What an unbelievable place! We didn’t expect such a relaxing and beautiful environment at 4000 Islands, our first stop in Laos, and we loved it.
Located in the south of the country, just 40 minutes away from the Cambodian border, it is a little paradise made of 4000 islands (like the name gives away). A few of those are inhabited but others are tiny and sometime are even just rocks big enough for on person to stand on… (still counts!)
There are 3 main islands opened to tourism, Don Khong (the biggest one), Don Det and Don Khon, both smaller and sister islands connected by a bridge. We’d hear that Don Det was a bit of the party place with many bars and loud music, so our plan was to stay on Don Khon instead. However when we arrived at the port the only boat we found was going to Don Det, it was late so that’s where we stayed.
It was a good surprise: It was a lot more quiet than what we heard and someone explained us that the island used to be big for party a few years back (just like Vangvieng), but it got out of control and the Laos government decided to put an end to it. There are still plenty of bars, places that sell happy herbs and mushrooms, but it is very quiet and chill now.
We stayed only 2 nights and 1 full day in 4000 islands but even after this short amount of time we felt very relaxed: There is little traffic, no cars only a few motorbikes. Most people use bikes around both Islands. It is a beautiful combination of nature, farm fields with buffalos, river sides with a few restaurants and amazing views, coconut trees and many cats everywhere!
We rented a bike and cycled around both islands crossing the French bridge. The main attraction on Don Khon are the Li Phi waterfalls. It’s no Iguazu but still is impressive and a must see on the Mekong. A little further down the falls is a beach on the river where we went for a swim. It was cool and refreshing to swim in the Mekong and feel the strengths of currents of this massive river.
In the afternoon, we rode to the south of Don Khon to take a boat trip and watch fresh water dolphins, a rare specie.
Our boat driver took us to an uninhibited islands where from the sand banks we could observe the dolphins coming up to the surface of the water to catch a breath. It was hard to see them as they were really fast and a little far away, but we could hear the breathing loud and clear which was a great experiencece itself.
In the evening, we chose a nice spot on one of the many terraces facing west on Don Det to watch the sun go down…
We don’t know it is the island, the Mekong, the dolphins, the bike, or a combination of all, but we felt the most relaxed in a long time after this one day spent in the 4000 islands!