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Si Phan Done, literally called 4000 Islands is where Laos becomes the land of the lotus-eaters, an archipelago of islands where the pendulum of time swings slowly and postcard-worthy views are the rule rather than the exception. Many travelers has washed ashore here, succumbed to its charms and stayed longer than expected. Down here the Mekong bulges to a breadth of 14km – the river’s widest reach along its 4350km journey from the Tibetan Plateau to the South China Sea – and if you count every islet and sandbar that emerges in the dry months the name, which literally means ‘Four Thousand Islands’, isn't that much of an exaggeration.

4000 Islands Weather Overview

In general, there are 2 seasons in 4000 Islands (Siphandone)

The dry season in 4000 Islands occurs between October and April, and the monsoon from May to September. There is usually no rain at all between November and March, and the sun shines every day then.

During the monsoon, the weather can change very quickly and very often. There are no reliable forecasts in 4000 Islands, but it never rains all the time. Most often, the thunder comes at the end of the day at about 4pm, the wind blows a lot, and the rains fall rapidly. After one hour or two, it stops, and the day after it can be sunny. Sometimes the sun shines for one week or more everyday during the monsoon, the sky is blue, and it can be hot like in the dry season. 

Check the below table for the general idea of 4000 Islands weather throughout the year:

Month Avg. High (°C) Avg. Mean (°C) Avg. Low (°C)
Jan 31.6 24.7 18.1
Feb 33.7 27.4 21.3
Mar 35.1 29.4 23.9
Apr 35.5 30 25.1
May 33.6 29.2 25.2
Jun 32.1 28.4 25.1
Jul 31.2 27.7 24.5
Aug 30.9 27.4 24.4
Sep 30.9 27.3 24.1
Oct 31.7 27.1 23.2
Nov 32.1 26.6 21.6
Dec 31.7 25.4 19.3

 

Best time to go to 4000 Islands (Siphandone)

The best time to visit Si Phan Don is during the dry season from November to March, when temperatures are cooler. The hot season from March to May is generally fine too, since you can jump in the river anytime you want to cool off. The wet season from May to October might make it more difficult to get to the islands, but the higher water levels widen the Mekong to over 14 km, making the sight of it rushing over the rocks at the Khon Phapheng Waterfall that much more spectacular.

4000 Islands Current Weather & 7-day Forecast

4000 ISLANDS WEATHER

You’ll find the internet access isn’t as good here as other places in Laos (and that’s saying something), and that life goes a little slower.  Lao’s four thousand islands are seriously one of the best places to rest and recharge your travel batteries for a few days, but that said there are a few things that you might want to try and see and do while you’re here.

1. Go on a Kayaking Trip to see Irrawaddy Dolphins

This is one of the most popular things to do in the 4000 islands and with good reason. Collected from the main street, you are driven out to a section of the river to spend the morning kayaking through impressive scenery with Cambodia on your right and Laos on your left! 

On a full day kayaking tour you’ll get to explore the hidden waterways of the Mekong, see water buffalo eye to eye cooling off in the shallows, marvel at some beautiful waterfalls (including Li Pi Falls and the largest in South East Asia: Khone Phapheng Falls), and glimpse the elusive and endangered Irrawaddy Dolphins near the Cambodian border.

2. Rent a Bike and Cycle around Don Det and Don Khone

One of the best ways to spend the day on this laid back island it to rent a bicycle and explore. Bikes can be rented from almost anywhere and only cost 10,000 kip (under £1) for the entire day until 11pm!

You’ll find yourself meandering down riverside pathways and palm tree lined lanes, and there’s many a cafe to stop at and have a drink to cool down.

You can even cycle over the iconic bridge to the neighbouring island of Don Khone, where there are several waterfalls to be explored or you can catch a boat to see the famous Irrawaddy Dolphins near the Cambodian border.

3. Visit the Largest Waterfall in Southeast Asia

Over the bridge is Don Khong which provides a home for the largest waterfall in South East Asia, Khone Phapheng Falls (featured image), and it is impressive! You can also find some lovely beaches to relax on before cycling back.

