Don Khong - The Sleepy Island
by Blake Johnson May 12, 2017
Laos is well known as the landlocked country, but it really leaves strong impression on visitors by its beauty which is familiar with coastal countries thanks to Si Phan Don – Four Thousand Islands. As its name, Si Phan Don consists of a group of enchanting islands in Mekong River in Southern Laos. One of the most standing island is Khong island, where captures the attention of visitors by its stunning natural beauty and real life of Laotian.
Khong Island or Don Khong which is 18km long and 8km wide is the largest and most peaceful one in Si Phan Don area. It is home to approximate 60,000 people living in the two main villages Muang Saen in the west and Muang Khong in the east. Unlike some other islands, in Don Khong, there are some hills rising above sea level, which makes the view of island more idyllic.
Things to See in Khong Island
1. Impressive Villages
The peace of life in Don Khong is really slow, which offers the visitors the chance to have meaningful cultural experience and get better understanding of the Laotian’s daily life. Thus, most travellers coming to this island usually visit the villages first. You only can find the feeling of hustle and bustle in the port towns of Muang Khong and Muang Sean where accommodation, cafés and shops are located. When you penetrate into the interior what you can see are the large rice fields, forests and rolling hills.
You can also find some houses erected near the fields or under the shadow of big trees in the forests. Most of the island is flat land. Therefore, the best way to explore the villages is making a bike or motorcycle tour to the Southern loop and the Northern loop. It’s amazing to see the chain of villages lining to form the South loop. Moreover, the 1963 wooden bridge which led to the south loop and was sometimes used during Second Indochina War makes these villages more particular. Riding on the narrow path or along the trails which snakes between the bamboo forests, enjoying the local cuisine and contemplating the traditional wooden houses painted white and blue colors might be your memorable experiences when you spend time visiting both loops.
2. Don Khong History Museum
Khong History Museum is an ideal place to gain more knowledge about the islands. It is two-storey house which was built in French colonial style by the local government Kou Abhay in 1935. It is called as the Brick House or Sathanavoudthi which means Garden of Eden by some villagers. The first floor is the place where you can get the information about the history of the island, houses and families and see the tradition instruments. The upper one is used to display the original furniture. It’s really interesting and worth your time.
3. Wat Phou Khao Kaew
Wat Phou Khao Kaew or Glass Hill Monastery is a hilltop temple overlooking the Mekong River in Ban (village) Muang Saen Nua. This wat can take you back to the past due to the pre-Angkorian stone lintel which is put at the base of the stupa. Moreover, it also is “the stop” of stunning carved wooden deities in which some of them were found in the downriver and used to ornament the ledges. One highlight is that this wat is believed to be the home to a naga since an entrance might lead down to the lair of this creature.
Except from these above locations, Wat Phuang Kaew where a gold Buddha is visible from Mekong river, the 19th century wat – Wat Chom Thong and Tham Phou Khiaw – a small cave which has the Buddhism value in the Green Mountain are also available for you to visit.
Khong Island is home of plain country people who earn their living by cultivating and fishing. They create and control the laid-back life in this island. Thus, do not ignore them. I’m sure they can bring you something which you may lose sometime in this hurry life.
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