Laos // The far south //


All of Don Khong’s guesthouses serve food, and, as you might expect, fish is the island’s staple. The islanders have dozens of recipes, all worthy of a place on your plate – from the traditional làp pa (a Lao-style salad of minced fish mixed with garlic, chillies, shallots and fish sauce) to fish steamed in coconut milk – but whatever you do, be sure to try the island speciality, mók pa. Steamed in banana leaves, this sublime fish dish has the consistency of custard and takes an hour to prepare.

For this and just about anything else, Pon’s River Guesthouse stands out as having the best restaurant in Muang Khong. If it’s Chinese food and a perfect river view you’re after, head for the restaurant at the Souksan, which stands on stilts above the Mekong. Done Khong Guesthouse, once the only place to eat in town, remains popular and its banana crepes are divine. Most restaurants and guesthouses rustle up tasty Western breakfasts.

The people of Si Phan Don are very proud of their lào-láo, which has gained a reputation nationally as one of the best rice whiskies in Laos. For those who haven’t taken a liking to Lao white lightning, you’re in luck: Muang Khong has devised a gentler blend known as the “Lao cocktail”, a mix of wild honey and lào-láo served over ice with a dash of lime.

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