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.
VISITING SI PHAN DON – WHICH ISLAND TO CHOOSE?
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:
WHAT TO DO IN 4000 ISLANDS
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!
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.
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.
4.DIVE into the dark waves of the Mekong River on the nearby Li Phi Beach. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
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)
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..
7.DREAM in the sheer tranquillity of a wonderful sunset over the forgotten islands of Mekong.
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!
WHEN TO TRAVEL
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).
HOW TO GET THERE
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.
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