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Don Det is a great place to run

Trail running on secluded islands

Ah, running in secluded places feels good. It’s been awhile since these feet have run on dirt paths, without the prying eyes of interested locals gawking at my absurd appearance, but my friends, I have now seen the promise land.

My legs now remember what it feels like to cruise down pristine paths and my personal well being now remembers what it feels like to not be a spectacle every time I step out of my guesthouse. I am talking, of course, about the beautiful paths found on the island of Don Det, in the southern region of Laos.

Found nestled in the banks of the Mekong River, Don Det is a backpackers' haven that offers tranquility, fresh beer, as well as some great tubing and kayaking tours around the Mekong area.  The island is incredibly affordable, and though some pretty nasty western-style bars are starting to appear, it still offers a secluded and authentic feel.

My run started on the sunset side of the island. My guesthouse was found near the pier on the northern ended of Don Det, so I head south toward the island of Don Khon. Sunset Blvd, as it is known, is a single track, dirt road that is lined with riverside bungalows and cheap places to eat.

As you continue down the path, though, it begins to head inland and sheds the lining of buildings. I found myself running down a brown dirt path, skirted with beautiful green rice paddies and the pink flowers that sit atop Lily Pads. Cows, chickens and smiling little kids appeared out of nowhere on the path, and accompanied me for much of my journey.

After about 4 km, I found myself crossing the small, concrete bridge to Don Khon Island. If you go in the afternoon, locals will try and stop you to buy a ticket to the waterfall, but early morning runners can avoid this.  The path continued to wind through rice paddies, as well as some wooded areas, for another 4 km until I hit the island’s dead end. I stopped here for a moment to look out at the view of Cambodia and the Mekong, before heading back to avoid the sun’s increasing glare.

To add a few more km to your run, take a right after crossing back onto Don Det, and head down the Sunrise Blvd bike trail. Running loops and intervals are also extremely easy in this area. My run in Don Det was a breath of fresh air (literally). The secluded sights and tranquil attitude are a must for any wandering runner to visit.