La Folie is a charming lodge located on Don Daeng, a car-free island facing Champasak Town. Don Daeng, in Lao the “Red island”, is a peaceful haven within the UNESCO protected area of the Vat Phu, well known for its outstanding sunsets.
Discover the best of Southern-Laos traditional lifestyle and hospitality, a well-kept secret. Each of the 27 luxurious wooden rooms has a private terrace the Mekong river, its sandy beaches and the sacred mountains of Champasak.
Answer the call to the many adventures Southern Laos offers: half or full day excursions to the Wat Phu, 4000 islands, Bolaven plateau, Xe-Pian park, Pakse city or Champasak areas,Or just rest, disconnect & recover at the Lodge: swimming pool, spa, restaurant, bicycles, tropical garden, petanque court, etc.
The boat transfers from and to Champasak or Ban Meuang are included with every booking. Transfers are available from Pakse Airport & Ubon Ratchathanee Airport.
Private Villa with panoramic view
The Residence is your own private villa with a large panoramic terrace facing the Mekong and the sacred mountains. It offers two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a large living area within approximately 160 square meters, as well as a 50 square meters terrace.
It is fully furnished and decorated in a colonial style, with all modern amenities such as air-conditioning in all rooms, kitchen/bar, spacious bathrooms, hi-fi, 32 inch flat screen LCD Monitor, DVD player plus a selection of DVDs, free Wi-Fi.
The Residence, with its wide living space, comfort and atmosphere is the ideal place for VIP guests, families or travelers who wish to spend a few relaxing days in total privacy.
The Residence was originally built as the owner’s house, who fell in love with the island and its people a long time ago. The Residence is now open to all guests, and its style and intimacy makes it the favorite place for artists/novelists and VIPs.
Bungalows with stunning Mekong view
The Mekong view rooms are all located in typical wooden bungalows, and offer approximately 37 square meters of comfortable space decorated with local materials.
Each Mekong view room has its own terrace with breathtaking views over the Mekong and the sacred hills of Vat Phu. Extra-beds are available, and families can be located in the same bungalow.
Ban Lao: The traditional Lao house
Ban Lao is the latest addition to the Lodge. The house combines the peaceful privacy of it’s own garden surrounded by majestic mango trees and the most amazing view of the sacred mountain and Mekong River.
The comfortable queen bedroom overlooks the legendary Mekong river. In the other room, you’ll find a desk, a wardrobe (and safe), a coffee-tea corner and a minibar (included and refilled daily).
Back in 2016, this charming old wooden house with its typical architecture of Southern Laos was about to be demolished in a neighboring village, as villagers now tend to build out of concrete.
To preserve a modest part of this cultural heritage, the Lodge acquired the house and moved it to a beautiful location facing the Mekong. It was then fully renovated, upgraded to modern standards and comfortably furnished to become the lodge’s first exquisite mini suite.
Featuring fresh and quality products sourced as much as possible from local markets, the Bolaven farms, and our own organic garden, La Folie Lodge’s menu offers cuisines ranging authentic Lao to classic western.
The open aired poolside restaurant offers breakfast, lunch and dinner under a remarkable roof of wooden tiles. Snacks are also available all day long around the pool. For the most romantic set up, we would suggest to dine under the stars on the garden terrace.
Tasty cocktails, fresh fruit juices, local tees and coffees, imported wines, or simply a refreshing Lao Beer: you should find everything helping your thirstiness at the Lodge’s bar.
Take the time to discover the smoothness of the “Lao-Khao”, a local rice-based alcohol made on the island and used in our signature cocktails. The bar stands under the famous elephant wooden sculpture, executed by talented local craftsmen, in the poolside restaurant.
The garden terrace or the pool area are the perfect spots to enjoy drinks and a marvelous view of the sunset. At night time, a cozy lounge area is available next to the boutique with a selection of magazines and books.
La Folie Spa
La Folie Lodge is a place of tranquility, where relaxation and wellness go hand in hand. The Spa is set in the middle of a tropical garden, under the shade of old trees.