4. Go swimming in the Mekong River

The Mekong River flows around the Si Phan Don Islands and this means that activities on the river offer you the best ways to explore the region.

There are a number of small beaches dotted around the islands and you can take a boat and island hop to your heart’s content.

Many of the main guest houses on the Si Phan Don Islands have small jetties located in front of them which offer you the chance to go swimming and the waters are amazingly clear in many places so you can check out a range of marine life including colorful indigenous fish.

5. Check out the Ban Khon Steam Locomotive

The Bon Khon Steam Locomotive is a relic from the 1800s when it was constructed during the French colonial period.

This was used as a way of transporting goods and building materials around the islands and although it stopped operating after the Second World War, it is still worth a visit as there are a number of signs here which will fill you in on all the history of how the railway was built and how it would have operated in the days of old.

On a visit here you will also find a number of old fashioned locomotives which have been out of commission for years.

The tracks, many of which no longer exist, would have run between Don Khon and Don Det.

6. Visit Wat Khon Tai

Wat Khon Tai is located on Don Khon and is one of the main attractions on the island.

This is a Buddhist temple and it is actually built atop a previous Khmer shrine.

You will find a number of stupas here as well as some ancient Khmer relics and carvings which make this a great spot for history buffs.

The temple is gracefully crumbling now which only serves to add to its old world charm.

7. Hike to Ban Hang Khon Viewpoint

Located on Don Khon is the Ban Hang Khon Viewpoint which is also close to the ancient port built by the French during the colonial period.

To get to the viewpoint you need to travel to Ban Hang Village where you will find some 150 steps that lead to the lookout.

Bear in mind that the walk is steep and you will need to have a reasonable level of mobility to attempt the hike.

Once you get to the viewpoint however you will be rewarded with vistas across the stunning Mekong River.

8. Try the local food

The Si Phan Don Islands are a great place to try some local Laotian food.

Many of the restaurants on the island grow their on vegetables on local plots which mean that the food is fresh and delicious.

As the islands, by definition, are close to the water, fish also features heavily on most menus and focuses on freshwater species plucked straight from the Mekong.

Favorites that you can expect to find in most restaurants on the Si Phan Don Islands include fresh papaya salad which usually comes with a kick of chili as well as other delights like chicken rubbed with fragrant lemongrass.

9. Go tubing

As the Si Phan Don Islands back onto the Mekong River, one of the main activities here is tubing.

If you are looking for a way to relax then there is no better way to do so than by renting a tube and then drifting along the water for an afternoon.

You can usually rent a tube from a guesthouse and float around in the water in front of it, or if you are looking for something a little more exciting then you can go on a boat tour and then tube off the boat which will allow you to explore a little further afield.

10. Shop in Muang Khong Market

If you want to check out a traditional Laotian market then you need to head to Muang Khong Market which is known for its local produce, much of which is sourced from local farms.

You will also find many local ingredients which have been foraged for by locals such as wild mushrooms, so if you want to find out more about traditional foods in Laos then this is a great place to visit.

Come early in the morning however as this is when the market is most active.

11. Explore Wat Phu Khao Kaew

Wat Phu Kao Kaew is located on Don Khong and is close to the village of Muang Saen.

The temple was built on top of crumbling ruins which are thought to be Khmer in style which is how many of the temples in this part of Laos were constructed.

This is a very important pilgrimage spot for locals and you can check out a large statue of the reclining Buddha here as well as some stupas covered in ornate gold leaf.

One of the big draws here is that this temple sits looking out over the mighty Mekong and local legend says that a naga (a mythical serpent) also lives here.

12. Dine at a floating restaurant

As the Si Phan Don Islands are located on the water, it stands to reason that there are also a number of floating restaurants here.

Most of these restaurants are upscale, and therefore more expensive, compared to other local eateries on the islands, but they usually serve a wider range of dishes such as traditional Lao sausages, salads and curries.

