Laos: Places to Explore

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Si Phan Don

If you've made it as far south as Champasak, then a visit to the Si Phan Don area—celebrated for its 4,000 Mekong River islands and freshwater dolphins—is a must. Don means island, and several of them in particular are worth visiting: Don Daeng, Don Khon (and its connected counterpart, Don Det), and the similarly named Don Khong. Don Khong has some lovely open countryside and rice fields, and is very photogenic, but in terms of sights, Don Khon is the best option, combining river life with proximity to waterfalls and dolphins. Don Det, connected to Don Khon by a bridge, attracts the backpacker crowd. The area's most romantic lodging option, with a Robinson Crusoe feel, is La Folie on Don Daeng, an island that remains largely untouched by tourism and is an excellent base for visiting Wat Phu and Champasak. Most lodging options on Don Khon, Det, and Khong are not attractive or high in star rating, but this is changing as progress rapidly comes to the islands.

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