Let stress melt away in one of our two intimate wooden treatment rooms, under the gentle care of our wellness specialists. Choose between our 4 different massages with their unique blend of organic oils, and begin your journey to relaxation, rejuvenation and serenity.
The pool is open from early in the morning to late at night. Enjoy drinks, snacks and meals by the pool, under the shade of palm trees, overlooking the mesmerizing flow of the Mekong.
Most probably the best spot to enjoy an incredible sunset over the sacred mountains. The pool is reserved for the hotel guests only.
Discover a tropical sanctuary of local plants and trees that our team of gardeners have been attending with great care for more than 12 years.
Wander freely around this unspoiled piece of nature: follow the signs to the majestic mango trees of Ban Lao house’s garden and test your flora knowledge with the name tags spread across the garden.
The organic garden, designed like a traditional lao garden, provides abundant herbs, spices, fruits and flowers used daily by the kitchen and spa.
Chez Maman’s Boutique
A selection of Laos’ finest souvenirs is provided by Chez Maman’s boutique in Champasak. Initiated in 2017, this partnership offers to our guests a variety of handicrafts from all over Laos.
The silk from Phongsaly, the cotton from Salavan, the knifes from an amazing selection allow you to dive into the culture of the numerous and different ethnic groups of Laos.
Chez Maman’s approach speaks to our guests: it is about creating a respectful and long-lasting relationship with craftsmen and women, offering fair prices to allow them to perpetuate their work and the culture embedded in them, without interfering.
Don Daeng Island
Don Daeng, litterally the ‘red island’ (Don= island, Daeng=red), offers a rare opportunity to retreat from the hectic rush of busy streets and tourist sites.
In the quiet and peaceful streets of the island, the people of Don Daeng will welcome you with a warm smile and elegant “Sabaidee”. It is hard to find anywhere such sense of authentic rural Laos and its Buddhist-Animist spirituality.
The island shows many faces during the year. While immersed in lush green during the rainy season, its landscape in the summer has a nice Mediterranean feel.
As soon as the rain gets heavier, the small sandy tracks get softened making cycling a little harder but no less fun. Both contrasting seasons have a different but very strong appeal, allowing you to choose Don Daeng as a destination for recreation all year round.
The island is roughly 11 km long and 3 km large in the middle. During the rainy season, the Mekong covers the beach and rises up to the gates of the Lodge. The population of Don Daeng is approximately 3,200 inhabitants, living in 10 villages.
Don Daeng island
Enjoy Don Daeng’s authenticity: unspoiled huge sand beaches crowded with fishermen and lazy buffaloes, wild forests and enchanting birds, plains of rice fields, local small villages with one floor typical wooden houses and numerous Buddhist temples.
But mainly meet with their charming and always smiling inhabitants and share their warm welcoming. This island was, at one time, part of the Wat Phou sanctuary, reminded by the brick Stupa hidden in the middle of the island.
Other temple ruins and rock sculptures were discovered under the river at the end of the island.
Bicycle tour on the island
The lodge provides complimentary bicycles (children bicycles also available) for the guests to explore the local life and treasures of Don Daeng Island. Three different itineraries are available, all boundary stoned.
The staff will be happy to give you a map of the island with all the points of interest, from the antique temple to rice fields as well as main villages and community projects developed by the lodge with the help of its guests. Depending on the season, you might even stop to help with rice planting or with the crop!
Fishing on the Mekong
Should you wish to discover the different Mekong fish species, and/or new fishing techniques, the lodge would be happy to organize a trip with local fishermen. Please let the staff know should you be interested.
Since its opening in 2007, the lodge has been developing, with the help of its guests, community projects on the island.
It ranges from the renovation of schools to the opening of a new dispensary, as well as building small bridges and motorcycle paths to enhance the quality of life of Don Daeng inhabitants. You are welcome to visit the past and current projects over the island.
On special occasions or guest request, and depending on availability, we could arrange for various cultural activities in the Lodge, or in a traditional house at the neighboring village, such as a Baci ceremony for the blessings of good fortune.
