There isn’t a country quite as laid back and relaxing as Laos. Here, the pace of life is slow, making for an ideal place to chill out. And that is what Laotians do best. Amongst this soothing land is a place that, believe it or not, is even more laid back than the rest of the country. The area is Southern Laos, and the place is Siphandon, otherwise known as the 4000 Island Archipelago.
So, how and where does the place gets its name? First, we have to go to the source, the Mekong River. The body of water has already weaved its way from the Tibetan Plateau through China, Myanmar, Thailand and certain parts of Laos to Siphandon, not too far from the Cambodian border. During the rainy season (late May-late October) this section of the Mekong fills out to about 14 kilometers in width, almost looking like a lake or even an ocean. However, during the dry season (November-early May) the water level lowers substantially, revealing thousands of small island, islets and land masses, thus giving the area its name.
The larger islands (ones that don’t get drowned out by the water) are permanently inhabited and offer you a glimpse of what laid back rustic village life is all about. The three main ones are Don Det, Don Khon and Done Kong. These islets, out of all, have developed the most in the region, but still offer a countryside ambiance. And to further prove so, the people have relied on their own power for transportation; rarely will you see motorized vehicles transporting items around. And why need them? Most of the islands are small enough that you can easily walk from one place to another. Recently, electric poles have been placed to serve the area. For now, the three islands mentioned earlier and a fourth one, Don Som are equipped with electricity.
So, what’s there to do at Siphandon? Not much, and for many that is the main reason to come here. But if you need some activity, rent out a bicycle and pedal around the islets. The Khone Papheng Falls (the biggest waterfall in Southeast Asia) is a mere 45 minute bike ride. Siphandon is also an excellent spot to catch a glimpse of the Irrawaddy Dolphin, although they are very rare.
Can’t get enough of Laos? Many who have stepped into this country have felt the same and extended their stay. You can too, with our Laos tours page.
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