Although Laos is landlocked, the Mekong empties at the Cambodian border, creating a wonderful archipelago of islands. The Si Phan Don, literally meaning ‘Four Thousand Islands’, is reasonably one of the country’s top attractions and most impressive natural landscapes.
Depending on the season and height of the river, the water gives way to thousands of sleepy, sandy banks open for exploring. Indeed, power is inconsistent and motorized vehicles are prohibited, but this area is ripe with outdoor sights and activities like cycling, kayaking, and tubing.
There are three islands frequented by visitors: Khong, Det, and Khon. Although the largest and most developed, Don Khong is also the quietest and least visited of the three. Sister islands Don Det and Don Khon, connected by a bridge and accessible by bicycle, are more popular.
Don Det is a backpacker paradise, well equipped with dorm accommodation and you can enjoy sunrise and sunset in a hammock without a care in the world. To get to Don Det you can pay a set fee out of the city of Pakse that includes both the van ride to the pier and boat trip to the island.
Don Khon is famous thanks to the Khon Phaheng waterfalls and rare freshwater Irrawaddy dolphins that you can see if you’re lucky.
Si Phan Don is the only island experience in the country, so if none of Laos’ coastal neighbors (such as island-rich Thailand) fit into your trip, a stop on Don Det should satisfy your beach craving.