4000 Islands, Si Phan Don
The Four thousand Islands or 4000 Islands (in Lao named Si Phan Don) area is located in the far south of Laos in Champasak province. The Mekong river widens out a lot in this area and many islands spring up from the water, some of them just a few meters (or less) long, others with a fair size of several kilometers length. A perfect area to enjoy the Mekong, some stunning waterfalls, participate in a cooking class, the beautiful sunsets and sunrises and just relax and feel the Mekong breeze.
The most visited islands are Don Det and Don Khone. The largest island is Don Khong with guesthouses and hotels as well. Don Som is more ‘off the beaten track’ but has one guesthouse as well. The area also hosts some beautiful waterfalls like the Lii Phi (Somphamit), Khone Phapheng and the smaller Khone Pa Soi.
If you like to relax, enjoy and see the Mekong river from a hammock, sipping a Beerlao, fruit shake or anything else, this might be a perfect place for you to visit. You can easily spend a week or longer exploring Don Som, Don Khone, Don Khong and Don Det.
Si Phan Don (4000 Islands) is named a ‘backpackers paradise’ by some. Let’s keep it that way and respect local culture.
Some things Travel2Laos recommends you to do if you visit the 4000 Islands:
– Relax, chill-out and unwind
– Cycle around
– Visit the Lii Phi (also known as Sophamit) Waterfall
– Participate in a cooking class
– Kayak on the Mekong River
– Get off the beaten track on Don Som
– Spot the rare Irrawaddy Dolphins
– Visit the spectacular Khone Phapheng Waterfall
– See the colonial reminders on Don Det and Don Khone
– Make a boat trip on the mighty Mekong River
– See the old locomotives on Don Khone
But, of course, there is more…
How to get there?
From Pakse (northern direction)
Getting to the 4000 Islands from Pakse or anywhere north is not complicated. Guesthouses and several other places in Pakse sell bus tickets to Don Det, Don Khone and Don Khong and also to Ban Khinak (opposite Don Som) from Miss Noy Motorbike Rental. It’s about 150 km from Pakse to Ban Nagassang, the village from where boats leave for Don Det and Don Khone. Getting to Don Khong is also organized by the travel companies. Getting to Don Som is also relatively easy but being it a bit more ‘off the beaten track’ makes it more of an adventure if you take local transport. Local transport to Don Det, Don Khone and Don Khong will turn out to be almost the same price and way more complicated. To Don Som it is possible to go to the south bus station and get a songthaew (local transport) to Ban Khinak (contacting Don Som Riverside Guesthouse about this might be a good idea). You can also get more information and tickets to Ban Khinak from Miss Noy Motorbike Rental.
From Cambodia (southern direction)
Most people visiting the 4000 Islands from the southern direction come directly from Siem Reap (famous for the Khmer style temples Angkor Wat). In Siem Reap there are several companies who are very willing to sell you tickets to the 4000 Islands. Some are better than others… From Banlung, Stung Treng (Xiang Taeng), Kratie, Phnom Penh and other places in Cambodia you can also reach the 4000 Islands. Make sure to which island you want and that a boat transfer is included in the price.
Bridge to the island Don Khong
In the video below you can see the bridge (built by Chinese workers) connecting the mainland and Don Khong (island). The bridge is about 700 meters long. The video is made from a boat on the Mekong river.