"The largest of the Si Phan Don (4000 Islands)" Top 5 Page for this destination Don Khong by DSwede
Don Khong Travel Guide: 28 reviews and 90 photos
Si Phan Don, or otherwise known in English as "Four Thousand Islands", is the cluster of islands and islets in the the lower Mekong River, just above the Cambodian border.
The islands vary in size from a few meters to a few kilometers. Some are only visible during the dry season when the Mekong is low. Similarly, navigating some of them is not possible when the river is too low. But nonetheless, they provide a very quiet, relaxed setting to slow down and take a break from the fast pace of the outside world.
A great majority of people who get this far are either coming up from Cambodia and continuing north to Pakse, or vise verse heading south. I however had already been to Cambodia and wanted to concentrate on Laos.
The flat plains and rice fields in the South of Laos appear to be nearly endless. The hot sun and hard work in the fields definitely takes its toll on the people. They enjoy their breaks, take life slowly, and somehow still smile the entire time. The Mighty Mekong cuts through this area along the east border.
The Four Thousand Islands have a series of waterfalls which held define the physical divide between Cambodia and Laos. In the old days, it is said that the French colonists could travel from France to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) faster than they could between Saigon and Vientiane. Part of the problem was traversing these waterfalls. To this end, the French built the only functional railroad in Lao history from the low side through Don Det and Don Khone to the high side of the falls. The railroad was functional until the 1940's.
The more southern islands of Don Det and Don Khone are a popular spot for backpackers. The relaxed atmosphere was perfect for unwinding, resting in a hammock and reading a book for as long as you wanted. For a long time, the islands were still without electricity, but a few years ago, part of the charm was erased with the introduction of electricity.
Don Det and Don Khone are building up quickly as can be seen by the countless guesthouses being built up along the Mekong's banks. The picture here shows just a few hundred meters of Don Det, but this kind of build up is present over much of the waterfront. Don Khong, the largest of the 4000 Islands on the other hand, is slightly further north and still relatively undeveloped from travelers.
Don Khong took about 4 hours to bicycle around. It was about 2hours (by boat) north of Don Det/Khone, but easily reachable for a day trip. The entire time on Don Khong, only a handful of foreigners were spotted, compared to hundreds on Don Det/Khone.
- Pros:Perfect for those who want a bit more sport and privacy.
- Cons:If you're someone who needs to stay 'connected', you will not find it difficult.
- In a nutshell:Being the largest and quietest island, you have the feeling that its all yours.
Laos has only had one functional railway in its history. It was installed by the French as a means to ease the passage... more travel advice
Don Det and Don Khone have countless restaurants to choose from. They all serve roughly the same menu at the same... more travel advice
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