As true as its name, this area consists of 4000 islands from all size that beautifully scattered in the vast of Mekong river. 4000 islands (Si Phan Don) marks an epic end to Laos when you cross the Mekong river to reach to Cambodia. Right in the very south of Laos, part of Champasak province: 4000 islands had made the far away land become a hotspot to tourists. 3 main attraction stops in Si Phan Son are: Don Khong, Don Det and Don Khon islands.
You can get to 4000 islands by bus from Pakse and take a ferry/ boat to either Muong Khong Town (gateway to Don Khong) or Ban Nakasong Town (gateway of Don Khon and Don Det). The bus ticket can go around $8USD included bus ticket and boat fee.
2. BEST TIME TO VISIT 4000 ISLANDS (SI PHAN DON)
The time that has most tourist arrivals is from November to March. During this dry season, sunny day and cool air usually takes place, the sun won’t be so burn. You can also visit 4000 islands in its hottest season from March to May, due to the fact that you can jump to the chill Mekong water at anytime you like, temperature won’t be a matter.
From March to October, the region starts its monsoon, it becomes peak in July and August. During the time, flood may takes place, water rate goes high so tourist river activities mostly not available. In short, you shouldn’t visit the spot in this season.
3. THINGS TO DO IN 4000 ISLANDS
Be amazed by the Magnificent Waterfalls
The area is home for numerous of waterfalls, among them all, you are highly recommended to visit these epic cascades.
Li Phi waterfall. Located in Don Khon that can easily reach by bicycle, Li Phi waterfall owns a spacious space of water flow that rushly fall to terraces. The rock seems to get in the river way but water just twists to it like that. Together, they create a breathtaking view that you have ever imagine for such a stunning waterfall. You can relax and have a swim at the beaches nearby.
Khone waterfall is the largest waterfall by volume in southeast Asia. This waterfall owns impressive rock hills and massive water pouring in large area. Water flows in different land create smaller waterfalls. It is on cloud nine to swim and take some astounding pics at this landscape.
Go Boating to See Irrawaddy Dolphins
4000 islands is the remaining location where freshwater Irrawaddy dolphins live. Though the fact is sad but since this reason, they had protected those creatures in very good condition, also brings us best view of wild and no machine travelling. Common means of transport to get to Irrawaddy dolphin spotting is by wooden boats of locals or boat for kayaking. Along the way you flow, fantastic view silently lies provides chill atmosphere and relaxing air.
Try the Mekong River Cruise and Have a Cup of Coffee
When it goes a little down low in the evening, you should pay for a ticket to enjoy the air and try the Mekong cuisine on a nice yacht. If you like, contemplate sunset on the river provides an idyllic and romantic view, you should spend time to enjoy that moment has well. Or make it less expensive, you can choose the coffee shop with nice riverside spot to enjoy a cup of coffee with your friends.
Sports to Play
A country side region but still provides “quality” ways of doing sports. How about a half - day cycling on leafy, dusty countryside trails of Don Det island. Rustic rural view is always there on every road you go with stunning rice fields and beautiful palm lined fringed.
Swimming and sunbathing on the beaches near the waterfalls are also a great idea for a relaxing day.
Moreover, you can also make your group a small camp by the river bank and spend a day there in enjoyment. If you keen on water sports, kayaking, tubing and small boat traveling are also available.
Visit Vat Phou Temple
It is not in 4000 islands, but just a little outside the region, there’s a temple that really worth visiting: Vat Phou stupa, which is believed to be built in the period of 11th - 13th century. It is not really a full form of a temple, rather a remain of historical evidence. It is part of the ruin Khmer Hindu temple complex in southern Laos. You can find that it has lots in common to the famous Angkor in Cambodia.
This ruin give us astounding perspective of historical building that live through time. Like people said: it is one masterpiece engineering of ancient time.
4. THINGS TO KEEP IN MINDS
Since the place rather rural, there isn’t many items to buy, you can go to the market and buy small things like knitted baskets, simple necklaces, bracelets but the soul of 4000 islands is hide in every local dish. You should try these dishes out:
- Tropical fruit of mangosteen, grapefruit, star fruit, sugar apple, mango, guava, tamarins, caimitos, etc.
- Fish dishes like steam fishes in banana leaf, fried fish, fishes served with sticky rice and vegetable (laap fish)
- Green papaya salad (tam maak hoong)
- Coconut curry soup
People here won’t be so strict to tourist, just be nice to show your friendliness and remember these tips to enjoy best your vacation.
Say “SA-BAI-DEE” to say hello to Laos
- Take off your shoes if you enter Laos home
- You can give tips to local that serve you
- Ask first if you want to film Laos cuisine that homemade, manufacture at workshop
- Prepare a lot of money first, ATM is rare in the region
- Wifi is available at almost every accommodations but it is rather slow