"4 thousand very small islands and a few big ones" Khoueng Champasak by picek

Khoueng Champasak Travel Guide: 109 reviews and 340 photos

..or Si Phan Don in southern Champassac province

That's the most beautiful part of the Mekong river, famous for islands and laid back feel there, dolphins and Mekong falls. Also known as Si Phan Don or Four Thousand Islands area. Most frequented of these islands are Don Khone (we stayed here), Don Det (the most popular one and the busiest) and Don Khong (the biggest one, and the home of Lao ex leader - Khamtay Siphandone).
Expect that you may enjoy it a lot, and that you'd wish to stay few days there. Some stay here their entire stay in Laos... but I would say 3- 5 days will give it fair deal.

There are some information that Lao-Thai governments are considering building large dams near and if they trully mean it I guess that whole landscape will disappear within one stoke of a hand (or more hands, depends how many will profit). Therefore I wanted at least once in my life to see these all falls and dolphins and tiny and little bit bigger islands - just in case worst will happen. And to remember forever what Lao used to have and gave it up.
It is irony - when you watch Khone Phapeng or Li Phi falls from safe distance you can understand why Mekong would become even more exploited for hydropower - it's really powerfull down there.

days spent on river, glancing at the Dolphins

Lao-Cambodian border: if you get to the last village in Don Khone and ask someone from village to take you around by small-longtail boat you'll be able to catch a view of rare Irrawaddy dolphins. Even if you don't see them you'll enjoy plenty of water. Here Mekong looks quite clean and we did swimming and fishing there. There is quite unique border situation there: there are 2 tiny islands of a few square meters area in the middle of Mekong that officially belong to Cambodia and each one of them has one or two bars - literally in the water. These sandy islands ara good stop for watching dolphins and drinking a beer. You only need to buy one dollar ticket (kind of 'border permit' (if you can say that) since you're in Cambodian territory already) but you don't need your passoprt or whatever other documents with you. No officials there and no cops!

We stayed for few hours there in the pleasant shade from straw roof, and every now and then we saw dolphins wing out of water - well, that's not much but you can imagine the rest. Even only that symbolic 'touch' from distance with dolphin is very exciting.

Dolphin is threathened species here in Mekong. Their numbers are falling, the biggest problem is fishing - they get stucked in fishing nets and they die. Or they are killed by explosion with which they are trying to catch large amounts of fish - and with catastrophic consequences for just everything else. Another problem comes from pollution. Much to worry for their future!

epilogue

Knowing that you're watching dramatic landscape which is to disappear in next decade or so makes you speachless. It was like a dream - going to same falls, dolphin watching and around every day as you just don't want to let them go. You cannot have enough of it. You don't want to come back next time knowing they're gone and you haven't spent enough time with them.

  • Last visit to Khoueng Champasak: Dec 2007
  • Intro Updated Feb 22, 2010
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