The largest of the Four Thousand Islands group, DON KHONG draws a steady stream of visitors, most of whom use it as a base to explore other attractions in Si Phan Don. That said, it’s nowhere near as popular as Don Det and Don Khon, further south, which means it’s far easier to find a peaceful place to watch the sunset.
Don Khong is surprisingly wide for a river island, and is known locally for its venerable collection of Buddhist temples, some with visible signs of a history stretching back to the sixth or seventh century. These, together with the island’s good-value accommodation and interesting cuisine, based on fresh fish from the Mekong, make Don Khong the perfect place for indulging both adventurous and lazy moods.
Don Khong has only three settlements of any size, the port town of Muang Sen on the island’s west coast, the east-coast town of MUANG KHONG, where most of the accommodation and cafés are situated (see the map), and the smaller town of Ban Houa Khong, where slow boats from Pakse moor. Like all Si Phan Don settlements, both Muang Sen’s and Muang Khong’s homes and shops cling to the bank of the Mekong for kilometres, but barely penetrate the interior, which is primarily reserved for rice fields. The best way to explore Don Khong and experience the traditional sights and sounds of riverside living is to rent a bicycle from one of the guesthouses and set off along the road that circles the island. Don Khong’s flat terrain and almost complete absence of motor vehicles make for ideal cycling conditions. For touring, the island can be neatly divided into two loops, southern and northern, each beginning at Muang Khong, or done all in one big loop that takes about three hours without stops.