Laos owns the 4000 Islands (Si Phan Don) in Champasak, which makes up a wonderful island shelter to flee away from the city vibe, so how to travel between Dong Khong, Don Khon, and Don Det is one of the most frequently asked questions that need answers. Though there are four thousands of islands in the archipelago, the three major tourist attractions are Dong Khong (the largest one), Don Khon, and Don Det. Among these three, Don Khon and Don Det are connected by a bridge. Getting to Don Det, you can take it easy to walk to Don Khon and vice versa.
From Pakse to Don Khong Island
Pakse is a capital city of Champasak, from which there are ways to Muong Khong Town of Dong Khong Island. First of all, you can take advantage of the tourist buses that leave Pakse in the morning hours (8:00 AM or 9:00 AM) and move toward Dong Khong, which costs around 60,000 Kips (US$7.49). Buy the ticket from the local tour agencies. Again, note that the tourist bus only departs in the morning. In case you have to depart in the afternoon hours, use the local means of transport that is “songthaew” (a kind of public bus) to Muong Khong Town. The drive will take around 3 hours and costs 35,000 Kips (US$4.37).
Upon your arrival, the pristine, laid-back, and charming Dong Khong Island welcomes you. It will be wonderful to rent a bicycle or a motorbike to discover the beautiful corners and pass by the lush rice fields. If you are wondering where to sleep, there are many guesthouses to opt for, which are all friendly, pleasant, and quiet; some even offer the scenic view of Mekong River. Some good recommendations are Souk Sabay Guest House, Pon’s River Guest House, and Don Khong Guest House. What’s more, check in the local highlights of the ancient Wat Chom Thong (1805-1828) – the Khmer temple with wood carvings and cruciform shape, and Wat Phou KhaoKaew (the Crystal Hill Monastery).
Before you leave Don Khong for Don Det or Don Khon, remember to check your cash again. There are ATMs in Dong Khong, but not in other islands of the archipelago. Like in some rural parts of the country, it’s not acceptable to use your credit cards. Therefore, perhaps, you might need to withdraw money for uses in the next islands. And before you leave, enjoy the entire view of the peaceful countryside lifestyle, the rice paddies, and Lao’s temples, and the Mekong River during sunset.
From Don Khong to Don Det and Don Khon
You will not want to miss the two other islands of Don Det and Don Khon when you have already been in Dong Khong. So, if you ask how to move, then know that there are two major ways.
The first way is the direct boat. In particular, in the area of Dong Khong Guest House, there sell the direct boat tickets to Don Det, which costs 40.000 Kips (US$5). The boat often leaves at 8:00 AM – 9:00 AM, and it will take about 1.5 hours to get to the destination.
The second way is the small boat trip combined with the “songthaew” transport. This way, you can take a small boat across the river to the mainland, and then get on the “songthaew” for the transfer to Ban Nakasong Town. In the Ban Nakasong Town, embark a little boat toward Don Det Island. This channel might help you save some dollars, but clearly, it takes more time and more energy. Hence, to avoid the hassle, it’s best to use the 40,000 Kips direct boat. Getting to Don Khon and Don Det, you find the picturesque little haven to rest and relax. The ranges of coconut trees make up the refreshing scenery for everybody to unwind while the stunning rice fields inspire a peaceful life.
Between Don Khon and Don Det Islands in Laos
The two islands are linked by a bridge, so you can either walk or hire a motorbike/bicycle to move between. The opportunities to enjoy trekking, cycling, and even tubing (sitting on a tube or a lifebuoy to move downstream) are fantastic. However, please note that it requires a fee of 20.000 Kips paid at the bridge to cross between the islands, and this fee covers the access to the waterfalls.
If you are in Don Khon, make sure to discover the Wat Khon Tai monastery and find your ways to Somphamit Falls (Li Phi Falls) that show a series of high rapids and fresh atmosphere. Next, you’re likely to meet several old French-style constructions left as the remnants of the past. In compared to Don Khon, Don Det seems to have more backpacker-friendly restaurants and guesthouses, which explains why Don Det seems to be busier. In the evening, you’re encouraged to try Laos Beer at any local bars and have fun. What’s more, the next day, you can join the boat tour to find Irrawaddy dolphins, and with luck, you will meet this rare freshwater dolphin. It’s interesting to know that this kind of freshwater dolphins can be only seen in three places in the world, which are Irrawaddy River of Myanmar, Mahakam River of Indonesia, and Mekong River.
Si Phan Don – The Picturesque 4.000 Islands
Not only does Si Phan Don have a magnificent landscape, but it also wins attention thanks to the peaceful lifestyle of the islanders. Some people say that this area of islands is made for the “lonely souls” or those who want a quiet yet beautiful place to discover themselves by mingling with Nature and then revealing their strength and limit. In the islands, you find no luxury resort or any modern facilities which might distract your attention from life meanings.
Traveling to Si Phan Don, you will never be bothered by the city noise. Here, there remains a poetic and quiet life that you can befriend Nature. The riverine archipelago offers settings for biking, kayaking, or simply enjoying the joy of doing nothing but sightseeing the scenic vista. Take your backpack and go!