The Champasak Province is the southernmost region of Laos, bordering with Cambodia, and this is where the mighty Mekong River is at its widest (14 kilometres). Nature here created a labyrinth of waterways and there is more water than land;  just ‘a few’ thousands of islands, isles, and tiny islets dot this immense wetland.  This is the riverine archipelago Si Phan Don, known as the Four Thousand Islands, scattered over the murky waters of the legendary Mekong River.

Si Phan Don archipelago (4000 Islands), typical scenery


There are 4000 islands and 1 question: which one to go to? There are several options for the travellers, however, there is not much difference between them; each island is pretty much about relaxing, reading a book, having a stroll, greeting the villagers and watching the domestic animals.

Si Phan Don Islands are really for those who like quiet places, nature, photography and chill out. There are 3 major islands to visit:

  • Don Dhet is the cheapest one with some entertainment options and it is known as the ‘backpackers paradise’
  • Don Khon offers perhaps a little more comfort than any other island and there are some riverside bungalows and restaurants
  • Don Khong – the least developed and associated with rural life and rustic atmosphere – but the most authentic

Si Phan Don, simple life at a slow pace


1.WAKE UP with the local roosters and take pleasure in watching the sunrise over the river on Don Dhet Island. It is absolutely spectacular!

Sunrise over the river on Don Det Island

Sunrise over the river on Don Det Island

2.TAKE a lazy walking tour around Don Det that will give you the chance to appreciate one of the most authentic and traditional parts of Laos: bamboo huts, green rice fields, and coconut palm trees, expanding along the riverbanks, form a super-picturesque scenery.

Green rice-fields in Don Det

Verdant rice-fields in Don Dhet

3.RENT a bicycle on Don Det, cross the French Bridge to get to Don Khon Island and ride to the natural site of Tat Somphamit. You will find the Li Phi Falls, or “spirit trap”, as it is believed that the falls catch bad spirits as they wash down the river. This ranging set of rapids offers an impressive sight, especially during the rainy season.  The falls reasonably carry their nickname “The Devil`s Corridor” – they look like one indeed.

Li Phi Falls

Li Phi Falls

4.DIVE into the dark waves of the Mekong River on the nearby Li Phi Beach. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Li Phi Beach

Li Phi Beach

5.ARRANGE a boat trip to explore the Mekong waterways and you might be lucky enough to spot the rare freshwater Irrawaddy dolphins (best viewing Jan-May)

Irrawady dolphins

Irrawaddy dolphins

6.GRAB a book and have a quiet time at one of the riverside taverns. Try the local cuisine that is very simple but as fresh as can be. Have you ever taste lotus? Well, now it is the time..

Don Dhet, typical riverfront taverns                                                                                                   

7.DREAM in the sheer tranquillity of a wonderful sunset over the forgotten islands of Mekong.

Sunset by the Mekong river

Sunset over the Mekong River


Suggested time to stay is 2-3 days unless you seriously need a proper unwind – in that case, not even a week will be enough.

Remember to pack an effective repellent and a good camera!


The best time to visit the 4000 Islands is in the dry season with pleasant temperatures (November-March). Low level of water allows easy access to the islands and visitors can enjoy swimming in the river, tubing and boat tours around the islands (that are often not possible in the rainy season).


The gateway to Si Phan Don (4000 Islands) is Pakse where you need to take a boat to one of the above-mentioned islands.

Fly to Vientiane and catch a shuttle bus to Pakse (10-11 hour trip); there are also frequent buses from Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

For all international flights check out or

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Eva Bodova

Wednesday 9 May 2018

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