As you would expect you can also get a range of tasty grilled fish that is caught straight out of the Mekong.

These restaurants are also some of the best places to watch the spectacular local sunsets across the islands.

13. Take a boat trip

If you don’t have much time in the Si Phan Don Islands then one of the best ways to get an overview of the region quickly is to take a boat tour.

Boats can be charted and fees are usually negotiable, and you can either sign up for a tour of the islands or just go island hopping and moor where the mood takes you.

One of the best reasons to take a boat tour is for the chance to explore the small beaches and inlets that the islands are famous for, so make sure you bring some drinks and a picnic and make a day of it.

Eating in paradise should be beautiful, delicious and not break the bank. Choices abound from cheap eats to higher-end fare on Laos’ 4000 Islands. Influences from French, Italian and British cuisine mix with local dishes on menus in Si Phan Don. Check out these top spots.

Kea's Backpackers Paradise Restaurant & Bar

Kea’s Backpackers Paradise Restaurant & Bar is run by Kea, who studied English in Vientiane, and his family. Kea prides himself on top of the line service and preparing fabulous food. The fish and chips are the best in the country. Fresh, flaky and served with a beer and tartar sauce, you will not be disappointed. Other gems on the menu include the fried chicken, cocktails and vegetable curry. With only five tables and a menu that’s made to order, expect longer than average wait times. Get here early for dinner or consider beating the crowds by going for brunch.

More Info.

  • Meal service: All Day, Breakfast, Brunch, Dinner
  • Atmosphere: Casual, Relaxed, Outdoors, Cosy
  • Location: Google Maps
  • Address: Don Det , Champasak Province, Laos
  • Phone: +856309516795
  • Visit Facebook page

The View at Khon Phapheng Waterfall

The View earns its name and then some. The two-storey restaurant is situated inside Khon Phapheng Waterfall Park and its balcony looks out over an incredible view of the largest waterfall by volume in southeast Asia. The focused menu features fish salad, steamed or fried fish, and fish soup all made with the catch of the day straight out of the Mekong River. The restaurant has conference rooms and plenty of seating upstairs and down so you won’t struggle to find a table. The breathtaking location is by far the highlight of this establishment so be prepared to pay slightly more for local food than other restaurants in less spectacular locations.

More Info.

  • Meal service: Lunch, Dinner
  • Atmosphere: Outdoors, Family Friendly, Rooftop
  • Location: Google Maps
  • Address: Muang Champassak, Champasak Province, Laos
  • Phone: +8562055532069
  • Visit website

Sunset Bar

Establishments on Don Det refer to themselves as being on the sunrise or sunset side of the island. I’m sure you can guess which side Sunset Bar lies on. Lie in a hammock for happy hour or come in for a burger or Lao salad and a beer and relax as the sky turns pink and orange when the sun sinks below the Mekong River. Happy hour is from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. for drink specials. If you’re looking for a place to stay, there are bungalows on the property. However, being on the sunset side also means being blasted by afternoon sun, which can make the fan-cooled rooms hot.

More Info.

  • Meal service: All Day, Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Atmosphere: Cosy, Nightlife, Relaxed, Casual
  • Location: Google Maps
  • Address: 39 Don Det Village, Champasak Province, Laos

1 More Bar and Restaurant

Pumpkin is a key ingredient on 4000 Islands and 1 More Bar and Restaurant sure knows how to use it to make one mean pumpkin burger. This should put 1 More Bar and Restaurant firmly at the top of your list if you’re vegetarian. The place has a great sunset view and they brew their own ginger ale and ginger beer, which is great on its own or in a cocktail. If you’re a Canadian missing home or just looking for some delicious fries and cheese slathered in gravy, the poutine here is on point. 1 More Bar organizes sunset booze cruises if you’re interested in taking happy hour out on the water.

