Photo: The daily commute.

Transport



Use the quicklinks below to jump to the desired section regarding transport in and around Don Khong.


Bus

Any bus headed along Route 13 between Pakse to the Cambodia border or Si Phan Don can drop passengers off on the highway at Ban Hat Xai Khoung. It’s a kilometre walk or motorbike taxi ride to the boat landing.

From Pakse to Don Khong, (via Ban Hat Xai Khoun) songthaews departs the Southern Bus Terminal (aka km-8 station) in the morning at 08:00 or when full; it’s best to arrive at least 30 minutes beforehand. It arrives at Ban Hat Xai Khoun at around 10:30 where you can take the boat across.

From Don Khong to Pakse, the local bus (usually a songthaew) goes to the km-8 bus station which is—you guessed it—8 km from Pakse. Catch this bus on Muang Khong’s main street running through town (one road back from the river). The guesthouse can call first to ensure the bus driver knows to stop and pick you up, or simply stand roadside and wait. The bus departs when there are enough passengers at 06:00, 07:00, maybe at 08:00. There’s also the local bus to Vientiane via Pakse at 08:30-09:00. It can drop you anywhere en route. Costs 50,000 kip.

The better option is to have a guesthouse arrange a ticket for a good bus (in other words, NOT the local bus), there are many tourist and VIP buses that travel along Route 13 to Pakse, dropping off in Pakse’s city centre. It should cost 70,000 kip, including the transfer to the highway where you’ll be picked up.

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Boat

Though an impressive bridge now connects the mainland with the southern tip of Don Khong, getting to the island by boat remains a common option. Buses running north-south along Route 13 between Pakse and the Cambodian border or Si Phan Don can drop passengers off on the highway at Hat Xai Khoun, where it is a kilometre to the boat landing. The boat is 15,000 kip per person. Boats will arrive in Muang Khong, where most accommodation are concentrated.

To get to Dom Som island, get a boat at the southern boat station (southern most tip of the island, past the bridge). It’s 10,000 kip per person, 15,000 kip if you have a bike or motorbike. Note that a larger boat costs a bit more. To depart from Muang Khong town on the east coast to Don Som, hiring a small motorised canoe costs 50,000 kip. Again, it will cost more for a larger boat.

A boat would be a spectacular way to transfer to popular Don Dhet and Don Khon. The cost is dependent on the number of passengers. A boat shared between five people would work out to around 50,000-60,000 kip per person. If solo, negotiate the boat to 250,000 kip.

Sabaidee Restaurant and Homestay can arrange sunset boat tours or any boat trip, the price about 50,000 kip an hour based on 2-4 people. Add a picnic for 50,000 kip per person. Organise at least an hour in advance with Mr Khamla T: (020) 5969 2777.

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Other

Getting to/from Don Khong by tuk tuk or on your own steed is the most direct, hassle free way.

From Nakasang (gateway to Don Dhet and Don Khon), a motorbike taxi to Don Khong will cost around 40,000 kip, a tuk-tuk for 70,000-80,000 kip.

To get to the Cambodian border, from Route 13 catch the bus departing from Pakse at 08:00. It passes Ban Hat Xai Khoun around 09:30-10:00. This bus will get people to the border in time to catch the last round of Cambodia buses departing at 14:00 for Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. It’s too late to catch the first round at 11:00.

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Getting around

Considering the size of the island, you’d think motorbike rentals would be readily available. Most guesthouses only have cheap cruising-type bicycles. Ask the reception for a motorbike rental and they should be able to scare one up. Agree on the price before accepting.

Like so many of the interesting spots in southern Laos, despite new bridges and roads, public transportation remains limited and travelling independently saves some headache and hassle. Pakse has many motorbike rental companies and a few hotels, tour agencies renting mountain bikes. One of many possibilities is a do-it-yourself itinerary that includes Champasak, Ban Khiet Ngong, Don Khong and island hopping to Don Som, Don Dhet and Don Khon.

The streets are unlit night. A torch comes in handy when out after dark.

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Where to next?

Where are you planning on heading to after Don Khong? Here are some spots commonly visited from here, or click here to see a full destination list for Laos.


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