We also can arrange a dinner performance by traditional Lao dancers and musicians from the island. Please get in touch with the staff should you be interested.
The Tree-top explorer experience is a 2 days-1 night trip deep into the Bolaven Jungle (for athletic adventurers). The first day consists in trekking and a dozen of zip lines to go down the Monkey waterfall.
By the end of the afternoon, you reach the treehouse and shelter where you will spend the night, surrounded by waterfall and jungle sounds. The second day consists in zip lining over the jungle, before canyoning and trekking back to the village by the end of the afternoon.
A truly unique experience in Southern Laos, easily combined with La Folie Lodge on Don Daeng island (transfer to Pakse in the morning, pickup by our partner to Pakxong).
The Mystic mountain jeep tour takes you off the beaten track with 1970’s Jeeps. The tour takes you to remote villages, coffee plantation, and a waterfall where you can swim. This full day/2 days experience can easily be combined during your stay on Don Daeng island!
Kayaking in the 4 000 islands
Nothing more relaxing than kayaking through the beautiful 4 000 islands. This day tour is similar to the classic day trip to the 4 000 islands, but you get to do some of it in a kayak!
Visit the Li-Phi waterfalls, Don Khon island, the old french train, and kayak down the Mekong to an area near the Cambodian border. If you are lucky you may even have a chance to spot the Irrawaddy dolphins.
Vat Phu temple
The beautiful and romantic Vat Phu temple is one of Southeast Asia’s best example of both early and classic Khmer architecture. Built between the 6th and 12th century, it is located on a hillside offering stunning views over the surrounding lands and Mekong River.
Vat Phu, a very important and venerated religious center, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2001.
Discover Champasak Ancient Town, its pretty wooden houses in Lao traditional style mixed with French colonial architectures.
Enjoy a break by the Mekong at one of the local restaurants, and take the time to visit our partner’s boutique “Chez Maman”, who offers an amazing variety of handicrafts from all over Laos. On every Friday morning from 4 am to 8 am, the Morning Market offers local products.
The Bolaven Plateau, famous for its coffee and tea plantations, is located in an ancient volcano that erupted millions of years ago. The area spans 50 km of Southern Laos’ most vegetated area. From an altitude of 800 to 1350 meters, The Bolaven is green all year round and cooler than the rest of Laos and Thailand.
Surrounding the plateau there are a number of ethnic villages who grow their own coffee, protected national parks, dramatic waterfalls, remote hill tribes, dense jungle and a taste of some of the world’s most precious coffee beans.
Si Phan Don (4 000 islands), Li Phi and Kone Papeng falls
In Southern Laos, close to the Cambodia’s border, a multiplicity of big or smaller islands are located on the Mekong River. Their Lao name is Si Phan Don, which literally means 4 000 islands.
Si Phan Don represents an essential ecological area of the Mekong River. The braided channel slowly winds its way through a region that provides the highest number of fish consumed in the country and is home to the globally vulnerable Irrawaddy river dolphin.
On Don Khone island, if time allows, do not miss the charming Li Phi falls, but avoid bathing from the tempting small beach, strong current could cause drowning. Lower South, the prestigious and impressive Khon Papeng falls will never be forgotten if you have a chance to visit.
Tomo temple and neighbouring villages
Guests can take a boat in front of the lodge to cruise down the river to the far end of the island, and visit Tomo ruins, a remain of a pre-Ankorian Umong Temple, in the middle of a very wild but romantic forest.
According to archaeologists, this temple is considered to have been built in nearly the same century as the Wat Phou temple, but a lot more remains to be discovered.
This trip would include a stop at Ban Tomo village and Ban Than Thip, charming small villages difficult to access by road on wet season.
Elephant village and trekking
Ban Kietnong village or Elephant Village is located in Xe-Pian, a vast National Protected Area established to conserve biodiversity and considered to be one of the most important conservation areas in Indochina.
Most visitors to the Elephant Village ride an elephant through the village to the top of Mt. Asa, where you can enjoy a a view, when the day is clear, on beautiful mountains, rice paddies and fabulous marshland. You will also visit unusual and mysterious archaeological ruins.
