The major activity on Don Khong (apart from lying in a hammock) is cycling past rice fields and looking at the temples that dot the island. The sleepy town of Muang Khong is the major settlement on the island although there are small villages scattered along the edges. Some 8km (5 miles) west of Muang Sen at the southern end of the island are a marketplace and some floating restaurants from which you get good sunset views.
Fast Facts: Don Khong
Banks & Currency Exchange -- There is money exchange (open Mon-Fri 8:30am-3:30pm) at the Agricultural Promotion Bank near the Mekong Hotel. You can change Thai baht and U.S. dollars in traveler's checks or cash.
Internet Access -- There are a number of small Internet cafes around Muang Khong. They don't stay open very late.
Post Office -- The post office (open Mon-Fri 8am-noon and 1-4pm) is in Muang Khong to the south of the boat landing just after the first bridge.
Don Det & Don Khon
These two islands south of Don Khong are very popular locations with budget travelers and the atmosphere is one of endless relaxation. Facilities are very basic throughout both islands. The area is astonishingly picturesque with emerald green paddies and gently swaying palm trees. There is very little to see or do but that is exactly the attraction. Nor is it a place to come and enjoy Lao culture. It is very much a scene for meeting other travelers and for that reason is a major rallying point for budget travelers and backpackers.
Accommodations are basic but cheap on Don Det while on Don Khon there is a wider range of options in the mid range. Real luxury, however, has yet to make it down to Si Phan Don. There are no banks and no post office. There are a few places with Internet but painfully slow connections. For most things practical you will need to head to Don Khong. Don Det has no permanent electricity supply, generally only being lit up between 6 and 10pm.
Boats leave Ban Nakasang pier (about 4km/2 1/2 miles west of Rte. 13). A ride in a small boat to Don Det costs $3 and drops you at the most northern part of Don Det and the northern coast (facing Don Det) on Don Khon.
Where to Stay & Dine
Guesthouses renting out basic bungalows are clustered in both areas in large numbers. They mostly cost between $3 and $6 and are very similar to each other. They also serve food from basic kitchens, which are also similar. The Auberge Sala Don Khone (tel. 031/212-077; www.salalao.com; $18-$30) on Don Khon is the most upmarket option. It was built in 1921 by Les Messageries Maritimes as its timber trading headquarters. This classic French colonial single-story bricked mansion has been used for various things, including a hospital. Each room is fairly large with separate bathroom and balcony. Lime-washed walls, bamboo paneled ceiling, hardwood flooring, and rattan armchairs all contribute to the ambience.
On Don Det, the Monkey Bar is foreign owned and stays open as late as 11pm if you are looking for a late night out. On Don Khon the Bamboo Bar and Restaurant (main courses $3-$5) is a floating restaurant that is often well spoken of.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.