Don Kho homestay in Champassak a relaxing option for visitors
A small island surrounded by the placid Mekong River and bucolic scenery is the ideal spot for visitors to experience the local lifestyle and spend a relaxing day or two.
Don Kho island, which houses Don Kho village in Sanasomboun district, Champassak province, offers just such an experience by giving visitors the chance to chill out and learn about traditional Lao life in one of the 14 comfortable homestay units provided by the villagers.
Villagers relax under a big tree in front of their house after working on their land.
Deputy Head of the province's Information, Culture and Tourism Department, Ms Mala Chamthalam, said last week that Don Kho and Don Daeng Island in Pathoumphon district had received Asean awards from Singapore for high homestay standards, in January this year. Of the 16 homestays on offer, nine were selected as being of Asean standard.
“However, facilities in Don Kho need som e improvement to fully meet Asean criteria. We are now improving the toilets and beds and some of the activities on offer, which we expect to be fully complete next month,” Ms Mala said.
“We are also building a club for the village where cultural activi ties can take place, and an information centre. We plan to bring a group of villagers from Don Kho to Naduang village homestay in Vangvieng district at some point in the next few months, to show them what they should be aiming for,” she added.
A brief report given last month by the Deputy Head of Don Kho village, Ms Keomany, to visiting Deputy Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism Mr Savannakhone Razmountry and his officials noted that the village has more than 6,300 residents in 71 families.
The island is 3km long and 750 metres wide and covers 33 hectares of which nine hectares are used to grow crops and five hectares contain buildings.
Locals spend their days working the land, catching fish in the Mekong, weaving and raising poultry.
Activities available for visitors include:
Homestays: Visitors pay 30,000 per person per night and 20,000 kip for food per person per meal.
Boat trips: There are 11 boats offering trips on the river and spending time with fishermen. It costs 40,000kip (return) per person for a boat from Saphai village across the river to Don Kho. It costs 70,000 kip to go around the island and 50,000 kip for an outing with fishermen.
Weaving: Many families have looms under their houses where visitors can learn to weave and even make some clothing they can wear, but it will cost 50,000 kip per person per day.
Bicycle riding: Visitors can pay 20,000 kip to ride a bicycle around the village.
Beside these activities, visitors can observe the villagers at work in their rice fields, growing vegetables and fruit, and raising poultry. The island also has a temple where people go to offer food as almsgiving to monks and novices each morning.
Don Kho is not widely known and last year only 484 people spent time on the island, with only 88 of these staying overnight in a homestay.
The island was originally settled by a small group of families around 400 years ago, who migrated there from Attapeu province. They belonged to an ethnic upland group known as Kho.
Before moving to the island, the Kho families settled firstly in Khaphai village, which today is known as Saphai village and is well known for its handicrafts.
The island was then called Don Kho after the name of the families who settled there. They started planting rice, vegetables, fruit and mulberries, as well as fishing and weaving.
Visitors can reach the island by driving along Road 13 South for around 15km from Pakxe district towards Vientiane. Then you will see a big sign on the right side of the road indicating the turn to Saphai village.
The village has an information centre where you can buy tickets to take a boat across the Mekong – a journey of about five minutes - to Don Kho.
By Times Reporters
(Latest Update March 4, 2017)