as many temples dot its edges while the centre is largely given over to rice fields. Life here remains traditional and authentic, chiefly revolving around the river, rice and religion. It’s worth stopping at a couple of wats and the ancient stupa in the middle but the main attraction is simply the atmosphere.

Just another day on the boat to Don Daeng. Photo taken in or around Don Daeng, Champasak, Laos by Cindy Fan.

Just another day on the boat to Don Daeng. Photo: Cindy Fan

A single bumpy trail follows the circumference of the island while a single road runs east-west right through the middle. The most fitting way to explore is by foot or bicycle. Those short on time can bring a motorbike, though you’ll find that buzzing around is completely out of sync with the experience.

To stay overnight, there’s either high-end La Folie Lodge or homestays in Ban Hua village, located at the northwestern tip of the island. The best way is to have the tourism office arrange it and the boat transfer—the service is free of charge, English is spoken at the office and they can communicate any dietary restrictions.

Just bucolic. Photo taken in or around Don Daeng, Champasak, Laos by Cindy Fan.

Just bucolic. Photo: Cindy Fan

The homestays here don’t see many tourists so the advance notice gives the family some time to prepare. It would be possible to show up and try fixing it on the spot, though communication may be a challenge. The homestay costs 30,000 kip per person and 20,000 kip for dinner. A boat costs 50,000 kip one way, holding up to four people. Bringing a bicycle or motorbike may be a ... Travelfish members only (Around 300 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

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How to get there
To get to Don Daeng, the most direct way is from the main boat landing in Ban Phapin two kilometres north of town. There’s usually a few boats waiting. With a motorbike it should cost around 40,000-50,000 kip. Getting to Um Tomo from the island is challenging unless you speak Lao, but not impossible. The tourist information centre in Champasak can organise a day trip by boat that includes Don Daeng and Um Tomo; we were quoted 350,000 kip.

Don Daeng
Just across the river from Champasak

Location map for Don Daeng

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