Situated across the river, this charming spot can be reached after a short boat ride. The small district of Xiang Men houses the once important temple of Wat Long Khoun. Neither the most awe-inspiring nor grand of the temples but definitely worth taking a look at. Few tourists and locals venture over so expect it to be a quiet affair even by Laos standards.
The freshwater dolphins that live in the Mekong are believed to have saved the lives of locals and travellers who have faced difficulty in staying afloat when facing the river’s tough current. They are know as Irrawaddy Dolphins and can sometimes be seen off the southern tip of Don Khon. The best time to view the dolphins is early morning or late afternoon and can be reached by chartering a boat (the fee is paid regardless of whether they put in an appearance or not) from the beach at Kong Ngay.
Eastern Loop Hike
This walk will lead you to the eastern edge of Don Khon where the French built concrete walls. There arechannels for logs that were floated downstream from the forests in Sainyabuli. If you venture out to the village at the east end of Don Khon you can still see the walls. To reach this area, head northwest from the bridge reached from the Railway Hike and walk through a wat and the surrounding rice fields to see where fishermen still trap fish to this day.
For those who feel compelled to learn how to ride and elephant, here is your chance. The are a few elephant trekking opportunities around the area that will take you off into the jungle on lengthy treks. Feeding and tending to your elephant is part of the trip’s package.
Laos festivals are usually linked to agricultural seasons or Buddhist holidays. A highlight is the Lunar New Year which begins in mid-April; the entire country comes to a standstill and celebrates. Houses are cleaned, offerings are made in wats and everyone enters into the massive waterfighting mayhem. Bun Bang Fai (Rocket Festival) takes place in May with plenty of processions, music and dancing, accompanied by the firing of bamboo rockets, that are meant to symbolise a demand for rain. The most important festival in Champasak is Bun Wat Phu Champasak, which goes on for three days, during the full moon of the third lunar month. Events during this period include boat racing, Thai boxing matches, cockfights, comedy shows, music and dancing.
This trek follows the old railway line five kilometres across Don Det island passing stretches of lush forest, rice fields and villages eventually ending up at the French pier, across the river from here is Cambodia. The hike is difficult due to uneven land making it difficult to bike ride across and it’s better done on foot. A great experience with some startling scenery along the way.
The Ho Chi Minh Trail
The logistic Ho chi Minh Trail was used mostly during the second Indochina War as a means to transport material and manpower, running from North Vietnam to South Vietnam, through Laos and Cambodia. Consisting of a network of dirt paths and gravel roads that begin east of Phonosavan, all of the jungle area of the Trail, previously destroyed with defoliants and herbicides has grown back. It is possible to visit parts of the trail – but this must be done with a guide, since there remain tonnes of unexploded ordnance (UXO) in the area. Be cautious: Venturing off by yourself is not recommended!