Located near the Cambodian border, Si Phan Don (also referred to as 4000 Islands in English) is the ideal stop-over before entering the Khmer Kingdom. With three main islands to choose from, I decided on Don Khon, as it’s known for its scenic landscapes and impressive waterfalls – plus, just a bridge away from Don Det, the island made famous by hippie backpackers (so they say). Colonised by the French, some heritage houses remain, as does a locomotive train track running through Don Khon.
If you’ve been following this website for a while now (thank you, btw) you’d know I’m obsessed with waterfalls so when I read a sign stating that Don Khon can be explored within two hours, I accepted the challenge – but in retrospective, I assume the writer meant by bicycle because my feet have blisters to prove the exertion from walking around for five to six hours… Yes, not two so do yourself a favour and rent a bicycle if you ever visit Don Khon.
But back to the waterfalls, the most famous are Tat Somphamit and Khone Phapheng – both are reminiscent of The Grand Canyon and Khone Phapheng is actually the largest waterfall in South East Asia; however, it requires a boat to access (with most tours inclusive of Irrawaddy dolphin watching) whereas Tat Somphamit doesn’t – just an entrance fee of 35,000 LK.
However, there are numerous streams and areas for wading; I recommend Don Pa Soi, which requires you to cross an ancient wooden bridge to basically another small island surrounded by water. Initially I was hesitant to cross (as I have a fear of heights and the gushing water was a sight) but then a dog ran across the bridge to greet me so I took that as a sign that I can do it, too! After a tiring day, I felt blessed to be able to retire in a bungalow by the river – there are many to choose from, with various prices, but I chose Somphamit Guesthouse, for 80,000 LK per night.
“When the water rises, the fish eat the ants; when the water falls, the ants eat the fish.” Laotian Proverb