If you feel more adventurous, we also can arrange a trek through the Xe-Pian conservation area.
Just on the opposite bank of the Mekong, Champasak Spa is a charming and professional wellness center. In a beautiful traditional wooden house set in a tropical garden, alongside the Mekong river, the Champasak Spa offers treatments and massages.
Champasak Shadow Puppets theatre
Composed of 14 artists (musicians, singers, comedians and puppet players), the Shadow Puppets Theater in Champasak Town presents a delightful show several nights each week during the dry Season, from mid-October to mid-April. Many of the puppets date back to the 1950s.
Located just outside the town of Pakse, this is an entertaining 18 holes golf course. Caddies, carts and golf bags can be rented on site. No place for slice nor hook!
Wellness & Spiritual Retreats
Since 2007, La Folie Lodge has hosted numerous retreats with daily group classes : meditation, yoga, qi-gong, tai-chi, etc. Retreat participants particularly enjoy that La Folie Lodge is located on a car-free island, where sounds and nature make you feel like in a secluded heaven of peace and tranquility.
Nearby, the authentic countryside life of Laos and just in front, the sacred mountains hosting the oldest temple of Laos, Wat Phou. “On top of the sacred mountains on the other side of the Mekong: the Lingaparvata, an abstract representation of Shiva.
The mountain gained spiritual importance from the lingam-shaped protuberance on its summit. The mountain itself was, therefore, considered the home of Shiva, and the river as representing the ocean or the Ganges.
The temple was naturally dedicated to Shiva, while the water from the spring directly behind the temple was considered sacred.” The UNESCO world heritage site of the Vat Phu, located on the hills below, litteraly means mountain temple.
It was a part of the Khmer Empire centred on Angkor to the southwest, at least as early as the reign of Yasovarman I in the early 10th century. (…); the temple now seen was built primarily during the Koh Ker and Baphuon periods of the 11th century.
Minor changes were made during the following two centuries, before the temple, like most in the empire, was converted to Theravada Buddhist use.
Eco-Lodge: Sustainability & Responsibility
The philosophy instilled by the founders since 2007:
- Sustaining the development of the island and welfare of its inhabitants
- Encouraging the protection of the rich local culture and environment
The first step was to entrust local teams from the island and neighboring villages with the construction of the facilities. Thanks to this project, the electricity was brought to the island.
In the same spirit, for its opening in 2007, the Lodge recruited and trained exclusively people from the island. They account for 98% of the team.
More ambitious projects, regarding essentially health and education, have also been undertaken by the Lodge, with the help of its guests and the villagers.
Lodge and guests bring the funding for materials and equipment, while the villagers bring the manpower, the whole project being followed through by the Lodge’s management.
Some past and current projects are presented here below. All our guests are always welcome to support the projects and visit them while cycling around Don Daeng.
Ethic & Actions
- Financial or technical help to population after extreme weather events (Hurricane Ketsana in 2011, 2018 floods, 2019 floods…)
- The Lodge employs more than 50 people, exclusively from the island, at all time (even in low season)
- All the staff and their families are covered by the Social Security Organization
- The Lodge offers interest-free loans for and often contributes to medical fees
- Several trainings are conducted every year: Fire safety, First Aid, English (service team), Kitchen Chef training
- The Lodge worked on several community projects on the island, such as schools renovations, dispensary refitting, road works, etc., by collecting donations from its guests and from its own budget
- Through its connection with the people and local authorities, the Lodge emphasize on cleanliness all around the island.
- Protection of the embankment from erosion by planting protective bushes
- The Lodge supports local handicraft by offering a selection of products exclusively made in Laos from various ethnic villages
- Reduction of plastic use in bathroom amenities
- Various products are sourced locally from fair-trade companies in the Bolaven Plateau.
- The Lodge does not use any palm oil product and does not use MSG in any dish
- Plastic bottles, metal cans, glasses are recycled
- All the organic wastes from the kitchen are used in the organic garden compost
- No pesticides (roundup) are used in the garden