More Info

  • Meal service: Lunch, Dinner, Late Night
  • Atmosphere: Casual, Nightlife, Relaxed, Outdoors
  • Location: Google Maps
  • Address: Sunset Side, Don Det, Champasak Province, Laos

Cloud 9 Restaurant and Bar

Cloud 9 is a mediterranean and Middle Eastern grill right in the heart of Don Det. Run by Youssef and Helen you’ll find delicious cakes and Turkish coffee for breakfast, shawarma and salad for lunch, and a chicken tajine or pasta for dinner among plenty of other menu choices. Sit on a bench or mat on the ground at one of the low tables in the restaurant. At night listen to music and sip a cocktail under a string of lights.

More Info.

  • Meal service: Lunch, Dinner, Late Night, Breakfast
  • Atmosphere: Nightlife, Relaxed, Outdoors, Casual
  • Location: Google Maps
  • Address: Done Det, 4000 Island, Laos
  • Visit Facebook page

Mama Leuah

Mama Leuah was started in 2001 by Lao national Pheng and her German husband Lutz. The restaurant is on the same property as some of the nicest (though still basic) bungalows on the island. The menu features Lao coffee from the Bolevan plateau, cocktails and shakes, beer and wine. Breakfast is served all day and a combination of western and Asian dishes are served. Try the schnitzel or cordon bleu with bruschetta or garlic bread. Alternately opt for the laap, one of half a dozen curry options or fried rice. Mama Leuah also offers bicycle rental and organizes sightseeing trips to catch the waterfalls and dolphins.

More Info.

Oi's Place

Oi started his restaurant and guest house in 2006, four years before Don Det was wired with electricity. His father and sisters help run the restaurant and adjoining bungalows. The menu includes fruit shakes, various fried noodle dishes, curry, tom yum, chicken and pumpkin burgers and pancakes. With a day’s advance notice, Oi will can make a Lao barbecue fish feast for a group featuring Mekong River fish. Hang out after dinner for drinks like Beer Lao and Lao Mojitos around the bonfire.

More Info.

  • Meal service: All Day, Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Atmosphere: Casual, Cosy, Nightlife, Relaxed
  • Location: Google Maps
  • Address: Done Det, Champasak Province, Laos
  • Visit Facebook page

Experience the best of the Mekong from one of these hotels and guesthouses in Si Phan Don.

Budget options

Pan's Residence

Situated in Don Khone, Pan's Residence is the perfect place to experience Muang Khong and its surroundings. The city center is merely 130.0 km away and the airport can be reached within 150 minutes. With its convenient location, the hotel offers easy access to the city's must-see destinations.

At Pan's Residence, the excellent service and superior facilities make for an unforgettable stay. This hotel offers numerous on-site facilities to satisfy even the most discerning guest.

Experience high quality room facilities during your stay here. Some rooms include internet access – wireless (complimentary), non smoking rooms, air conditioning, desk, mini bar, provided to help guests recharge after a long day.

The hotel offers many unique recreational opportunities such as garden. 

Adress: Mekong Road, Ban Don Khone, Don Khong District, 01000 Don Khone, Laos

Mid-range options

Little Eden

Situated in Don Det, Little Eden Hotel is the perfect place to experience Muang Khong and its surroundings. From here, guests can enjoy easy access to all that the lively city has to offer. With its convenient location, the hotel offers easy access to the city's must-see destinations.

At Little Eden Hotel, the excellent service and superior facilities make for an unforgettable stay. Free Wi-Fi in all rooms, 24-hour front desk, luggage storage, Wi-Fi in public areas, car park are just a few of the facilities that set Little Eden Hotel apart from other hotels in the city.

In addition, all guestrooms feature a variety of comforts. Many rooms even provide television LCD/plasma screen, mirror, internet access – wireless, internet access – wireless (complimentary), non smoking rooms to please the most discerning guest. The hotel's recreational facilities, which include outdoor pool, garden are designed for escape and relaxation. 

Adress: Dondet, Don Det, Muang Khong, Laos

Seng Aloun Resort

For travelers who want to take in the sights and sounds of Muang Khong, Sengahloune Resort is the perfect choice. The hotel lies from the city center and provides accessibility to important town facilities. With its convenient location, the hotel offers easy access to the city's must-see destinations.

