Cultural Heritage on the 4000 Islands
Deep in the far south, near the Cambodian border, lies one of Laos’s greatest natural treasures. The Mekong River, after winding its way through the length of the country, splinters into a web of streams, interspersed with islands, both big and small. This is Si Phan Don, or “4,000 Islands” in which Lao culture, traditions and ways of life have continued almost unnoticed by the outside world, for hundreds of years.
Paddle in your own kayak or putter around on a small fishing boat and discover the natural beauty and picturesque preserved history of Si Phan Don for yourself. While many of the islands are uninhabited, some just rocks only protruding above the water in the dry season, others are inhabited with laidback, hospitable Laotians living traditional stilt houses, Lao children riding bicycles and buffalos lazily chewing cud in the fields.
Stay overnight at Don Khong, the largest island at 17km across and visit its beautiful temples, including the 200-year old Vat Jom Thong and Vat Phuang Kaew with its sprawling grounds and gigantic Golden Buddha statue. Or stay at one of the smaller islands of Don Det or Don Khone, where you will also find colonial French architecture and the remnants of Laos’s first railway, locomotive and narrow-gauge railway bridge, once part of a great trade route through Indochina.