Enjoy serene and relaxing days in Si Phan Don (4000 Islands)

As the mighty Mekong gushes through Southern Laos and sneaks into the Cambodian side, it segments into several tributaries, 14km wide. This natural phenomenon creates a land-locked archipelago of 4000 islands 9once each sandbar and rock is counted), named Si Phan Don. The ideal time to visit this wondrous region is during summer, when the waters recede and reveal the many islands.

Of the 4000 islands, several are changeable and many others can only contain a single tree. There are only three islands that are permanently inhabited. Most tourists begin at Don Khong, the biggest island in the archipelago and renowned for its collection of centuries old temples. The quiet streets are ideal for cycling. You will see a bevy of traditional villages, forests, rice paddies, ancient monasteries, and the Mekong River.

On Don Khone, around 10km south of Don Khong, you can travel on foot, exploring the remains of a railroad constructed in colonial times, and an old colonial bridge that is still used to get to Don Det Island.

You still have the opportunity to see the endangered Irrawaddy Dolphin in the Mekong River, but numbers are dropping drastically, and the dolphins are quite shy around people. There are two beautiful waterfalls in the area, Khon Phapheng and Somphamit, the former is said to be the biggest in Southeast Asia. Tourists wishing to head south will find it easy to get to Cambodia’s northeastern province via land, or head back to Pakse for flights to Phnom Penh or Siem Reap.