At Sengahloune Resort, the excellent service and superior facilities make for an unforgettable stay. The hotel offers access to a vast array of services, including 24-hour room service, free Wi-Fi in all rooms, gift/souvenir shop, ticket service, 24-hour front desk.

Guests can choose from 12 rooms, all of which exude an atmosphere of total peace and harmony. Besides, the hotel's host of recreational offerings ensures you have plenty to do during your stay.

Adress: Donkhone Island, Khong District, Don Khone, Muang Khong, Laos, 1000

Sala Done Khone

Whether you're a tourist or traveling on business, Sala Done Khone Hotel is a great choice for accommodation when visiting Muang Khong. The hotel lies 7.00 Km from the city center and provides accessibility to important town facilities.

With its convenient location, the hotel offers easy access to the city's must-see destinations.

Take advantage of a wealth of unrivaled services and amenities at this Muang Khong hotel. This hotel offers numerous on-site facilities to satisfy even the most discerning guest.

Hotel accommodations have been carefully appointed to the highest degree of comfort and convenience. In some of the rooms, guests can find television LCD/plasma screen, complimentary instant coffee, complimentary tea, mirror, private entrance. The hotel offers fantastic facilities, including boats, canoe, watersports equipment rentals, outdoor pool, fishing, to help you unwind after an action-packed day in the city. 

Adress: Ban Khone Tai,Don Knone Island, Khong District, Don Khone, Muang Khong, Laos

Getting to Pakse

Pakse is the transportation hub of Southern Laos, therefore, if you want to get to 4000 Islands, you first need to get to Pakse.

By Flight: You can get to Pakse from Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Bangkok, Siem Reap, and Ho Chi Minh City.

By Bus: There are the frequent bus from Vientiane (KIP170,000/ticket), Thakhek, or Savannkhet.

If you travel from Bangkok, there is also the night bus to Pakse.

From Cambodia, you can take the bus from Phnom Penh or Siem Reap (Notice: (1) if you travel from Siem Reap, you need to change the bus in Kampong Cham; (2) you can tell the driver drop you off at Ban Nakasang (to Done Det and Done Khone); or at the bridge connecting to Done Khong)). 

From Vietnam, there is the bus departure from Ho Chi Minh city, or Hue (Notice: during the low season, the bus from Hue may be cancelled without prior notice if there are not enough passengers. They may drop you in Sanvannakhet instead)

By Train: There is no train to Pakse. But if you travel from Bangkok, you can take the train to Ubon Rattachathani then take another buss or transfer to Pakse.

Getting to 4000 Islands from Pakse

Bus from Pakse to Don Det or Don Khon the 4000 Islands

In Pakse you can easy book the Bus from Pakse to Don Det or Don Khon the 4000 Islands. The ticket you can book for 60.000 (6 euro / $7.5) kip at every travel agency in Pakse. The ride will take around 2.5 hours. First we were in a minivan and after 2 hours we changed to the big bus. Make sure the boat is also included in your ticket, else you’ve to pay the boat as well when you want to see the island. (To Don Det 15.000 kip to Don Khon 20.000 kip)

Bus and boat to 4000 islands

From Pakse you can book busses to different places on the 4000 Islands. Don Det is the party island were al the backpackers are. Don Det is the cheapest island. You can get a dorm for 40.000 kip and a bungalow from 60.000 kip. Don Khon is the most beautiful island of the two but also more expensive. Bungalows are available from 60.000 kip for example the costs are a little higher for food etcetera.

TOUR PACKAGES INCLUDING "4000 Islands"

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Mekong River Tour: 28-Day Following the Mighty Mother River Mekong River Tour: 28-Day Following the Mighty Mother River

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Cruise / 28 days / fr. $4,350

See why the Mekong River is known as Asia’s lifeblood with this epic adventure. Trace the mighty River as it meanders through big cities and countryside towns through five countries. From the... More

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Luxury Holiday / 11 days / fr. $3,300

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Must-see / 18 days / fr. $1,980

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Family Vacation / 28 days / fr. $3,360

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Honeymoon Vacation / 13 days / fr. $2,145

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Laos BLOG ARTICLES

Though opened to tourism since the last 20 years, Laos still has many hidden places or gems that are waiting for the curious explorers. 

