Pon Arena, 4000 Islands Laos, Pakse and Southern Laos
Pon Arena hotel is located on Done Khong Island in one of the more remote and off-the-beaten-track corners of Laos. Khong island is situated in the so-called "4000 islands" in the Mekong river, a stretch of water where the river has widened, forming thousands of islands some large enough to inhabit and others barely bigger than a sand bank.
Khong island is not to be confused with Khone Island, which is situated further south right to the furthest point of Laos before Cambodia. Khong Island is a larger island further north than the border and is the main island in this area, with a population of around 55,000 and two main villages Muang Saen and Muang Khong. Despite its large population, Khong Island has remained relatively undeveloped, and locals maintain their traditional ways of life travelling by long tail boat around the island, giving the island a typically Lao laid-back feeling.
Pon Arena Hotel offers simple but contemporary accommodation within easy walking distance of many of the island's local restaurants and amenities. It provides a great base for exploring the island and the rest of the 4000 Islands too.
The hotel's 21 rooms have tiled floors and slate bathrooms, dark wood furnishing give a nod to elements of traditional Lao design. Accommodation is no-frills, but all rooms offer modern touches such as air conditioning, en-suite bathrooms with bathtubs, satellite TV and complimentary Wi-Fi.
Room types are split into three categories: Mountain View, Mekong View and Mekong River View. Room amenities are the same but the difference comes in their location in the hotel. Mountain View rooms are located towards the back of the hotel while Mekong View rooms are at the front and both come with balconies. Our pick would be the Mekong River View rooms, which feature private balconies overlooking the river itself.
The hotel's restaurant is a pleasant location to watch the sun setting over the Mekong and bicycle hire can be arranged through the hotel, a great way to get around and explore the island. Although simple, Pon Arena offers some of the highest standard of accommodation on the island and will provide a comfortable base.
Comfort - This is our lead in category. There will generally be a no frills approach and while some will be characterful, some will do exactly what it says on the tin - provide a clean, comfortable and good value place to spend the night. These places are normally 3* hotels.
- Mountain Bikes
- Wireless Internet
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The guides and drivers couldn't have been better, 10 out of 10. Dao was outstanding. He made the trip extra special for us. His knowledge of the area and the whole country, history etc. was fantastic. He was brilliant with the children too, he made the trip fun, exciting and safe. If ever he was talking to a local in Lao, he would always involve us in the conversation and explain what was happening. At the end of our 9 days with him we didn't want him to go.