Si Phan Don (meaning The 4000 Islands in the Lao language) greatly contributes to the reputation of Laos tourism. Here, you find the wonderful laid-back background to rest and relieve. The archipelago of 4000 islands is naturally gifted to Laos that urge the worldwide nature lovers to discover. Whether or not you are about to go, let’s see the best of Si Phan Don in Laos.
About Si Phan Don
Si Phan Don is a riverine archipelago in the Mekong River and belongs to Champasak Province in the South of Laos. The highlights of Si Phan Don include the 4000 islands, and each is stunning and peaceful. The most notable islands in the beautiful complex are Don Khong (the largest island), Don Det, and Don Khon. In each of these three elites, there lie the attractions of French constructions, natural waterfalls, the picturesque landscapes, and especially the Irrawaddy dolphin and the KhonePhapheng Falls. The local economy is predominantly based on agriculture. But nowadays, Si Phan Don receives the massive influx of travelers who are long for the “picture-perfect” enjoyment in Laos. As noted, Dong Khong, Don Det, and Don Khon are the three most visited tourist spots while most of the other islands remain rarely explored. Traveling to Si Phan Don, people will be amazed at the laid-back and spectacular atmosphere that offers a feel about pieces of heaven. In reality, Si Phan Don is always considered as the ideal shelter for backpackers who appreciate the natural islands, the rural lifestyle with the stilted wooden houses, and the slow pace of life. The best time to see Si Phan Don is the dry season when most of the islands can be seen clearly due to the descending water.
Three Touristy Attractions in Si Phan Don
Dong Khong is the largest island in the archipelago of Si Phan Don. The scenery here is, of course, intact and stunning. The waterfalls, rivers, and green forests delight almost all visitors who look for the relaxing shelter. Several standard hotels and restaurants are built to meet the foreign guests’ demand. Referring to the unique religious highlight of Don Khong, it is the old Wat Chom Thong Temple (around 1805 – 1828), whose architecture was influenced by Khmer style via the wood carvings and cruciform shape. The other remarkable temple is Wat Phou KhaoKaew (The Crystal Hill Monastery). The visit in Dong Khong is exciting for both nature and spirituality as you find various interesting elements to capture, from the hundred-year-old temples to the historical monastery and the bewitching waterfalls.
The little Don Det Island has most parts linked to the Don Khon Island; both create the fascinating scenery on the whole. Coming to Don Det, the vacationers can expect to find the remarkable French-built railway line between Don Det and Don Khon islands, and the significant bridge. In the past, the French wanted to transport goods across the Mekong, but the presence of the big KhonePhapheng Falls prevented them from processing river navigation. Then, it was critical to building the railway line as well as the bridge. Together with the antique French constructions, the island of Don Det is the paradise for backpackers with lots of low-cost accommodation choices. Relaxing on Don Det Island, the holidaymakers can steer clear of stress and anxiety. The pristine and stunning island is the dreamlike venue for all souls.
As noted, Don Khon and Don Det are closely connected. Therefore, the highlights of Don Khon are also about the captivating waterfalls, and the most renowned ones are the bulky Khone Phapheng Falls and the cascading Somphamit Falls (also called Li Phi Falls). In particular, Li Phi Falls is notable for the impressive Li Phi Falls whose cascade goes beyond what can be described by words or pictures. Together with the dramatic natural formations of water, this island becomes recognizable for the extraordinary Irrawaddy dolphin, the friendly inhabitant in the water of Mekong River. Note that these dolphins are rarely to be seen, but you can book a dolphin watching tour to meet and play with them. You will love to meet the dolphins, contemplate the amazing waterfalls, and then take a rest in the green landscape. As Don Khon is connected to Don Khet via the French-built Bridge, it is feasible to move between the two islands by biking or motorcycling. Surely, the view from the bridge is scenic.
Best Things to Do in Si Phan Don
You might ask about things to do in The 4000 Islands, and the answers mostly point to kayaking and biking, or simply relaxing in the quiet environment. While contemplating the laid-back and enchanting islands of Si Phan Don is ideal for anybody that desires for the impeccable relaxation, the outdoor people might love kayaking and biking. The activity of kayaking on the Mekong River and the islands of Si Phan Don promises to feast the eyes greatly. You can rent the boats by 200,000 kips per day, for example. Then, biking might cost 10,000 kips per day that let you discover the islands of Don Det and Don Khon by crossing the bridge connecting the two islands. Another choice is to rent a motorcycle to run around the largest island in Si Phan Don – Don Khong, which might costs you 60,000 kips per day. The day tour in Si Phan Don lets you discover the three most visited islands here (Don Khong, Don Det, Don Khon), the local villages, rice fields, coconut farms, waterfalls, and more. And if you want to meet the Irrawaddy dolphins, head towards Don Khon Island, and pay for the dolphin watching tour by boats which cost around 80,000 kips per passenger. What’s more, some people do bring the candle, guitar, and drum to celebrate a beach party on the island. So, you can do it! The exciting parties can even help awake the sleepy charm of Si Phan Don. Before traveling, read also the best periode to visit Laos here !
How to Get to Si Phan Don
The most recommended route to arrive at Si Phan Don is to take a flight to Pakse City, around 145km North. Then, from Pakse, you take a bus to the pier to find the ferry to the preferred islands. There are lots of buses running from Pakse to Si Phan Don; you can select either mini-bus or the low-cost regular line bus. There are two major piers to consider: Pier Ban Hatxaykhounand Pier Ban Nakasang; both have the ferry/boat to the remarkable Don Khong, Don Det Don Khon Islands. For convenience, the tourists should bring backpacks instead of suitcases when they travel to Si Phan Don.
For your preference, this is the ideal route how to get there: Take a 4-hour bus from Pakse to Pier Ban Nakasang; the ticket might be around 40,000 kips per passenger. Then, when you’re in the pier, catch the ferry to Don Det or Don Khong Island (it’s your priority). The ferry might charge you around 20,000 kips and take 20-30 minutes. Please note that the islands in Si Phan Don are in a small size, and they can be explored on foot. Once again, Don Det and Don Khon Islands are connected by the bridge, which means you can move between the two islands by biking or cycling easily.