Xe Champhone Loop is one of the places.

Early September 2022, we made an Educ tour here, under the operation of Tetraktys Organization to explore the loop, which was an effort to promote the area to the international tourists.

We were impressed with what we saw and learnt here. The area is full of interesting nature spots, traditional culture, and hospitable hosts.

Below is everything you need to know about the area.

Stay tuned!

...more

The romance of train travel is alive and well in Laos. The recently-completed high-speed railway that stretches from Vientiane, through Laos, and into southern China is operating ‘full steam’ ahead. 

...more

Luang Prabang will celebrate the boat racing festival (Boun Souang Heua) in Namkhan River during Buddhist Lent Period, on August 26th, 2022.

A notice issued by Luang Prabang provincial office says that Luang Prabang will arrange Boun Hor Khaopadapdin, an annual festival held to feed spirits with home-made parcels of food, and the boat racing activities along Namkhan River. 

The province intends to promote the traditional festival and practices in hopes of attracting more domestic and foreign tourists, generating revenue for locals.

Traditional racing boats are made of a single tree and can accommodate up to fifty rowers.

The boats are considered sacred, are cleaned, and are given offerings which are believed to bring victory to the team.

In the downtown heart of Luang Prabang, there will also be gatherings and markets.

The festival will be held on August 26th, 2022, the same day with Boun Khao Padapdine.

Covid-19 put a stop to traditional customs and festivals for almost three years, but now that the measurements have been relaxed, tourist destinations in Laos expect to recommence festivities and offer hope for travelers.

...more

How long to spend in Laos may seem like a ridiculous question to address, but if you have plenty of time and aren’t sure how much to dedicate, this blog will definitely help you out. 

How long can you stay in Laos? 

Well, as long as you like! From 7 days to a month, there are various ways you can travel across Laos and uncover its secrets. Advising an ideal trip length for Laos is a bit of a complex challenge, as it depends on several factors such as the places you wish to visit, the activities you plan to join, or if you want to combine Laos with its neighbor countries. 

Stay tuned! We are going to sort all these things out including the step-by-step guide to create the best itinerary in Laos.

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The Rocket Festival (Boun Bang Fai) is a merit-making ceremony traditionally practiced by ethnic Lao people near the beginning of the wet season in numerous villages and municipalities, in the regions of Northeastern Thailand and Laos. Celebrations typically include preliminary music and dance performances, competitive processions of floats, dancers and musicians on the second day, and culminating on the third day in competitive firings of home-made rockets. Local participants and sponsors use the occasion to enhance their social prestige, as is customary in traditional Buddhist folk festivals throughout Southeast Asia.

The festival in Thailand also includes special programs and specific local patterns like Bung Fai (Parade dance) and a Beautiful Bung Fai float such as Yasothon the third weekend of May, and continues Suwannaphum District, Roi Et on the first weekend of June, Phanom Phrai District Roi Et during the full moon of the seventh month in Lunar year's calendar each year. The Bung Fai festival is not only found in Isan or Northeasthern Thailand and North Thailand and Laos, but also in Amphoe Sukhirin, Narathiwat.

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A report from Andy Jarosz from BBC Travel about his day trekking to the remote 100 waterfalls in Nong Khiaw 10 years ago (in 2012). The experience that you cannot miss when visiting the area. Check out the details as below so that you have some ideas of what to expect.

In the last four years, the rural village of Nong Khiaw has seen a steady stream of adventure travellers who want to experience the 10km trek before it disappears.

Strictly speaking, the name of the 100 Waterfalls Trek in northern Laos is misleading, since it is impossible to say how many waterfalls tumble through the thick jungle along the steady 10km ascent, with each one tumbling immediately into the next.

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